The first jointer I ever purchased was a 4” bench top model from Delta. I used it for a handful of projects, including my first foray into furniture making. After starting a furniture company a couple of years ago, I quickly outgrew the Delta and upgraded to a 6” Ridgid from my local Home Depot. I’ve found the Ridgid does fine on smaller boards and with light use, but it easily overheats when used at its capacity for any length of time.
Until recently, when I’ve needed larger boards milled, I’d have my local supplier surface the wood. But when I received a sizable order for some large maple pieces this past fall, I realized it was time to invest in my shop’s ability to handle large, rough stock.
My (re)search began with my local mill’s recommendations, followed by the Internet. Based on the lumber I typically work with, I determined I’d need an 8” jointer. And I knew I’d want to find one with a spiral cutterhead for cleaner results. I narrowed the list down to three models, but didn’t have deep enough pockets to pay the premium for Powermatic, so it was Jet versus Grizzly. Since I’d recently had a satisfying experience with a Jet bandsaw, I was a little partial towards Jet, but a recommendation from my local lumber mill (based on his 10-year experience with a Grizzly 8” jointer) and the significant cost savings (about $700) forced Grizzly to the lead.
Grizzly has a much broader selection of models and features than Jet, so I called them directly to get some guidance. I spent some time on the phone with a sales rep who was very knowledgeable and put absolutely no pressure on me to buy. He directed me towards a less expensive model than the one I’d been considering (it happened to be on sale). He explained the benefits of a parallelogram bed versus a traditional dovetail bed, making the decision to order the Grizzly G0490X an easy one.
After hanging up with Grizzly, I went right to the website and ordered the jointer. I also added the Grizzly spiral cutter head replacement for my 20” planer. Overall, I really like Grizzly’s no-nonsense approach to pricing: listed directly on their website, their prices are the best you’ll find. With Jet, you have to do some searching to find the vendor with the best price/purchase options.
The Arrival, the Un-boxing, and the Setup
I love freight trucks that bring me big tools and give me a reason to drive my forklift! After placing my order online, I had my new jointer inside of a week, which is great in my book. I hate dropping some serious coin on a new toy (ahem… TOOL!) and having to wait a month to receive it.
The packaging held well and all the parts arrived in excellent condition. Un-boxing and setting up is definitely a two-person task, but it only takes a couple of hours from start to completely dialed in. The out-feed bed was dead on with the spiral cutter head from every angle: I couldn’t even squeeze a .0015” feeler gauge anywhere.
The in-feed table was very close and probably would have been fine as it came from the factory, but I took the opportunity to work with the bed adjustments and get it even closer. This was very simple to do; by following the instructions, I was able to get the in-feed bed set up as precisely as the out-feed bed arrived from the factory, within about 10 minutes. To accurately dial in the beds, it is important to have a very straight, long straightedge.
Pro Tip: for an affordable and accurate straightedge, head to your local big box tool store and hold a couple of straight edges (or levels) up against each other, and facing a light. Pick the one where little to no light comes through on both sides.
The Grizzly G0490X also comes with this badass belt buckle; all you have to do is unbolt it and figure out how to attach it to your favorite leather tool belt.
“Lucy, you’ve got some planin’ to do…” (Read with the best Ricky Ricardo you can muster)
With a mountain of rough sawn maple in front of me, and a brand new toy [tool] to play with, my work morning was off to a great start. I had 3” thick, 5-8” wide planks in 9’ lengths to surface, so although the in/out beds on the Grizzly G0490X are very long, I set up some additional in/out roller stands to help me get as flat of a board face as possible.
The first thing I noticed was how quiet the Grizzly G0490X is, compared to my Ridgid. I think it’s primarily the spiral cutter head that’s responsible for the noise reduction. Next, I noticed just how hard it was to push such heavy boards across the beds, so I stopped to wax them. Big improvement. Still, I anticipate I’ll invest in a power feeder down the road. After surfacing a few boards, I stopped to check over the machine.
I found that everything had stayed tight and well-aligned and that my wood faces were coming out incredibly flat and straight; even the planks that began with a lot of twist. The spiral cutter head was awesome! Although the wood is not 100% machine-mark free, the markings are significantly lighter and end up being much easier to sand out than straight blade chatter.
After planing the reverse side of the newly flattened surface, it was time to straight-line mill one edge to a perfect 90º angle. At first, I was having a hell of a time keeping the fence at 90º: it seemed to fall out of alignment after every pass. I was, of course, pushing a fairly heavy slab of lumber against it, but I thought it should have been holding just fine.
It took me re-tightening the setup adjustments a few times with no luck before I realized that the two factory-installed bolts at the top of the round bar and fence were loose. I should have checked these from the beginning, my mistake. With the fence then locked into position at 90º and staying there, I was getting unbelievable (in my book) results! Getting an edge like this made my glue seams all but completely disappear. Wow, I feel like a real woodworker now!
I also really appreciate the design of the safety switch on the Grizzly G0490X. The Stop switch glows red and has to be twisted into position to enable the use of the Start button. The twisting function seems inherently safer to me than the traditional yellow safety key used by most power tools, because unlike safety keys, which are commonly left in-place, you can’t bypass this additional step.
I wish Grizzly had designed a hook or slots for storing the push pads. My shop tends to swallow parts like this if they don’t have a designated home. I did, however, find a pretty good hanging spot (see photo).
Grizzly G0490X 8” Jointer w/Spiral Cutterhead Specifications
- Motor: 3 HP, 240V, single-phase, 15A, TEFC, 3450 RPM
- Total table size: 8″ x 76-3/8″
- In-feed table size: 8″ x 43-3/8″
- Cutter head: Spiral with 40 index-able carbide inserts
- Cutter head speed: 4800 RPM
- Cutter head diameter: 3-3/16″
- Max cut depth: 1/8″
- Max rabbeting depth: 1/2″
- Cuts per minute: 21,400
- Deluxe cast iron fence size: 36″ L x 1-1/4″ W x 5″ H
- Approximate shipping weight: 556 lbs.
- Price: $1,325
Grizzly G0490X 8” Jointer w/Spiral Cutterhead Features
- Shielded and lubricated bearings
- Precision-ground cast-iron tables
- Fully adjustable tables
- Serpentine belt and pulleys
- Easy-access lever-adjusted tables with height gauge
- Heavy-duty center-mounted fence with angle gauge
- Built-in dust chute with 4″ port
- Powder-coated paint