Should You Buy a 6″ or 8″ Jointer?

Added on August 17, 2009

This article was inspired by a question we received from Jeff. He writes:

I am setting up a woodworking hobby shop. Would you recommend a 6 or 8 inch jointer. Thanks.

A 6″ jointer will certainly get you by, so I don’t want you thinking an 8″ jointer is a requirement for high quality work. I know many people who get along quite nicely with small benchtop jointers and even some crazy individuals who would rather use their #7 jointer plane to get the job done! Avoid the latter group as they are very sick individuals! Just kidding…. I love those neanderthals.

I owned a 6″ jointer for years before I had the opportunity to upgrade to the 8″ model. The reason I upgraded was simply for efficiency. Nearly all the wood I purchase from my supplier comes in the 6″-8″ range. As a result, I was always sacrificing a few inches to the woodworking gods in order to accommodate the 6″ bed. Having that extra 2″ saves me both materials and time, so it was a no-brainer for me.

Now keep in mind there are certain tricks of the trade that will allow you to flatten wider boards with a 6″ jointer. Check out my video, The Jointer’s Jumpin’, for a few ideas. But these usually require more tools and more time. So in my opinion, an 8″ jointer is the best long-term investment. I can’t count the number of people I’ve heard utter the words, “I should have bought the 8″ model!” I’m not saying that’s you, because this all depends on your personal needs, wants, and budgetary restrictions. But if your name happens to be Average Joe Woodworker and you plan on being in it for the long haul, the 8″ jointer is something for you to seriously consider.

If you already own a jointer and you need some help setting it up and calibrating it, check out my video Jointer Setup.

*** I know this is one of those topics where everyone has an opinion, and I can only offer one. So what do you folks think? 6″? 8″? Aircraft Carrier 20″? Or maybe just a few hand planes?

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