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Tune Up Your Jointer & Planer Machine for Optimum Performance

For full size or lunchbox planers and jointers Our knife setting jigs make quick work of replacing dull or damaged jointer or planer knives.

Maintaining your jointer and planer is an often overlooked task that can really effect the tool's performance. Skewed, damaged, or dull knives produce poor results, can damage material, and decrease user safety. Making sure that the knives are sharp and otherwise undamaged is very important. In this blog you will see just how easy it is to replace and properly adjust the knives in your planer or jointer machine. This is a simple job that will rejuvenate your machines and get them running as good as new! Whether you're installing carbide tipped or high speed steel knives in your planer or jointer, you can get them perfectly set in to your machine with Infinity Tools Planer/Jointer Knife Setting Jigs.

Unplug Your Tools! Safety First! It is always important to unplug your machine before performing any maintenance.

Choosing The Proper Setup Jigs
First, unplug the machine and determine what size cutter head your planer or jointer has. The diameter of the cutter head will determine which size setup jig you will need. A typical cutter head would be in the 2" to 4" range but it's best to know before you buy. There are two different sized jigs. One set for cutter heads from 2-1/2" to 5" diameter (item PKJ-201) and one set for cutter heads 1-7/8" to 3" diameter (item PKJ-300) (the latter is for most portable planers).

Measure your cutterhead diameter Checking the diameter of you cutter head is easy, simply use a ruler to measure. On my Rikon jointer/planer the cutter head is 2-1/2".

If you are reading this, your knives most likely need to be replaced. Choosing the right knives is easy. Simply take one of the knives and measure it in all 3 dimensions then find the knife that matches these measurements. If you have trouble finding an exact match, a similar size knife may work in your machine. As long as the gib or clamping block makes full contact with the blade you should be fine. If you have any questions about choosing the correct size knives for your machines you can always contact us here at Infinity Tools and we'll be happy to help.

Placement of the knife against the gib is important In order for the knife to be held properly, it needs to make full contact with the gib. If the knife is too short, it will not contact the bottom of the gib when set at the proper height.

Calibrating The Setup Jigs
With setup jigs in hand, the first step is to determine how high the knives should extend out of the cutter head. This will vary depending on the machine, check your owners manual for specifications. If you don't have the owner's manual you can often find a copy online from various sources.  I would do my do diligence in tracking down the proper specs. Having the owners manual will give good information on maintaining your machine properly. Do not assume that your knives are currently set properly in the cutter head. I have seen plenty of machines with knives sitting slightly askew that produce an OK result at first but die out quickly. Knives that are not parallel to the bed of the machine will dull unevenly because more work is being done by one knife than the others.

Set the knife in perfect alignment If you use your old knives to set your jigs, make sure your knives are not slightly skewed. In this picture you can see the knife is skewed dramatically in the head.

With the information you gathered from your owner's manual for the proper projection of the knives you can set your jigs. First, zero the jig to your cutter head. Position the jig on the head so that all parts fall on a non notched portion of the head (see picture below). Then thread the adjuster down until it makes contact with the head itself.

Setting the starting point of your knife setting jig is important Zeroing the Jig is an important step. The measurements on the scale will change depending on the diameter of your cutter head.

Record the setting on the jig. Do this setup for both jigs. This is your zero point. Once the jigs are zeroed you can set the projection of the knives by adjusting the jig to the exact height your machine calls for. Each jig has a scale like a micrometer making it very easy to accurately adjust the jig.

Not all manufactures give a measurement for the projection of the knives. Rather they tell you how to check that the knife is in proper calibration. In this case I check to see that my dull knives are set properly, then I simply adjust the jigs to duplicate this setting by Zeroing the jig to the old blade. I zero both jigs to the same place on the old knife to insure that the knives will set squarely in the head when replaced.

Installing the Knives
Installing the knives is easy. The first thing I do after making sure the machine is unplugged is remove the old knives and clean the cutter head and gib. If there is any sawdust, resin buildup, or rust I get rid of it now and give all parts a light coat of oil to prevent corrosion. Now it's time to install the knives. Most cutter heads will require you to install the gib first and then the knife so make sure to thread the locking screws in giving yourself plenty of room to slide the knife into place.

Set the jigs as far apart from each other as you can on the cutter head for best results Positioning the Jigs as far apart as possible makes for the most accurate setup. It also gives plenty of room to tighten the gib locking screws.

Setting the Knife Height
Once the knife is in place you can install both knife setup jigs. Magnets in the jig will automatically hold the knife at the correct height that you set the jigs to previously, allowing you to have both hands free to tighten down the gib screws. I place the jigs as far apart as possible on the cutter head and tighten the screws from the center snugging them in an alternating pattern, similar to installing the lug nuts on a car wheel. Setting the jigs as far apart as possible on the cutter head will give you the most accurate setting. The jigs may be in the way of some of the screws. Once you have snugged all the screws you can reach, remove one jig at a time and tighten the remaining screws. Repeat this process for the remaining knives and your done!

Helpful Hints
It is never a bad idea to check all screws just to make sure that you didn't miss one.
You don't need to be Conan the Barbarian when tightening these screws. A short handled wrench is typically the right tool for the job. Many machines will come with the correct wrench, but if yours has been lost or you never had it, make sure to use the correct sized wrench to avoid stripping the head.
Be careful when installing the Jigs, the magnets are strong and can damage the cutting edge if your not careful.

Hand tighten the head screws to secure the knife in place Make sure to use the appropriate wrench to tighten the locking screws. No need to be Conan the Barbarian when tightening the gib screws. Tight but not too tight!

If your blades are sharp but have a small nick in them you can often offset the knives by moving one knife 1/16" or so right or left. As long as the knife is still well supported and there is no interference when the head is rotated this should cause no issues. Offsetting the knives allows each knife to remove the material that the damaged portion of the previous knife missed. Because most nicks happen when a staple or piece of debris is embedded in a board, equal damage is typically done to all 3 knives. Offsetting one planer or jointer knife means that the damaged portion no longer lines up and the resulting track is eliminated. Using our planer knife setting jigs allows you to do this maintenance quickly and easily, and will insure perfect alignment of all knives in the cutter head.

Offset nicked knives to remove tracks in your material Offsetting blades can eliminate tracks made by nicked knives. This picture shows an exaggerated offset. 1/16" or so is all that should be needed to eliminate tracks in a board. If more offset is needed the knives should be replaced or resharpened.

There is no reason to avoid maintaining your joiner or planer. Pick up a set of these great planer and jointer setup jigs and start getting the most from your machines. If you've got old or tired knives, our premium quality replacement planer and jointer knives will really boost the performance of your machines and make you woodworking safer and more enjoyable.


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