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How to Use Benchtop Jointers – All You Need to Know

Start by adjusting the tables of your benchtop jointers and the position of their fence according to the cuts you want to create on your wood board. With benchtop jointers, you can create different edges, flatten boards, and employ several other advanced techniques. 

How to Use Benchtop Jointers

Whether you wish to flatten, straighten, or square up the edges of your rough boards - benchtop jointers can do it all for you. 

Also referred to as jointers, they can help massively with your woodwork projects by creating the foundation of a tight-fitting joint and removing knots. In this blog post, I will walk you through all the basics of using benchtop jointers, necessary safety precautions, and the major techniques you can use while working with them. 

Let us begin! 

How to Use Benchtop Jointers

Basic anatomy of a benchtop jointer

1. Table

The jointer table is a support surface as you feed the board to the cutterhead. It consists of two components - an infeed table and an outfeed table. You can adjust the height and angles of these parts to control the depth and angle of the cuts. 

2. Fence

Whenever you put the edge of your wood board near a cutterhead, it is important to ensure that it stands straight. A fence is a vertical guide that helps you do that, and I like adjusting its position to control the width of the cut. 

3. Cutterhead

One of the most important parts of any jointer is the cutterhead. It consists of a set of very sharp blades that rotate at high speed. This way, when you feed the edge of your wood board to the cutterhead, the latter cut small amounts of material from the former. 

The height of the blades of your cutterhead is adjustable so that your cuts can be as precise as you want them to be. I like to replace the blades as they wear out, but you can sharpen them too. 

4. Dust port

If you ever visit someone working on a woodwork project (or even watch videos), you will know that a lot of debris is produced in the process. A dust port is responsible for collecting dust, which can help you maintain a clean environment to work while using tools like jointers and planers. 

How these parts work together to create smooth edges and flat surfaces

All the parts of a jointer work together to create a smooth edge and a flat surface in your woodwork projects. For instance, as the infeed table supports the board fed into the cutterhead, the outfeed table supports it as it exits the cutting region. 

Each component of a benchtop jointer has a specific function, which further contributes to smoothening the edges and flattening the surfaces of your wood board. The table and fence ensure the board stands straight and effectively goes in and out of the cutterhead. Then, the cutterhead removes any high spots or imperfections to easily create smooth and flat boards. 

Safety precautions to keep in mind while using benchtop jointers

Importance of wearing protective gear

I always strongly advise everyone who wants to work with a benchtop jointer to never overlook the importance of wearing protective gear. Such gear can help prevent injuries to a great extent, and you should wear them to protect all the exposed regions of your body. Here is a list of a few protective gears that I use while working with planers and jointers:

  • Safety glasses to protect my eyes from flying debris
  • Hearing protection to protect my ears from the loud noise of the tool
  • Mask to prevent inhalation of debris

Tips for preventing accidents when using a benchtop jointer

The key to using benchtop jointers with wood effectively is to follow every safety tip and measure. Some of the most important ones that you should always keep in mind are:

1. Instructions and guidelines

Most benchtop jointers come with an instruction manual with all the necessary steps and additional information you need to know while working with them. It would help if you always went through all the guidelines of such manuals properly before you start working with the settings of planers and jointers.  

2. Wear appropriate clothes

It is best to avoid wearing loosely fitted clothes while assembling the settings of your jointers (and also while using them). This can help prevent accidents due to your clothes being stuck in the tool. Similarly, avoid wearing jewelry while working with tools like jointers and planers. 

3. Keep your fingers at a distance

It would help if you tried to keep your fingers as far as possible from the cutter blade. I like to use a push stick to feed the wood board through the cutterhead of my jointer, but you can use a push block too. 

Setting up your benchtop jointers

How to Use Benchtop Jointers

How to choose the right cutterhead and blades for your project

Choosing the right cutterhead and blades is crucial for achieving the desired results from your woodwork project. Hence, your cutterhead must be compatible whether you use a benchtop or stationary jointer. 

While browsing through my cutterhead options, I keep the type of wooden board and the thickness I wish to cut in mind to make a smart purchase. Further, it is important to ensure that the blades of the cutterhead are sharp enough to create smooth edges in your wood boards. The blades should also be durable, so you do not need to repurchase them too frequently. 

How to adjust the fence, and the infeed and outfeed tables

You must understand how to adjust the fence, infeed, and outfeed tables to ensure your wood board is flat and straight while feeding it into the cutterhead. The first step in adjusting these components is to fix the infeed table to the same height as the cutterhead and the outfeed table. 

Then, adjust the fence to such an angle that makes cutting the edges of your wooden board up to your desired results easier. However, you should not worry if you can't find the perfect position or adjustment immediately. Through trial and error, I discovered that making small adjustments is the perfect way to go about the settings of these components. 

Tips for securing your workpiece to the table

1. Use clamps

If you do not properly secure your workpiece to the table, there is a high chance it will slip and cause uneven cuts. Hence, it is best to use securing elements like clamps to pin down your workpiece to the table properly and prevent damage while using benchtop jointers. 

2. Refrain from using excessive force

It is extremely important to be careful while feeding your workpiece board through the cutterhead. While it may be tempting to apply excessive force to finish the job quickly, doing so can result in the board shifting unnecessarily - thus causing uneven cuts. 

Basic techniques for using a benchtop jointer

How to create a straight edge on a board

If you want to create a straight edge on a wood board, align it against the fence of the benchtop jointer and adjust it to your desired angle. Next, gently push the board through the cutterhead while keeping it flat against the infeed table and fence. 

I like to make small adjustments in the fence angle and position along the way to get even better results. As your workpiece exits the cutterhead, ensure its position is flat against the outfeed table. You can keep repeating this process until you achieve your desired edge on the board or log.  

How to square up the edges of a board

To square up the edges of a board, you should first create a straight edge (as mentioned in the previous technique). Once done, adjust the fence to the table at a 90-degree angle. 

Feed the board into the cutterhead carefully while keeping it flat against the infeed table and the fence - and this is how you square up one edge. Once you finish the first one, flip the board over and repeat the process with the next edge you want to square up. 

How to flatten a board

The first step to flattening a board, like squaring up the edges, is creating a straight edge. Then, feed the board into the cutterhead so it is flat against both tables. Once you are done with that step, adjust the infeed and outfeed tables to the desired height. 

I also like to create small adjustments during this process to alter the settings of my tool placements to achieve my desired results. It would help if you kept repeating the process until your target region of the board was smooth and flattened. 


Ensure you only remove a little material while flattening the board, or else you might have to deal with uneven surfaces.

Advanced techniques for using a benchtop jointer

How to create chamfers and bevels

Step 1

The first step to creating the angled cuts of chamfers and bevels is to adjust the fence. Set the fence at your desired angle using the angle adjustment on your benchtop jointer. Whenever I want a 45-degree chamfer, I prefer setting the fence at a 45-degree angle to the bed of the machine too. However, you can measure according to your preference for a bevel.

Step 2

Next, using the depth adjustment knob, adjust the depth of the cut on your wood log to the desired amount. This will help you determine how deep the cut will be. 

Step 3

Turn on the benchtop jointer and carefully feed your board through the cutterhead. Make sure that the board is flat against the fence and the tables (both infeed and outfeed) while you create the cut. 

Step 4

Once you are done creating the chamfer or bevel on the first edge, flip the board 180 degrees and create similar cuts on the opposite edges.   

How to make tongue and groove joints

Step 1

Adjust the height of your cutter blade and fence on your benchtop jointer to compliment the width of your workpiece appropriately. I would advise you to keep the blade height at half of the thickness of your board. Then, position the fence such that you cut the tongue or groove in the center of your workpiece. 

Step 2

Keeping the face of your board against the fence, run the board through your benchtop jointer, making a groove along one edge. This is how you can easily create a groove. 

Step 3

Next, flip the second board over and run it through the jointer. But this time, keep the opposite edge against the fence without altering the blade height and the fence position. Now, you’ve created a tongue. 

Step 4

Fit the tongue into the groove, and ensure the two fit tightly. 

How to make rabbets and dadoes

Step 1

Adjust the blade height and fence position of your benchtop jointer to the appropriate settings for the width of your wooden boards. To determine the appropriate blade height, I measure the depth I want to create in my rabbet and dado and then adjust the height accordingly. Similarly, the fence should be positioned to cut your desired width of the joints.  

Step 2

Keeping the face of your board against the fence, run it through the cutterhead of your benchtop jointer. Ensure that the board is held firmly in this step to prevent any movement resulting in uneven cuts. 

Step 3

Create the same cut on the corresponding edge of the other piece that will fit into the recess, all at 90-degree angles. This will ensure a snug fit between the pieces of rabbet and dadoes. 

Tips for maintaining your benchtop jointer

1. Regular cleaning and maintenance

Sawdust and debris buildup can lead to various issues in equipment like benchtop jointers. Hence, cleaning them regularly and right after every use is best. To clean the components of your jointer, wipe the table, fence, and blades using a dry cloth or brush. However, if you are dealing with tough grime buildup, you may also have to use some mild cleaning liquid to clean the components. 

2. Proper storage of your tool

Storing your benchtop jointers properly is one of the most important aspects of maintaining them. Ensure that you store them in a cool and dry place whenever not in use, and cover them with a dust cover to protect against debris buildup. 

3. Troubleshooting common problems

If you want your benchtop jointers to last long, you should troubleshoot common problems as soon as you identify them. Some of the several problems that you might encounter while using such jointers are uneven cuts, vibrations, difficulty adjusting the blade height and fence position, etc. You can refer to the instruction manuals to solve such issues or call a professional for help. 

How to install benchtop jointers?

To install a benchtop jointer, position it on a stable workbench that is centered and leveled. You can secure it properly to the stand using components like clamps. Once you are done positioning, adjust the blade height and fence position to complement your project requirements. 

Then, plug in your jointer and check if it is working properly. You should also go through the instructional guide provided with the equipment to see if there are any further steps that you should follow to install your benchtop jointers properly. 

Which one is better, a benchtop or a stationary jointer?

Whether a benchtop or a stationary jointer is better will strongly depend on your needs and preferences. Benchtop jointers are generally more compact and portable, making them suitable for smaller workshops and DIY projects. Stationary jointers, on the other hand, offer wider tables and more power, which are beneficial for larger, professional-grade projects. 

Ideally, consider your project size and scope, available space, and budget when deciding between the two. 

Benchtop jointers serve various purposes, including creating straight edges, flattening boards, and executing advanced techniques like rabbets and dadoes. It's crucial to prioritize safety measures, such as wearing protective gear and avoiding contact with the cutterhead.

Utilize a benchtop jointer for your next project to achieve precise cuts and joints. For more information, explore my other blogs on the best stationary and benchtop jointers. That concludes this post—goodbye!