I can't afford a jointer right now, and I am wondering, what are the tricks to getting a good joint(on the edges, not on the surface)?

What I have tried in the past is simply nailing a straight board to the board I want to cut, and running the straight board along the fence of my table saw. I made sure to hold the straight edge firmly against the fence at the point just before the blade, and having a catcher helped as well.


  • That certainly works for an edge. There are also jigs with a step the same width as your blade which would function more like a "real" jointer. Or you could use a handplane; there's a trick where, if you plane two edges at once, they'll fit together even if they aren't perfectly square to the face.
    – keshlam
    Oct 1, 2015 at 2:40
  • Do you have a router table?
    – Steven
    Oct 1, 2015 at 3:09
  • @Steven. I don't
    – wizurd
    Oct 1, 2015 at 3:55
  • 1
    If you end up using a table saw, I have the best luck making the cut in two passes. The first cut is ever so slightly over-sized, less than the thickness of the blade. Move your fence in a hair, then the second cut evens out whatever imperfections the first cut left behind.
    – popdan
    Oct 1, 2015 at 11:48
  • From the picture, it's a little hard to tell but it looks like your blade could stand to be raised a little bit. I set the bottom of the troughs of the teeth at the top of the board.
    – popdan
    Oct 1, 2015 at 11:51

4 Answers 4


What I have tried in the past is simply nailing a straight board to the board I want to cut

In essence that's a very good method to do it, and will even work even if the board you're working has very uneven edges, e.g. a live edge (UK: waney edge).

I would recommend you not use nails ideally, you can hold the board securely without having to mark it. Below are a few options.

Table saw

Jointing/ripping sleds

Additionally, you can use the mitre slot instead of the existing fence as your straight reference, this may help to reduce the risk of kickback.

Jointing/ripping sled, mitre-slot type

It's a shame you don't have a router as there are many good router-based options for edge jointing and a sharp router bit leaves a particularly good glue surface for a power tool. Here's one simple and effective design:

Router jointer

[Source: ShopNotes #8]

This is of course doable just with hand tools, as that is how boards made flat, square and true in the past.

Traditionally a jointer would be used for this as its name would suggest (although they were also called try planes or trying planes). You can do this with a no. 4 or smoothing plane, but at only about 9" / 23cm long it's a little too short to do the job as effectively as one would like — a shorter plane can more easily ride up and down over irregularities rather than skating over the top of them as preferred.

When jointing edges by hand, in addition to the physical planing work it's important to first mark out your boards well, on both faces and both ends, and then work down to your line.

Even with marked/gauged lines to work to planing long board edges flat and square to the face is fairly challenging. So over the years various jigs and fence systems have been devised, especially to help less-experienced plane users do the job.

One particularly good solution is shown below, starting with just a common block plane. By effectively extending its bed length with the infeed and outfeed 'tables' it gives a true jointing effect, even though the plane at the heart of it is a mere 6" / 15cm long.

Hand-plane jointer

[Source: ShopNotes #19]

  • Good overview. I'd previously seen the inverted-plane tri/ck only in a jig where it was being used to produce long shavings for kindling. using it to lengthen the plane face is Distinctly Interesting and might be a good use for planes that can't be fixed up enough for general use.
    – keshlam
    Oct 2, 2015 at 2:15
  • @keshlam, thanks. I hadn't seen anything quite like it before a couple of weeks ago; I think it's an idea that could find a fair number of fans.And as you say, it could utilise planes that don't quite cut it for general use e.g. because of specific issue with the soles..
    – Graphus
    Oct 2, 2015 at 17:26
  • That router jig is pretty clever. I've experimented with using a router table to joint edges. With a split fence you can sort of duplicate jointing to some extent, but feeding longer pieces is a bit tricky.
    – user5572
    Jan 3, 2022 at 4:31
  • @jdv, yeah, jointing is one of those lesser-known or unsung jobs a router can do (and do to a very high standard) contributing to the judgement of many that the router is the Most Useful Power Tool. Although that title goes to the TS according to some/numerous table saw users I frankly dismiss their opinion as simple bias, since you can't get them to admit that virtually every common job a TS is relied on for can be done [more safely (much!), or better, or more easily and cheaper] by another tool.
    – Graphus
    Jan 3, 2022 at 13:16

If you planks wiggle on your table saw, use your handheld instead. It is the same idea as you have already presented, but upside down.


In my experience, if you want a glue-able joint, a table saw cannot do it. There is too much 'wiggle' when pushing the wood through. A high end cabinet saw with a large carriage and a very good blade might manage it, but my table saw and certainly any portable shop saw just do not have the ability.

So, not being able to (yet) by a joiner you will need to go the old fashioned route. A hand plane. My recommendation is to get the longest one (in relation to your boards) that you can afford (find in your shop) and use that. The reason for the longer the sole, the easier it will be to make flat over a longer board. a 2' board can be a pretty small plane, an 8' board could use a longer one.

Most reading I've done has suggested planing/joining any cut on a table saw to make a nice surface to glue. The hand plane will need a bit more practice than a joiner but it is significantly cheaper (assuming to don't ruin lots of wood...)


The simplest method is with an edge guide made of 1/2 plywood clamped to the piece or screwed to the piece and a skill saw. Measure the distance between the blade and the outside edge of the skill saw foot and the inside of the blade. Put the edge of the guide that distance back from where you want to cut and have at it. Just let the saw cut don't push it, use a steady hand.

  • This is a method to get a straight edge. But a straight edge isn't automatically a jointed edge, which is what the Question asks about.
    – Graphus
    Dec 5, 2017 at 8:50
  • It will give you a glueable edge with a good sharp blade and a steady hand much better than a table saw. If you want to plane the edge with a block plane after that it is quite easy. I have made many harvest tables using this method most of them with a three board top 42"wide and 96" long. and sold them for more than $200 per foot.
    – user61999
    Dec 6, 2017 at 13:03
  • I might add if you want to make the two boards fit with precision, put a very slight angle on your skill saw so that any resulting gap shows on the under side. You do not need much so experiment on scrap first. Switch the boards to match end for end to make the separate cuts.
    – user61999
    Dec 6, 2017 at 15:43
  • 2
    Much better edge with a skill saw than you can get with a table saw??! That's quite a claim. In another format I'm sure people would love to challenge that ;-)
    – Graphus
    Dec 6, 2017 at 18:34
  • They are welcome to it if they like. When you pass an eight foot board through a table saw it is almost impossible to move it through without a deflection. With some plywood as an edge guide a slight angle on the a nice sharp blade I can cut an edge that will disappear when you bring it together with a mating edge.
    – user61999
    Dec 6, 2017 at 20:01

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