POWERMATIC PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer
Big, heavy, accurate and easy to use
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 3-16-2008
OK. Let's get the aircraft carrier reference out of the way. The PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is the poster child for that moniker. It is big and as heavy as it looks - at least. As impressive as those features are, it is also exceptionally accurate, has many user-friendly features and has the capacity to handle virtually all of a woodworkers needs.
As you might expect, POWERMATIC uses a bunch of heavy-duty iron castings to make the744 lb PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer. A full 8" cut width and 82"-long (overall) bed makes straightening the largest project pieces easy and very accurate. Add the fully adjustable parallelogram tables, easy knife setting (standard model) and the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is head and shoulders above the other "aircraft carrier" tools on the market.
The PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is available in four versions, all identical except for the motor/power or cutterhead design. The machine in the accompanying photos is the PJ-882HH (#1610082) that is equipped with a 2HP motor wired for 230V, 1 phase power and a helical cutterhead. The PJ-882 (#1610083) also has the helical cutterhead but comes with a 3HP motor wired for 230V (460V capable) and 3 phase power. The PJ-882 (#1610079) has the three knife cutterhead and is powered by a 2HP motor running on 230V, 1 phase power. The PJ-882 (#1610080) also has a three knife cutterhead but has a 3HP, 3 phase motor that runs on 230/460V power. All four motors are TEFC (totally enclosed fan cooled) design. (Yes, the 220V power in your shop is fine)
The fully welded, all steel base cabinet supports the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer. At 20 1/2"-long by 15"-deep and 20 1/2"-tall, the base cabinet keeps the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer stable and puts the bed at a comfortable 31 5/16" above the floor.
The base cabinet also houses the motor and the belt tensioning mechanism to which it mounts. A door on the rear of the base cabinet provides good access to the motor and that adjuster. All of the wiring and electronic components are also housed within the base cabinet, including the magnetic starter. An on/off switch is mounted to a mast that puts it at a comfortable height and within easy reach.
Also is the base cabinet is an effective dust evacuation chute. The chute angles down from under the cutterhead to a 4"-diameter outlet fitting located near the floor on the end of the base cabinet. This dust port location creates a direct path that enhances evacuation of the substantial amount of chips the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is capable of creating.
For a jointer to be accurate the infeed and outfeed tables must be coplanar - perfectly aligned with each other side-to-side and front-to-back. The tables on the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer have been precisely aligned at the factory but could need adjustment in the future. To make that an easier chore the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer has special cams built into each corner of the tables, two on the front and two on the rear of each table. These cams allow the user to make corrections to the tables easily and quickly.
The mechanisms that move the tables up and down actually moves them through a small arc that keeps their edge close to the cutterhead regardless of vertical position. Maintaining that small gap between the table and cutterhead produces cleaner, more accurate cuts.
The outfeed table has limiting stops that control the full up and full down travel. A lever moves the outfeed table up and down and another lever locks it in place. Rabbets up to 1/2" by 1/2" can be cut on the PJ-882HH 8"
Parallelogram Jointer using the cast-in rabbet groove on the outfeed table. Note: Rabbets cannot be cut with the models equipped with the helical cutterhead.
The infeed table also has a lever that changes height and locks it in position. This handles is much longer and makes adjusting the height of the huge table to set cut depth (up to 1/2"-maximum) exceptionally easy and accurate.
A depth stop knob automatically limits cut depth to 1/8". To increase cut depth simply pull that knob out, rotate it 90-degrees and the infeed table can be set to make cuts up to 1/2" deep. An easy to read scale on the side of the infeed table quantifies the current setting.
Large, Accurate Fence
The PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer has a fully adjustable 38 3/16"-long by 4 3/4"-tall cast iron fence, supported by large iron components that assure accuracy and stability. The fence even has a non-mar insert in the bottom edge so it glides across the cast iron table without cutting ever-deepening scratches in the table surface.
The fence has adjustable stops at 90-degrees (vertical) and 45-degrees in or out but can be locked at any angle in between as well. Changing fence angles is done using a rack and pinion gear drive turned by a 3 3/4"-diameter cast iron handwheel fitted with a spinner handle. A large lever locks the bevel angle. Of course, the fence can be positioned at any point across the width of the tables and is locked with a separate handle.
Three Knife Cutterhead
The PJ-882 (#1610079) uses a controlled chip three knife cutterhead. A jackscrew under each end of the knives makes setting them far easier. These jackscrews make tiny adjustments to knife height simple and precise. POWERMATIC includes an easy to use knife setting gauge to make that adjustment faster and easier.
While many manufacturers have cutterheads they describe with the helical label, few feature the complex angles that makes a true helical head work as they do. Many of these lesser helical designs are cheaper because they retain many of the liabilities of common long (straight) knife designs.
The PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer helical cutterhead is so effective because its true carbide inserts are set in spiral-shaped rows. The inserts have a 4" radius ground into their top and are mounted so they approach the wood at a 14-degree angle. That puts them in a true shear cut that eliminates most impact s well as the resulting fiber tearing and displacement caused by lesser "helical" cutterhead designs.
The POWERMATIC helical cutterhead cuts so smoothly that it dramatically reduces the noise made when cutting wood. In fact, the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is so quiet I initially thought it was not cutting wood at all. However, I could see the flow of chips in the dust collector hose and later, the smooth surface it created. The shearing effect of the helical cutterhead produces a remarkably smooth surface in all species of wood, including heavily figured pieces.
Each helical cutterhead insert has four identical cutting edges that are precisely machined from solid high-grade carbide. When one edge goes dull (eventually...) you simply index it to the next cutting edge! The inserts have a marking in one corner that makes indexing one or all of them the same way very easy. Because the inserts themselves and the seats into which they fit are so precisely machined, there is no adjustment or "fitting" necessary.
The durability of the carbide along with the low impact, shear cut they make means the inserts have an exceptionally long life, vastly longer than can be expected of any straight knife system. That means many PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer users may not have to index the cutters for years. Even when nicked by a piece of unseen metal, damage is usually confined to a few of the carbide inserts. Only the ones actually sustaining damage need to be indexed or replaced.
Moving the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is virtually impossible unless you have a crane or the specially designed all-steel mobile base, #1610078. This base has large fixed wheels on one end and full-swivel casters on the other. That means you can not only move the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer, you can actually get it where you want it to go!
In the Shop
When the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer arrived, I had a large stack of rough cut oak that needed lots of work. I checked the alignments of the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer, found them to be dead on right out of the crate so set it for about 1/32" depth of cut and proceeded to joint a wide face on each of a dozen 6-foot-long boards. Then, an edge was jointed true on each board before ripping the edges parallel and the sawn edge put across the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer to smooth that surface. Needless to say the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer never blinked. I had my POWERMATIC 1300CFM DC connected and that captured most of the chips and dust leaving very little to sweep up even though I had just processed well over 200 board feet of wood.
The tables were perfectly aligned so I tweaked the outfeed side so it wasn't anymore. Using my dial indicator and a straightedge, I followed the instructions for adjusting the table and brought it right back into alignment using the cams at the corners or the table. It took less than 20 minutes and the tables were again coplanar. Try that with a normal machine!
I have experience with a POWERMATIC helical head so was not surprised when the carbide cutters in the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer showed no sign of dulling during this evaluation. It will take months, if not years for the first edge on each cutter to go dull so I decided not to wait on that before completing this review.
The results of processing with the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is a very smooth surface that rarely shows any sign of chipping, even when the boards are run across it against the grain. I wouldn't suggest working against the grain as a normal course of processing wood, but the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is capable of doing it. This is especially handy when dealing with those great looking boards that have grain running in every direction.
The PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is a very large, very capable machine that will handle boards way longer than most of us cannot get back to the shop without cutting up. I easily jointed 10-foot-long edges in just a few passes. I am not sure just how long of a board the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer can handle but I do know it is much longer than will ever be in (or near) my shop!
The surface created by the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is second to none as is its construction and ease of use. POWERMATIC has this machine figured out and uses materials that make sure it keeps on keeping on for many years.
With a street price of $1,800.00 for the straight knife version and $2,100.00 for the helical head model (3-12-2008) the PJ-882HH 8" Parallelogram Jointer is not a cheap machine. The good news is that in terms of construction and usefulness, it is not a cheap machine! In addition to being big, heavy and exceedingly good at what it does, this investment will remain beneficial to your shop and projects for decades and more decades. And in many cases, I suspect it will benefit the next generation for a decade or more.
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