Thursday, December 16, 2010

Testing the jointer

I spent a little time with the Jet “10 Jointer-Planer last night. To make sure the blades are aligned, you first take off the front panel, then turn the pulley so the blade’s edge reaches its highest point. Taking off the panel revealed that one of the main gears is made of plastic. That wasn’t great to see, but I'm ok with it. It’s one of those things you should expect from such an inexpensive machine.

To test the blade alignment, you use a straight edge to compare the height of the blade on the near side and the far side. If they are the same, then the blades are parallel to the table. I used my machinist square to test the blades, and they were aligned right out of the box. I didn’t have to adjust them at all. I think previously the blades did not come installed so users had to install them and hope that they’d done it correctly. Lots of folks probably did it incorrectly, and this probably produced a chunk of the criticism about the machine making wavy surfaces, so it was a good move on Jet’s part to install them in the factory.

With the blades set, I installed the dust chute. It has a microswitch that won’t let the machine turn on unless the chute is installed. It took me a while to figure out how to attach the dust chute but that was because I didn’t read the instructions. Duh! After reading them, it was very easy to do and I can see that changing the chute from jointer position to planer position will be very easy.

With everything set up, it was finally time to turn the thing on. I grabbed a rough piece of butternut for the first test because butternut starts off very fuzzy but is very easy to work. I set the table height to a very shallow cut. The first time through was very smooth. The second one took a bit more effort than I expected, but nothing crazy. After three passes, the butternut was completely clean and flat over the whole length. There was a little tear-out over some particularly gnarly spots, but not a big deal. I have a jointer!

The only criticism I have so far is that there was a raised line on the surface of the wood indicating a nick in the blade. It isn’t large enough to cause problems but the line will have to be sanded or planed out on every piece of wood. And it will produce this line on both jointed and planed surfaces. That could potentially be a pain. After a few more tests, if this line proves to be a nuisance I will ask Jet to send me a replacement.

My next task will be to install the planer outfeed table. I think I’ll save myself 20 minutes and read the instructions this time! Then I’ll run some tests to see how the planer works. My wife wasn’t home when I tested the jointer last night, so I don’t know how loud it was in the house. The cats were totally relaxed (maybe too relaxed), so that’s a good sign.