I started looking into jointers again, and have been juggling some thoughts about them.
I’m eager to make a few small benchtops from maple and other hardwood stock, and a jointer will make quick work of straightening the edges. Also, some of the hardwood I’ve been working with – even planed from the lumber supplier – isn’t quite flat. Quick work with a jointer should give me a parallel face that can reference a planer bed for thickness milling.
If you look at woodworking forums, the common consensus seems to be that portable 6″ benchtop jointers just plain suck. You’ll hear how they’re not easily adjustable, the fences and tables might be made of lightweight materials, the fence and tables might not be flat, and how the tables are too short to be of any practical use.
Still, I figure that a jointer with 30″ table length might be better than not having a jointer at all and having to flatten all stock by hand. Which I’m willing to do, just not for all of my upcoming projects.
There are a few remarks on woodworking forums that a small jointer isn’t any better than not having one, but I take those with a grain of salt.
Larger jointers cost more, they take up a large footprint, and often require a full-sized dust collector.
So I started looking at 6″ jointers again, looking for a model that user reviews seem to complain least about. I came across the Cutech brand on Amazon, a brand I’m not at all familiar with.
The Cutech jointer shown above, model 40160H-CT seems to have decent reviews. And it looks identical to one marketed by Rikon at a higher price.
The Cutech jointer has a 6-inch spiral blade, with (12) 2-sided HSS inserts arranged in a pattern around the blade. From images of the blade I can find, only 2 of the HSS cutting inserts engage in the wood at any given time.
There is also a carbide model, 40160HC-CT, which comes with (12) carbide inserts. Replacement inserts of both kinds are available, in packs of 10. If a single insert is nicked or chipped, you can rotate it to reveal a fresh cutting edge. If that blade wears or is nicked, you can replace just that insert.
You might be able to buy replacement inserts from elsewhere – these look like they might be a standard size.
After digging into the company a bit, I learned from the owner/manager’s various woodworking forum posts that they launched the company to sell spiral cutterhead planers and jointers after Steel City Tool closed their business.
Looking at 6″ benchtop jointers specifically, I see that these come out of the same factory as other brands’ 6″ benchtop jointers.
Doug, the owner/manager, mentioned aiming for exceptional customer service, which is optimistic. I also noticed that they have a huge selection of spare parts on their website.
Let’s say I buy the jointer and I’m not happy with the tables. I’ve read that the aluminum tables are rigid from the factor flattening process. So let’s say I try to flatten the tables and screw them up. It’s good to know that I can order replacement parts as needed.
There are also some other parts that can be of other use, such as the dust port.
Porter Cable’s 6″ jointer looks to be the same machine, but with an intake grill, chip blower, no dust port, and straight blades instead of a spiral one.
This older Delta is identical to the Porter Cable.
Rikon’s 6″ jointer looks to be identical to Cutech’s HSS spiral blade model, but more expensive.
Price: $290 to $340 plus shipping
I emailed Cutech to see if they’ll have a Father’s Day promo or similar. Their prices are lower than through their distributors (makes sense), and if they also offer free shipping I might give their carbide-toothed model a try.
Update: Nearly 3 weeks later, and nobody from Cutech has gotten back to me yet. *shrug* I’ll still keep an eye out for promos, I’m still on the fence about buying a benchtop jointer or no jointer.
If you’ve heard of Cutech, has it been good? Have you purchased anything from them before?
- 10A motor
- 11,000 RPM
- 2″ wide cutterhead
- 12 2-sided inserts (HSS or carbide)
- 1/8″ max cutting depth
- 30″ x 6-3/16″ table
- 2-1/2″ dust port
- Dimensions: 32″ x 12-1/4″ x 11″
- Weighs 40 lbs
The next step up is ~$600 for a larger floor-standing model with straight blades. And beyond that, floor-standing models with spiral blades for $800+. The larger models with spiral blades have more inserts.
From what I’ve seen, the larger models can require tinkering, even from more premium brands. If I’ve got to tune a machine right out of the box, I’d be okay starting smaller. A 30″ table might be enough for smaller workpieces. For longer ones, I figure I can break out my hand planes or build a board-flattening router sled.