In our January/February 2003 issue, Woodworker’s Journal will be reviewing 8″ jointers. Just in case you may not have the moolah for one of those creatures, we thought we’d give our eZine subscribers a sneak preview of our findings as they relate to Powermatic’s new 6″ jointer.
When you look at its specs, you’ll notice that the 54A is a truly impressive specimen. In fact, in the company of other 6″ jointers, those specs are nearly overwhelming because of the overall table length. The 66″ long (combined ) infeed and outfeed tables are 20″ or so longer than any other. That adds about 50 pounds to the weight, which is all to the good, as the extra mass helps reduce vibration. It goes together easily, and fit and finish is excellent, with the paint looking good, and the tables looking great. The positive fence stops work ?positively. The fence has stops at 45° and 90°, with the 45° tilt working both forward and back. Fence controls are center-mounted, as is the fence. The lever to adjust the infeed table works smoothly and accurately. The fence is 38″ long, longer than the fences on some 8″ jointers, and is a full 4″ high. The one horse single phase motor comes wired for 120 volts, but can easily be switched to 240. Rabbeting capacity is 1/2″, and cutting depth for width is 1/2″ (over the full 6″ cut ? I didn’t try that one, suffering along with cuts no deeper than 1/4″ because anything more chews up the wood something awful. Besides, I was running oak and cherry, and didn’t want to waste entire boards on this one test).
The motor is TEFC, so barely needs the shielding it gets from the sheet metal base, but that’s an extra plus for durability.
Jack screws are used for knife installation, and it’s fairly easy for a jointer.
At a street price of about $750, the Powermatic 54A is on the high side for 6″ jointers, but makes up for it with features. If your choices do come down to a 6″ machine, this is the best of the top of the line models, allowing easy working with materials up to six foot plus in length, and providing a solid, stable surface, plus an easy to operate and solid fence to work against.