Body Mechanics: Jointing a Board

Moving a board across a jointer seems simple enough: Just hold the board down while moving it forward, right? While that gets the job done, it’s the nuances of your movements that get the best results. Here’s how to correctly joint a workpiece to flatten one face and then square an edge to that face.

First, stand just behind the cutterhead with your left foot forward and your weight balanced.
Grip a pushblock in each hand. Place the pushblock in your right hand near the end of the board or the infeed table, whichever is closest. (A hook at the heel of this pushblock helps move the workpiece forward.) With the workpiece clear of the cutterhead, switch on the machine.

Push the workpiece forward at a rate of about 2" per second, exerting little pressure downward. As your left hand and pushblock reach the outfeed table, exert only enough downward pressure to prevent the board from chattering, below. Allow the board to slide under your pushblock, if it will; otherwise, let your hand move forward about 8–12", then reposition it again just past the cutterhead. Shuffle-step forward as needed to feed the board past the cutterhead until the guard closes over the cutters.

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Move the board forward with your right hand, keeping the left hand near the cutterhead.

Use a similar procedure to joint the edge of a board, but also press the jointed face against the fence as you advance the board across the cutterhead, below. A pushblock to move the board forward isn’t necessary for boards more than 4" wide, if you keep your hands along the top edge of the board.

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Joint an edge square to the freshly jointed face by pressing that face against the fence with your left hand while moving the board forward with your right.

 

 

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