I mentioned in a couple of social media roundup posts that I had purchased a Powermatic 8″ jointer, and a few readers asked about how I made my purchasing decision.
I have been wanting to buy a jointer for a while, and I kept flip-flopping about all of the different options.
Should I go with a benchtop jointer? A lot of woodworkers lament about their low quality, limited capacity, and small table sizes. I was not sold on this idea.
What about a 6″ floor-standing jointer? Powermatic’s looked appealing, a 110V motor meant it could be powered from any outlet, and it had a manageable size.
What about an 8″ jointer? Powermatic’s is longer than their 6″, it requires 220V power (I do have a single 220V outlet and can have more installed), and it costs more.
What about Powermatic’s 8″ parallelogram-style jointer? Parallelogram-style jointers are said to be much easier to adjust than their dovetail table models? Powermatic’s requires 220V power, costs quite a bit more money than the other options, and it’s very large.
Every time I tried to make a purchasing decision, I settled on two options – Powermatic’s 6″ 110V model and their 8″ parallelogram model. I figured I’d go with the more compact 6″ plug-in-anywhere model or completely future-proof with the 8″ parallelogram model.
I started working with a Jet 6″ benchtop jointer review sample – it’s amazing by the way – and immediately got the itch to come to a purchasing decision. It was time to buy a floor-standing jointer. Powermatic’s holiday season deal came along, and I went with their 8″ dovetail adjustment model – the one model I ruled out almost from the beginning.
The 8′ dovetail table model is not perfectly futureproof. If I at any point get a larger workspace or move into an industrial workspace, instead of making do with a 2-car garage and cramped low-ceiling basement, I might want to trade up to a parallelogram model, or maybe one of a European brand’s pricey combination planer-jointers.
The model I went with is smaller and lighter than the parallelogram jointer – but not at all small or light in weight- and although it wasn’t easy I managed to set it up solo. Plus, the shape of the machine is different. The tables overhang the machine like wings, and that means there’s at least some usable storage space underneath them. I put the jointer on a wheeled base and can have wheeled and moveable storage under the wings.
So far, I’m pleased with my purchase, and although I have only taken test cuts, one of my first projects is going to make good use of its capacity.
When you read jointer purchasing questions in online forums and boards, there is a very widely shared opinion that most users will quickly outgrow a 6″ jointer.
There are some users who say they bought a 6″ jointer and it worked for them, but a great majority of jointer owners report that either their 6″ jointer has limitations and they wish they could upgrade, or that they upgraded and wish they purchased an 8″ jointer from the start.
Some users don’t have access to 220V power. Others are on a tight budget. There are lots of reasons why a woodworker might buy a 6″ jointer, but the general online community consensus is that users who could buy an 8″ jointer over a 6″ would be wise to do so.
I started buying wood boards for an upcoming project.
When I ordered the 8″ jointer, I did so thinking its added capacity vs. a 6″ jointer would be a future-proofing decision. The 8″ capacity was not something I anticipated needing to take advantage of immediately or even in the near future, this was an upgrade for “future me,” and not to suit any planned needs.
I should also mention that one of the reasons I went with the 8″ was because I read one user’s account of their 6″ jointer being a little underpowered. This factored into my decision as well. I have a 220V outlet I could use with an extension cord short-term, and can add in another 220V outlet or two in the future.
Boards from the local lumberyard vary in width, with some being ~6″, but others were a little longer. I ordered more – and better quality boards – from an online supplier, and they measure 7-8″ in width.
I need ~3″ wide boards. I can get (1) out of a 6-inch board. The 6-inch board might barely measure 6 inches, and some might have edge defects that take away from the usable width. The ones that don’t are still rough cut. Joint one rough edge of a perfect 6-inch board, or create a straight line rip, then clean up the opposite edge, and it will be at most 5-3/4″ wide and often less.
The pictured ~7-1/2″ board has one edge already straight-line ripped, and if it’s perfect without big knots or defects at the edges, I can definitely get two 3″ boards out of it, and with a lot less waste than if I was working with 6″ wide boards.
The boards are already planed by the lumberyards, but some aren’t perfect and have rough spots, others are a little warped and need to be corrected. I wouldn’t be able to face-joint these boards on a 6″ jointer.
My processing of these boards will likely involve jointing one face, ensuring one smooth and flat edge, planing the opposite face, and rip-cutting the width I need out of the boards.
If any of them adjust and warp after the first rip cut, I can switch the process to cut them down to say 3.5″ boards first and then mill them to perfect squareness. I’d have to do this with a 6″ jointer, but it’d be double the work – at least. If I can face-plane the 7-8″ boards without first cutting them up, that’s the best approach.
I’ll also have some 7-1/2″ cutoffs left over, and I might turn them into side projects. I’ll still need an 8″ jointer for that.
I didn’t anticipate being able to take advantage of the 8″ capacity so quickly, but I’m glad that my first project with this jointer has validated my purchasing decision.
What if I had a smaller budget and even less space than I do now? I’d likely go with the Jet 6″ (true) helical-head benchtop jointer ($849 via Tool Nut). (I’ll be posting more about this model soon!) With a smaller budget, get a good hand plane (I have had great experiences with Lee Valley’s Veritas brand).
There are a couple of 8″ benchtop jointer options, but there’s no way I would be able to effectively use them with the ~2″ thick 7-1/2″ wide hard maple boards I’m working with like the one shown above.
As for why Powermatic?, I went based on reputation. Powermatic’s reputation isn’t quite as stellar as it used to be, based on some online complaints about their quality these days, but I took a gamble and so far there are no major complaints aside from some paint defects and chipping due to rough handling during packaging or shipping.
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