DVD Review - A-Z of Jointer Set Up & Maintenance by Phil Davy, The Woodworker Magazine May 2019
With another DVD (or digital download) in his excellent series on machinery, Peter Sefton has established himself in tackling what’s easily a dry, technical subject and making it essential viewing for woodworkers. In fact, he managed to keep my attention for just over two hours, which is admirable!
Beginning with choosing a jointer (surface planer), he points out that buying one can be a big investment, so correct setting up and maintenance is crucial to getting the best from it. Demonstrating with three different machines in his workshop (a 16in Felder, 12in Hammer and 10in Kity), it’s good to see that much of the time he concentrates on the 20-year-old Kity planer, particularly when installing and setting new knives. More appropriate for the smaller home workshop, this model is still capable of producing a great finish, though is arguably more frustrating to set up than the other two.
Under ‘Machine Anatomy’ he touches on three-phase convertors for bigger planers, isolator switches, motor ratings and power supplies, before a detailed breakdown of the major components: tables, fences, cutterblocks, knives and guards. He mentions boomerang guards (popular in the US and Australia), which are illegal here in Britain, and more unusual caterpillar guards for the rear of the block. There’s some history here too, explaining how early planers from the Victorian era were so dangerous and noisy because of their square blocks.
I liked his simple method of checking bearings (using a coin on the table to detect vibration) and using a length of timber as an earpiece. Or simply marking the floor in a small workshop if you need to move a planer around. That way it’s always returned to the same position where it’s been set up accurately – important if the floor is not dead flat. For some planer problems he admits it’s best to call out an engineer rather than faff around trying to correct a twisted table. On smaller machines just placing wedges on the floor can correct any slight twist, though.
Tables & knives
Infeed and outfeed table heights relative to the cutterblock are examined in detail, with clear, active diagrams illustrating the effects. Peter suggests that slight snipe on your timber is worth living with if you’re struggling to set the knives accurately. Having owned an identical Kity some years ago, I have to agree.
You realise how much easier it is to maintain a newer planer with easy-fit knives (such as the Felder), compared with the older Kity with traditional knives. Interestingly, he explains that the drift method (using pieces of wood) of adjusting new planer knives is more accurate and reliable than using dedicated magnetic setting gauges on the cutterblock, which obviously won’t work with alloy tables anyway.
Infeed and outfield table adjustments, cutter problems, diamond stone honing, even knowing when to change knives – are just some of the many maintenance aspects covered in depth. I’m sure many woodworkers with older planers will find the sequence on TCT spiral cutters of particular interest – easy to change, much quieter but much more expensive than traditional straight knives. We can always dream…
Safety with any machine is paramount and there are some great tips here, such as crouching behind the outfeed table when switching on after fitting new knives. Or maybe scheduling a rough planing session (before final timber surfacing) when cutters are dull but before replacement.
There are no planing techniques as such, apart from correct hand positions. For more on this you’ll need to watch subsequent videos. Whether buying your first planer or you’ve been machining timber for years, there’s enough reliable information in this DVD for anyone to benefit. Tuition, presentation and camera work are all extremely professional, as usual. Highly recommended.
Rating: 5 out of 5
A-Z of Jointer Set Up & Maintenance DVD