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A jointer can be a handy tool to have in your shop for creating perfect butt joints and repairing cupped and twisted lumber. Many woodworkers agree that, after a table saw, the number one piece of shop equipment is the jointer.
4" benchtop jointers, like this one from Delta, are best for smaller jobs and shops that don't have a lot of space for a jointer.
The machine’s primary function — in fact, the one it’s named for — is creating ready-to-glue edges on workpieces. The jointer's main usage in the shop will be to create square, flat edge joints which is especially helpful when making large panels. 6" stationary jointer machines, like this JET model, is the standard for most jointers on the market, perfect for almost any job.
One of the key uses of your jointer will be taking warped or cupped boards and flattening them out. Because most means of working boards require starting with one square edge, the jointer is the logical first stop when milling project lumber. As with edge-jointing, feeding a board’s face on your jointer attacks the high spots of a cupped or twisted board first, gradually flattening the face.
Combination machines, like this one from Rikon, add a 12" planing blade beneath the joiner bed for additional usage in the shop.

Combining these two techniques on a jointer turns stock preparation into a powerful one-two punch: You get that dead-flat face, followed by a jointed edge that is exactly 90 degrees to the face.
If it ended there, a jointer would be indispensable in most shops, but it also performs a few other tricks.
The jointer consists of a worktable through which the revolving blade (called the cutterhead) of the tool protrudes.
The design of the jointer’s worktable distinguishes this machine from others in the workshop. The worktable on a jointer needn’t be large, but keep in mind when deciding which model to buy that the larger it is, the more stable will be the workpiece being shaped. To edge-plane a piece (the operation is sometimes called jointing), the stock is fed through on its edge, with one of the faces of the piece held flush to the fence. Don’t stand behind the machine or in the line of the cut but to one side or the other of the cutterhead. A jointer does this the same way a hand plane does, by cutting away high spots on the lumber. Likewise, a router can also create a jointable edge, but that method requires a lengthy setup to get it right. If you aspire to be a joiner, a person who specializes in fastening pieces of wood in tight, precisely shaped joints, then the jointer probably has a place in your shop.

In fact, the jointer essentially is a powered, stationary-version of a bench plane, but is faster, more flexible, and very accurate when properly set up. Rather than having a single, level table-top like a table saw or band saw, the jointer table has two separate work surfaces, one on each side of the cutterhead. The offset between the infeed table and the top of the blade deter­mines the depth of the cut the jointer will make, typically between a thirty-second and an eighth of an inch.
Once one edge is squared on the jointer, you’ll be able to rip the opposite edge perfectly parallel to the first and do it more safely. Jointers can be used to bevel and taper stock, and some models will also cut rabbets and tenons.
When the fence is set at an angle other than ninety degrees for beveling edges, the operation is much the same as jointing. Or, you can cut rabbets quickly using the built-in “rabbeting ledge” found on just about every jointer made. Four- and six-inch sizes are usual in home workshops, though machines up to twenty-four inches are to be found in industry.

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