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What should I get first a Jointer or a Planer

4991 Views 21 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  SteveMI
This question has been on my mind for a while. I purchase lumber that tends to have at least one side dressed. However, I am looking into either picking up a jointer or a planer. Is there one I should get first.

Is it possible to plane with a jointer, can you joint with a planer?
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I personally use my planer much more the jointer… It really depends on what kind of projects you will make.

Keep an eye out on craigslist for tools … I recently bought a 4 inch craftsman jointer for 20 bucks. It is a handy size. My bigger stationary 6 incher jointer takes up a lot of room and now is in the garage and will only be used for larger projects.
I got (and still get) this questions so often I did a study of sorts tracking the use of both machines in my and several other woodworkers shops. In our collective cases the jointer won hands down and the story about that is at the link below. Depending on your use patterns, the planer mi8ght win out for your shop.

Jointer or Planer First?
If you had to choose only one…I would probably go with the planer first..then the jointer later.
This is always a fun topic, because it usually ends up about 50/50 on the responses.

Personally, I don't own either. But a planer is at the top of my list because there are more workaraounds for jointing without a jointer than there are for thicknessing without a planer.
"Is it possible to plane with a jointer, can you joint with a planer?"

It is possible to face joint with a planer using a planer sled, then edge joint with a router or TS. It's very difficult to plane two faces parallel to each other with a jointer, though you can make both faces flat. That being the case, I tend to recommend the planer first if you can only have one, though having both is ideal.

A jointer is the most efficient method of flattening one face and an adjacent edge. A planer is the most efficient way to make two faces parallel to each other at a consistent thickness.
Jeff, I agree with Charlie in that you will get about an equal mix of opinions but I would opt for the planer first. You cannot thickness with a jointer but you can joint, both face and edge, with a planer.

Here is a Fine Woodworking Video that describes the construction of a sled for flattening wide boards with a planer.

As far as edge jointing goes that too can be done with a planer and a sled to clamp the board(s) in a vertical position and running them through on edge.

Obviously there is a need for both tools in the shop but if I had to go with one or the other I would go for the planer first.
You can face joint on a planer, and edge joint on either a router table or table saw, but you cannot thickness plane on a jointer. If you have funds for only one, buy a planer and get a good one. Not the most expensive, but one that does what you want it to do.
Planer. Like Dan said check Craigslist often because you may get a really good deal on one. I got a Dewalt 735 off of there for $300, when they sell for over $600.
Which ever one goes on sale first, you're going to get them both anyway.
Rob [email protected] runs through his reasoning for planer first:

And he really means first; as in before any power saw.
You are asking a tough question and it is stressing me out!

I cannot imagine living without either one, but for a while I did when I first started. I think the answer also lies in the tools that I take to the field as a remodeling contractor. I often take my planer but never the jointer.

I often need to thickness wood and only the planer works for me when doing that. But I can get a pretty clean cut on the edge of a board with a good blade and properly tuned fence. Then, I can use a router or belt sander to clean up the edge.

Even for life in the shop I bought my planer first. The jointer was close on it's heels though.
I'll toss in my vote for the planer as well. Much greater demand for its purpose than for the jointer. I would also throw in an agreement that the jointer was close behind for my shop.
Probably Planer first. I really use both equally, I always flatten one side on the jointer and plane the other flat for perfect flat and square stock.
About two months ago I had never used either of these tools and had very little idea how they actually operated. So coming from a complete newbie to now, this is what I've learned… You can't joint with a planer, and you can't really plane with a jointer. You can joint with other tools, but you can't easily plane with other power tools (although there are some neat router setups posted on here).

If you have stock that's flat on one side (as you say you do) you can use a planer to make the opposite face parallel, and you can mill the board to the thickness you desire resulting in a board that's a uniform thickness throughout. You can then use a table saw or router to square up the edges. If you buy your boards flat on one side, a planer is definitely your first buy. However, in my short experience, flat boards are rarely all that flat.

Jointers do one thing, they make a surface flat. If your board is twisted, running it through a thickness planer won't help, it'll still come out twisted, just a bit thinner. You have to joint one face first and then plane the opposite face it to have a board that's an even thickness.

Like others say above, I can't live without either at this point. I guess this might not help you much, but my opinion is, if you can spring for it, you should get both. Find a used planer that fits the bill and pick up a small jointer a bit later and you'll be in business.
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Mauritius - In general you've got the basic functions of the planer and jointer right, but with the help of a planer sled that acts as a flat reference surface for the workpiece, you can joint the face of a board flat using the planer. It's a great way for a person with a 6" jointer to face joint a 9" wide board. Remove the sled, flip the board, and make the next pass with the planer only, and you've got a flat board with both sides parallel to each other that's ready to be edge jointed.

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planer. you can face joint on the planer with a sled (although its not that easy) and edge joint 90 degreed with a router and straightedge or tablesaw with sled. however, as everybody already said - these are probably the most heavily used tools in a shop, especially if you work with recycled wood. if you take into account that by having a jointer and a planer you can buy roughsawn and recycled timber, you return the investment pretty fast.
I solved that question with a combination Jointer / Planer machine.
knotscott: Most helpful, thanks! I had thought of something similar, since face jointing wider boards is something I'm going to want to do occasionally and don't really want to spend the money and floorspace for a big ol' jointer.

I've thought of a sled-type device that would enable my planer to have a flat reference surface so that it could act as a jointer, but I got stuck on the rather large detail of supporting the reference surface without the planer rollers pressing the warp out of the board. Using adjustable screws seems to make sense, I'd think you'd need a lot of them though to handle a variety of lengths and to spread the force of the rollers out (especially for thinner stock). I'll have to fiddle around and see how it works.

So I guess this newbie stands corrected, it is possible to face joint on a planer. I'll definitely have to give this a shot in the near future. Thanks again!
A planer or thicknesser (as we Brits call it) is much more used by me than jointer or as we say planer that's how I work as I use a fine tooth 96 tooth on my saw and this leaves a beautiful finish I like a few experts who admit to doing the same am happy with this method, but although I have a planer thicknesser (jointer planer in the usa) I have recently bought a nice big heavy jointer with a planing attachment which I intend to use for jointing kindest regards Alistair
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