Flat and straight, with ease
A good jointer is a crucial piece of equipment in the wood shop. The jointer lets us make a smooth, straight edge to produce solid glue-ups and straight workpieces. With two straight boards joining together, minimal clamp pressure is required to make a glue-up. The same is true for flattening the face of a board. In face jointing, we create a flat side on the board in the position it has dried in. If we were to take a board and try to force it to be flat in a project by some mechanical means, it would likely just twist and move back to the warped position it originally dried in. Starting with a straight board also makes other operations in the shop safer; the board is going to sit on a machine table or travel along a fence in a way so that it won’t bind up or kick back. It will also make your work more accurate. You’ll find measuring and marking easier, and you’ll get square cuts when cross cutting. A good jointer is a must-have tool for preparing stock.
Laguna’s new JX6 jointer arrived in two boxes, so there was a bit of work to do in terms of assembly, but nothing too arduous. The top bolts onto the base easily before the fence, switch and guard are installed. The instructions are fairly straightforward and assembly should take about an hour or less.
One of the first things that I noticed about this jointer is the controls. The on/off switch is up where you can see it, so there’s no fumbling around and bending over to turn the machine on. This is a big improvement over most jointers. I also like the giant stop bar on the front of the machine. To stop the machine, you tap the bar with your leg or knee without needing to take your hands off the workpiece.
Laguna uses a parallelogram bed on this machine. You may hear this term talked about a bit for jointers. Some machines are known as parallelogram, others are known as wedge bed. On the wedge bed machines the underside of the table has a big cast triangle on it, and then the centre section of the machine (the part the tables sit on) is also a big cast triangle. The beds slide up and down on this, like two wedges sliding over each other to raise or lower.
Better-made machines like the JX6 use a mechanical mechanism of arms and pivots which allow the table to move. This mechanism forms a parallelogram shape. This type of table has a couple of advantages. One big advantage is that the movement tends to be very easy and smooth. The other advantage is that the front edge of the table stays close to the cutter head even when it’s lowered, providing good support for the workpiece during a deep cut. Parallelogram tables can also be moved up and down quickly. Laguna has a nice big handle up front to move the in-feed table, and it’s easy to lock. It also has a big easy-to-read scale for the depth of cut.
Another common feature of a parallelogram jointer is that its tables are asymmetrical, so the in-feed table is longer than the out-feed table. The object of the jointer is to smooth and straighten the edge or face of a board. The idea with the longer in-feed table is that it supports and averages out all the bumps on a rough board. Once the board gets to the out-feed table it’s already smooth so it needs less support there. Laguna also has an extendable roller on the in-feed side of the machine to help with long boards. Overall, the tables are 60″ long, which is a generous length. The in-feed roller extends another 8″ to provide good support for long stock.
The fence design on this machine is a tried-and-true design. I think Laguna used this on their prior model of 6″ jointer and other manufacturers have used this design going back at least 50 or 60 years now. There are a few things I really like about this fence design. It’s time proven and I’m glad to see this fence on this machine. For a jointer, this fence doesn’t stick out the back very much so you can tuck the machine up to a wall or another machine. It keeps the footprint very small. The second thing I like about this fence is the angle adjustment. The way this machine is designed, there is a large rod that supports the angle of fence as it pivots. That rod is clamped in place to hold the fence at any angle. When you tighten the clamp, it presses sideways on the rod so there’s no tendency for the fence to move from the angle you set. This fence is also quickly and easily moved in and out. In addition to all this, it has adjustable stops for 90°and 45° that can be fine-tuned to perfection.
Laguna has included a built-in mobile base on this machine to make it easy to move around the shop. The wheels are easy to lock securely in place.
One of the details hidden inside this machine is the drive belt. Laguna uses a serpentine belt, which have a longer life, transmit more power, produce less vibration and are quieter. It’s efficient at transmitting all 1.5 HP from the motor to the cutter head. I found this machine had lots of power, even for face jointing dense hardwoods at full width.
Laguna calls the cutter head on this machine a “Quadtec” head. This head is a fairly simple but effective design. There are four rows of cutters and each row is set in a straight line. This is a lower cost alternative to true helical cutter heads like Laguna’s “Sheartec” cutter head, however there are still some advantages to this type of cutter head. One big advantage is that the knives are much easier for the end user to set than traditional straight knife cutter heads. If you can operate a screwdriver, you’ll be able to set these knives perfectly every time. The other big advantage to this type of cutter head is the noise level. Because you don’t have one very long knife cutting into the board at once, this cutter head is a lot quieter than a traditional straight knife cutter head. This cutter head also uses carbide inserts, which stay sharper longer than HSS knives.
Overall, I was really happy with this machine in the shop. It’s quiet, and I like how the controls are set up. It’s very user-friendly to start and stop the machine, and quick and easy to change knives if you need to. The JX6 is a sturdy machine that will provide service for a long time. A good jointer is something you’ll use in the shop every time you’re preparing stock so it’s important to make a good decision when purchasing one.
Visit the Videos section of our website to watch Rich do an in-depth review of this Laguna JX 6 Jointer.