Essential Supplies: Top 3 Tools for Milling Wood Explained

START AT THE JOINTER

The first step in milling wood is to flatten one face of the board. My definition of flatness is a board that sits perfectly solidly on a flat surface. It isn’t necessarily smooth, but it doesn’t rock or wobble at all. The most efficient tool to achieve this level of flatness is a jointer.

A jointer is a machine with a cylindrical cutting head between two tables, the infeed on the right and the outfeed on the left. The two tables must be perfectly parallel or co-planer to each other and to the knives on the cutting head. The outfeed table is set to exactly the same height as the knives. The infeed table is set slightly lower (but still parallel) to the level of the outfeed table. This difference in height is the depth of cut for the jointer, so you adjust the infeed table up and down to set the depth.

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Taking a few passes over the jointer will make quick work of flattening a board. After you flatten one face, hold it against the jointer’s fence, which is 90 degrees to the tables, to flatten the edge of the board. This will make these two faces perpendicular to each other. Below you’ll see a close-up of jointer cutter head with infeed table to the right and outfeed table to the left.

Score: two faces complete out of six.

jointer knives

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