Thursday, March 12, 2009

substitute for jointer?

Russell, from down under (Australia) asked the following:
Hey Folks,

My "Basic Box Making" by Doug Stowe book arrived today, so I jumped in and started reading, only to find, one of the first things it says is "true the edges with a jointer".

Maybe I'm a bit behind the times, but I didn't think a jointer was something you'd consider a basic tool in most people's sheds. Forgive my poor box-making newbie ignorance, but what can one use instead of a jointer? Please don't say a hand plane. I'm hopeless with hand tools. Unless that's the only alternative I mean. Am I even on the right track of how a jointer works?

Thanks. Russell.
I wonder if this question is evidence of continental drift. Perhaps the continents of Australia and North America are drifting further apart. In the US, my readers never ask why I have tools. They see each chapter as an excuse to buy more. The jointer would be one of the first... a job that can be done quickly and easily with hand planes but which would require practice and skill, so an investment of time comes first, before you get to make boxes.

One of my favorite things about wood working is figuring out how to do without. So while I demonstrate the use of a variety of tools in writing my books, I don't want to deprive all my readers of the opportunities to figure out other ways to do what needs to be done.

The router can be used for jointing. Porter Cable (an American tool co.) used to supply a special fence that allowed a hand held router to do such things poorly. Mounted in a table it can do a better job. But my preferred substitute is the table saw, particularly when making small parts for boxes.

What you do is get a piece of flat plywood with a nice straight edge. Mine is about 20 cm. x 80 cm.) I put a wood runner on the underside to travel in the miter gauge slot, but you can also just use it against the fence. I use wing nuts and another board to secure the work piece in place and rip. With a good ripping blade you can get nearly as nice an edge as you would get with a jointer. And you can use it on really waney stock that would take many passes on a jointer to get straight.

The photo above shows the ripping sled substitute for a jointer in use on my table saw.


Mario said...

Interesting. I use an aluminum straight-edge and a router to "joint" longer boards. The straight-edge is the same one I use for ripping plywood, and it's two interlocking pieces each 1.3 meters long. With a few clamps and a straight bit on the router, I can get pretty good results.


Doug Stowe said...

I also have one of those aluminum ripping guides, and I used it with a skill saw to rip the walnut stock for the bench I'm making for Crystal Bridges. It was much easier to rip the stock with a skill saw and straight edge than to try to handle such large, heavy stock on the table saw.

I started thinking of this jig for a friend of mine who does his woodworking from a wheel chair. He makes wonderful boxes, but it is hard to rip stock due to the length of reach required to hold the wood down securely as it passes the blade.

Joey said...

I use a longer version of this jig for jointing longer boards that are hard to control on a small jointer, the jig as always worked great for me, but I been thinking on doing a shorter version, thanks for sharing