Micro-Adjustment with Macro-Adjusters = How to Drive a Woodworker Crazy!

Article - October 27, 2012

Pardon my little rant today but I was in my shop making a few adjustments to my tools and came to a very annoying conclusion. Perhaps you feel the same way.

So here’s a surefire way to drive a woodworker crazy. Give them a tool that serves a critical function in the shop, performs miracles when tuned up properly, and performs like doodie on a stick when out of calibration. Now here’s the secret sauce: make the adjustment mechanism over-sensitive and impossible to make fine adjustments on.

We can argue all day long about whether we really need to adjust our tools to the nearest thousandth of an inch. Honestly, on most tools, I think we tend to fuss more than necessary. But on a jointer, I feel the extra work is absolutely justified. If your outfeed table isn’t in perfect alignment with your cutterhead, the jointer just doesn’t work properly. Just a few thousandths can and will throw it off. So why oh why for the love of Norm do all jointers come with clunky, jumpy, inaccurate adjustment levers?!?! I feel like I’m raising and lowering my jointer bed with a greasy turkey leg! I will get there eventually, but I am constantly pushing and pulling on the lever as I repeatedly over and under-shoot my target.

I am certainly not singling out any particular brand as this problem exists across all jointers I have ever come in contact with. I am sure some are worse than others but this is pretty much a universal dilemma we face.

Personally, I feel that if the tool REQUIRES a certain level of adjustability to function, the manufacturer should be obligated to engineer an adjustment mechanism that is at least more dependable than smacking it with a mallet. Will it raise the price? I’m sure it will. But if it means I can calibrate the tool and get back to work faster, it’s well worth it.

I certainly haven’t used every jointer on the market, so if you have one that is actually easy to micro-adjust, tell us about it.

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