Tool tip: Beef Up The Veritas Jointer Fence

I’m currently building a 7-foot long trestle table out of 4/4 quartersawn white oak, and have been at it for a few months now. This is my first large, proper piece of furniture ever, and it is a constant process of pausing at nearly every step to learn a new technique and/or acquire or build the right tool, jig or appliance for the job. It’s taking forever to get this piece together and I know my fiancee would like to see this finished (as would I), however I’m learning immense amounts about woodworking as I go, so it’s worth the process.

In this case, after much focus on a challenging set of table legs (which only need refinement at this point) I need to edge joint my tabletop boards for glue-up. I finally bought a #7 jointer plane as I lack a machine jointer and using my table saw with a jig just doesn’t seem to yield the results I’m looking for. I think the problem with the table saw jointing jig is that it’s difficult to keep the long, heavy board against the fence and get a straight cut. With a machine jointer, gravity is more on your side.

I did give freehand planing a try, but I find it difficult to keep the edge square to the faces. I probably just need more practice. I definitely need more practice. Of course, I can just plane two boards together to create more surface area, but that often requires that those specific edges go together in the glue-up, and I’d like a little more freedom to move things around.

Enter the Veritas Jointer Fence. This is basically a plate of extruded aluminum that attaches to the side of a hand plane with rare earth magnets to help guide it across the edge of a board. Simple. Or it should be. I found that when I used the plane with the fence, I was still having a hard time keeping the tool aligned to the face of the board, mainly due to the fact that only the extreme edge of the plane was riding on the surface of the wood with the rest hanging out into space on the other side, weighing it down and making it awkward to exert lateral force while pushing forward and downward. Jointers are quite a bit wider and more massive than a #4 or #5. I wanted a more solid, smooth feel to the operation, especially if I’m working on several 7-foot long boards.

My solution was simply to screw a 1/2″ thick, 3″ wide piece of hardwood to the inside face of the fence, which yields the result of centering the jointer on the board’s edge. Now my jointer rides across the edge dead straight and square, requiring only a bit of sideways pressure to keep the fence flush. Most of the force I’m applying now is normal downward pressure for standard planing operations.

I take a few passes to get a flat surface, then take a pass with the #4 to smooth it out. The #4 is narrow and light enough that it does not require the use of the fence. I imagine that if I were planing the edge of 8/4 stock, the jointer wouldn’t need it either. All in all, with a slight modification, the Veritas fence works great for reliably (and very quickly) edge jointing stock in < 6/4 range and that makes it worth the ~$50 price tag to me.

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