What to buy next? Jointer? or Thickness Planer?

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Forum topic by Mark D. posted 12-24-2008 07:08 PM 12924 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark D.

155 posts in 4981 days

12-24-2008 07:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: jointer planer question

Hello All, I have a bit of money to tool up the shop a bit, but am unsure of what to purchase next. I currently have a great cabinet saw(Jet Delux X-Acta Saw with 50” fence) and am now looking to purchase either a jointer or thickness planer as this will allow me to buy rough boards and dimension them for use. Due to the limited funds, I have to chose between purchasing a jointer OR a thickness planer. What would you do?

I have several hand planes and feel rather confident that I can use these to joint the boards, so I’m leaning towards a thickness planer… but having not owned a jointer or planer, I’m not sure which is more critical to the process of properly dimensioning lumber.

Your input is greatly appreciated. Happy Holidays!

-- Looking for free wood working plans? Visit us at

17 replies so far

View Loren's profile


11253 posts in 4860 days

#1 posted 12-24-2008 07:10 PM

Planer. You can flatten boards by hand if you need to
but thicknessing them by hands is really tedious and
it’s a PITA with only a jointer, even though it can
be done.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4981 days

#2 posted 12-24-2008 07:25 PM

i would go with a planer. you can make a sled to joint boards too. also even better look into a combo machine. those are always good things if you are low on funds or space.

View Praki's profile


203 posts in 5209 days

#3 posted 12-24-2008 07:39 PM

I had the same dilemma and went with the planer. There are many alternatives to jointing but thickness planing is either hand planes or the machine. I also found out hand planing a lot of material is pretty hard.

-- Praki, Aspiring Woodworker

View robdew's profile


86 posts in 4927 days

#4 posted 12-24-2008 07:53 PM

You can joint with several other tools, including a planer, with acceptable results. In fact you can joint wider boards in a planer than in a jointer.

But it’s a lot harder to thickness plane without a power planer. It can be done, just a lot harder than jointing without a jointer.

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1142 posts in 5204 days

#5 posted 12-24-2008 07:57 PM

Planer, definitely. With jigs the planer can face joint, and a tablesaw or router can edge joint, but nothing else is going to thickness plane for you (well a router and a jig could do it, but not as easily as a planer)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5034 days

#6 posted 12-24-2008 08:08 PM

Here is one more vote for the planer. You can dimension the wood with a set of hand planes but, unless you are strictly a traditionalist woodworker, I had rather spend my time cutting and making sawdust rather than hand dimensioning rough stock. I agree with TAWW. You can make a sled to hold the boards and “joint” the sides using a planer.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4974 days

#7 posted 12-24-2008 08:13 PM

I only have a 4” jointer and it’s perfectly adequate jointing edges. I take rough sawn boards, and with a #5 hand plane and winding sticks I can quickly remove the imperfections due to twist. A straight edge can identify high spots that need to be addressed. I don’t have to plane the whole surface before I send it through the planmer. This works great.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5431 days

#8 posted 12-24-2008 08:22 PM

There are easier workarounds for not having a jointer than there are for not having a planer. I vote for the planer. Come to think of it, I vote for a planer for ME!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4698 days

#9 posted 12-24-2008 09:02 PM

I ask the same question six months ago and here’s my story. Most advice says buy a jointer first. After reading a lot of advise on the ww’ing forums, I followed that wisdom and bought a used jointer off CL. I thought the plug looked strange but hey it was a clean PM 8” jointer at a ridiculous price. In other words, I was blinded by the price. Once home, I kept counting the four prongs wondering why there was an extra. This is when my long road to 3 phase education started. Now at this point you would think I’d just jump on the internet and order up a converter. But no, I was a bit intimidated, and I didn’t have the $175 or so to buy one. So there my beautiful jointer sat in the garage, waiting for it’s owner to man up and do the right thing. In the meantime, a portable “used once” (no really, it’s true haha) Ridgid planer appeared on CL at another give away price. It still has the second set of unused blades that came with it new and the installed blades were still sharp. I bought it. Now I have the money to buy a converter, but I’m still working up the nerve to jump into that project. I haven’t built any extraordinary furniture lately, well never. I don’t feel confident with hand planes, and besides, I would need to buy one other than the low angle block plane I have. If you can use a hand plane effectively to joint, then I’d agree and say buy a planer. Just a word of advice, if I had it to do over, I’d buy a 3 knife cutter head. I don’t know if two speeds is really worth it, but most of the better portable planers now have two speeds. You’ll probably clean up with a swipe of the hand plane. OK, to much information…

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View DennisC's profile


16 posts in 4958 days

#10 posted 12-24-2008 09:10 PM

I chose to buy used and got both. A 12” Woodmaster planer $300 (included a little over 100 bf of rough sawn maple, oak and cherry); A 6” Craftsman jointer for $25. Both needed tuning up but are good as new, now, for less than the cost of a good bench top planer. Craigslist is great!

-- Gen 8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

View Dave T's profile

Dave T

196 posts in 4833 days

#11 posted 12-24-2008 09:33 PM

I bought the jointer first and then shortly after that was fortunate enough to get the planer. If I had to do it over again I would have gotten the thickness planer first.

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4698 days

#12 posted 12-24-2008 09:43 PM

Hi Dennis: I don’t mean to hijack Mark’s thread, but, an article on Fine WW’ing discussed outfitting a shop for $5,000. I took that as a challange and I’m going for $2,500 or less. Only with the help of the good Lord and CL. Living in a metropolitian area does help. And a bit of patience and luck. I have bought a cabinet saw with a forrest blade and forrest dado included, jointer, planer and floor mounted drill press for $1,200. All in like new condition. Doesn’t include the converter. I bought a Ridgid router (fixed and plunge) at $200, and Ryobi table top router table (I think $100) retail, a Dewalt compound miter saw in a clearance sale ($150), and a working Dewalt RAS was given to me. I built a bench with a 9 inch vice for about $175. And about $200 in clamps (give away sales at Rocklers), 18 gauge nailer, and other hand and measuring tools for say another $200. Total = $2,225. I would probably now buy a PC router because all accessories are built around the PC standard. But it works fine. I just wanted to post this to show what a real cheap skate can achieve.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View cmaeda's profile


205 posts in 4767 days

#13 posted 12-24-2008 10:34 PM

Buy Used. I got a 12” Delta planer and 6” Craftsman Jointer for $60.
The planer was in excellent condition but the jointer was rusty and took a lot of cleaning, rust removal and tuning but it works really well now… The jointer took two weekends to get working.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5512 days

#14 posted 12-24-2008 10:56 PM

With a planer you can buy rough lumber, & save yourself a lot of money.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Keith Cruickshank's profile

Keith Cruickshank

41 posts in 4857 days

#15 posted 12-29-2008 12:03 AM

Yes, as others have stated, you might consider going with a thickness planer as a priority tool. Flattening one side with a hand plane—enough to prepare a piece of stock for thickness planing – can be accomplished with a bit of practice. But hand thicknessing a board is much more difficult. I just finished a two-part video series on how to dimension lumber featuring instructor Eric Matson, which might be of interest to some. While this video demonstrates a planer and jointer pair in use, it might explain why a planer is perhaps more key in the process.

-- Keith Cruickshank, - on-demand woodworking videos

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