Cutting Power & Motor
This jointer has a 10 Amp, 120 Volt motor and the motor powers the cutterhead with a belt drive. The cutterhead spins at variable speeds from 6,000 to 11,000 RPM. With the two-knife cutterhead that is included, this jointer can do 12,000 to 22,000 CPM (cuts per minute).
The knob for controlling the speed has 5 general positions marked, which correspond to:
- 1 – 6,000 RPM
- 2 – 7,250 RPM
- 3 – 8,800 RPM
- 4 – 9,750 RPM
- 5 – 11,000 RPM
This is a good amount of cutting power for a cheaper and smaller jointer like this one in terms of specs, but it doesn’t necessarily translate when put to the test. The included cutterhead is decent and it can make smooth cuts on smaller softwood pieces with no problem. However, this jointer can struggle with larger pieces of hardwood. This is mostly due to the two-knife cutterhead which is inferior to some other options that are on the market these days. It can feel like it takes too much downward pressure or too many passes on the materials when trying to run larger and harder lumber through this jointer.
The table on this jointer is fairly small at 30 inches long by 6.1875 inches wide. It is made from machined aluminum and feels lightweight. The cutting table is wide enough to support 6 inch wide materials but longer materials will require some extra support or feed tables to account for the shorter table length.
The infeed table is height adjustable to change the depth of the cut. This jointer has a maximum cut depth of 1/8 inch. There is a scale on the front that shows the current depth setting.
To change the depth, simply turn the release knob on the front to unlock the position, then turn the adjustment knob underneath the table to adjust up or down. Tighten the release knob again to lock into the new position.
Quality-wise, most units have a flat table out of the box, but there have been people who found warped tables on new units so it’s good to check it right away rather than find out later after running some boards through it.
The fence on this jointer is made from aluminum and is lightweight like the rest of the jointer. It feels flimsy when you put lateral pressure on it and it isn’t completely sturdy. It’s good enough for a cheaper jointer like this one, but can be frustrating to work with nonetheless.
It can be tilted to 45 degrees, backwards in one direction. There are stops at 90 and 45 degrees that can be adjusted for calibration. The fence can also slide out across the table to provide a more narrow cutting zone.
Fence adjustments feel like they lack precision. When adjusting the angles, it can be tricky to get precise angles set due to slop on the adjustment knobs. The fence still moves a little when tightening the adjustment knobs. It feels like you are guessing where it will land and hoping to get lucky for very precise settings. This can create a tedious process when trying to dial in new angles.
Two Knife Cutterhead
This jointer employs a two knife cutter head, which is sufficient considering it’s price point. The cutterhead is plenty capable of joining softer to medium hard woods at it’s full 6 inch capacity. Harder woods can put this jointer to the test. It can require more passes as well as putting more pressure downward on harder woods to get a consistently smooth finish.
Most people have good luck with the cutterhead being in good condition out of the box. However, some find that the blades have notches or ticks in them, most likely quality control issues or shipping related. It’s good to check the cutterhead right away to make sure you don’t have any issues there.
The cutterhead on this jointer is known for being hard to adjust and replace. The allen bolts that hold the blades into place are know to be tightened down too hard from the factory and otherwise hard to release. Stripping of these bolts is not uncommon when loosening them for the first time.
Calibrating the blade positioning can also be tricky to do on this one and frustrates a lot of it’s owners. We like how this video shows how the cutterhead is adjusted, which can be helpful for first time users.
This jointer has a built in dust collection port which helps keep the unit clear from major dust buildup when used properly. The main port on the machine is about 6 inches in diameter and then there is also an adapter included that has a 2 inch port for smaller hose connections. The adapter and some duct tape should be good enough to connect this to most popular dust collection systems.
It is important to try to use a vacuum system with this jointer since it is prone to dust buildup otherwise. The dust collection port will still direct the majority of the sawdust out of the machine during use if not hooked up to anything, but you will experience dust buildup inside the port and closer to the cutterhead.
This jointer is safe to use and has a standard cutterhead guard that moves out of the way only when materials are passing over the cutterhead. Two push blocks are included to help guide materials through the machine as well. There is a cutterhead lock that can flip into place to keep the cutterhead from moving during maintenance and inspection. The lock is aligned so that either of the two knife blades can be exposed and held into place in an ideal position for access.
The cutting table is smaller, so if you are jointing larger materials it will be important to use feed tables for both stability and safety purposes.
This jointer feels somewhat cheaply built and has some fit and finish issues.
The fence is known to be sloppy to adjust and flimsy. It works fine for lighter duty work but more discerning users will have issues with it. The knobs are hard to use when making fence adjustments and it just feels awkward to set correctly.
The table is thin enough that some people have warping issues. The adjustment mechanism for the table is good and it works well and adjust smoothly, it feels better than the fence to use.
This machine does feel very lightweight for a jointer and it only weighs 35 lbs. That’s less than most portable table saws. Due to the lighter weight, if you are working with heavier materials you will want to secure this to a workbench for stability and safety.
The table and fence are usually flat on new units but it’s not a guarantee, so you should check that right away on a new unit. The cutter knives are usually in good condition as well but some people have experienced nicks or notches out of the box, so once again something to check right away.
Portability is one of the strengths of this jointer. At only 35 lbs it’s very easy for a single person to pick it up and move it around. It also doesn’t have a huge footprint, so if space is a premium for you this is a good option. It doesn’t have handles or anything like that built into it, but it’s not too hard to pick up and carry.
There aren’t many accessories specifically for this jointer. It comes with the fence, guard, dust chute, push blocks, cutterhead and assembly hardware.
Setup & Assembly
This jointer isn’t too hard to get setup. You should be able to get it up and running in less than an hour. You will need to take time to install the fence, which will be the most complicated part, which will include squaring it up and calibrating the stops. You will also have to add the guard, lock and dust port. It’s also a good idea to check calibration of the knives on the cutterhead, but they are usually set out of the box.
Porter-Cable offers a 3 year warranty that will cover defects in materials and workmanship along with a 1 year service contract. They will also guarantee the product for 90 days with a money back guarantee. This should be enough to help weed out any issues with new jointers.
- Variable speed
- Good for soft woods and smaller projects
- Not ideal for larger hardwoods
- Fence adjustments are sloppy and fence is flimsy
- Cutterhead is hard to adjust and replace and bolts are prone to stripping
6,000 – 11,000 RPM
30 in x 6.1875 in
13.5 in x 18 in x 30 in
The Porter-Cable PC160JT benchtop jointer is cheap with some drawbacks but it can be a good option for people who need something affordable for small projects. The fence adjustments can be sloppy to work with and the cutterhead can be tricky to change or adjust. It can be a good value if you don’t want to spend a lot of money and need something to get started with jointing.