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50 Re: Buying a 6" Jointer


This article is from the Woodworking FAQ Collection 3, by multiple authors.

50 Re: Buying a 6" Jointer

From: pauld@hplsla.HP.COM (Paul Davis)
Date: 21 Mar 91 18:45:42 GMT

Here's another vote for the Powermatic Artisan 6" jointer, available
mailorder or from a local distributor for $479.

I had the opportunity to use the Ryobi JP-155 for several months and
several projects. I really liked being able to store it under the bench
and just pull it out for use, and it made a very smooth cut. I also
appreciated the vacuum port and the variable speed. I sometimes make
small boxes out of wood with difficult grain, and found that I could
almost always get a nice surface with some experimentation. I really
didn't like the high noise level, and the 28" table was too short for
most of my applications. The longest boards I jointed were 60", and
it was a difficult operation. I didn't get to try the extensions that
Ryobi offers, and I didn't believe they would be a good substitute for
more cast iron. Not being able to rabbet was a drawback, too.

When I was using the Ryobi, my shop consisted of a workbench in front
of the car. Now I've got plenty of space and can afford a dedicated
area for the jointer. Just as I was ordering the Powermatic last fall,
I was offered an 8" Delta for $800, in good condition and with extra
blades. It was very difficult to stick with the smaller and much less
robust Powermatic import, especially when a twist of fate had placed
the cash in hand, the space in shop, and, most importantly, the
consent in spouse (her reasoning: if you buy this big, old battleship
of a jointer, you'll never feel the need to move up). I still have
twinges of doubt, but I decided on the Powermatic because
1) The Delta had been used hard every day in a cabinet shop for
five years. One month of cabinet shop use equals one lifetime
of use in my shop.
2) The difference of $321 was significant to me.
3) I knew the 6" width and 42" length of the Powermatic would be enough
to meet my needs almost all the time.
4) I liked the new cutterhead design of the Powermatic, both for
replacing the blades and for safety. The factory rep who demonstrated
it for me broke every rule, like taking the max depth cut on a board six
inches long, then taking his hands off it in mid-cut, letting it
just sit there with the cutterhead brushing it and the guard pulled back.
He also pushed the same short piece straight into the cutterhead at a 45
degree angle, cutting out a quarter circle. I may be easily taken in
by commonplace magic tricks, but I have to admit I was impressed. I'm
a sucker for safety.
5) I have so few moments of self-restraint when it comes to tool
purchases that it was nice to be able to choose the less expensive

I've used the Powermatic quite a bit in the last three months, for face-
planing, edge-jointing, and rabbeting. I make a lot of picture frames,
and I used to spend more time taking out that big rabbet with my small
router, in about six passes, as making all of the other cuts. Last week
I tapered some table legs on the jointer, and that was really slick and
safe, compared to cutting them on the table saw or band saw, which I have
also done.

Anyway, the Powermatic jointer went together easily, the manual is good,
it's quiet and well-built, and the fence is fine.


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