Planer Vs. Jointer: Which One Can Meet Your Needs?

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Whether you’re an experienced carpenter, professional craftsman, or want to hunker down on your DIY projects, you’re going to need some serious milling machines.There’s nothing finer in the land than a jointer and planer power tool.

Now, if you’re a normal DIYer, you may not need to get these tools. You’ll probably buy the lumber you need as-is from hardware stores and probably not alter the boards too badly. But if you’re a perfectionist or a craftsman and want to have greater control over the lumber you use, you’ll need a jointer and planer.

But what the hell do planers and jointers do? And why should you get one?

JET 12-Inch Planer/Jointer, HSS Knives, 3 HP, 1Ph 230V (JJP-12)
PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed, 6-Inch (PC160JT)
DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-inch, 15 Amp, 20,000 RPM Motor (DW735X)
JET 12-Inch Planer/Jointer, HSS Knives, 3 HP, 1Ph 230V (JJP-12)
PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed, 6-Inch (PC160JT)
DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-inch, 15 Amp, 20,000 RPM Motor (DW735X)
Price not available
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
JET 12-Inch Planer/Jointer, HSS Knives, 3 HP, 1Ph 230V (JJP-12)
JET 12-Inch Planer/Jointer, HSS Knives, 3 HP, 1Ph 230V (JJP-12)
Price not available
PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed, 6-Inch (PC160JT)
PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed, 6-Inch (PC160JT)
Amazon Prime
DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-inch, 15 Amp, 20,000 RPM Motor (DW735X)
DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-inch, 15 Amp, 20,000 RPM Motor (DW735X)
Amazon Prime

Gist of the Jointer

The jointer is used to even twisted pieces of wood. What’s a twist? Well, imagine you’re at a shabby bar at one of those high chairs. You’ve probably had a wobbly one, in which the four legs of the chair are not even.

Well, the same can happen to a wood board, causing it to wobble too. This can create imperfection in woodworking projects, so it’s best to even out all four sides of a piece of wood.

The jointer has a cylindrical blade that you run the board over to even it out. It’s best to mark which sides of the wood are raised and press weight over those sides as the wood passes over. To learn exactly how a jointer works, check out this video.

What a Jointer Can't Do for You

Jointers are definitely versatile tools to have in your possession, but there are still going to be limited to what they can do. For example, with a jointer, you can set the thickness of the cut you are going to make but you aren't able to set the thickness of the finished piece you are working on. This means you can't cut several boards to the exact thickness. Additionally, a jointer also can't ensure that the opposite faces are parallel.

Purpose of the Planer

A Planer fulfills a similar role --and then some. Theoretically, the Planer can be used to even out a piece of wood, but that’s not what it’s typically used for. Instead, the Planer is used to reduce the thickness of a board.

You don’t see the blades in this one, simply choose the thickness you want and run the board through the Planer. (example of one is the Wen 6550 planer- check out the review).

However, the nature of most machines will cause imperfections in the boards after they’ve run through the planers, causing the beginning and end of the board to be thicker than the rest.

You can fix that issue by lifting the board up as it’s fed through the machine and lifting it down as it reemerges, but these tiny imperfections may still persist.

This is why if you’re a serious woodworker, you’ll need both a jointer and a Planer. However, you don’t have to break the bank to do so.

What a Planer Can't Do for You

If you are trying to use your Planer as a jointer, you will find that this feat is virtually impossible. Planers just aren't capable of doing everything that jointers can do. This is especially true when it comes to the edges of the board you are working with.

Planers also use pressure rollers to pull the material, so you can't use them for cupping, warping or twisting. The pressure will flatten the board against the bed of the Planer.

Jointer/Planer Combos

We should be thankful for capitalism, right? You can get the best bang for your buck by getting a jointer/planer combination machine.

JET 12-Inch Planer/Jointer, HSS Knives, 3 HP, 1Ph 230V (JJP-12)

For example, the JET JJP-12 12-Inch Jointer Planer is an excellent, sturdy 2-in-1 machine. One side has the jointer; the other side has the Planer. You can easily sculpt wood anyway you want it.

JET 12-Inch Planer/Jointer, HSS Knives, 3 HP, 1Ph 230V (JJP-12)
  • Three high-speed steel knife cutterhead provides rapid cutting and a superior finish
  • Extremely quick changeover between jointing and planing functions (fence does not need to be removed)
  • Heavy-duty cast iron tables with machined finish ensure accuracy and flatness
  • Large handwheel for quick and precise adjustments of planer table
  • Heavy-duty, one-piece steel closed stand includes mounting tabs for increased stability

You’ll get more rapid cutting and superior finish with the three high-speed steel knife heads. The super-quick changeover between jointing and planing allows you to get work done quicker, as the fence does not need to be removed.

The parallelogram design keeps the table near the cutter head for a better finish, allowing a more precise depth of cut adjustments.

While convenient, machines like these can be expensive. Though slightly more cumbersome, it might be in your wallet’s best interest to split up the jointer and Planer.

Here’s the best jointer on the market:

PORTER-CABLE PC160JT Variable Speed 6" Jointer

PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed, 6-Inch (PC160JT)

As Shakespeare once said, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” Well, the same goes for this little jointer. Though it’s little, it’s two knife cutter head with jackscrew leveling allows you to easily stabilize a piece of wood.

The built-in cutter head lock facilitates both knife replacement and adjustment, and the extra-large table provides enough work support and surfacing for stock up to 6 inches wide. However, the shorter the block you’re using the better since customers have said that the jointer gets less efficient, the longer the piece of wood is.

PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed, 6-Inch (PC160JT)
  • Variable 6,000 to 11,000 RPM speed range allows the user to select the right speed for the size and hardness of material being cut
  • Two knife cutter head with jack screw knife leveling arrangement for easy replacement and adjustment of knives
  • Built-in cutter head lock facilitates knife replacement and adjustment
  • Extra large table provides ample work support and Surfacing stock up to a full 6" wide

The variable 6,000 to 11,000 RPM speed lets you select the right hardness and size for the wood being cut, and the center fence gives you much needed support throughout the cut for accurate edge jointing. Take Shakespeare’s advice and get the PORTER-CABLE PC160JT jointer.

Of course, you’re going to need a good Planer to keep the jointer company.

Best planer money can buy:

DEWALT DW735X Two-Speed Thickness Planer Package, 13-Inch

DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-inch, 15 Amp, 20,000 RPM Motor (DW735X)

DeWalt is an excellent company with a great reputation --with good reason. They consistently provide top-quality power tools, and their planers are no different.

The DW735X has a powerful 15 AMP and 20,000 RPM motor, with a 10,000 RPM cutter head speed, allowing you to handle larger cuts on wider materials easily. The three-knife cutter head delivers a 30% longer life-span on your knife.

The fan-assisted chip ejection vacuums up chips from the cutter head, cleaning up your workspace as the machine exhausts out debris.

DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-inch, 15 Amp, 20,000 RPM Motor (DW735X)
  • Purchase includes one stationary 13" Planer, in/out feed tables with fasteners (attached to the base of the Planer base), extra blades and dust hose adapter. Stand is not included.
  • Three knife cutter head of the thickness planer delivers 30% longer knife life and makes knife change faster and easier
  • Two-speed gear box of the wood planer allows users to change feed speed to optimizing cuts per inch at 96 or 179 CPI
  • Fan-assisted chip ejection vacuums chip off of the cutter head and exhausts them out of the machine
  • 19-3/4-inch cast aluminum base is 2 times more rigid than a standard 10-inch base and folding tables

The maximum depth you can cut off your wood is ⅛ inches, with a depth capacity of 6 inches and a width capacity of 13 inches. The DW735X will be able to handle most anything you can throw at it.

Best of all, the two-speed gearbox lets you change feed speed to optimize cuts per inch at 96 or 179 CPI, and the machine includes infeed tables, outfeed tables and an extra set of knives should yours break or go dull. The DeWalt DW735X is a great Planer for a great price, and you can’t go wrong buying it.

The Verdict

When it comes to the right jointer, planer, or combo machine to buy, let your situation be your guide. Take into consideration what your budget is for a new machine and whether you can only afford a jointer, a Planer, or spend the little extra money to get the combo machine.

Also, take into consideration the differences that exist between a jointer and a Planer. If you do more fine woodworking then anything, you may find that it makes more sense to go ahead and get both.

You will also find if you are limited when it comes to shop space, a combination unit will be ideal for the smaller space you have available for woodworking. However, make sure that what you purchase is actually a true combination unit. The Planer should be below the cutter head.

If those uneven pieces of wood are driving you crazy, then a jointer will be the best for you. If you can never seem to get the right thickness, then splurge on a good Planer.

Only you can decide what your needs are when deciding on a Planer vs. jointer, but we hope that this article helped you along the way.

Jointer and Planer FAQ

Can you use a jointer as a planer?

Jointers are used for flattening one face and squaring up one edge. The Planer is then used to make the second face flat and parallel to the first. It is impossible for a Planer to be able to do the work of a jointer. In the same respect, a jointer also can't perform a lot of the tasks that a Planer does.

What is the difference between a surface planer and a thickness planer?

Planers take a thick board and make it thinner. So, when you use a Planer, there should already be one flat side. A thickness Planer works on one side of the board at a time to give it a more consistent thickness with a smooth surface. With a surface Planer, or jointer, the cutter head is set into the surface of the bed.

How can you reduce planer snipe?

When using a thickness Planer, you have probably had to deal with your fair share of snipe. This is when a board is cut deeper on the beginning or end when going through the Planer. To prevent this, cut the snipe off the ends, adjust the infeed and outfeed tables up, use a sacrificial board before and after, run the boards through on an angle, and lift the board in and out of the Planer.

How do I pick the right jointer planer and benchtop jointer?

Remember you can purchase them separately or use a combo machine. When deciding on which to purchase, consider if you will be flattening boards that are thinner than 6-inches wide and 4-6 feet long. If the boards are longer and wider than this, you will want to consider purchasing an 8-inch jointer tool for your project.

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