Tips on How to Safely Use a Jointer

A jointer is one of those tools known for their vicious bites. Thus, it should come as no surprise that people, pros and DIYers alike, have lost fingers and other limbs to it. To avoid becoming a victim of a jointer incident, there are some safety protocols you need to adhere to.

In this article, we have compiled a list of seven jointer safety tips to help you avoid injuries while using this powerful woodworking tool.

Wear Goggles

The primary function of a jointer is to give a rough piece of lumber a flat surface. As such, you can expect flying wood debris when using this tool. For this reason, it is important to have goggles on.

Wear googles while using benchtop jointer

The goggles will protect you from flying wood debris that may fly into your eyes. Therefore, always ensure you have your goggles on before turning on a jointer.

The Size of The Wood Matters

A jointer is also used to straighten the edges of a piece of wood. The length of the piece of wood you use matters. Typically the best budget jointer will have an infeed for you to push wood towards the blade.  And the length of wood you are placing on the infeed table matters.

The recommended length is 10 to 12 inches. Anything less than 10 inches long should not be used on a jointer. Also, it may be a good idea to use a block plane to push the piece of wood.

Apart from length, thickness, and width also matters when choosing wood to be joint. That said, you should not joint edge wood that is less than ¼ inches thick. Also, you should avoid edge jointing wood that is less than ¾ inches wide.

When it comes to face jointing avoid jointing wood that is less than ⅜ inches thick and less than ¾ inches wide.

Always Use A Fence

There are those people who think that it’s unnecessary to use a fence on a jointer, don’t be one of them. The purpose of the fence is to ensure the wood is kept straight as you push it towards the jointer’s blade with ease.

The fence is, therefore, an important component to have on your jointer when working with wood. Not using it can result in damage to the wood or worse injuries.

Attach the Cutter Guard

The cutter guard is a safety feature found in most jointers. Its function is to protect your hands from coming into contact with the jointer’s spinning blades. Some people remove this part to make it easier to sharpen and replace the blades.

However, removing it is never a good idea. It is important to ensure the cutter guard is attached before turning on your jointer. Not attaching this part can lead to serious injuries since you become exposed to the spinning blades of the jointer.

Avoid Wearing Loose Long-Sleeved Clothing

Loose clothing is a no-no when using a jointer. With loose clothing, there is always the risk of the loose sleeves getting caught by the spinning blades. When this happens, your hand will get pulled in towards the spinning blades as well.

Inspect the Grain

When using a jointer, you should ensure you are cutting with the grain not against it. The purpose of cutting with the grain is to avoid tear-out. Also, it ensures you can feet the board smoothly.

Wood grain is important

This is an important safety protocol always to follow that is often overlooked.

Inspect Board for Knots

A knot on a board can spell danger if not properly dealt with. However, it is important to inspect for knots on any piece of lumber before pushing through a jointer. Some people try and find a way around a knot when using a jointer.

The alternative is to adjust the depth of the cut. For any wood that has a knot, the depth of the cut should be adjusted to less than 1/32 inches. For materials that do not have a knot, the depth of the cut should be adjusted to 1/16 inches.

Do Not Put Your Hands Over the Blade.

Both hands should be used when pushing wood through a jointer’s cutter blades. With the help of a push, block use your left hand to push the wood towards the blade. Once about 10 inches of the wood has gone through the jointer shift to using your right hand.

The right hand should be used to hold the wood against the fence. When the wood is about 10 inches left, shift your weight so that you can use your right hand to ease the wood against the cutters.

It is important to remove your left hand and push block to avoid it coming into contact with the blades.

Remove Obstacles

When operating a jointer, the last thing you want is a messy work environment. You must be able to stand upright without having to go over boxes or any other obstacles. Therefore, the floor of your work area should be clear of all and any obstacles.

Also, when feeding wood to the jointer, make sure your fingers and thumbs are on top of it and not at the end of the wood. This is to minimize the risk of your fingers getting chopped off as you feed the wood through the jointer.

Additional safety tips

  • Read the jointer manufacturer’s instructions manual before using the jointer
  • Keep the knives of the jointer cutter head sharp and properly adjusted
  • When using a jointer stand to one side and not behind it
  • Ensure the cutter head is at full speed before commencing cutting
  • Keep your eyes glued to the jointer when using at all times

Conclusion

Jointers are handy tools to have in any workshop, especially where you are dealing with rough lumber. However, they can also be dangerous if not used properly. By following the above-outlined safety tips, you will be able to ensure your safety.

The manufacturer of your jointer will also have outlined additional safety features unique to your jointer in the instruction’s manual. It is for this reason that it is important to read the instructions manual before using a jointer for the first time.

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