Damn You, Jointer. Damn You To Hell.

So I bought a new jointer a few weeks ago. It's a mid-1950's 8" Delta with giant 1 HP General Electric motor residing in the cast iron base's pot belly. It is a penultimate jointer, in that it has dovetailed ways and a straight cutter head. My ultimate jointer will have parallelogram beds and a helix cutter head. Still, considering what I paid, this big old Delta it was a bargain and a big improvement over my old 6”.
Here is the beast, in all her fantastic, frustrating glory.
When I first setup the jointer I used my winding sticks and made a quick assessment that the infeed and outfeed tables were not coplanar. At the time I simply made sure the outfeed table was set properly to the blades (it was), adjust the fence to the outfeed table and milled away. I was surfacing thick lumber. As long as I didn’t make too many passes the faces were flat before the board became a wedge.
As I’m starting work on a non-paying commission from my wife for her friend which will require jointing some thin and expensive boards I wanted to first tune up the jointer.
I began that process by watching Marc Spagnuolo’s Jointer Setup Video. It’s a very informative video, but as Marc has a parallelogram jointer, I found that though the theory is the same there were more differences than similarities in the technique he showed versus the one I had to use. The biggest difference I found was that Marc shows making all adjustments to the infeed table. While this works on a parallelogram jointer where cam wheels make permanent adjustments which are held as the bed is raised and lowered, it doesn’t work so well on jointer with dovetailed ways such as I have.

By reading Roland Johnshon’s excellent Tune Up Any Jointer article from the Tools & Shops 2013 issue of Fine Woodworking I learned that with when tuning up a jointer with dovetailed ways such as mine, you want to shim & adjust the outfeed table. The reason for this is that in use, the infeed table is the one you move and adjust up and down. The outfeed table is only moved during tune up and alignment. If you were to shim the infeed table, the shims would be prone to shifting and moving as the bed is adjusted up and down. Less movement means the shims will stay in place longer. Roland's article is behind their pay wall, but it's certainly worth checking out if you're a member.
Before I could shim, I had to figure out how close to coplanar my beds were. I did this with a large Veritas straight edge from Lee Valley. It’s probably the one I would have used anyway, but it was reassuring to see both Marc and Roland recommend the same straight edge.
Begin by loosening and re-tightening the gib screws.

First I loosened the set screws which hold the gib and provide tension against the dovetail way as Roland suggests. As this relieves tension in the beds, I did this for the infeed and outfeed beds. Unfortunately after resetting them, I still found that my beds were not coplanar.
Next, I adjusted my beds so that the infeed table was just barely higher than the outfeed and both were above the cutter head. With the straight edge clamped to the infeed table, I measured between the outfeed table and the straight edge at the four corners of the outfeed table (this requires moving and re-clamping the straight edge).
Lots of light under the straight edge.
From here, it was a slow, tedious process of measuring, adding shims, re-measuring, adding more shims, re-measuring, etc. For shims, I bought two (2) extra feel gauges. I took them apart and used the blades for shims.
More shims. She needs more shims!
I started this process on Friday night. I did it for about 4 hours on Sunday. As I write this on Monday night, there's more shimming to be done. Hopefully I'll have coplanar beds by my Saturday post.

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Dyami PlotkeJointer, toolsComment