In this article we will take a close look at the three (stationary) jointer planer combos made by JET. The most interesting one is the JET JJP-12 (called JET JPT 310 in Europe), because of its unique position of being one of the most affordable quality machines with a spiral cutterhead on the market.
The two other JET jointer planer combos are very similar to the JET JJP-12, but are not available in North America. US and Canadian readers can skip to the section on the JJP-12. The JPT 260 is slightly smaller and lacks the possibility to add a helical head cutter. The JPT 410 is nearly identical to the JJP-12, except for being larger.
By comparing these three machines, we’ll try to answer these questions:
- Which JET jointer planer is right for you?
- What are the differences between the models?
- And what are the alternatives?
Common Features and Specs
Because the three machines are very similar, let’s start by looking at what they have in common. They all have cast-iron tables that swing upwards simultaneously when you want to change from jointer to planer mode. The tables then lock into place with a safety catch to avoid them falling down and potentially crushing your hands.
Blade Guard and Fence
The machines come with a Euro-style blade guard that can be moved up and down by turning the knob at the far end of the outfeed table. When jointing sides, you can slide the guard itself to the side by turning the knob on top of the blade guard.
The three machines, regardless of their size, have the same 1100mm long aluminium fence. This is interesting, because it means it is a very large fence for the JPT 260, a perfect fence for the JJP-12, and a slightly short fence for the JPT 410.
The fence is secured in two spots, not too close together, which helps with minimizing flex.
Some machines seem to have an emergency stop, while others don’t. This is not specific to the model, perhaps to the year it was made or the place it was sold. If this is an essential feature for you, check with your seller if the current version comes with an emergency stop installed.
Adjusting the height of the infeed and outfeed table
Adjusting the height of the infeed table is the same for all three machines. You loosen one knob, and then you can use a handle to lift it slightly up and down, with a simple indicator showing the depth of cut. The JJP-12 and JPT 410 additionally also have a similar lever for the outfeed table.
Underneath the tables there are some nuts that can be lowered or raised. This allows you to make fine adjustments to set the infeed and outfeed table coplanar. This is an essential feature, because even if your machine is delivered perfectly adjusted, throughout its life it will inevitable go out of alignment.
The planer table can be lowered and raised by turning a handwheel. A scale to the left shows the current height of the table. However, it is relatively easy to add a digital readout and many users seem to do so. In this video you can see how to install it.
The first feed roller is made of steel, while the second is made of rubber. The rubber helps to avoid making dents in the freshly planed surface. However, the downside of rubber is that it tends to degrade over time, so its quality will go down and you may need to replace it after some years. There is also a lever to disengage the feed rollers.
The JET JPT 260
Type of machine
The JET JPT 260 is the smallest of the three jointer planer combos. Its name is based on the maximum jointing and planing width, 260mm (in practice actually 256mm). It lacks the outfeed table height adjustment lever and unlike its larger brothers, it is not sold with a spiral cutterhead (though you could probably fit it with an aftermarket one yourself).
NOTE: In this article we’ll use the terms Helical Head and Spiral Cutterhead or Cutterblock interchangeably. They refer to the same thing.
This makes it a bit of a peculiar machine, because it does not have a single clear unique selling point. It is a solid machine, but lacks the quality of finish of a Hammer A3 26 or Minimax FS 30. In terms of specs, it does not set itself too much apart from some Chinese-made machines. And with its price it positions itself somewhere in the middle between those two groups.
Why then should you consider the JPT 260? Because, among all the slightly more affordable jointer planers, it is one of the ones that has been available the longest and has proven to be a reliable machine. In the case of other (more) affordable machines, it is hard to predict how they will hold up in 10 years time, while the JET jointer planers have already proven their worth.
So if you are a hobbyist woodworker looking for a reliable, solid machine that delivers good planing and jointing results, the JPT 260 is a great option. If you are not sold yet, the review video below by Peter Parfitt is an excellent way to get a better understanding of the JPT 260.
The JET JJP-12 and JET JPT 310
Type of machine
The number in the US name JET JJP-12 and EU model JPT 310 stands for their maximum jointing width, 12 inch or approximately 310 mm. There are two versions, the JJP-12 and the JJP-12HH, where HH stands for Helical Head.
While the JTP 260 is a solid option for hobbyist woodworkers simply due to its allround quality and reliability, the JJP-12 (EU model JPT 310) has a more interesting proposition. This holds specifically for the JJP-12HH, the version with the spiral cutterhead.
What makes it special is that it is one of the most affordable machines on the market with a spiral cutterhead. This is important for two reasons. One, because there are many advantages to using spiral cutters, and two, it is an option that is usually only available on high-end machines and therefore not easily in reach of hobbyist woodworkers.
Spiral Cutterhead / Helical Head
The difference between standard knives and spiral cutters is that instead of having 3 or 4 straight knives, you have spiralling rows of many individual, 4-sided cutters. These small cutters are attached with bolts, and can be removed individually. They have four sharp sides, so when one side gets dull you can just loosen them, turn them 90 degrees, and put them back in without any adjustment.
This is particularly helpful when you nick your blade. With standard blades you might have had to replace the entire blade, but now you can just turn or replace one small cutter.
Additionally, spiral cutters also make less noise. According to JET the noise difference between the standard and the helical head model is almost 20dB. It is unclear how accurate this measurement is — I have seen other manufacturers often quoting in the region of a 10dB reduction. In any case, it is significantly quieter.
Spiral cutterheads are also better at dealing with difficult grain and less likely to create tear-out. All-in-all a major upgrade over normal straight blades. The only minor downside is that they require a lower feed rate — the JJP-12HH has about half the feed rate of the straight blade version.
Tip: If you own the straight knives version, you can order the Helical Head and replace it yourself. David Crawford on Sawmill Creek has made an excellent step by step guide with images on how to do it.
Alternatives and Position in the Market
There are alternative machines out there, like the Hammer A3 31 and Minimax FS 30 that offer similar functionality and a spiral cutterhead. However, they are also quite a bit more expensive and not as readily available.
Nowadays there are also Chinese-made machines, like those offered and developed by the UK company Axminster, that offer spiral cutterheads at a similar price as JET. However, these are recent machines without a clear history of reliability. That is not to say they are not good products, and certainly in the future you should expect them to rise to a similar level of quality as established brands, but it remains a bit of a gamble compared to established and proven machines like the JJP-12.
That means that although there may be increased competition in the long term, in the short-term the JJP-12 remains one of the most affordable reliable machines to have a spiral cutterhead / helical head. This makes it a very interesting machine for any hobbyist woodworker.
Compare prices for the JET JJP-12 and JPT 310
Go big or go home: The JET JPT 410
Type of machine
Last, but not least, the JET JPT 410 is very similar to the JJP-12 / JPT 310. Most things said about the previous machines will also apply to the JPT 410, so we will focus on what makes it different.
The JPT 410 has a jointing width of 410mm, which is quite large for hobbyist woodworkers. It is also more powerful motor (4450W) and only comes in a 400V version to ensure it has enough power to joint boards over its full width. Some people require that jointing width, but many do not.
This puts the machine in a bit of a difficult spot, because it is too much for most hobbyist woodworkers, but it lacks in quality to be used as an everyday use professional machine. That leaves hobbyists who require a wide jointing capacity, and small professional craftsman shops who do not use the machine all day, every day.
For many people who do not absolutely need the size, the JJP-12 with spiral cutter is a much better choice, because it costs about as much as the JPT 410 with normal blades. However, for people who need the size, want a reliable machine, but do not want to spend the money to move to another price range (the JPT 410 with spiral cutterhead costs about the same as a Minimax FS 41 or Hammer A3 41 without it), this can still be an excellent machine.
We hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any feedback or tips about these JET jointer planers, please share them in the comments below. Your info can really help fellow woodworkers!