A jointer is one of the most indispensable tools you can put in your hobby wood shop, not because it can perform a large variety of tasks but because it does one common task incredibly well: making the edge of a board straight. But what if you don’t have the money or space for a jointer, or just prefer to use your resources on a tool does more, or is at least more exciting? Or maybe you’re like me: I learn to appreciate these modern toys by doing things the hard way.
I call this project the Poor Man’s Jointer. Basically I made a crude fence for a hand plane that mimics the 90 degree fence of a jointer. There are products on the market that do the same thing, but a similar jig is so easy to make, I’m not sure why you’d buy one.
Making the Fence
First you’ll need a pretty substantially-sized hand plane. It doesn’t need to be expensive: I picked up my Stanley #32 Transitional plane at a yard sale for $10 and spent about the same amount cleaning it up. I did, however, buy a Veritas blade, but after sharpening the original that was definitely unnecessary.
(Note: I’m intentionally not providing measurements because your plane will, undoubtedly, be different from mine.)
To make the fence you’ll need some straight and square scraps about the same length as the body of your plane. The first piece should be the length of the plane and about three times the height. The second piece should be the same length, and the height of the first piece minus the height of the plane’s body. Screw them together such that three edges line up perfectly, leaving a gap to the top the same height as your plane.
Rest the plane on the inner strip and mark where the throat of the plane comes into contact with it. Notch out the fence in this area so that, when the plane iron descends, it descends into the open notch. The whole point of the smaller strip is to eliminate the edge of the plane’s sole where the blade cannot come into contact with the work piece. Now as the fence glides along the edge of the work piece, the plane iron will be able to hit the entire surface of the edge you’re trying to joint.
Finally, use a couple of C-clamps to hold the fence to your plane and you’re in business!