Switches

A jointer's switch should be easy to reach, protected against accidental starts, and easy to turn off without looking. The Craftsman (below left), Delta, Grizzly, and Rikon (below right) have switches elevated well above table height to be within closer reach. All of these machines have shielded On buttons with holes that can be pinned or padlocked through to lock them off. Only the small Off button of the Rikon requires a glance to pinpoint, the others have large panic-button type Off switches you can just hit at. The elevated switch of the Rikon can be mounted above either the infeed or outfeed table. We chose the outfeed side; it makes sense to have it as close as possible to where your hands end up when you finish a pass.

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The Jet (below right) and Ridgid(below left) tools have switches mounted low on their stands. Jet's shielded On button has a lock out hole and its Off button was our least favorite because it requires you to look and reach way down. Ridgid has a single switch lever that you pull out to turn on and push in to stop. Switching the machine off can easily be done with your right leg without looking or taking either hand off your work. Locking out the switch is done with a removable key. This simple switch provides great ergonomic design while keeping machine dimensions more compact.

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Thanks to Precision Knife and Tool in Fort Collins, Colo., for providing the professional knife-sharpening needed for our test. (970-419-3327)