"I often wish I was one of those dedicated woodworkers who loved to spend hours of their time "fine tuning" their equipment and sharpening tools to a razor edge. Sadly, I love to spend more time cutting wood than fine tuning the machinery. This shortcoming has disadvantages. Some time ago (I embarrassed to tell you how long ago) I purchased a very nice, brand new 6" Delta jointer. A fine machine, factory set up and "ready to go", or so the salesman told me.
When I got this machine home, I used it for many months (many, many months) and became more and more dissatisfied with it's performance. Oh it ran fine, but for some reason it would not joint a straight edge. I purchased a very expensive straight edge to check the infeed and outfeed tables and they were well within tolerance.
I became more and more frustrated and even considered selling the jointer - click below to read what happened next
I often wish I was one of those dedicated woodworkers who loved to spend hours of their time "fine tuning" their equipment and sharpening tools to a razor edge. Sadly, I love to spend more time cutting wood than fine tuning the machinery. This shortcoming has disadvantages. Some time ago (I embarrassed to tell you how long ago) I purchased a very nice, brand new 6" Delta jointer . A fine machine by all counts, factory set up and "ready to go" or so the salesman told me.
When I got this machine home, I used it for many months (many, many months) and became more and more dissatisfied with it's performance. Oh it ran fine, but for some reason it would not joint a strait edge. I purchased a very expensive straight edge to check the infeed and outfeed tables and they were well within tolerance. I became more and more frustrated and even considered selling the jointer .
I read two or three articles on "how to use your jointer" properly and still it was delivering cuts that my tablesaw could easily beat (especially with Freud's Glue Line Rip blade that I love so much). I even made a fancy holding device like one article suggested still I got rounded results.
Finally I found an article somewhere, and I don't even remember where, that explained that if the jointer knives are not set properly, unsatisfactory results will be obtained. The article went on to say that if the knives are too high above the outfeed table the wood will have a "snipe" at the end (a place near the back of the board that has extra wood removed by the cutter). The article also said that if the cutters are too low the resultant cuts will be bowed which is exactly the problem I was having.
Now I was in a conundrum - do I sell the jointer as is and get a bigger 8" that I want anyway, or do I try and fix the problem? I looked for article on how to set jointer knives and found them somewhat conflicting, so decided to talk to some woodwork buddies. The first one I talked to told me he set them up, as level with the out feed table as he could using a strait edge, then rewired his jointer motor to run in reverse and ran a fine, flat sharpening stone over the knives to get them perfect. Since I am not an electrician, and I felt this was making something much harder than it should be - I called another buddy. My second contact told me he now had also been struggling with setting knives and now had the perfect solution and he showed me a pair of very sophisticated setting jigs. He went on to say that these now made his settings perfect. Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to talk with yet a third buddy. He just chuckled, shrugged and shook his head, "I don't worry too much about it" he told me, and with that I thought the best advice was the two little jigs, and off I went to the tool store.
At the tool store I asked one of the salesmen where their fine adjustment measuring tools were? He asked me what I was looking for and told him, Jointer knive setup device. He immediately walked to the end of one isle and handed me a small flat wooden box, "there ya go" he said, just what you need. I opened the box to see two long black square bars. "These weren't what I was looking for" I told him then I pointed behind him to the pair of jig holders one of my friends was using. "Those are for planers" he told me, what you are holding are for jointers". He went on to explain that when you are setting up a planer, the knives all need to be the same height to one another, with a jointer all the knives need to be the same height as the outfeed table and that the tool I was holding, with two back, square rods, which had magnets in the bottom would do what I want.
I was beginning to think that selling the jointer would have been easier, but I struggled on and purchased the recommended tool ... with the two long black square arms. Since there were no instructions in the box, I surmised either this was really meant of woodworkers (who hate reading instructions) .. or, setting up the blades was not going to be that difficult.
The instruction book for the Delta Jointer was helpful. I suggested that each blade needed to be in top-dead-centre when setting the knives. Now my eyesight isn't the best it once was, so I decided that as long as each blade was set in exactly the same place, they would all be the same height, so I etched a line in the front of the table where each blade would be aligned to, and set about setting up each knife. See the white arrow that shows how the square aligns each knife for setup.
After setting all three knives, I decided it was time to test the jointer. As I ran the first piece of wood through, I could feel it was finally working. When I looked at the edge I had just created I noticed a slight "sniping" at the very end. On closer examination, I could see the blades were all a few thousands of an inch high.
To solve this I purchased two inexpensive flat feeler gauges and used them between the knife setting tool and the blades. I found that 6 thousandth was perfect, so re-set the knives. This time the wood ran through perfectly. I ran several other pieces and type of wood all perfect.
There is a strange feeling that comes over oneself when you finally accomplish something that has been bothering you for many, months. I had a new excitement about this tool. Lucky for me, it had not been used much so my blades were in great shape. I will now purchase a spare set of blades so that when these are dull I can put sharp one in as I am taking the dull ones out and save a bit of time and be able to use the machine while the other blades are being sharpened.
I wonder ... maybe I should change my ways and become one of those dedicated woodworkers who spends the time fine tuning and sharpening what a pleasure working with tools that are sharp and set up properly.
Copyright - Colin Knecht