“God does not build in straight lines,” says a character in the Sci-Fi flick Prometheus. While that is not entirely true, when you are working with wood, you’d best believe it!
There is always some twisting, warping, or weird curvatures and odd shapes when dealing with wood. You will find these even on the processed four by fours you buy from the local wood shop or mill.
And unfortunately, you need these pieces to be perfectly flat, square, and symmetrical if you want to get best results from your table saw, miter saw, or other similar tools. This is why the best benchtop jointer is such an essential tool in your workshop, whether you are an amateur or pro.
And since it is such a useful tool, there are numerous models out there on the market, from different manufacturers. Some are cheap and for amateurs, while the others are typically expensive pro-grade titans.
Interest in woodworking is on the rise, and there is a growing army of DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists out there. If you belong to this category, we have a comprehensive buying guide and recommendations of some of the top models.
If, on the other hand, you are a seasoned pro, you can probably skip those sections and head straight to our review section to check out the top ten shortlist.
Best Benchtop Jointer 2018 – Comparison Table
|Product||Item model number||Item Dimensions||Warranty ||Voltage|
|RIKON Power Tools Editor Choice||20-600H||30 x 17.5 x 13 inches||5 years||120|
|POWERTEC||BJ600||32.5 x 14.5 x 11 inches|
|Delta Power Tools||37-071||35 x 17 x 13 inches|
|PORTER-CABLE||PC160JT||32.1 x 12.4 x 11.2 inches|
|Shop Fox||W1829||29.5 x 19.8 x 12.5 inches||110|
|Jet||JJP-10BTOS||40.4 x 20 x 17 inches||3-year limited||116|
|Cutech 40160||40160H-CT||32 x 12.2 x 11 inches||115|
|WEN||6560||28 x 14 x 20 inches||2 Years|
|Cutech 40180||40180HC-CT||31 x 12.2 x 11 inches||115|
RIKON Power Tools 20-600H – Best Lightweight Benchtop Jointer With Helical Blades
This Rikon puts a heavy emphasis on lightweight and compact build, with a 36lbs jointer. It is a standard 6-inch benchtop jointer for the home woodworking shop. It comes with helical cutting blades with a max cutting depth of ⅛th of an inch.
It has a 19-inch long fence, with adjustable points. The machine has an electrical rating of 120volts. The 1200 watt motor is capable of hitting speeds close to 11,000 RPM. Rikon provides a five-year guarantee for their device.
Verdict: The Rikon 20-600H is an excellent option for home woodworking. It is compact and has adequate performance and safety features. The niggles are minor and do not diminish the value of this machine.
Delta Power Tools 37-071 – Best Cast Iron Benchtop Jointer With Straight Blades
The Delta jointer prides itself on heavy-duty construction, with a durable cast iron build. This is a very heavy jointer, weighing in at 76lbs. As a standard 6-inch benchtop jointer, it has a cutting depth of ⅛th of an inch. The motor inside is rated at 1.5HP, and spins the blade to speeds of 10,000 RPM.
But instead of spiral or helical blades, the Delta 37-071 comes armed with the older straight-edged blades. The replacement mechanism for the blades is pretty streamlined. The Delta is another jointer packed with an adjustable fence, with stops at 45 and 90 degrees.
Verdict: If you want a sturdy jointer, the Delta 37-071 should rank high on your list. But buy only if you are okay with the straight blades.
Porter Cable PC160JT – Best Benchtop Jointer With Variable Speed
The PC160JT is a standard 6-inch benchtop jointer with a 10 amp, 1.5HP variable speed motor. The blade speeds on this jointer range from 6000 at the low end to 11,000 RPM at the top end. The two blades on the cutting head have a max depth of ⅛ inches.
The fence is adjustable and made of aluminum to keep costs down. The mounts are at 45 and 90 degrees, which is par for this category. The machine is pretty compact and lightweight, at barely 35lbs. Porter-Cable provides a standard 3-year warranty for this jointer.
Verdict: If using a wide variety of wood types of different hardness, the Porter Cable PC160JT is well worth a look. But it does have some significant disadvantages. Buy if variable speeds is an essential feature for you.
POWERTEC BJ600 – Best Heavy Durty Benchtop Jointer With Large Dust Bag
The BJ600 is another feature packed jointer in the 6″ benchtop category. The machine is made out of durable cast iron and weighs 79lbs. The 12 amps motor is rated at 120volts, and has a cutting depth of 1/8th of an inch. Those blades are of the straight design and made from high-speed steel.
The fence is made from cast iron and has adjustable mounts for bevel cuts. The mount points are at the usual 45 and 90-degree angles. The BJ600 comes with a large capacity dust port and safety features like a power switch lock.
Verdict: The Powertec BJ600 is a jointer with some praiseworthy features. But the negatives do outweigh the positive aspects. So we do not find this machine worthy of a recommend.
Shop Fox W182 – Best Budget-Friendly Benchtop Jointer
The Shop Fox is a budget-friendly planer, with some powerful specs under the hood. The 12 amp motor churns out 1.5HP, at 110volts. That can turn those straight twin blades at speeds more than 10,000 RPM. The W1829 has a max cutting depth of 1/8th of an inch.
The solid cast iron build is another highlight of this machine. Naturally, that translates into a weight of close to 80lbs. The fence on this 6-inch jointer is adjustable, and the dust collection duties are handled by a mini impeller.
Verdict: The Shop Fox W1829 is rescued mainly by its affordable pricing. From a value perspective, the W1829 delivers due to the cast iron build quality and acceptable performance. But it has some niggles, so we cannot rate it very high on our recommended list.
Jet JJP- 10BTOS – Best Combo Jointer-Planer
This Jet is a jointer-planer, so it naturally comes with a wider 10-inch cutting width. The jointer has a ⅛th of an inch cutting depth, while the planer sports a 0.08-inch cutting depth. The machine comes with a steel stand for conversion from a bench to a floor model.
The motor is a very basic 1HP motor, rated at 120 volts and around 13 amps. The straight blades work at a speed of around 9000 RPM. This combo machine weighs around 80lbs and comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
Verdict: The Jet 10-inch combo jointer-planer is aimed mainly at the budget conscious DIY amateur crowd. And for that purpose, it does a decent job at the asking price. But if you want serious and dependable performance from a jointer-planer, you will have to shell out some serious cash for their larger 12-inch variant.
Cutech 40160H-CT – Best Modern Spiral Bladed 6″ Jointer
After a long procession of straight bladed cutters, we finally have another modern spiral cutterhead jointer with the 40160H-CT from Cutech. It has the standard 6-inch width, with 1/8th of an inch cutting depth.
Made from aluminum, the body weighs in at around 40lbs, which is not too heavy in this class. The 10 amp, 120volt motor is capable of spinning those blades at high speed of 11,000 RPM. Cutech provides a 2-year warranty for this jointer.
Verdict: The Cutech 40160H-CT is a decently specced device for the beginner and amateur woodworker. It does have some minor weaknesses, but nothing serious enough for us to give it a thumbs-down. This is worth a buy if you are on a budget.
WEN 6560 – Budget Friendly Cast Iron Jointer
The WEN is a standard 6-inch wide benchtop jointer, with a durable cast iron base. The motor is a 120 volt 10 amp version, capable of speeds more than 10,000 RPM. The fence on this jointer can be adjusted to 45 and 90-degree angles for bevel cuts.
The blades are standard straight variants, with a twin blade cutting system. For safety, there is a springloaded blade guard on the machine. WEN delivers a 2-year warranty for this jointer.
Verdict: It is quite clear that the WEN 6560 is a beginner-oriented machine. But it is also clear that there are much better cast iron 6-inch benchtop jointers out there. So we cannot recommend this jointer to anybody, despite some decent features.
Woodtek 115955 – Budget Friendly Aluminum 6″ Jointer
The Woodtek is a rather unremarkable 6-inch jointer, with a compact and lightweight build. It weighs just over 42 lbs. The motor is decently powered with 1.5 horses under the hood. But the blade speed is low, with just 7,500 RPM delivered at maximum.
The jointer uses the old school straight blades; It has two of these at the cutter head. There is dual safety guard at the blades. The machine has a handy know to control the cutterhead height as well.
Verdict: The main issue with the Woodtek is that it is a relatively unknown model with no redeeming features on paper. There are very few user reviews or feedback available online. The specs also indicate a rather underwhelming product. Buy at your own risk.
Cutech 40180 – Best 8″ Jointer With Spiral Carbide Blades
The motor has a 120 volt, 12 amp rating, and the highest RPM rating on our shortlist at around 12K. Thanks to the aluminum material used, this machine only weighs around 49kg. Along with the extra width, the 40180 also boasts of very long table at 33.5 inches. The fence has adjustable settings.
Verdict: The Cutech 40180 is designed for home users who need more capacity than your average 6-inch jointer. With powerful motor, carbide blades, and extra long extensions, this jointer comes highly recommended by us.
What is a jointer and how does it work?
There may be different models (including the benchtop variant), but the basic template of a jointer has a set of cylindrical blades set deep on a flat surface. This flat surface of the machine has two parts, with the blade right in the middle.
The in-feed table is where you place the workpiece. This surface is set slightly lower than the blades and the out-feed table. When you move the wood towards the outfeed table, the blades shave off small chunks from the wood surface.
Depending on how much pressure you apply on the wood as it passes over the blades, you can get varying amounts of thickness from the workpiece. You can also change depth of the cut by adjusting the height of the two tables.
When should I use a jointer?
There is a significant difference in price between finished and unfinished pieces of lumber. If you use a lot of pieces regularly in your workshop, it might make sense to have your finishing equipment. Then you can buy raw wood pieces on the cheap and do the surfacing in the shop.
If you are dealing with an uneven, raw, or unfinished piece of wood, a jointer should ideally be your go-to device. This particular machine is designed specifically to flatten the surface of wood pieces. After cutting wood pieces into small sizes, you should run them through the jointer before feeding them to your planer or table saw.
What is the difference between a jointer and a planer?
Both are different types of wood surfacing machines. The basic difference between the two in which aspects of a wood piece they focus on. The jointer acts on the surface and edges of the piece, making them flat and straight. A planer is mainly for making changes to the thickness of the piece.
The planer usually works on a piece after it has been through the jointer. The functions of both these machines are not interchangeable. The planer needs a flat surface for reference, which is not often available on a curved piece. So you have to run it through a jointer to get that one surface prepped and ready.
You can even do woodworking without these machines, using hand planes. But that is a time consuming and labor-intensive process. A jointer and planer does a far better job, and far quicker too. If you work on a lot of unfinished wood pieces, you should have both in your workshop.
What are the different types of jointers?
There are four different types of jointers:
In these pro-grade variants, the motor is encased in an enclosed base. This base protects the motor as well as cutter hand by preventing the dust from clogging the insides. The base also makes these jointers among the safest options out there. They are efficient, durable, stable, and quieter than other types. These jointers can accommodate wood pieces between 6-16 inches thickness, depending on the size of the machine.
These are portable variants that reduce the weight and size of the machine by removing the enclosed base from the design. But that also means that these machines get none of the benefits of an enclosed motor. They are noisy, and less stable or durable. But on the plus side, they are cheaper.
Picture a smaller, more compact version of a closed stand jointer, and we get the benchtop jointer. These are designed to work on wood pieces six inches and under in size. They are best for woodworking projects involving smaller pieces. They are absolutely unsuitable for pieces larger than 6 inches. If you are a hobbyist or enthusiast, these are the best jointers for you.
As we have already mentioned, a jointer and planer often go hand in hand when you want to prepare your workpieces. So in theory, a machine that combines both functions makes good sense. You can save space and have a single device to handle both functions. These devices were more popular in Europe than in the US in the past. But that is changing in recent years.
Should I buy a jointer-planer or should I buy them both separately?
A jointer-planer comes with some significant advantages:
- Usually a wider capacity machine than a regular jointer
- Does the job of two machines
- Frees up valuable shop space as you have one machine instead of two
- Only one motor and cutter-head to maintain
But on the flipside, they also have some prominent weaknesses:
- Double duty means quicker wear on parts
- The changeover is often complicated or finicky.
In a jointer-planer, there is one single motor and cutting head for both actions. The changeover is the process by which you transform the jointer into a planer and vice versa. This usually involves moving the cutting head around and making other alterations to the fence and infeed and outfeed tables.
If you are starved for space in your shop, a well-designed jointer-planer might be a good idea. But if space is not an issue, you will probably find life easier when using two different machines which are good at their jobs.
What are the important factors to consider when buying a benchtop jointer?
- Width: for benchtop jointers, the width is fixed at six inches. As long as you don’t plan to work on any piece wider than that, a benchtop should be ideal for you.
- Material: If you want something portable and light, aluminum is a good choice. But for durability and stability, nothing beats cast iron.
- Cutter head: There are two options, straight and spiral/helical heads. Straight blades deliver a flatter and smoother finish. But spiral heads are newer technology and are more durable, easier to maintain and replace. If you use the jointer a lot, they may be the better choice.
- Cutting depth: This could be as low as 1/8th of an inch, to ½, ¾, or one inch. The wider the range, the more versatile the jointer. With shallow cutting depth, you will need more passes to get the desired result.
- Adjustable Fence: the fence of a jointer ultimately decides how accurate the machine is. Fences with adjustable positive stops allow you to work on angled cuts on wood.
- Motor: The more horses, the better, as always. But the bare minimum here is usually one HP to handle both soft and harder wood types.
- Dust Collection: as usual, any machines acting on wood with motors and saw blades will result in massive amounts of fine sawdust. So you need a high-quality dust collection system on these jointers.
Benchtop Jointer Tips For Usage, Maintenance, and Accessories
Benchtop jointers don’t have any visible intimidating saws or blades. They look very innocuous. Do not let their appearance fool you. These are potentially dangerous pieces of machinery. Exercise extreme care and caution when working with these devices.
Always check the cutting depth setting on the jointer before turning it on. Ensure that it is at the right depth setting you need for the current task. And also allow the blades to reach full speed before feeding the pieces.
Wear ear and eye protection at all times when working with power tools like planers and jointers in your shop. Check out these goggles for instance.
Try to avoid wearing long jewelry or loose-fitting clothing when working in the shop.
Be wary of your hand position when holding the workpiece. Do not allow the hand to be directly above the cutting head when it is active. You should have at least a few push blocks to feed workpieces to the jointer safely. These are some options:
Frequently check the cutting blades for any nocks or dents (only on straight blades). Also check their sharpness frequently. Keep some spare blades handy at all times in your garage or shop. And always buy compatible blades, like these Powertec blades for your Porter Cable Jointer.
Benchtop jointers are a diverse breed. The 6-inch variants oriented mainly towards the budget-conscious hobbyist and home woodworker. If you want something light and mobile, aluminum is the metal of choice.
But for durability, you will need to opt for the heavier cast iron models. Spiral blades are less frequent in this niche, as straight blades help keep costs down while delivering acceptable performance for beginners.
If you don’t already have a planer, you should consider buying one along with your jointer. Or else another option would be to buy a combo jointer-planer. Which one do you think you will buy, and why? Feel free to share your decision with us in the comments section. We would love to hear from you.
The best benchtop jointer can help improve your woodworking skills and output quality in the long run. So choose carefully. Thanks for visiting, and happy woodworking!