Can You Use a Table Saw as a Jointer?


Woodworking tools can get expensive. Since each tool has its own purpose, you often need to buy a lot of machinery to get the final product you are looking for. This begs the question, can one piece of woodworking machinery be used as another? For instance, can you use a table saw as a jointer?

You can use a table saw as a jointer, but it is not ideal. You’ll need to build a jointer sled to attach to your table saw. You can also use a piece of melamine to create a mock infeed and outfeed table. Always use safety gear, including goggles, push blocks, and gloves.

Throughout this article, we will go over what a jointer is and what it exactly does. Next, we will discuss how to build a jointer sled and use it to joint your wood. We will also go over how to use a piece of melamine to outfit your table saw as a jointer. Lastly, we will discuss some safety precautions to take when using these methods.

What Is a Jointer?

Before we continue, it’s important to know what a jointer is and its purpose.

A jointer is a woodworking machine that creates a flat surface along the length of a piece of wood. When using a jointer, you feed a piece of wood along with the infeed table, while a series of rotating knives, flush with the outfeed table, cut the piece of wood. I have a good article on jointers and planers if you are thinking about expanding your tool selection (Link Here)

Types of Defects

Typically a board of wood will have defects and the surfaces will need to be flattened and evened out. There are five different types of defects that occur within pieces of wood.

  • Bow: A bow is a form of defect where the wood bows up on either end, not across the face. When placed flat on a table, the piece of wood looks like a weak “u” shape.
  • Crook: A crook is a form of defect where there is a crook along one edge of the piece of wood.
  • Cup: A cup is a form of defect where the edges of the piece of wood, lengthwise rise, almost forming a cup.
  • Twist: A twist is a form of defect where any of the four corners of the piece of wood do not remain on the same plane.
  • Kink: A kink is a form of defect where the wood deviates from a straight line.

How to Use a Table Saw as a Jointer

To use your table saw as a jointer and make your piece of wood square, one option is to build a jointer sled. This will allow you to get rid of some of the warpings that a piece of wood has, but it does not replace a jointer by any means. In order to build a jointer sled, follow these steps:

  1. Grab a 4 x 8 piece of ¾ inch plywood from your local hardware store, and have it cut down to a 20-inch piece.
  2. Set your table saw fence to 6 inches and cut the 20-inch piece.
  3. Take the 6-inch piece of wood and place it on the bigger piece against one edge.
  4. Line up the edges, leaving a few centimeters of overhang on the 6-inch piece.
  5. Glue the 6-inch piece in place. Clamp the pieces together and let dry.
  6. Screw together the two pieces of wood for added security or if you don’t want to wait.
  7. Remove the clamps.
  8. Run the overhanging side against the side of your fence and make a cut with your table saw, however long you want your sled to be.
  9. Flip the board around, and run the side you just cut flush against your fence.
  10. Adjust your fence a tiny bit, and cut off the overhang. Your two pieces of wood should now be flush with each other.
  11. Attach three screw-down clamps to the top of your jointer sled.
  12. Take a piece of warped wood, clamp it down on your jointer sled, and make your cuts. You should now have an even, square piece of wood.

If you’re having trouble visualizing the steps, here is a Youtube video from Walkers Woodworks that will help you build your jointer sled: 

If you’re looking for a simpler option, here’s another way to use a table saw as a jointer without having to make a jointer sled. Although not ideal, it can work in a pinch.

  1. Grab a piece of melamine from your hardware store, and rip it between 4 to 6 inches.
  2. Set your fence to the kerf of your table saw blade or the width of the blade teeth.
  3. Trim your board about halfway down the melamine.
  4. Flip over your board lengthwise and then widthwise.
  5. Grab some double-sided tape and attach it to the piece of melamine.
  6. Flip the wood over widthwise, and using the double-sided tape, attach the piece of melamine to the area between the fence and the table saw blade.
  7. Now you can pass the wood through until you get it square.

Safety Precautions

When using your table saw, like a jointer, or just like a regular saw, it’s essential to take the right safety precautions. They’re inexpensive and far more than worth the investment. Here are a few items you may need to work in a truly safe environment:

Push blocks or push sticks:

These allow you to safely push your piece of wood through the saw without your hands coming in close contact with the saw blades. Here is a Fulton Safety Woodworking Push Block and Push Stick Package 5 Piece Set from Amazon.  I will usually just make my own with scrap wood.

Googles:

Woodworking causes all sorts of flying sawdust and debris, so it’s important to protect your eyes. Here are Dewalt Clear Anti-Fog Safety Goggles from Amazon.com. They have an elastic headband and a hard coated lens, which protects the lenses from any scratches. These goggles also offer ventilation channels and a clear anti-fog lens. Any old pair of safety googles will work.

Ear Protection:

Tools are loud, particularly table saws, which can reach 120 decibels. This is why it’s vital to protect your ears from damage. Here is a pair of 3M WorkTunes Connect + AM/FM Hearing Protectors from Amazon. They have a noise reduction rating of 24 decibels, offer Bluetooth technology, and allow you to make and take phone calls.

Lung Protection:

It’s also important to protect your lungs from the debris that comes with using a table saw. Here is a 3M Half Facepiece Respirator from Amazon.

Conclusion

A jointer is a woodworking machine that allows you to get rid of any warp in a piece of wood. If you’re trying to achieve a seamless, picture-perfect piece of artwork, then using a table saw as a jointer will be an excellent choice.

While it’s not a perfect solution, you can use your table saw as a jointer. In order to do so, you’ll need to build a jointer sled. If you find this method too complicated, you can also use a piece of melamine and cut it so that it can act as an infeed and outfeed table.

When using your table saw, it’s important to take the right safety measures. You’ll need a push block or push sticks, goggles, ear protection, and lung protection. These items will provide you with a safe work environment, giving you peace of mind, and ultimately more ability to focus on your project.

Sources

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