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Woodworking Machines - Jointers and Planers

What should you do before using jointers and planers?

Jointers and planers can be dangerous if not used properly.

  • Read the owner's manual carefully.
  • Make sure you understand instructions before attempting to use any tool or machine.
  • Learn the applications and limitations before use.
  • Refer to Woodworking Machines - General Safety Tips for general safety precautions.

What should you check before starting your machine?

  • Are the knives set for the proper clearance and depth of cut? Are they sharp, balanced, and fastened securely?
  • Is the fence anchored in the proper position?
  • Can the guard (swing or overhead) move freely and return over the cutting head?
  • Is the equipment properly lubricated?
  • Are the parts or accessories in proper working condition?

What safety procedures should you follow when using jointers and planers?

  • Wear safety glasses or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles).
  • Wear hearing protection that is suitable for the level and frequency of the noise you are exposed to in the woodworking area.
  • Wear protective footwear when required.
  • Allow only experienced and trained personnel to operate jointers and planers.
  • Use only sharp, balanced and joined knives.
  • Replace old square cutting heads with round heads as they are much safer.
  • Ensure start and stop buttons are within easy and convenient reach of the operator.
  • Make sure the swing guard pushes beside the stock as it passes over the cutting heads and returns against the fence after the stock is removed.
  • Remove all wrenches and tools used in the set up from the table.
  • Provide a minimum clearance of at least 1 m (3 ft) greater than the length of the longest stock being worked.
  • Construct hold-down push blocks to do bevelling and surface operations. See Woodworking Machines - Push Sticks for more information.
  • Use hold-down (double-handed) push blocks. These keep hands well away from the cutting head.
  • Maintain an adequate amount of downward and forward force with push blocks as the knife blades on a revolving cutting head can take the stock from an operator's hands.
Figure 1 - Planer

Figure 2 - Jointer

What should you avoid when using a jointer or planer?

  • Do not leave the machine running unattended. Shut off the power and make sure that the cutting head has stopped revolving.
  • Do not make cuts deeper than .3 cm (1/16") in one pass.
  • Do not join (edge) stock of pieces less than 30 cm (12") long, 2 cm (3/4") wide and less than .6 cm (1/4") thick.
  • Do not surface stock less than 30 cm (12") long, 2 cm (3/4") wide or more than 15 cm (6") wide or less than 1.5 cm (5/8") thick.
  • Do not pass hands over the cutters.
  • Do not remove dust or particles of wood from a table by hand or with compressed air. Use a stick or brush.

Document last updated on September 5, 2013


Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.