Best Benchtop Jointer Reviews and Buying Guide 2017

best BENCHTOP JOINTER review


Planing is a fundamental part of woodworking.

After logs have been sawn into boards, planing is the second stage in the process of getting a straight and smooth surface.

Planers and jointers are both central to any workshop. The basic cutting operation is the same for each type so they are sometimes combined into a single multi-purpose unit.

There are 2 kinds of planers, each serving very different functions:

- Jointer: Planes one face and one edge straight and square with one another
- Thickness Planer: Used to make the second face and edge parallel with the first. These machines also thickness boards to a uniform thickness

The names of these 2 types of planer differ according to geographical location so check out our in-depth article on planers here for a breakdown of the terminology.

In today’s best benchtop jointer reviews, we’ll be looking at some great scaled-down versions of the full-sized alternatives. Benchtops are semi-portable and offer an extremely flexible planing solution.

Before that, what is a jointer exactly and how does it work?

What Is a Jointer?

The core purpose of a jointer is to flatten the wood. You can grab any piece of uneven timber and make it flat.

You use a jointer before moving on to a thickness planer so it’s your first port of call when you’re dealing with warped, bowed or twisted boards.

Not only will a jointer enhance the appearance of your lumber, it will increase its durability into the bargain.

If you could only choose one machine, a jointer would be preferable. The feeding mechanism makes them better at flattening out wood.


How Does a Jointer Work?


Jointers have an infeed and outfeed table. These are both aligned on the same plane.

They have a cutter head with knives. This is mounted between the tables.

The tops of the knives are known as the cutting circle. This is aligned so its flush to the outfeed table.

You then simply lower the infeed table so the depth corresponds with the amount of material you want to shave off.

Making sure the guard is in place, you pass the board over the machine and the part you’ve worked with will be neatly supported by the outfeed table.

The adjustable fence serves 2 purposes. It acts as a guide when you’re flattening a face. It becomes a support when you are jointing edges. This fence can be adjusted, usually up to 45 degrees.

Before we move on to our best benchtop jointer reviews, we’ll give you a snapshot of the different categories of jointer at your disposal. While the focus of today is the benchtop model, for context it pays to familiarize yourself with the full gamut of jointers available so you can see which would best fit your needs…

  • Closed Stand
  • Open Stand
  • Benchtop JOINTER
  • Tabletop 

A beefier version of a benchtop, tabletop jointers do not have an adjustable outfeed table.

They obviously lack portability and you’ll pay more for the power and performance.

The Best Benchtop Jointer Reviews 2017 – Comparison Chart By Mitersawjudge.com

​Hunting out the best benchtop jointer can be overwhelming. With so many options, it can seem tough to pick your way through the minefield.

Luckily, we’re here to help.

Check out this glimpse at 5 of the very best benchtop jointers available today…

Detailed Benchtop Jointer Reviews

If you don’t have a commercial workshop or the need for a full-bore jointer but you don’t want to sell yourself short with pre-surfaced lumber, there is a middle ground…

Delta Power Tools offer up a top-notch 6-inch benchtop jointer at a very affordable price point. It’s not cut out for heavy-duty planing of long, wide timber but then that’s true of all benchtop jointers.

Check out the main features at a glance before we break this jointer down in a little more detail…

Delta Power Tools 37-071 6 Inch MIDI-Bench Jointer

Very solid and simple. The table and fence are machined very accurately. Does take some time to get the fence square and aligned, but once you do, it stays that way. Very simple to use. I use it for small to medium crafts and furniture. It helps make pallet wood join up perfectly. It's also easy to change the blades if need be. Lives up to Delta quality and performance. I've very pleased with this tool.

By Caleb H,

Main Features

  • 6-inch width of cut
  • 1/8-inch depth of cut at 20,000CPM
  • 12-amp, 120V universal motor
  • Cutter head 10,000RPM
  • 2 straight knives
  • Table: 28 ½-inches
  • Fence: 22 7/8-inches


One of the first things that strikes you about the 37-071 is the way it’s built. Whereas many smaller jointers are made from aluminum, the Delta is fashioned from cast iron. Not only is it built to stay the distance, the molded body is also designed to dampen down the vibration that can menace you while planing.

Although the instructions could be a little clearer, assembly is straightforward so you’ll be up and running promptly.

Many 6-inch benchtop jointers have a single horsepower motor. The 37-071 is equipped with a 1.5HP powerplant that spins the cutterhead at an impressive 10,000RPM.

Weighing in at 76 pounds, the Delta is heavy enough to offer up the stability you need while light enough to move it around if required. As far as benchtop jointers go, the Delta punches above its weight.

The size of this 6-inch jointer reflects the widest timber you’ll be able to cut so make sure this is adequate for your needs before committing yourself. The depth of cut is 1/8-inch and this is achieved with a rapid rate of 20,000 cuts per minute. For a small jointer, the Delta is surprisingly efficient.

While spiral cutterheads are continuing to gain currency, at this price range it’s not surprising that the 37-071 has straight knives. This is by no means a deal-breaker but it will tend to mark more than a spiral variant which means you’ll need to devote a little more time to finishing. There’s a simple jackscrew arrangement so swapping out the knives is a breeze.

The fence supports your workpiece admirably and it’s pretty simple to adjust. There are 2 positive stops at 45 and 90 degrees. This gives you a winning combination of user-friendliness and the ability to join precisely and flexibly. On the downside, this fence does demand time to get square.

If you’re looking for a jointer with a sprawling table, the Delta will disappoint. It measures 6 ¼ inches by 28 ½ inches which means you’ll be somewhat limited in the scope of work you can undertake. Much like the fence, the table is machined very accurately meaning you can get going with precise planing straight out the box.

There’s a dust blower built in so at least some of the legwork is taken out of keeping your workshop free of fine particles. Although this will efficiently eject woodchips and stop the dust chutes from becoming clogged, you’ll need a shop vac as well to work in comfort and to keep your line of sight clear.

You wouldn’t expect anything much by the way of accessories with a jointer priced like this so the pair of push blocks is a nice bonus. Make sure you use them and keep your fingers well clear of the cutterhead at all times.

You’ll be able to process pretty much all types of wood with the 37-071, even more challenging hardwood. You can join 2 x 6 boards without duress. The Delta allows you to make pretty much anything from small boxes right through to furniture and it’s ideal for beginners and more experienced woodworkers alike.

We’ll outline the main advantages and drawbacks for you so you can see at a glimpse how this excellent benchtop jointer measures up…

Pros

  • Constructed from cast iron rather than aluminum like many less solid competing jointers so outstanding build quality and longevity.
  • Represents great value for money without any compromise on performance.
  • 1.5HP motor is very powerful for a jointer of this size.
  • Small footprint so get maximum results with minimum space required.
  • Cut up to 6 inches wide and 1/8-inch deep, ideal for most home woodworking needs.
  • 2 straight knives spin at 10,000RPM and these knives are extremely easy to change when required.
  • 22 7/8-inch fence is very supportive and features positive stops at 45 and 90 degrees both in and out.
  • Integrated dust blower helps keep your shop free of flying debris.
  • 2 push blocks thrown in to ensure safety is uppermost.
  • Limited 5-year warranty is more than you’d expect at this price point.

Cons


    • Dust port could be a little more substantial.
    • You’ll need to take time to square the fence so a nuisance for beginners in particula.
    • Straight knives rather than spiral knives.

Conclusion

As with all benchtop jointers, the Delta is pitched at home woodworkers rather than seasoned professionals. The price and size reflects this.

If you are just starting out on your woodworking journey and you fancy a very affordable benchtop jointer perfect for those smaller projects and more occasional use, the 37-071 is a smart choice. If, on the other hand, you know you’ll be working with larger pieces of lumber and more demanding applications, this is not the jointer for you.

That said, don’t write off the 37-071 as a lightweight. As far as benchtop jointers go, the Delta is a hard-hitter.

The straight knives make it slightly less effective than models with spiral cutterheads but the cast iron gives it an extra edge in terms of staying power and durability. Buying any lower-end power tool or machine always involves some degree of compromise and the Delta 37-071 is a capable all-rounder with many strengths at a price you’ll love.

Check one out today and enjoy flat boards tomorrow.

2. Cutech 40160H Benchtop Jointer with Spiral Cutterhead

Next up in our best benchtop jointer reviews is a keenly priced 6-incher from Cutech.

Although this planer is very inexpensive, don’t let the price tag fool you. You’ll enjoy a highly capable jointer that might not be supersized but is designed for both beginners and more experienced woodworkers alike. It’s not expensive but it certainly won’t let you down in terms of performance.

While Cutech might not be a household name, the company was launched specifically to sell spiral cutterhead planers and jointers alongside a wealth of spare parts. You’ll get great customer service as well so perhaps it’s time to give some new blood a chance.

Cutech 40160H-CT benchtop jointer

'll admit I was skeptical. This jointer is well worth the money you spend for it. I've run everything from yellow pine to marble wood on it. Straight out of the box it leaves a very smooth surface. The spiral cutters have held up to many hours of work. I've run clean to dirty live edge and still performs like new.

By Dominic F.

Main Feat​​​​ures

  • 6-inch width of cut
  • 1/8-inch maximum depth of cut
  • 10-amp, 115V motor
  • Speed of 11,000RPM
  • Spiral cutterhead
  • 12 HSS inserts
  • Table: 30 inches

Weighing just 40 pounds, the Cutech is not the bulkiest benchtop on the market. While this means you might lack a little of the stability found with bigger jointers, the advantage is that you can move it around if you need to and it doesn’t take up too much room either. Anyone with a smaller workshop will find this advantageous.

Although it comes in at a competitive price, you’ll be rewarded with a spiral cutterhead for maximum planing efficiency with a dozen 2-sided HSS inserts to help you flatten out your boards double-quick. Replacement inserts are readily available in packs of 10 at a reasonable cost. If you find that one of the inserts is nicked or worn, rotate it to unmask a fresh cutting edge. If it wears further, you can replace that single insert.

The motor maxes out at a highly respectable 11,000RPM but you’ll be able to get a high degree of accuracy rather than just raw, imprecise speed.

The table is above average size for a compact benchtop jointer. Although you won’t be able to work with colossal lengths of timber, you shouldn’t expect to with a planer this size. At 30 inches by 6 3/16 inches, you’ll get more than enough room for maneuver. It gives you a bit more latitude to work with longer boards. You can also fine-tune the table with ease for a nice degree of flexibility.

Depth of cut is limited to 1/8 inch which is the norm for a benchtop jointer.

The fence is 19 5/8 inches by 4 3/8 inches and you can tilt this from 90 degrees to 135 degrees. Some users complain that there’s a lack of rigidity and support from the fence while others commend the way you can tweak it with ease.

There are a couple of less positive things that rate a mention…

Although the overall finish is first-rate, watch out for machine marks on the edge you’re cutting.

If you try to use thicker pieces of wood – anything over 3 inches really – the motor has a tendency to labor and struggle.

While there is a 2 ½-inch dust port, you’d be well advised to get a separate shop vac as it’s slightly too small to be properly effective.

There’s a 2-year warranty with the Cutech and if you need to avail yourself of this coverage, their customer service department is responsive and helpful so it’s not just a paper exercise but your back is truly covered if anything goes wrong.

A snapshot now of where the Cutech stands and falls before we round out with our verdict on this cheap benchtop jointer…

Pros

  • Extremely affordable benchtop jointer which still delivers a great finish
  • Compact size and weight means you won’t need too much space in your workshop and it’s at least semi-portable
  • Spiral cutterhead with 12 HSS 2-sided inserts offers superb cutting power, surprising for a budget jointer
  • Motor delivers an impressive 11,000RPM so work quickly without sacrificing precision
  • Cutting depth of 1/8-inch which is standard for a 6-inch jointer 
  • You can adjust the tables, fence and guard so tweak the jointer according to your needs and application
  • 2 ½-inch dust port to help eliminate sawdust and chippings
  • Adjust the table from 90 to 135 degrees enabling miter cuts
  • Push blocks and tools to change cutterhead chucked in free of charge
  • 2-year warranty for your peace of mind

Cons

  • Fence could be a little sturdier and more supportive
  • Some users report problems adjusting the tables


Conclusion

Sometimes, steering away from the most well-known brands leads you to unearth a diamond in the dirt. With this Cutech jointer, you avoid paying a premium for brand heritage while benefiting from a highly effective planer at a pocket-friendly price.

As with all benchtop jointers, be realistic about what to expect from it. Small units like this are designed for correspondingly small projects. This is not a criticism leveled at the Cutech, simply a general warning that if you’re looking for a jointer capable of flattening long, wide boards on a commercial basis, this is clearly not the machine for the job.

If you’re a home woodworker, particularly someone just getting started with woodworking, this benchtop makes the perfect starting point. With a great deal of customization possible and a spiral cutterhead to ensure a superb, smooth finish, you really can’t ask for much more from a budget jointer. Try one today and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

3. RIKON 20-600H Benchtop Jointer with Helical Cutterhead (6-Inch)

If you’re looking for a lightweight benchtop jointer that won’t let you down in terms of finish or pace, you might want to road test this RIKON.

We’ve attempted today to bring you a broad spread of jointers so there’s something for all needs and budgets. If you have a limited amount to spend but want a solid and dependable jointer capable of a very smooth finish, read on to see if the RIKON 20-600H might be the perfect solution…

RIKON Power Tools bENCHTOP JOINTER

This is a perfect size jointer for me, and the price was right. The only improvement I would like to see, is a smoother finish on the bed.

By Shawn P.

Main Features

  • 6-inch cutting width
  • 1/8-inch depth of cut
  • ​10-amp universal motor
  • 11,000RPM
  • Helical cutterhead
  • Table: 30 inches
  • Fence: 19 3/4-inches tilting 90 to 135 degrees
  • 2 ½-inch dust port

Benchtop jointers are a space-saving solution if you want to plane boards without spending a fortune on a hulking machine that’s awkward to house in the workshop. Even by the standards of 6-inch benchtops, the RIKON is extremely compact. While your scope of work will be limited, the 20-600H will take up remarkably little space while delivering a wonderful finish.

In common with all 6-inch benchtop jointers, you’ll get a maximum depth of cut of 1/8 inch.

The 10-amp motor will spin the cutterhead at a pacey 11,000RPM. It’s a helical cutterhead with 6 rows of high-speed steel inserts. This design will impart a smooth finish and the nature of the layout is helpful in another way beyond speed and smoothness…

The inserts are sharpened on both edges which effectively doubles their lifespan. All you need to do in the event of wear or damage is to rotate it and reveal the fresh edge rather than replacing it. When it is time to swap them out completely, you can access the blade with ease. Also, the nifty inserts are auto-indexed so they don’t need the same height adjustments as cutterheads with straight knives call for.

The 30-inch table gives you more wiggle room than many small jointer tables so you’ll be all set for most normal home woodworking without feeling cramped.

You can adjust the fence from 90 degrees to 135 degrees. This measures 19 ¾ inches by 4 3/8 inches so it’s fairly substantial and offers reasonable support.

Depth setting is child’s play and the scale is clear and easy to read,

Dust collection leaves something to be desired. The wood chips tend to accumulate quite rapidly so you’re well advised to hook up the RIKON to a shop vac if you want a safe, debris-free working environment.

Thinking of safety, there’s a handy On/Off switch within easy reach at the front so you can conveniently kill the power in the event of an emergency without fumbling around.

Amazingly for a machine at this price point, you’ll get a class-leading 5-year warranty. This is comforting and something you’d expect only on more expensive jointers. You’ll also get some push blocks and hex wrenches thrown in which might not seem like much but it’s a nice and unexpected touch.

A couple of things to be aware of with the RIKON…

Any kind of adjustment function is to some degree a matter of personal preference. While many users are completely content with the way you fine-tune the fence, others berate it for being fiddly and awkward to manipulate.

Another point worth making is that there are only 2 blades per channel which some users have found rather underwhelming. In our opinion, performance is more than acceptable for an inexpensive and compact jointer so, again, make your own mind up with regard to this.

Overall, the minor bugbears are more than compensated for by a reliable jointer that’s ideal for the hobbyist and devoted home woodworker alike.

Pros

  • Weighs just 36 pounds and less than 1 foot tall so the ideal compact unit for anyone with smaller workshops.
  • All-steel construction means the RIKON is lightweight while still surprisingly durable.
  • Helical cutterhead with 12 HSS inserts so you’ll enjoy a smooth and efficient cutting action.
  • Easy to access the blade when required.
  • Capable 10-amp motor rotates the cutterhead at 11,000RPM so take even more demanding planing jobs in your stride.
  • 30-inch table gives you adequate room for slightly larger pieces of lumber.
  • Outstanding 5-year warranty means you can buy in complete confidence.
  • Hex wrenches and push blocks included as a nice bonus.
  • Quick depth setting equipped with scale for your convenience.

Cons

  • Only 2 blades per channel which is less than idea.
  • Adjusters on fence are questionable.
  • Shavings build up quickly so invest in a shop vac.

Conclusion

Not everyone is looking for a professional-grade jointer and not everyone has a budget fluid enough to afford one. The danger with buying cheap power tools, though, is that they usually let you down performance-wise. Nothing could ben further from the truth with the RIKON

With a helical cutterhead and a nimble, powerful motor, this benchtop jointer is rugged and dependable while also allowing you to plane boards with the requisite precision.

If you’re looking for an ultra-compact benchtop jointer, pop the RIKON on your shortlist. It comes very well-reviewed and will not disappoint.

4. Shop Fox W1829 Benchtop Jointer (6-Inch)

Every industry has a handful of reputable brands that produce top-notch products at really low prices and Shop Fox is a perfect example if you’re looking for power tools on a budget.

The W1829 is the next benchtop jointer on our list and while it might be cheap, it’s no slouch in the performance stakes.

A rundown of the main features before we examine the strengths and weaknesses of this inexpensive benchtop jointer…

Shop Fox W1829 Benchtop Jointer

I just got done setting this guy up and cutting a few practice peices. Set up wasn't bad and it comes with a nice sharp blade. It's easy to adjust cutting depth and made real clean cuts. I can't wait to start my next project.

By Nathan P.

Main Features

  • 6-inch maximum cutting width
  • Depth of cut: 1/8-inch
  • 1 ½ HP 12-amp motor running on 110V
  • Cutterhead speed: 10,000RPM
  • 2-knife HSS cutterhead
  • 20,000 cuts per minute
  • Table: 28 1/2 inches
  • Fence stops at 45 and 90 degrees

​The Shop Fox will allow you to cut boards a maximum of 6 inches wide. The single-phase 12-amp motor runs on 110-volts and develops 1 1/2HP so it’s more than potent enough for regular planing jobs at home.

The Shop Fox weighs in at around 80 pounds which is pretty heavy for a smaller benchtop jointer. While this makes it less portable than some of the slenderer opposition, you’ll be rewarded with a rock-solid and very stable jointer that’s built to go the distance.

The cutter head has a pair of knives which rotate at a more than ample 10,000 RPM while serving up 20,000 cuts per minute. This will give you straight and flat faces on your boards at a pleasingly rapid rate. Although you won’t be able to undertake enormous projects, the jointing you do will be accomplished in a flash.

The 1/8-inch cutting depth is expected on a 6-inch benchtop jointer. Thanks to a nifty knob, you can make micro-adjustments and exercise full control over this depth according to the project at hand.

The fence can be fine-tuned meaning you can bevel joint up to 45 degrees. You’ll get 2 positive stops at 45 degrees and 90 degrees to streamline operations. Aside from bevel cuts, you’ll be able to take care of all your surface planing and edge jointing needs with the Shop Fox so it’s a highly versatile machine.

The cast iron table could be a little larger but it’s fine for the intended usage of a jointer in this size bracket. It’s 28-½ inches long and 6 ¼ inches wide so it’s not exactly a colossus but sufficient for smaller workpieces and the absence of an inch or two is no reason to shy away from the Shop Fox.

Dust collection is enhanced thanks to a mini impeller designed to zap all chips away from the cutterhead before spitting them out through the regulation dust port. The chute will fit into a trashcan so you can work in comfort and safety with a clear line of sight on your workpiece.

Instruction manuals often leave something to be desired. The one that comes with this benchtop jointer is particularly poor. Bear this in mind if you are a beginner and likely to be in need of more guidance. There’s plenty of information available online to help you out. This is in no way a justification for the deficient manual, simply a workable solution.

The other negative elements worth drawing your attention to are tables that are sometimes not completely flat and the Shop Fox’s propensity to chip the wood when you’re edge jointing. These are relatively minor issues that are only thrown into the ring by a handful of disgruntled users but it’s always worth being aware of the good and bad points so you can make an informed decision.

We’ll walk you through a summary of those pros and cons before moving on to our final benchtop jointer review…

Pros

  • Extremely affordable while still affording speed and precision planing.
  • Cast iron for increased durability and heavy enough at 80 pounds to keep things stable and vibration-free.
  • 1 ½ HP motor serves up a cutterhead speed of 10,000RPM and delivers 20,000 strokes per minute so get more done in less time.
  • Fence is fully adjustable and has 2 stops.
  • Neat infeed table knob lets you tweak the cutting depth without straining yourself.
  • Walk in the park to adjust or remove the knives.
  • 2 HSS knives ensure you’ll get clean cuts every time.
  • 2 ½-inch dust port does a reasonable job of keeping your workshop debris-free.
  • Pair of push blocks included.
  • User-friendly tail stock hand wheel finished in metal alloy for longevity as well as comfort.

Cons

  • Can occasionally chip the wood so exercise caution.
  • Manual is pretty poorly written so you might need to seek out assistance online.
  • Some reported issues with infeed and outfeed tables not being flat.

Conclusion

With any lower end machine, you need to appreciate what you’re getting for your money rather than bemoaning the fact the tool does not compete with offerings at triple the price. We firmly believe that if you keep this in mind and focus on the many advantages of this Shop Fox jointer, you’ll be more than happy with your investment.

All 6-inch jointers are somewhat limited in output but the bottom line is that they plug a gap for anyone who’s not in the market for a massive jointer. If you’re a keen home woodworker and you want a nice portable planer that will impart a smooth finish every time, pop the Shop Fox on your shortlist.

Despite a few very minor complaints, the overall performance and build quality are top-tier and the price is anything but! Check out the W1829 and see if it deserves a place in your arsenal of power tools.

5. PORTER-CABLE PC160JT Variable Speed Bench Jointer (6-Inch)

We’ll wrap up our look at the best benchtop jointers with another 6-inch model at a highly attractive price.

PORTER-CABLE has a hard-earned reputation for producing no-nonsense power tools well within most the grasp of most woodworkers even if they are operating on a tighter budget.

With the PC160JT, you’ll get a handy variable speed jointer capable of acquitting itself well with most home woodworking projects you’d expect to undertake with a stripped-down version of a full-sized jointer.

A quick once-over of the main features and then we’ll explore the PORTER-CABLE in more depth…

Porter Cable 6 Inch

If you work with wood less than 6", this is a good machine. I'm not positive that the blades last as long as they should, but this is my first one. Replacement blades weren't that expensive, about $13.00. Good enough until I can locate a good place for sharpening them.

By Matt Y.

Main Features

  • 6-inch maximum cutting width
  • 1/8-inch depth of cut
  • 35 pounds
  • 1.4 HP 10-amp motor
  • Variable cutterhead speed: 6,000 to 11,000RPM
  • Cutterhead has two high-speed steel knives
  • 12,000 to 22,000 cuts per minute (variable)
  • 30 inch table
  • Fence stops: 45 and 90 degrees

​Unlike the other benchtop jointers we’ve reviewed today, the PORTER-CABLE boasts variable speed functionality.

The 10-amp motor kicks out just under 1 ½ HP and you’ll be able to adjust the speed according to the size and the hardness of the workpiece. Not all wood is created equal and this feature makes your life much easier while providing superior finishing results. You can ramp things up from 6000RPM at the lower end right through to 11,000RPM when conditions dictate.

Changing or adjusting the pair of high-speed steel knives and altering the fence is an exercise in simplicity. This is particularly important for novices who don’t want to be struggling when they could be planing away. There’s a cutterhead lock so you can make changes without compromising your safety.

The table measures up at 30 inches so you’ll get ample latitude to surface thicker boards without feeling cramped.

The center-mounted fence tends to polarize opinion slightly. It’s fashioned from aluminum which many purists sneer at. In our opinion, there are certain sacrifices you need to accept if you’re buying a budget machine and this is by no means a catastrophe just something to bear in mind. The more tiresome issue with the fence is the fact it needs re-squaring every time you adjust it. Due to the design, this is not exactly straightforward.

On the plus side with the fence, there are positive stops at 45 degrees and 90 degrees to simplify operation. Due to the way it’s mounted, your workpiece will be fully supported throughout the cut allowing for highly accurate edge jointing.

The 4-inch dust port on the PORTER-CABLE is a little larger than on many competing benchtop jointers, one of the many ways in which this admirable machine differentiates itself. Keeping your workshop clean and clear of potentially lethal flying debris is critical and every little extra helps.

You’ll get a 3-year limited warranty with this jointer showing that PORTER-CABLE stands behind its products even though they don’t cost the earth. This gives you an added feeling of security and reduces your reasons not to try this versatile and capable jointer.

We’ll showcase the pros and cons of this benchtop before finishing up these benchtop jointer reviews and letting you decide for yourself which would best serve your needs…

Pros

  • Weighs just 35 pounds so perfect if you want a highly portable benchtop jointer.
  • 2HP motor is much capable than that of many comparable jointers.
  • Variable speed is a wonderful touch so move from 6,000RMP up through 11,000RPM and plane varying sizes and toughnesses of wood more efficiently.
  • Ideal for amateur woodworkers or professionals due to its range of functionality and performance.
  • Swings 16 inches over the bed and 13 inches over the tool rest while the distance between centers is 46 inches: a hard-hitting all-rounder.
  • Exceptional value for money offering first-class planing for a third-class price.
  • Substantial 30-inch table allows you to surface stock up to 6 inches wide with ease.
  • Jack-screw arrangement makes replacing and adjusting the knives a cinch.
  • Plenty of spare parts readily available which should always be a consideration when buying power tools.
  • 3-year warranty has you covered in the unlikely event of breakdown.

Cons

  • Aluminum fence is not to everyone’s taste.
  • Table top is not particularly durable so consider your usage before buying something potentially unsuitable.

Conclusion

Considering the cut-throat price tag, the PORTER-CABLE is a superb little benchtop jointer that will allow you to surface even thicker boards without undue effort.

Although marketed as a jointer for amateurs and professionals alike, this is clearly not a machine built for prolonged and hardcore use in a commercial setting. It’s more accurate to say that advanced woodworkers will appreciate the flexibility of the variable speed motor while it’s user-friendly enough if you’re just starting out on the woodworking trail.

If you’re on the hunt for a bargain – and who isn’t? – the PORTER CABLE PC160JT is a strong contender for the best benchtop jointer in its class. Give it a shot and you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.

Who Needs Benchtop Jointers?

Put simply, if you’re in any way interested in woodworking and you don’t want to the pain of planing by hand, you’ll need to invest in a jointer.

No wood can be properly joined or finished until it’s planed straight with square edges. For joinery and furniture making, planing is the most basic operation and one you can’t sidestep.

Effectively, you are establishing a point from which all other measurements and cuts can be made when you use a benchtop jointer.

Although you can buy softwood ready planed, it still needs a pass or two after it’s dried out. Most hardwood is bought sawn, that is directly off the milling band saw.

​So, whichever way you dress it up, any serious woodworker needs a jointer.

THE COMPLETE benchtop jointer Buying Guide

benchtop jointer working guide

Buying the best jointer is first a case of determining which of the above styles would best suit your needs and the kind of projects you have up your sleeve.

It’s pointless buying a benchtop if you’re looking to plane bulky pieces of timber. Equally, it’s a waste of time to invest in a large free-standing unit if you’re a casual hobbyist with limited workshop space.

Once you’ve got the type of jointer firmed up, your options will by definition have whittled down just like the wood you’ll be planing.

Think carefully about budget. Buy the best jointer you can afford without compromising yourself financially. Again, lasering in on price will narrow down the choice further and you’ll already be halfway to your decision the easy way.

Take your time to study plenty of user reviews. Once somebody has parted with their hard-earned money, they’ll generally give a frank appraisal.

Beyond this, read reviews from professionals who have put these machines through their paces and don’t have a vested interest in any given manufacturer.

If you take some time in advance to do this, there are then 8 key things to consider to help you end up with the best benchtop jointer for your requirements if this smaller planer best gels with your needs…

What To Consider When Buying a Benchtop Jointer

  • Size of Jointer
    Before considering the size of the jointer you plan to buy, think seriously about the average size of material you’ll be working with. This will assist you greatly in determining what length and width jointer is the best choice.

    The size of a jointer is given according to the length of the knives. The measurement corresponds to the widest board the jointer can comfortably handle. As a guideline, a jointer can deal with wood twice the length of its bed. To this end, blade and bed lengths are both instrumental when it comes to the size of the workpiece a given jointer can accommodate.

    > 6-Inch: The smallest jointer is perfect for home woodworkers but can also serve a turn for contractors. These jointers are generally inexpensive and pretty user-friendly. If you want to work with pieces bigger than 6 inches, you’ll need to rip them down first. The benchtop jointers we’ve reviewed today are all 6-inchers
    > 8-Inch: Stepping up a gear, 8-inch jointers boast bigger knives and they’ve got longer beds. These are pricier, weigh more and allow you to work with more substantial pieces of lumber
    > 16-Inch: Skipping up to the larger industrial jointers, these are real powerhouses with much longer knives offering a very broad scope of work. If you have a large workshop, a jointer like this is an investment rather than a luxury
  • Cutting Depth
    ​The cutting depth will impact the number of passes you need to make in order to obtain a completely straight board.

    ½-inch to ¾-inch cutting depth is usually more than enough, especially with benchtop jointers.

    Think about what work you’ll be carrying out, how important speed and efficiency are and focus on a jointer with an appropriate cutting depth.
  • Bed: Length and Width

    The size of the bed influences the price of the jointer as well as performance.

    6 to 8 inches of bed is adequate for most regular planing requirements although you’ll find jointers with beds from 4 to 16 inches wide.

    Since the jointer can normally handle timber twice the length of the bed, you should also take its length into account. You can, however, pick up bed extensions if you only occasionally work with lengthier pieces.

    Both of these factors are also affected by the amount of space in your workshop. You need to make sure you have room for the jointer and also sufficient space to maneuver the wood as you plane away.
  •  Fence
    ​Design of fences varies considerably but smooth operation is paramount.

    Angling the fence is simplified if there are positive stops. Most fences can be angled between 45 degrees and 135 degrees with positive stops at 45 degrees and 90 degrees.

    The fence should be flat, rigid and durable. Read user reviews for any commentary on this aspect. Buying a jointer with a shoddy fence will seriously diminish your enjoyment and lead to poor planing results.
  • Table
    Since your aim is to create flat surfaces on wood, the tables should be absolutely flat and parallel with the knives.

    In general, longer tables give you a straighter joint. That said, if you’re working with small and intricate pieces, it makes no sense to prioritize a long table. The same is true if you are suffering from space constraints.

    There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s a case of doubling down on the type of table that works best for you.
  • Power
    ​Jointer motors range from 1HP to 2HP.

    Don’t discount the smaller 1HP motors as they are more than fit for purpose with benchtop jointers.

    Watch out, too, for the voltage. Jointers designed for home use need standard 110-volt or 220-volt single-phase outlets. Hulking great commercial units need 440-volts.

    For the purposes of these benchtop jointers, you’re in safe hands with single-phase motors.
  • Head
    Spiral cutting heads making use of 4-sided cutters in a spiral shape are becoming the industry standard.

    These jointers shave off wood in a slicing motion maximizing efficiency and kicking out much less noise than a straight-knived counterpart.

    Jointers with spiral heads also leave far fewer tooling marks. This, in turn, brings down your finishing time.
  • Dust Collection
    Evidently, using a jointer generates a great deal of dust and debris.

    Look for a jointer equipped with an integrated dust collector or one you can hook up to your shop vac. We’ll look now at why safety in the workshop is so important and keeping things dust-free is a critical part of that operational safety…

Usage and Maintenance Tips

Using a jointer can be dangerous in large part because they don’t seem dangerous. It’s easy to let your guard down.

The truth is that one-quarter of all workshop accidents involve planing machines so you really do need to watch your step.

  • Wear eye and ear protection at all times
  • Don’t wear jewelry, loose clothing or long sleeves
  • Keep the guard in place and properly adjusted where applicable
  • Make sure your hand stays away from the back of the board as it passes over the cutters
  • Use push blocks so that your hands are 6 inches from the cutterhead
  • Steer clear of jointing any stock less than 12 inches long
  • Check the depth of cut before you fire up your jointer
  • Make certain the knives are sharp
  • Stand to one side of the jointer and not immediately behind it
  • Let the cutterhead reach full speed before starting your cut

While that looks like quite a list, they are really just basic safety precautions that any sensible woodworker will take.

Focus your full attention on the job at all times and using a jointer will be incredibly rewarding, effective and perfectly safe.

You’ll need to keep your jointer clean and free of debris but there’s not too much by the way of maintenance to bother you beyond making sure the knives are sharp.

You also need to make certain that the infeed and outfeed tables are parallel to one another. Any sign of humped or hollowed edges on your boards and you need to sort out the tables. Use a straight edge or carpenter’s level to check up. Simply adjust the screws and make necessary adjustments.

Check out some great tips on detailed jointer tuning here.

CLOSING WORD

​We trust you’ve enjoyed this breakdown of the best benchtop jointers at your disposal.

Always feel free to reach out with any queries or feedback you might have. We’re very responsive to what you want here on Miter Saw Judge and we’re continuing to relentlessly build out this site to reflect what you’ve been asking for.

Finding a great and affordable benchtop jointer is really not rocket and we’ve hopefully made the job even easier for you today.

Before we sign off, a collection of 10 of the most frequently asked questions about these nifty power tools…

FAQ:

 

1) WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A JOINTER AND A THICKNESSER?

A jointer planes one face and edge straight and square with one another so it’s perfect for flattening out warped and twisted boards. The thicknesser helps you get the second face and edge parallel to this. It also gets your boards to a uniform thickness. Do not confuse these two machines.

2) WHY CAN’T YOU USE A THICKNESSER TO FLATTEN BOARDS?

Thicknessers are not designed with this in mind. The feed rollers on a thicknesser follow the curvature of a board rather than changing it in any way. While you can remove some of the cup from boards when they’re thicker using a thicknesser, you’ll need a jointer if you want them completely flat.

3) HOW DOES A JOINTER FLATTEN BOARDS?

This is due to the way the material is fed into the machine. Instead of being fed along feed rolls, the wood going into jointer runs down a flat surface. As long as you don’t apply too much pressure, this will flatten it out a treat.

4) WHAT IS SURFACE PREPARATION?

This is the degree to which the lumberyard prepare the boards you intend to buy. This surface preparation ranges from nothing done with rough lumber through to completely prepared boards. The more you get done for you, the more you’ll pay and the less control you’ll have.

5) WHAT DOES SURFACED HIT AND MISS MEAN?

This is when 1/16-inch of material is removed for you and the wood is pre-planed so you’ll easily detect the grain and color. This is a nice happy medium when it comes to buying boards that leave control in your hands without making your job a nightmare.

6) WHAT SHOULD YOU CHECK BEFORE STARTING UP YOUR JOINTER?

Check that the knives are set so that the clearance and depth of cut are as required. Make sure they are sharp, fastened and properly balanced. Make sure the fence is anchored.

7) WHAT DETERMINES THE SIZE OF A JOINTER?

You need to consider both the length of the cutter and the length of the table. 6-inch machines are suitable for lighter home woodworking while a 12-inch jointer is cut out for more rugged commercial use.

8) WHY IS A LONGER TABLE PREFERABLE?

Put simply, the longer the table, the easier it will be for you to produce accurate results.

9) SHOULD I CONDUCT MAINTENANCE ON A WEEKLY OR MONTHLY BASIS?

Since the way in which people use their machines differs greatly, you are much better off developing a maintenance schedule based on hours of use rather than focusing on specific time periods.

10) WHAT IS A MOTORIZED GRINDER?

This is a method of sharpening the blades of your jointer without removing them. While this can come in handy for production shops where time is of the essence, they are not realty necessary for the average home woodworker.

Edge-to-Edge Joints
Edge-to-edge joints are used to glue several boards into a surface. They commonly come into play for table tops and[...]
How To Cut Down a Tree
You can fell a tree with a handsaw or a chainsaw. It’s not generally practical to take care of it[...]
Turning Wood
Woodturning brings another dimension to the art of woodworking. Whether it’s basic spindles or table legs, bowls and platters or[...]
Carving and Carving Techniques
When it comes to truly creative and skilled woodworking, carving leads the pack. If you break down regular woodworking, it[...]
Health and Safety in the Workshop
When it comes to woodworking, taking responsibility for your own health and safety is absolutely paramount. Surrounded by power tools[...]
All About Hardwood Floors
Today, a growing number of homes have bare floors. There are many varieties of wooden floors flooding the market now[...]

Enter your text here...

Leave a Comment