As a woodworker, one of the most frustrating things you might do unknowingly is wasting money on a tool that barely serves all your needs. You can buy a tool such as a jointer only to realize it includes some features you may never use or use at most once a year. Therefore, when shopping for woodworking skills, you need to understand how to use a tool before purchasing it.
If you want to flatten faces and square edges of probable oversized, rough, or warped lumber, you should invest in a reliable jointer. Jointers vary from type, performance, and other significant features you need to consider. If you’re looking for the best budget jointer, I’ve researched and come up with five options that woodworkers can buy without breaking the bank.
Choosing the Best Budget Jointer – My Top Picks
1. PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed, 6-Inch
If you are looking for a jointer with a built-in cutter head, the Porter-Cable Benchtop Jointer manages a speed range of 6,000 to 11,000 RPM. The user is free to select the right speed depending on the hardness of the piece of wood they are cutting. Additionally, it has a two knife cutter head with a jackscrew knife that levels arrangement for easy adjustment and replacement. This type of jointer has a center-mounted fence and an extra-long table that provides adequate support for you to make an accurate cut.
Thanks to the powerful motor, the built-in cutter head manages to make 12,000 to 22,000 cuts per minute. The Porter-Cable Benchtop Jointer weighs approximately 35 pounds, making it ideal for transport between woodwork workshops. The size also makes it suitable for use on small or medium-sized projects at your home workshop.
- It is extremely affordable
- It is lightweight therefore easy to move around with
- It has an extra-long table providing ample space for accurate cuts
- It provides users with variable speed settings
- It cannot consistently handle significant woodwork tasks
2. CRAFTSMAN Benchtop Jointer, 10-Amp
The Craftsman Benchtop Jointer outputs a variable speed of 6,000 to 11,000 RPM with a cutter head speed of 12,000 to 22,0000 cuts every minute. The variable speed allows the operator to select the ideal speed depending on a material’s size and hardness. It also comes with a robust 10-amp motor providing adequate power for both softwoods and hardwoods.
It is a versatile tool easy to use for both new and experienced woodworkers. You can use it to decorate your frames, table legs, chairs, and other pieces of furniture in your home. This benchtop joint weighs approximately 40 pounds, making it ideal for moving from one point to another in your workshop. You can also put it in the back of your truck and take it with you to a job site.
- It is one of the best budget jointers (affordable)
- It has few controls that are easy to use
- The debris exhaust is located under the outfeed table where the connections do not interfere with your work
- It is a new product in the market, meaning it is made using lower-quality materials
- It introduces some flex while operating due to the center-mounted connection for the fence
3. Delta 37-071 Jointer
If you are looking for an affordable and robust jointer, the Delta 6-inch Benchtop Jointer is a suitable choice for you. It is made using cast iron, increasing its weight to approximately 75 pounds to make it more durable and stable during operations. The heavyweight also minimizes the vibrations making it less noisy than most small-sized jointers. It gets even better; it has a cast-iron support system for the fence that improves accuracy when cutting.
The fence has a simple adjustment system with two positive stops: 90 degrees and 45 degrees. Additionally, the Delta 6-inch Benchtop Jointer has a maximum cutting depth of ⅛ and manages 20,000 cuts per minute. It is affordable to aspiring and experienced woodworkers, and it also comes with a 5-year limited warranty that guarantees you its durability and long life.
- It is made using cast iron which guarantees long life and provides stability during use
- The table is fittingly squared to the fence, thereby improving the accuracy
- The knives have jack screw adjustment and are therefore easy to adjust and replace
- Despite being durable, it is costly for a benchtop design
- It is heavy than most benchtop jointers due to the cast iron
4. Powermatic 4HH Jointer, 1HP, 2 HP 115/230V
The Powermatic 4HH Jointer is one of the best budget standing jointers available in a 2 HP or 1 HP motor mounted within the base cabinet. The motor is strategically installed on a unique mount to make belt tension adjustments easy. It also quickens the adjustment on the lever on the infeed table to increase the precision of cuts. It is highly stable with a wide all-steel base cabinet which puts the table 32 inches from the floor.
The base also contains the dust collection chute that directs debris from below the cutter head towards the 4-inch diameter port near the floor. The table is 66 inches long and 7½ inches wide, providing an adequate area for large projects. It also has a cast-iron fence system that is ground like the table to ensure straightness. The fence is supported by a high-performance design and tilt mechanism, making it accurate and durable.
- It is affordable for an open stand jointer
- It comes with a spiral cutter head that is better-performing than traditional knives
- The fence can tilt up to 90 degrees and is lockable
- You need at least 450 cubic feet per minute (CPM) of airflow on your dust collection
5. Wahuda Tools Jointer – 6-inch
If you are looking for a jointer that will fit in small places, the Wahuda Tools Jointer is a suitable solution. It has retractable arm supports that you can use to work on various wood lengths efficiently. It also has a flat and sturdy table made of cast iron with a steel platform that is resistant to corrosion. The 34-inch table can extend up to 54 inches, thanks to the retractable arm supports. The aluminum fence tilts at 90 degrees and 135 degrees to provide you with maximum versatility. You can use this to cut bevels or angles however you want.
The Wahuta Tools Jointer is not only one of the best budget jointers but also a heavy-duty machine. It has a 120V motor with 12,000 RPM, which makes its ability to cut through wood simple. Despite the cast iron, this jointer weighs approximately 55 pounds making it a convenient tool for movement between workshops and job sites. Moreover, it operates under low noise due to its average weight and unique spiral cutter heads.
- It is easy to set up
- The adjustments, from the knives to the retractable arm supports, are hassle-free
- Some adjustment knobs are made of low-quality materials
What is a Jointer?
It’s a power tool that structures a piece of wood into the desired shape by the user. It generally squares off the edges, flattens the surfaces, and trims the sides. A jointer is a stationary tool that works on uneven boards fed to the machine through an infeed table. When you get the right jointer for your home workshop or workplace, you can shape wood the way you want faster than when using traditional handheld tools.
A good instance is when a tree is cut at a lumber mill, and it twists or curls in the end. To use it for wood panels or furniture, it will need to undergo a straightening and facing process by a jointer machine.
Types of Jointers
Currently, the market offers four different major types of jointers. They include:
Closed Stand Jointers
These have an enclosed and reinforced base that protects the blades, motor, and other crucial internal components from dust unavoidable during the cutting process. Experienced woodworkers recommend this to be the best wood jointer in terms of durability. The fixed base also helps dampen the vibration from the motor and minimize noise, making it ideal for significant tasks that require a lot of consistency, for example, facing boards.
The size variations of closed stand jointers range from 8 – 16 inches, and you, therefore, need to consider the size of wood you will be using in your projects. Some of the features you need to consider in closed stand jointers:
- An adjustment lever to help you position the infeed table quickly
- A robust and durable metal base to help minimize noise and vibrations and for a longer life
- It should have a large dust collection bin to help keep the user environment clean.
- Easy to use controls to fine-tune the cut depth
- Blades should be easy to change and repair for faster working time
- Speed features that are conveniently located for easy speed control
Helical cutter heads that are quieter and provide a smooth and superior finish. The best cutter heads are made up of carbide inserts which are sharper and easier to sharpen or replace.
Open Stand Jointers
They are lighter and much more portable than closed stand jointers. They are perfect if you need to move the machinery between workshops or job sites. However, open stand jointers tend to produce more noise and vibrations due to the lack of a robust metal body. The features to consider when buying an open stand jointer include:
- Lightweight body allowing more portability
- Indexing pins to align the edge of the workpiece and make more accurate cuts
- A stable stand to support the machine up to the user’s convenient height and reducing the noise from vibrations
- Features for dust extraction to help lengthen the motor and cutter life
They are among the most popular, portable type of jointers. They provide the portability offered by an open stand jointer and the power and efficiency of a closed stand jointer. However, unlike closed stand jointers, benchtop jointers are easy to move around. Additionally, they may find it challenging to deal with the same large pieces of wood that move effortlessly in a closed stand jointer. Some of the features you need to look out for when buying a benchtop jointer include:
- Lightweight body for easy storage and transport
- A powerful motor that is fast, efficient, and has a strong cutting capability
- A cast iron body for durability
- A large table that can tilt to support large pieces of wood requiring surfacing and trimming
Operators can turn to tabletop jointers for heavy wood flattening tasks that a benchtop jointer can’t perform. It is almost similar to benchtop jointers but less portable. A tabletop jointer generally has a longer and bigger table making it easy to flatten broader and thicker wood. It is an excellent addition to a small workshop that needs an urgent boost of power.
Other types of jointers you can find in the market include:
- Flat Combination Jointers
- Acrylic Jointers
- Brick Jointers
Feature Used to Compare Jointers
A jointer is a vital part of any woodworking workshop, and you need to consider and compare your choices to decide on a worthy investment. In this section, we will discuss the vital features of a jointer and why you should compare them before making the purchase:
- Fences and Bases
Fences are vital for keeping the piece of wood undergoing the cutting process straight and aligned. The fence and bases of every jointer need to be adjustable for the operator to decide on the angle they want to flatten the wood.
Adjustable fences and bases offer versatility to users allowing them to make the same cut to different pieces of wood while passing through the machine multiple times. The fences also help secure the wood in place if you want to use other handheld tools such as drills on it.
- Table Width
Jointers vary from enormous, expensive to small, budget-friendly jointers with a bed as small as 4 inches. Table width, also referred to as bed width, is the primary determinant of a jointer’s price because the bigger it is, the more expensive the jointer will be.
A jointer’s bed should be accurately oriented to the cutter head within just a few millimeters. Most operators mainly go for something ranging from 6 – 8 inches. However, if you are an experienced woodworker who works with large timbers and woods beyond 8 inches, you can get a jointer with a table width more significant than 8 inches.
Most average jointers have a motor rated at 1 HP, which is often adequate for small to medium-sized tasks. It can easily trim softwood and even reach the maximum cutting depth. On the other hand, there are more powerful jointers with more than 1 HP. Most of these are used in massive industries for production.
- Cutting Depth
It affects how many times the operator has to run a piece of wood through the jointer to get their desired results. For example, the operator may have to pass a piece of wood two times or more in jointer with ⅝ cutting depth. The typical cutting depths for most standard jointers are ½ or ¾ inches, where you can surface a piece of wood with one pass.
- Adjustable Tables
Apart from finding the correct table width, are your tables adjustable to meet all your needs? An adjustable table allows the user to flatten a piece of wood quickly in different angles, and this reflects on the quality of the cut. However, big tables are hard to adjust due to their weight and broadness.
Blades do not appear to be a significant concern during the first few months of using your new jointer since most jointers come with fitted and well-sharpened blades. Over time, they wear down and become blunt, demanding sharpening or replacement depending on the type and the period you have been using them.
When replacing them, expert woodworkers recommend using curved blades which do not dull as fast as straight blades. Straight blades are also at a higher risk of snapping during a cutting process. The following are the three popular types of blades:
It is the most common type of cutter head that spins on a vertical axis and the jointer. Straight knives are mainly made out of solid steel.
They are more advanced as they spin to cut into the wood. The spiral design makes operations more silent with less blade sharpening and smaller wood shavings.
It is the newest jointer cutting technology where a spiral design version has several inserts. 6-inch jointers usually have 12 insets, while 8-inch jointers have 16 inserts.
- Dust Collection
A single jointer cut can produce a significant amount of dust. Therefore, dust collection features are a crucial part of any jointer. A dusty workshop can result in accidents, respiratory conditions, and other problems. Every jointer should have ways of collecting dust produced after every cut to prevent the operator from inhaling debris and particles that are hazardous to one’s health.
In this review, we have taken a deep look into the features that distinguish jointers from each other. They include knives, blades, table width, cutting depth, and more. We have also discussed the different types of jointers, such as benchtop jointers, open stand jointers, tabletop jointers, and closed stand jointers.
We have concluded by providing you with a review of five affordable options jointers you can find in the market today so that you can choose the best budget jointer. They are affordable and efficient, but your choice may differ depending on your projects and the space available in your workshop.