Grandpa’s old Jointer: Rewired

About 9 years ago, my Dad’s Mother needed help reorganizing her garage. Grandpa had been gone for about 10 years at that time, and my aunt had been living with her for years. Now, I wouldn’t say they were hoarders, but definitely pack rats. (I feel bad calling my Grandmother a rat, but it’s in the phrase.) In fact, they were very terrified that the world was going to end in 2000. I think we all know someone who was preparing for judgement day that year, and for me; it was Grandma Swanny and Aunt Marie.

That being said, I think that mindset kind of stuck, and the garage was packed to the rafters. When Sam and I arrived, Grandma was starting to get desperate to get some junk OUT.

We stayed for about 2 1/2 days just to get the garage clean enough to park Grandma’s car in the garage again, and oh the finds we made! Amongst some of the items we took off her hands, was a brand new toilet (this still cracks me up, because we ended up leaving it in my parents carport for years before getting rid of it) and a heavy duty machine.

Old jointer used in woodworking sitting in a work shop with saw dust and wood chips dusted on it

What was this machine? Sam didn’t know. Dad didn’t know; but it was an antique and looked powerful and a bit expensive. So, there it sat (alongside the toilet 😂) for 9 years.

In the mean time, Sam started working at a local cabinet shop around 5 years ago. His love for wood grew; and so did our stock pile! Our garage now looks like Grandma’s old garage before we arrived (and proudly so.) Magically transformed to a wood shed filled with Mahogany, Oak, Reclaimed Oak, Cherry, Walnut, and a few other species I know I’m forgetting. We calculated the board feet of raw wood we have just the other day, and it is well over 15,000!

So now, as I have mentioned before, we are on our journey to create masterpieces out of this raw wood. I started looking around the house, and imagined what furniture is needed, and my first thought was a bench that sits under our front window to house all of our indoor plants! Sam jumped on the idea and made two benches immediately.

Now, this was about two months ago, and at that time, we had a compound miter saw, skill saw, table saw, and had just bought an orbital sander and hand router with router bits. That was basically our wood shop.

So we made two nesting benches, then started on a project that Sam has been driven to create for a long time; apothecary cabinets. As of now, we have completed our first apothecary, and are working on our second one now. But I’ve got to tell you what we learned through this process. We got to the point where we had to make drawer boxesy. So we used old pallets. Easy money, right? We had a couple lying around, so then we salvaged the slats, sanded them down, and glued them together. They were ugly! I’m telling you… trying to standardize your own salvaged wood with an orbital sander will make you go bonkers, and you may end up with patches of your hair missing through frustration.

Throughout this process, we had watched various YouTube videos on wood working, and one theme appeared. We definitely needed a planar and a jointer to help standardize out wood materials. I jumped on our local used website ( and checked the classified ads for planers and jointers. Immediately, I found an old planer about 40 miles away. We thought about it for a few days, and exactly one week ago, we headed down to Ogden to pick up our new find. (Also picking up a belt/disc sander combo).

During this timeline…. Sam looked at me one day, and I could see on his face he had something to tell me. Very solemnly, he said “Erika, I think your Dad has a jointer.”

“What?! When were you going to tell me about this?!” I exclaimed. Haha…. he had a secret he’d been keeping from me! And a good secret!

“Yes. It’s in the carport at your Mom and Dad’s. We brought it back from Grandma’s when we cleaned out the garage. Your Dad and I had no idea what it was at the time, but now I know what it is, and I don’t know if it works.” Says Sam.

Last week, we picked up that jointer, and immediately plugged that sucker in. You could hear the machine trying to pull electricity, but nothing was happening. The cord on this antique machine was pretty janky, and we started to think how we could rewire it. It needed a new switch. But where were we going to get one?

We thought of everything we had lying around the house. (Sam asked me for an old curling iron or blow dryer. That was a no.) Then he remembered he had just thrown away an old plug in razor!!! 

An old jointer motor with the electrical box removed and wired up to a used switch from an electrical men’s razor

We ripped that old razor apart immediately, and rewired that old jointer. We plugged it in, switched it on, but still, it wouldn’t go. After pulling off the belt, we could see that the motor was turning, so then came the WD-40. It took a few tries, but we got that jointer up and running! Off an old razor plug & switch! (Can we finally get a MacGyver reference here?) I’m still cracking up about this.

Here is our celebration video:

What adventures have you had “MacGyver-ing” something? I really want to hear!

With Love, Erika Nora

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