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My old Sears 5 1/8" jointer motor is dead. I can't find a replacement. Trying to haul a new one to my shop in Mexico seems impractical. I'm contemplating buying a jointer plane or a hand held electric jointer. Any recommendations?

  • See also one of the other answers, which pointed to a jig which turned a smaller handplane into a bench-mounted edge-jointer plane, by providing additional guide surfaces. See also discussions of edge jointing on tabe saw or router, and face-jointing on a planer by using a sled or rails to stabilize the board. – keshlam Oct 21 '15 at 21:44
  • Here is the previous Question referred to by keshlam: Methods of jointing without a jointer. There are numerous options as you can see and perhaps the most expedient and efficient for anyone with a router is to use that for the purpose. If you don't already have one a good router is by far and away the most versatile of all power tools, and amazingly costs quite a bit less than a decent new-build hand plane. – Graphus Oct 22 '15 at 9:07
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I'm contemplating buying a jointer plane or a hand held electric jointer. Any recommendations?

It depends on a few things, in my opinion: how accurate you want to be, how hard to you want to work, and how much do you want to spend.


Accuracy

Jointer planes can be amazingly accurate in the right hands. They have the ability to finesse an edge by thousandths of an inch per pass of the plane. However, there is a bit of a learning curve to using one. If you do it all the time, though, it will become second nature.

I should add that using a jointer plane alone in lieu of a power jointer is not an entire solution. To dimension rough boards, you will want to have at least a jack plane or a fore plane to do the rough dimensioning, then come back with the jointer plane for the final flattening passes. Jointer planes are usually set up to take very fine shavings, whereas jack/fore planes are set to hog out material.

A handheld electric jointer can be accurate if used correctly. They have two plates that you can adjust to a pretty fine shaving (< 1/16" in most models). You can finesse an edge just as well with an electric jointer as with the manual one mentioned above. However, just due to the powered nature of the tool, it is a bit less controlled than a hand jointer plane.

Mostly, I've seen electric handheld jointers at construction sites where a carpenter needs to hog off the edge of a board to fit it in a space. I don't know that I've ever seen one in a "fine" woodworking shop. This may be because the "fine" woodworkers use a tabletop jointer like what you just broke.


Effort

Hand planes take sweat equity to use, there's no doubt about it. In the time it takes you to flatten a board with a combination of a jack/fore plane and a jointer plane, you could have done two or three with a tabletop jointer and planer. If you're not averse to that, hand planes work well, like they did in the hundreds of years they were used before electricity.

Electric handheld planers take minimal effort to use, as is expected from an electric tool.


Cost

You can probably find a used electric handheld planer for under $100 USD. Heck, find some retiree who used to do carpentry as a hobby and he will probably give his to you.

When you enter the world of hand planes, you enter a big rabbit hole. You can definitely find hand planes for cheap if they're in poor condition or if the owner doesn't know what he has. They will often require some work to get into usable shape. Otherwise, you can do the Lee Valley or Lie-Nielsen route (among others) and buy new, but those babies are expensive.

  • Thanks grfrazee. I have my logs cut to the thickness I want and use my thickness plane and drum sander to smooth the rough sawn surface. I'm mostly concerned about the edges although, using a hand jointer plane may speed up the first part of smoothing the rough cut boards. I'm inclined toward the hand plane. I am concerned because the wood I use (guanacaste) is notorious for tear out. Still the hand plane sounds best. – Carl Carlson Oct 22 '15 at 1:07
  • @CarlCarlson, "(guanacaste) is notorious for tear out", we have a previous Question on that. I wasn't around then so I would add to that and say that if you're planing difficult, tearout-prone woods having the cap iron as close to the cutting edges is the #1 thing to concentrate on. The cutting iron is of course assumed to be as sharp as you can make it. – Graphus Oct 22 '15 at 9:01

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