Video Post #3: Shop Tip: Tuning Up A Jointer with A-Line It

When you tune up your tools, whether they are hand tools or power tools, you’re doing yourself a favor. Beautiful furniture requires excellent joinery, and excellent joinery is not only functional and square, but beautiful and without gaps.

Many of us are hybrid woodworkers – we use machines on our stock, and then clean up the machining marks with handplanes. We flatten the soles of our handplanes on super-flat surfaces like granite or plate glass, and we sharpen our handplanes to 4000 or even 8000 grit with stones. Our shavings are super thin, measured in thousandths of an inch. That leads to very fine surfaces that reveal the full beauty of the wood.

If flattening handplanes to high tolerances is important to you and giving you great results, why not tune your power tools to high tolerances as well?

I recently tuned up my table saw with my A-Line It and I am getting much better results. I am also doing the same high tolerance tune up to my new Grizzly jointer, and I’m getting much better results. Think of this as garbage-in garbage-out – if you want to get good results at the end, you gotta do things right at the start. If you want tight, sturdy, precise and square joinery – why wouldn’t you want a tight, sturdy, precise and square jointer?

My new jointer seemed to be well-aligned when using a straightedge, but using a dial caliper revealed that it was not as close as I had hoped. This was not the fault of the factory, I am sure the cutterhead became misaligned during cleaning. The cutter head was not parallel with the tables (higher on one side) and was not in proper alignment with the outfeed table. After correcting this, there are many noticeable differences: the wood flows through the jointer easily, there is no snipe, the cutting operation is smoother and quieter, the surface is smoother, and the squareness is spot on. This will make the cutterhead last longer and the jointer safer to operate too.

Here’s a quick tour of my new jointer, showing where the shims go under the cutterhead.

And here’s a quick chart to help you convert thousandths on your dial indicator to the fractions you use everyday.


Now, go align your tools, and don’t forget to check the belts and wax the surfaces while you’re out there.

4 thoughts on “Video Post #3: Shop Tip: Tuning Up A Jointer with A-Line It

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  2. Will Wilson

    Hi Matt,

    Good post – I think most of us probably don’t give tune ups enough consideration. I know I am very guilty of this. Thanks for the motivation to go out and get my machines in order! How often do you plan on doing tune ups? Maybe I am over thinking this and being too much of an Engineer but do you think it would be a bad idea to draft up a preventative maintenance plan for your shop and service or check each of your machines at regular intervals? Too much fuss for the relatively small volume of stuff we make vs. industrial shops? What are your thoughts? Thanks.


  3. Matt Post author

    Hey Will, thanks for stopping by.

    Checking to see if tools need to be tuned up is really a project event, not a timed event. So I’m going to check my tools before starting a big or important project or if I suspect problems. Based on those checks, I’ll decide if I need to tune them up.

    I suspect this means that I will check my tools more often, but I’ll only be doing the work to tune them up if I needed.

    Waxing the tools to prevent rust is a timed event, not a project event (rust doesn’t wait for projects), so I’m going to wax tools regularly – perhaps monthly.

    This does make the engineer/project manager in me want to develop a maintenance plan that includes all of the above and more (filter changing, dust collector emptying, air compressor draining, etc). But I think I’ll let that evolve over time as I learn and I’ll incorporate anything I learn from other woodworkers as well.

    Glad this post got you out in the shop!

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