Fair Woodworking

November 18, 2012

Spot the jointer

Filed under: Hand tools,Picture issues,Tools — fairwoodworking @ 6:40 pm

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


I guess this is the hand tool version of “Where’s Waldo”.

OK. Roll call.

How many of you immediately pointed out the Veritas Low Angle Jointer in the back?

Well, you are not wrong, but you’re also not entirely right either.

As I am typing this I’m sure there are hundreds of handtool forum armchair woodworkers out there that just got a cold shiver down their spine.

Who am I to speak such blasphemy?!  Don’t I know that there are many books and DVD’s that clearly state that jointers are either 22″, or 24″ long?

What would Chris say? What would Cosman say? What would Thomas the apprentice say?!

Actually I might guess that the Thomas of the first printing might say that a jointer would be between 28″ and 32″, or even 48″ long.

But why does a jointer need to be so long? Because of the length of the wood it is working.

A generally accepted rule of thumb that I’ve always followed is 3 to 1. A 22″ jointer is good for up to 66ish inches or 5 and a half feet. You can get by on longer pieces, but you really need to start paying attention to what you are doing.

But what good is a 22″ jointer on a sub 15″ board?

That would require an entirely different kind of skill, and was a lesson I learned the hard way.

Your jointer needs to be defined by size of the wood you  are working.

So let’s see what of these planes could work as a jointer on this 15″ board.

3″ long Little Victor block plane.

Ok, ok, stop laughing! This is serious…

Yes you “could” use this for jointing, but it is way too short for this board. It’s also a lot narrow. In a pinch I would consider using this plane for edge jointing on a board that was 9″ or shorter, but I will always have a better suited  plane for this task.

5″ Lie Nielsen Apron plane.

At just over 1/3 the length of the board, I suppose you could use this, but it’s still a little narrow to be desirable.

#65 Knuckle Joint Block plane.

As far as block planes go, this is one of the largest. It has some heft to it, and is large enough to grip with two hands, but jointing is still work. Jointing with a block plane is possible, but I’d also avoid it if possible.

And now we are down to two planes.

My trusty Stanley Type 11 #4.

This plane would make a fantastic small jointer. The simple fact that it has a knob and tote give you something to hold on to without hand fatigue, makes this a small plane with great control. But this is my go to smoother. I have better success with tear out using this plane than any other (Yes, I like it better than my LAJ.  A jack plane is a jack plane NOT a smoother). I’d be selling my #4 short to use it as a jointer.

Stanley Type 11 #3

The #3 is about the same length as a #4, but is a little narrower. It’s lack of width does detract a little to its value as a jointer, but I don’t trust this plane yet as much as I do the #4, so by default it has found a new role.

One day I will stumble on to another plane, perhaps a #4-1/2 that would better suit the task, and my #3 will be re assigned to smoothing, but we will have to see about that.



  1. You could also joint a board with a chisel…


    Comment by ChrisHasFlair — November 18, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

  2. Well yes…. but I’d rank it somewhere between the Little Victor, and a nail file.

    Comment by fairwoodworking — November 25, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

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