Woodworking Machines - Jointers and Planers

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What should you do before using jointers and planers?

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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?

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  • 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?

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  • Wear safety glasses with side shields or safety 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 (self-closing) guard pushes beside the stock as it passes over the cutting heads and returns against the fence after the stock is removed.
  • Make sure fences and any other guards are in place before using the machine.
  • 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?

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  • Do not cut stock that has loose knots, splits, defects or foreign objects (e.g., metal stone) in it.
  • Do not leave the machine running unattended. Shut off the power and make sure that the cutting head has stopped revolving before leaving the area.
  • 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 near or 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.
  • Do not wear loose clothing, work gloves, neckties, rings, bracelets or other jewellery that can become entangled with moving parts.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2019-07-02