In a hurry and just want to know what the best benchtop jointer is? PORTER-CABLE PC160JT is your best choice. Read to the end to find out why.
Many of today’s power tools include useless features and over-sized price tags. You will often see this with “benchtop” designs that target novice woodworkers and small workshop spaces. The same thing holds true for benchtop jointers.
Wood jointers save time and optimize your workflow when dimensioning lumber. But are they worth it? In this guide, you will find out what to look for in a compact jointer. We will also review the best benchtop jointer models that you can buy today so stick to the very end
Buying a tabletop jointer: important considerations
Consider these factors when choosing the best benchtop jointer for your workshop:Size – overall dimensions can influence how easy the jointer can be moved or stored.
Power – most models will have at least one horsepower. More than that is a bonus here and influences RPMs and CPI.
Cutter size – the cutter size determines the maximum board width you can smooth.
Cutter design – namely there are two cutter styles to choose from: straight knives and helical cutter heads.
Fence – fence and control features make the job faster and more efficient.
Dust collection – you will make lots of debris, so a solid dust collection design is important.
Price – the price tag can seal the deal or cause you to pass. Remember, you usually get what you pay for.Highlighted text
Who Would Benefit From Having A Benchtop Jointer?
You could benefit from this tool if:
- You are using lumber from a sawmill or local sawyer;
- You buy pre-dimensioned lumber that is bent or twisted for a discount at big box stores;
- You make a lot of panels using glue-ups for furniture;
- You work with a lot of extra materials that no longer have factory edges after previous cuts.
Most woodworkers start with pre-dimensioned materials from big box stores and lumberyards. This material works for a while, but you will eventually want to use woods that are not sold in prefabricated sheets or as framing timber.
That is when you begin to purchase rough-sawn lumber. It will save you a lot of money compared to the same species in a pre-dimensioned state. You will need to prepare it for your projects, however.
A benchtop jointer can also straighten boards that are bent or warped from the discount bin at the chain stores. You can also use the jointer to re-establish straight edges and faces on leftover pieces from other projects.
If you happen to make a lot of boxes or furniture pieces that use glue-up panels, the jointer can make this process more efficient and faster.
Who should probably skip on buying Benchtop Jointer
You might pass on buying one of these tools if:
- You are just starting to build up your power tool collection;
- You are ok with paying extra for pre-dimensioned materials;
- You are on a limited budget and have other power tools that can be used to even boards;
- You are comfortable working with good old hand planes
You can make anything out of the building materials sold at the chain stores. If your interest is limited and time in the shop is infrequent, you will probably stick with the wood species used for framing lumber as well as plywood sheets.
Alternative: Table saw or router jig
Woodworkers on a tight budget or who like to use their table saw and router for everything, may not need a benchtop jointer at this time.
Creating a jig to replace the jointer can be economical as well as fun!
I have a lot of hand tools in my woodshop. Many of these belonged to my late grandfather. They can be fun to work with, but they do take more time to finish a job.
Traditional woodworkers and hobbyists with no space at all might consider at number four bench plane or a number five jack plane to help square their stock.
My Top Picks
PORTER-CABLE PC160JT – Best Benchtop Jointer
- Variable 6, 000 to 11, 000 RPM speed range allows the user to select the right speed for the size and hardness of material being cut
- Two knife cutter head with jack screw knife leveling arrangement for easy replacement and adjustment of knives
- Built-in cutter head lock facilitates knife replacement and adjustment
The PC160JT offers the benefits that small workshops need.
These benefits start with a weight of 35 pounds. You should be able to move it around your shop without issue. Product dimensions of 30-inches L x 18-inches W x 13.5-inches H keep it compact, allowing you to store it easily.
A 10-amp electric motor will supply enough power to generate up to 11,000 RPMs under no-load conditions. The motor can be turned down to 6,000 RPMs, but I can not foresee the need to operate the jointer that slow.
The cutter head is three inches in diameter and holds two blades. These will make between 12,000 and 22,000 cuts per minute (CPM), depending upon the speed setting. You can take up to 1/8-inch of material with each pass, which is plenty of stock removal.
This product uses an aluminum table and fence. That helps to keep the weight down while providing adequate support for your project. It also keeps the price point low, making this one of the most affordable benchtop jointers on the list.
Each table is 15-inches in length, giving you purchase with the infeed and outfeed sides of the cutter head. The fence is 4.25-inches high and just under 20-inches in length.
This model is going to be discontinued. That will make it harder to find as stock dwindles on and offline.
- This model is lightweight. It can be easily moved by one person;
- The cut capacity is 6 1/8-inch. That will cover most project’s board width;
- There is a four-inch dust port. That will hook to shop dust collection tubes without an adaptor.
- This is somewhat top-heavy. You will need to fasten it to the support surface;
- Porter-Cable is phasing this model out. Stanley Black & Decker will likely re-release this popular tool under another brand name.
Delta 37-071 Midi-Benchtop Jointer
- Durable cast iron construction increases weight providing stability and reducing vibration
- Precision-machining of the table and fence ensures long term accuracy
- Heavy duty, cast iron fence support system for accurate jointing
Heavy-duty construction best describes the Delta 37-071.
A cast-iron fence and table provide you with an accurate surface due to the precision milling process. These items will hold shape no matter how much torque is generated by the cutting head.
That cast-iron construction adds to the weight of this model, which comes in at 76 pounds. You may find it difficult to move this jointer around by yourself.
Overall dimensions come in at 17-inches L x 28.5-inches W x 12.25-inches H. That makes it a bit shorter in length and height than the Porter-Cable design.
It also provides an additional 2 amps (for 12 amps total) compared to the motor used in the previous design. The single-speed motor generates 10,000 RPMs.
This jointer uses two knives on the cutter head to make 20,000 CPM. That will produce clean results in most wood species. They will take up to 1/8-inch with each pass.
An internal fan helps to keep debris moving through the dust port. There is an elbow included that allows you to mount dust collection at an angle. This position provides an option for the hose to connect from behind the housing.
- Delta uses a cast iron table and fence. These provide stability and durability;
- Fence and table surface are precision machined. Boards should remain true throughout the cut;
- It includes an elbow adaptor for the dust port. You can connect this with less kink in your hose line.
- It weighs 76 pounds. That will make it difficult for one person to move around their shop;
- This is the most expensive product on the list. Its price point may put it out of reach for some woodworkers.
Best Budget Jointer: CRAFTSMAN CMEW020
- 10 amp benchtop Jointer features a variable speed range of 6, 000 to 11, 000 RPM and cutter head speed of 12, 000 to 22, 000 cuts per minute, allowing selection correct speed for material's size and...
- Variable speed: range of 6, 000 to 11, 000 RPM allows the user to select the right speed for the size and hardness of material
- Easy replacement and knife adjustments: two-knife cutter head with jackscrew knife leveling arrangement allows for easy replacement and adjustment of knives
The CMEW020 is built with a low price point in mind. This is the cheapest benchtop jointer on the list and makes a good option for those looking to spend as little as possible on a specialty power tool.
It weighs 40 pounds, placing it mid-range when compared to other models. With dimensions of 32-inches x 12.5-inches x 11.5-inches, Craftsman provides you with a compact footprint that can be stored under a bench or in a cabinet.
A 10 amp motor powers the jointer. That is a typical size for benchtop jointers and should not bog down under most cutting conditions.
A gearbox provides variable speed settings that range from 6,000 to 11,000 RPMs. This product uses two knives that rotate between 12,000 and 22,000 cuts per minute. Operators can adjust for a maximum depth of 1/8-inch on each cut.
A jackscrew design is used for knife leveling. This also makes blade changes efficient and fast. It also provides a uniform cut by supporting the head and preventing movement.
Craftsman coverage for power tools includes a 90-day satisfaction guarantee as well as a limited three-year warranty on this benchtop jointer.
- This model has the lowest price point. That can be important for small budgets;
- The lock design for the cutter head. This makes blade changes fast and easy;
- The hose connection on the dust vent is tapered. That produces better airflow and will aid in debris removal.
- The materials used in the build are cheap. It does not have the heavy-duty feel of the Delta design;
- It has a thin center-mounting bracket. Users may experience some movement at this joint.
Shop Fox W1829 Benchtop Jointer
- Motor: 1-1/2 horsepower, 110V, 12 amp, single-phase
- Cutter head speed: 10,000 RPM, 20,000 cuts per minute
- Two-knife HSS cutter head provides clean cuts, fully adjustable aluminum fence with stops
The W1829 is designed for ease of use.
This mid-range priced jointer keeps operations simple, making it appealing for new woodworkers who might be intimidated with jointer operations.
It ships at about 67 pounds, making it heavier than some of the light products. The dimensions of 29.50-inches x 19.75-inches x12.50-inches place it mid-pack when it comes to the footprint.
Its weight comes from the cast-iron fence and table used in the design. They aren’t as bulky like other products, with the table width at only 6.25-inches and the table height at 4.25-inches.
A stand out feature on this model is the 1.5 HP electric motor. It creates 12 amps to spin the cutter head that is less than two inches in diameter. Unfortunately, it is a single-speed gearbox.
The cutter head moves at 10,000 RPMs. That allows the two knives to make 20,000 CPM. Again, that is the middle of the pack when it comes to features. It does seem a bit slow, considering that the motor has more power than other models on this list.
Woodstock International Inc. includes two push blocks with the jointer. The manufacturer’s warranty is a bit underwhelming, providing limited coverage for only one year and only 90-days on defective parts or labor issues.
- Employs a 1.5 HP motor. It will not bog down through the cut;
- Impeller designed to pull debris away from cutting head. This increase debris removal;
- Positive stops are secure. There is no slippage here.
- Very few advanced features. This is a simple design with limited adjustability;
- It does not have variable speeds. That is surprising at the mid-range price point.
RIKON Power Tools 20-600H Benchtop Jointer
- RIKON BENCHTOP JOINTER - This 6” becnhtop jointer has a 6 row helical-style cutter head with 12 HSS, 2-insert cutters for super cutting action.
- HIGH SPEED - With a powerful 10 AMP motor, this benchtop jointer also features a high speed steel insert knives and a large 30” x6-3/16” table.
- ALL STEEL CONSTRUCTION - Made from rigid, all-metal construction, machined aluminum tables, a quick depth setting mechanism with scale, adjustable fence that tilts from 90 degrees to 45 degrees...
This product will provide a smooth cut.
RIKON has added a helical-style cutter head to this benchtop jointer. This six-row design has 12 HSS two-sided blades. That brings a lot of cutting edge with each rotation of the head.
It measures 13-inches H x 17.50-inches W x 30-inches L. The overall weight is only 36 pounds. That makes it fairly compact and lightweight for ease of movement as well as storage possibilities.
A 10 amp electric motor produces 20,000 RPMs under no-load conditions. That will translate to 12,000 CPM on the two-inch diameter cutting head. This is not as powerful (in speed) as I thought it would be.
You do get easy access to the blades, however. This makes changing them or cleaning easy.
It also makes up for the extra time it will take for you to adjust the fence. The controls make it difficult to micro-adjust, so you will need a little patience. You can find positive stops on the fence at 45 and 90-degrees.
It generates less than 100 decibels at three-feet. This is less than some of the other two-blade cutter head designs make during use.
RIKON provides decent online support. The company also provides online registration and a five-year limited warranty on this benchtop jointer.
- It uses a helical cutter head design. This will produce a smoother finish cut;
- You have easy blade access. That will speed up change out and maintenance;
- A strong spring-loaded safety guard. It should not stick during use.
- The dust collection is not as powerful as other designs. This can lead to more build-up;
- You may have to fidget with the fence. That will take you extra time when setting up.
Recap: Why Would you Buy a Benchtop Jointer?
The short answer is: to save time.
Power jointers are meant to replace traditional hand planes in modern woodshops. It consists of a table with a cutting head located in the center. You place wood on the table and pass it across the cutting head. Once one side of the board is evened out, you will want to run it through a thickness planer to achieve the desired dimensions.
Full-sized jointers come mounted on an open stand or a closed cabinet. These will require a dedicated space. Benchtop models are portable and can be stored when not in use.
You may consider investing in a jointer planer combo machine to cover all of your lumber dimensioning needs with just one power tool. Note that the best jointer planer combo machines can cost an arm and a leg.
You can perform many jobs on a jointer, such as:
- Creating a straight edge on a board;
- Creating a flat face on a board;
- Making rabbets and other joinery on a board;
- Creating a bevel cut on the lumber.
As the name implies, the jointer is the go-to tool for squaring an edge for butt joints.
It can also smooth rough faces on boards. You can also remove various bends and warps in the lumber using a jointer.
Some jointers come with accommodations for making things like rabbet or bevel cuts.
Squaring The Results
I found the PORTER-CABLE PC160JT Benchtop Jointer to be the best benchtop jointer on the list.
It is lightweight. You can move this around the shop with ease. It provides 10 amps of power, which is enough to get through most woods without bogging down.
You can take 1/8-inch of material with each pass on the six-inch cutting head. The two-blade design is standard for benchtop models. It uses lighter aluminum for the table and fence, but they hold true and keep it lightweight.
The controls are easy to read and use. Finally, the price point is one of the lowest on the list