Sunday, May 31, 2015

Changing Jointer Blades Using Magnets

I have a simple Harbor Freight 6" jointer. Typically I would not by a power tool like this from them, but it had a number of very positive independent reviews, and cost less than half of anything else - so I gave it a shot.

I've had it for about 5 years, I use it all the time, and only have positive things to say about it's performance. Changing the blades is another story. I always dread replacing them, because it takes quite a while to get everything aligned.

I found a simple method that works works really well, using a couple of magnetic tool bars.

Before removing the old blade, I marked the highest point of the cutter head on a speed square. Anything flat object would work for this.

I pull out the old blade and put in a new one, aligning it to the mark. I set the bars on the out-feed side of the jointer, and they hold the blade in alignment to it. This sets the blades at the right position for cutting. I tighten the two inner bolts, remove the bars, then tighten the two outer bolts.

It takes about 5 minutes per blade.

These magnets are really strong, which I think is the key. They hold the blades tight with no slipping while I'm tightening the bolts. You can buy a magnetic jig for this at about $30, but these were already in my shop - and cost $4 a piece on sale.

Harbor Freight no longer sells jointers, or replacement blades. I found a set online that works fine:
POWERTEC 148030 6-Inch HSS Jointer Knives for $15 a set on Amazon. I'm going to try to sharpen my old ones, but I don't want to take the time to do that right now.

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