Planer vs Jointer

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Forum topic by Gabe C. posted 01-02-2012 06:19 AM 2645 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gabe C.

288 posts in 3315 days

01-02-2012 06:19 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jointer planer

I’m sure this has been covered already, but I didn’t see an entry on here asking the question. I have an opportunity to buy a planer or a jointer, and I wanted to hear everybody’s thoughts and recommendations on the subject. I have been a carpenter for nine years and have only recently started to get into more skilled woodworking and cabinet/furniture making, so I am a bit of a novice and not sure which of the two I would benefit more from having. Thank you in advance for the help!

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

17 replies so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4083 days

#1 posted 01-02-2012 06:42 AM

Ideally, you would have both, one to flatten the board, the other to reduce the thickness of the board. However, jointing or flattening the board and putting a straight edge on it is easier to accomplish without a machine than changing the thickness. Hand planes, the use of the table saw and/or router to produce a straight edge. I would go with the planer first.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3995 days

#2 posted 01-02-2012 07:08 AM

I own both and if you are going to be with it seriously for the long haul, then I would suggest planning on getting both. As David mentioned, you can flatten one face by hand a heck of a lot easier than planing to a uniform thickness by hand. I also join him (all other things being equal) in recommending the planer first if you have to choose because it does the job that is harder to do manually (with a jig, you can also use your planer to join edges). However, to do things right, you need a flat face on one side before planing to thickness and that’s what the jointer buys you. I find both machines to be invaluable and use both on every project so it might be a matter of which machine you find a deal on first.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 4042 days

#3 posted 01-02-2012 07:25 AM

I’ve had both, but sold the joiner a couple of years ago because I really didn’t use it that often. I use the planer on almost every project I do. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 3788 days

#4 posted 01-02-2012 07:32 AM

Go with the planer. Hands down.
If you have a table saw you can use a 60 tooth blade for glue-line edges and not need a jointer or over size the width of boards (for boards six inches wide or less to fit in planer) and then turn them edge up in the planer and let the planer joint the edge. I do this frequently just for that nice clean edge and to make double sure all my pieces are exactly the same dimension.

You can also joint your edges using a router, which I have done successfully hundreds of times.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3551 days

#5 posted 01-02-2012 07:46 AM

Definitely the planer.
If you buy lumber that’s already pretty straight, the planer can flatten it nicely.

Even if it’s not too straight to start with, there’s a lot of jigs and fixtures you can build for a planer that will do the job of a jointer (for the most part).

In the end though, nothing beats having both.
I’m a few weeks away from my first planer purchase, later this year a jointer will find its way in my shop too.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4048 days

#6 posted 01-02-2012 04:37 PM

I’ll join the chorus and say planner.

If you are using your jointer to get good edges for gluing up board there are other options, including using your router.

If you are using your jointer to flatten the side of a board, you can do that on the planner. The trick is to secure your work piece to some scrap wood underneath it. You may need to insert some spacers to prevent any wobbling. Secure the board at the ends (on a portion that you will cut off later) with counter sunk screws. Make sure the screws are countersunk enough to avoid the blades.

I only have a 6” jointer and I have used this planner technique when I needed to flatten a board that was wider than 6”.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View bcwoodworking's profile


31 posts in 3318 days

#7 posted 01-02-2012 05:09 PM

I agree i would get the planer first. I have both but only use the jointer for tapering legs on tables. I use my table saw and glue line rip blade to prep edge faces.

-- Patrick Craven (BCWoodworking of NC)

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 3436 days

#8 posted 01-02-2012 07:01 PM

If you are properly squaring stock, then choosing in not an option….

But, this might help in the decision:

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3897 days

#9 posted 01-02-2012 07:09 PM

I have both. However….I use the planner and an Incra for edge joining and the joiner sits in the corner gathering dust. Get the planner.

-- Life is good.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 4530 days

#10 posted 01-02-2012 07:10 PM

I bough a planer first, but soon discovered I needed both. A planer alone only makes curved boards thinner. I bet if you buy a planer the owenr’s manual will say step 1: joint one face first.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Sylvain's profile


1166 posts in 3473 days

#11 posted 01-02-2012 07:44 PM

In Europe combined machines are popular.

see for example

Aren’t their available in US?
Why pay for two motors etc. and use twice the space (we seldom have 2 or 3 car garage here).

The same cutter-head performs the two functions.

Some have used planer hardware to make a jointer :

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5329 posts in 4934 days

#12 posted 01-02-2012 07:50 PM

I’ve used slave boards with my planer to flatten, a glue-line rip blade on the TS for true edges. No jointer other than the 4” Shopsmith that will fit on the power stand for the bandsaw which will do what I need.

-- [email protected]

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3943 days

#13 posted 01-03-2012 04:07 AM

In Europe, the Planer/Thicknesser is King. It is in my workshop anyway – which is just as well, as I only have room for one machine.

View knotscott's profile


8406 posts in 4349 days

#14 posted 01-03-2012 03:46 PM

Ideally I’d want both, because they both do different tasks, but if you can only get one now, I’d get the planer first b/c a planer sled can help the planer do one of the tasks of a jointer….flatten a face. The reverse isn’t true of the jointer…the jointer won’t make two faces parallel at specific thickness.

It’s important to understand how each one works and the differences. A jointer flattens a reference face, then adds a 90° adjacent edge to that face, providing a square reference that’s flat and straight. Without that reference face there’’s no way to ensure that everything else is flat and square.

A planer makes two faces parallel and the thins the board to a consistent thickness. If the first face isn’t flat, neither will the second face be flat…put a twisted board into a planer, and you’ll get a twisted board back out that’s thinner and smoother. If the face isn’t flat, there’s no way to ensure that you get a 90° edge either…it’s random depending on the unflat face of the board, thus the advantage of a jointer.

The jointer is the most efficient tool at providing the flat face and a square edge, but if you build a planer sled (slave sled) to act as a flat reference face, it is possible to get the opposite face flat using the planer. Once one face is flat you can flip the board over and make both sides flat and parallel to each other on the planer, then you can use a TS or a router to get a truly square edge that’s 90° to the face. Without that flat reference face, it’s very hard to ensure that the square edge is truly square throughout the length of the board.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 3860 days

#15 posted 01-03-2012 04:27 PM

Buy the plainer. You can joint on the table saw. Jointers are finnikey things, you can bow a peace of wood real easy if it is not set up correct. I have never had issues jointing on a table saw.

1. Get a strait edge I use a 4 foot level with a L bracket on the end so the level and stock move at the same time.
2. Adjust your fence so the stock being removed is the bare minimum
3. Push the level and stick through (level against your fence of course)

I get a perfect edge every time.

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