As seen in:
Powermatic
8-Inch 2 HP 1-Phase Jointer with Helical Cut
Shop Fox
Benchtop Jointer
Porter
Cable 6 Inch Variable Speed Bench Jointer
Grizzly
6-Inch Jointer
JET
6-Inch 1 HP Jointer with Quick-Set Knive System
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Good

Boasts four different blades (set at angles), a 230-volt motor, and 28,000 cuts per minute.

Includes active chip extraction and fine adjustment for the infeed table.

Lightweight (40 pounds). Variable RPM offers greater adjustability.

Includes a kickstand base for greater mobility and a three-knife block. Rabbeting ability to 1/2 inch.

Three-knife block yields excellent finish. Extra-long infeed and outfeed tables.

Bad

Expensive. Jointer is extremely heavy (500 pounds), which means it must be permanently sited.

Blade adjustment may take a bit of "fiddling." No angle guide included.

Some consumer doubts about durability.

Changing the blades can be complex and frustrating.

Wheels need to be purchased separately if you want a mobile unit.

Bottom Line

With tungsten-tipped heads and four blades, owners report excellent results. This is the best jointer available.

A robust and durable entry-level jointer made of rigid cast iron. This benchtop model is the best bargain available.

A fairly inexpensive jointer with variable speed and few other extras.

An affordably priced, stand-mounted jointer geared toward serious woodworking enthusiasts.

This is a hard-working, heavy tool that offers little in the way of extra features. It's decently priced and does a quality job.

How we decide
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Products received from manufacturers
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Models Considered
31
Hours Spent
2
Experts Interviewed
232
Consumers Consulted

Best Jointers

Buying a cheap jointer is often a mistake. After all, if it can't make your wood flat and straight, it's a waste of money. Unfortunately, a lot of tools fall into this category. On the other hand, you don't always have to pay a premium for accuracy. Even if you have only a modest budget, there are good jointers to be found out there.

So the question is, which jointer is right for you? We looked at a wide range of options and narrowed the field down to five. Our contenders don't actually compete with each other; each provides a focused solution that satisfies the demands of a particular woodworker. They are:

Products we considered

Powermatic
8-Inch 2 HP 1-Phase Jointer with Helical Cut
Shop Fox
Benchtop Jointer
Porter
Cable 6 Inch Variable Speed Bench Jointer
Grizzly
6-Inch Jointer
JET
6-Inch 1 HP Jointer with Quick-Set Knive System

Considerations

Construction & Power

If you're going to produce accurate work, you need a jointer that's sturdy, has flat tables and fence, and is free from flex. You also want enough power to cope with the kind of work you'll be doing. So does each of our finalists deliver?

Cutting Performance

It could be argued that the two most important aspects of a jointer are how the cutter head performs and how easy it is to change blades. We evaluate these elements in this part of our ratings.

Features & Extras

Some jointers are quite basic; others try to tempt you with extras claimed to make your life easier. We look at the features each manufacturer offers and what they add to the machine's capabilities.

Price

You could pay a few hundred bucks for a good jointer – or a few thousand. In the last part of our review, we look at cost and value, providing a summary of each tool's strengths and weaknesses.

Considerations

Construction & Power

Shop Fox W1829 Benchtop Jointer, 6-Inch

Although it is a "benchtop" model, the main frame of the six-inch Shop Fox W1829 is made of rigid cast iron (rather than the alloys you sometimes find in cheap jointers). The fence is also made of cast iron. This is significant because some expensive models use aluminum for the fence! The motor is a 12-amp, single-phase unit rated at 1 1/2 horsepower. (Because an amps-to-horsepower conversion isn't very accurate, this can be a bit misleading. We'd prefer to use amps, but not every manufacturer gives specifications like that, which makes direct comparison difficult.) Regardless of how you measure it, the Shop Fox should provide more than enough output for this machine's capacities.

Porter Cable 6 Inch Variable Speed Bench Jointer

You expect a lot from a name like Porter Cable, but while their six-inch bench jointer has cast iron infeed and outfeed tables, the fence is made of aluminum, and the base is bolted together with steel components. It is made well, and the advantage is that the whole machine is half the weight of the Shop Fox (40 pounds against 80). The motor is a single-phase model rated at 10 amps, giving you adequate – if not exceptional – power. Some consumers doubt the Porter Cable's structural rigidity over the long haul.

Grizzly G0452 6-Inch Jointer

Jointers that come on their own stand are generally regarded as tools for the more serious enthusiast or pro. The Grizzly G0452 six-inch model falls into this category. You can tell there's a lot of cast iron in its construction by the fact that it weighs over 270 pounds. The stand itself is steel and is fitted with a useful "kickstand" wheel arrangement, so you can move it fairly easily if you need to. As a manufacturer, Grizzly is known for toughness and durability. The G0452 certainly seems to follow that tradition! This durability is underlined by a rack and pinion for the fence (rather than a screw adjustment). The Grizzly is powered by a single-phase motor rated at 13 amps.

JET 708457DXK JJ-6CSDX 6-Inch 1 HP Jointer with Quick-Set Knive System, 115

The JET 708457DXK is constructed primarily of cast iron. Its extra-long infeed and outfeed tables and sturdy fence contribute to its overall weight of around 250 pounds. The steel supporting stand features tabs that allow you to bolt it to the floor if you want to site it permanently. However, if you wanted your JET to be mobile, you would have to buy a separate wheel set. Rather than rating the motor in amps, JET rates the motor as a single-phase, one-horsepower unit. Because of this, it's difficult for us to compare it with the other contenders on our shortlist. In general, owners have no complaints about the power it delivers.

Powermatic 1610086K Model 60HH 8-Inch 2 HP 1-Phase Jointer with Helical Cut

The Powermatic 1610086K Model 60HH is the only eight-inch tool in our jointer review. As you might guess, it's a rather big beast. There's plenty of cast iron incorporated into its construction, with dovetail ways adding extra support to the big infeed and outfeed tables and worm gear-driven adjustment for durability and accuracy. With the steel cabinet, the Powermatic weighs over 500 pounds. As such, it's preferable to have a permanent site for this unit. It's worth noting that the motor is a 230-volt unit rated at two horsepower. That's an impressive output no matter how you look at it!

The Powermatic 1610086K Jointer with Helical Cutterhead is a 230-volt unit rated at two horsepower. That's an impressive output!
Considerations

Cutting Performance

Shop Fox W1829 Benchtop Jointer, 6-Inch

Like many lower-cost jointers, the Shop Fox uses a two-knife cutter block. The blades spin at 10,000 RPM, yielding about 20,000 cuts per minute. Although the manufacturer claims blades can be adjusted quickly, some owners say it takes a bit of fiddling to get it right. The maximum depth of cut is 1/8 inch per pass. This doesn't put undue strain on the motor, but owners suggest that if you want a finer finish on hardwoods, a couple of shallower cuts is a good idea. (This is often the case with any woodworking tool.)

Porter Cable 6 Inch Variable Speed Bench Jointer

A two-knife cutter block is used in the Porter Cable jointer, but this machine offers a couple of advantages over the Shop Fox. First, you have variable speed – from 6,000 to 11,000 RPM – so you can make adjustments to suit the wood you're cutting. Second, the HSS blades are changed and reset using jack screw leveling. There's also a cutter head lock. There are more accurate systems available, but it does make things a little quicker and easier. The Porter Cable jointer produces a maximum cut depth of 1/8 inch.

Grizzly G0452 6-Inch Jointer

The Grizzly jointer ups the game with a three-knife cutter block. The cutter block runs at 4,800 RPM, so you're getting 14,400 cuts per minute. Although that's noticeably slower than the Shop Fox and Porter Cable, a lot depends on feed rate and knife quality. The majority of Grizzly owners are very pleased with the quality of the blades, but they're less happy with the complex blade-changing process. The Grizzly's maximum cut is 1/8 inch; plenty of users have commented on how smoothly it runs at that setting.

JET 708457DXK JJ-6CSDX 6-Inch 1 HP Jointer with Quick-Set Knive System, 115

The three-knife block on the JET jointer runs at 6,000 RPM (18,000 cuts per minute). According to the manufacturer, this feature allows the JET to strike the best possible balance between stock removal and finish quality. Depth of cut is certainly one of this machine's strengths: in a single pass, the JET can achieve an impressive 1/2-inch maximum. (Note: we suggest that would be on softwood.) Changing and resetting the knives is another strong point for this jointer. The double-sided blades have a quick-set system that receives particularly high ratings from owners. In fact, some say it's so good, they don't understand why all jointers don't use this method.

Powermatic 1610086K Model 60HH 8-Inch 2 HP 1-Phase Jointer with Helical Cut

There is a version of the Powermatic jointer with a three-knife cutter block, but in this review, we've chosen to rate the increasingly popular Powermatic with Helical Cut. This tool has four blades set at angles, the principle being that the angled knives shear through the surface more quietly and efficiently than straight blades, thereby producing less tear-out. It's particularly useful with wild grains and hardwoods like bird's eye maple. The cutter speed is 7,000 RPM, giving the Powermatic a class-leading 28,000 cuts per minute. Maximum depth is 1/2 inch in a single pass. (Of course, the type of material you're cutting will have an impact on this.) It's natural to think that four edges might be slower and more complicated to change than two or three, but the Powermatic's cutter block is quite different. Though more expensive, it is faster to adjust, and the tungsten-tipped heads last three or four times longer that most straight blades. Owners report excellent results.

The Powermatic Helical Cutterhead jointer is particularly useful with wild grains and hardwoods like bird's eye maple.
Scott
Expert Consultant
Scott
Do-It-Yourself Guru And Carpenter

Scott completed his first woodworking project in the 5th grade, and he’s been an avid woodworker ever since. For the past 46 years, Scott has enjoyed remodeling homes, building custom cabinets and mantels, installing hardwood floors/trim work, and many other unique projects.

Considerations

Features & Extras

Shop Fox W1829 Benchtop Jointer, 6-Inch

Although the Shop Fox is a low-cost jointer, it possesses a few extra touches that raise it above many cheap tools. There's active chip extraction with a 2 1/2 inch outlet that's designed to fit over an ordinary galvanized trash can. (Most standard shop vacuums could be attached.) There's fine adjustment for the infeed table (though some owners found more play in this than they would have liked). Also, it's possible to set the fence to bevel anywhere from 45 to 135 degrees – though there's no actual angle guide to help you.

Porter Cable 6 Inch Variable Speed Bench Jointer

In spite of the well-known name, the Porter Cable tool is not a machine that's over-burdened with extras. To be fair, it is a relatively cheap jointer, and its biggest feature is its variable speed. Apart from that, the only items worthy of mention are a useful scale that allows for quick adjustment of infeed depth and a four-inch dust port.

Grizzly G0452 6-Inch Jointer

As we've seen, the Grizzly jointer is quite a heavy machine, so the kickstand mobile base is a great help for those who need to move it. This is the first machine in our jointer review to offer a rabbeting table (with a capacity of 1/2 inch). The on/off switch is raised – a feature found on a number of professional jointers and preferred by many. Plenty of other desirable features make this product a standout: the removable key for added safety, the infeed adjustment that acts via a quick-action lever, the four-inch port for dust extraction. A pair of push blocks are also included.

JET 708457DXK JJ-6CSDX 6-Inch 1 HP Jointer with Quick-Set Knive System, 115

Like the Grizzly, the JET jointer has a 1/2-inch rabbeting ability. A number of owners find the long tables and fence very useful, but the JET offers little else in terms of features and extras. The front-mounted hand wheels (to adjust fence and depth of cut) are positioned well and work quickly, but there are no reference scales with them. Extraction is via a four-inch port, and two push blocks are supplied.

Powermatic 1610086K Model 60HH 8-Inch 2 HP 1-Phase Jointer with Helical Cut

Like the Grizzly, the big Powermatic jointer has its on/off switch mounted high, although this one has no key. Infeed height adjustment can be done quickly with a lever and fine-tuned, if necessary, with a dial and scale. There's a non-mar fence insert to protect the surface of the tables and a four-inch dust port. The two push blocks have magnetic bases so you can leave them attached to the stand or any other metal surface.

The low-cost Shop Fox Benchtop Jointer's fence can be set to bevel anywhere from 45 to 135 degrees.
Considerations

Price

Shop Fox W1829 Benchtop Jointer, 6-Inch

If you're looking for a cheap jointer – but are concerned about the quality of some imports – the $299 Shop Fox will allay many of your fears. It may take a no-frills approach, but it's solidly built with a strong motor, decent cutter block, and plenty of adjustability in the fence and table. It's not precision engineering, and you would probably have to tinker a bit to get the best out of it, but it's a robust and durable entry-level jointer.

Porter Cable 6 Inch Variable Speed Bench Jointer

At first glance, the $349 Porter Cable jointer would appear to be similar to the Shop Fox (but with a little more refinement). It has a smarter appearance, and there are easy-to-read dials for both the multiple speed settings and infeed adjustment. Whether you like the aluminum fence will depend on whether saving weight is important to you: it's not as durable as the cast-iron fence that most jointers in our ratings use, but it gets very few complaints. The Porter Cable is half the weight of the Shop Fox, so if you plan to regularly move your jointer on and off the bench, this weight difference could be a big deal. If you're more focused on cutting performance, both the Porter Cable and the Shop Fox do well (for small jointers), and there's little difference between them.

Grizzly G0452 6-Inch Jointer

With its own stand and considerable bulk, the Grizzly is a jointer for the more serious enthusiast. At only $249, however, it's not a big financial leap. You wouldn't want to move the Grizzly around much, but there's a very useful wheeled kickstand should you need it. You get noticeably more support for longer pieces with this jointer: 46 inches on the Grizzly as opposed to 30 inches on the Porter Cable, for example. There's a more powerful motor, too, and a three-knife cutter block. If you're stepping up from a bench jointer, or considering whether to spend a bit more for a stand-mounted machine, the Grizzly makes a strong case.

JET 708457DXK JJ-6CSDX 6-Inch 1 HP Jointer with Quick-Set Knive System, 115

The JET jointer doesn't fall far short of a professional's tool, and although it costs $919, the price is actually quite competitive when you look at what you get. The manufacturer makes much of the long cast-iron work surfaces, and if you're looking for stability, you have 33 inches in the fence and 56 inches in the tables. Like the Grizzly, you get a three-knife cutter block with a maximum cut depth of 1/2 inch. The motor, with a cooling fan and one horsepower, brings plenty of durability and strength to the table. Adjustment is easy, and the whole package gives the impression of quality. Owners are particularly complimentary toward the quick-set knives. (On cheap jointers, these can sometimes be a bit of a nuisance.) It may take a while to fine-tune the JET, but most machines do require some adjustments at first. All in all, the JET is highly rated by those who use it, and it represents an excellent value.

Powermatic 1610086K Model 60HH 8-Inch 2 HP 1-Phase Jointer with Helical Cut

There's no doubt the Powermatic jointer is a superb machine, but there's a price to pay. Right now that price is $2244, which puts it beyond the reach of many hobbyists. If you can afford one, however, you'll be getting best-in-class performance from every aspect. Cast iron makes it sturdy; high-quality fittings make it accurate and easy to set. A two-horsepower motor means it's capable of taking 1/2 inch in a pass with ease. Then, of course, you have the two standout features: a true eight-inch width of cut and a four-bladed helical cutting head that gives a better finish on all materials. If you were to review owner feedback, you'd have trouble finding anyone with a bad word to say about this Powermatic jointer.

The Shop Fox W1829 is solidly built with a strong motor, decent cutter block, and plenty of adjustability in the fence and table.

Best of the Best

Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for. That's most certainly the case with our Best of the Best jointer, the Powermatic 1610086K 1-Phase Jointer with Helical Cut. Even at the steep price of $2244, the Powermatic delivers tremendous value for the money.

The Powermatic's general construction and finish are excellent. The controls are very positive (with little play), and setting depths and angles is quick and straight-forward. Cast iron gives this machine plenty of structural rigidity, and the table length, at a fraction over 73 inches, provides lots of support regardless of the material you're putting through it. Then, of course, there's the Powermatic's eight-inch width. To be fair, this width is something that most home woodworkers would probably never need. If you do need it, however, the Powermatic may suddenly seem quite inexpensive when compared to its rivals!

If you're going to be regularly cutting large pieces of wood, you need lots of power and a top-quality cutter head. The Powermatic boasts a strong and reliable two-horsepower motor and a helical cutting head with four blades that shear through everything from cheap lumber to expensive, wild-grained woods like bird's eye maple. It gives a better surface finish than any other contender on our shortlist, and it's quieter, too. Depth of cut is a maximum of 1/2 inch. The fact that the push blocks are magnetic (so you can keep them handy) is a mark of Powermatic's fine engineering and attention to detail.

Looking for negatives? Sorry, can't help you. Owners rave about this machine's great performance, ease of set-up, accuracy, and quality of fittings. Its ratings are off the charts. If you can find someone with a complaint about the incredible Powermatic jointer, you're doing better than we are.

Best of the Best
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The Powermatic 1610086K Jointer's ratings are off the charts.

Best Bang for Your Buck

Our Best Bang for Your Buck award goes to the Shop Fox W1829 Benchtop Jointer, but this was a very difficult decision, After all, each of our finalists has something great to offer.

The Porter Cable has similar capacities, it's very light, and it adds variable speed (though we wonder how many people would actually use it). The Grizzly is a solid, dependable tool in the same general price range as some bench models. Getting a machine as good as the JET for under a grand is always going to be a good deal.

In determining our Best Bang for Your Buck winner, however, we looked at what most home woodworkers use these tools for. Much of the time, the woodworker's main goal is truing up pieces of wood that will be finished on another machine or by hand. Those who want to flatten a surface or square an edge will find the Shop Fox to be the ideal cheap jointer.

The bed and tables are cast iron, as you would expect, but so is the fence; the manufacturer certainly hasn't cut any corners in important areas that could affect stability. The motor, at 12 amps, has plenty of power for what's expected of it. Maximum cut is 1/8 inch from a two-knife cutter block – the same as virtually all of its competitors. Indeed, the Shop Fox apart does what it's supposed to do consistently and reliably.

One or two owners have complained that this jointer lacks precision. True, the Shop Fox's components aren't finished quite as well as those found on more expensive jointers. Then again, the Shop Fox doesn't cost a lot; it's a terrific deal. Some owners say that it needs a bit of setting up at first, but most are satisfied with the product's quality and durability. Perhaps one of our other finalists would be a better fit for the work you do, but one thing is certain: you can't beat the Shop Fox for its desirable combination of quality and value.

Best Bang for your Buck
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The Shop Fox is a robust and durable entry-level jointer.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jasmin
    Jasmin
    Operations
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Adrian
    Adrian
    Senior Engineer