Running with the rabbets

I recently did an article on a little-used woodworking technique: cutting rabbets on the jointer. The only mystery to the process is why it’s so little used.

Almost every jointer built in the last decade or two has included a rabbeting ledge on the outfeed table. But we’re so used to tossing a dado stack into our table saws, or maybe cutting rabbets with a router, that we rarely use that feature.  I know I don’t. At least, not till this week.

Sure, if you’re going to make a lot of rabbets in multiple workpieces of varying size, it’s worth taking the time to install that dado stack. But if you just need to do one or two, or if all the workpieces getting those dados are the same size, you can save time by just knocking them out on the jointer. As a bonus, my jointer is a lot quieter than using a dado stack, and certainly quieter than a router. I also have dust collection on my jointer, unlike my router. Rabbets made on a jointer are a lot smoother than with a dado stack.  Finally, on the rare occasion you need to make extra-wide rabbets – wider than your dado stack – the jointer is the preferable way to go as it can cut that wide rabbet perfectly smooth across its entire width, something nearly impossible with repeated passes with a dado stack or a router.

That’s a lot of great benefits and the thing of it is, is that I knew all that. But it took writing that article and setting up each step of the process to take photographs that I really gave it much thought. Not surprisingly, I have no idea why I forgot all those positives of jointer-made rabbets.

Yeah, if I’m doing a milling marathon I’ll still dig out that dado stack. But the next time I just need quick rabbet or two, my jointer is going to get the honors.

A.J.

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