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Jointers vs. Planers: What’s the Difference?

Jointers vs. Planers: What’s the Difference?

Jointers and planers are among the various power equipment in a home woodworking shop, in addition to the table saw and chop saw. One or both of these tools can be indispensable for woodworking projects for the serious craftsman. This article will identify and distinguish these tools to assist you in deciding which to use and what types of projects they can assist you with. Of course, if your budget allows for both, you‘re good to go. If it can‘t, we‘ll point you in the proper direction for a start. What’s the difference between jointers and planers? Keep reading below to find out!

What Is a Jointer?

With a name like that, you‘d expect it to have something to do with gluing wood pieces together, and you‘d be right. A jointer is a tool that generates straight and square edges on your board so that you can combine it with other boards to make a larger one. You‘re on the right track if you imagine the edges of dimensional timber being fitted together for a tabletop, desktop, or shelving.

What Is the Main Purpose of a Jointer?

While you may believe the lumber you just bought at the local lumberyard is straight and square, experienced woodworkers undertaking serious projects will want to double-check. They‘ll know that the boards will connect smoothly and without gaps, creating a smooth and flat surface, thanks to a jointer. The goal is to have flat surfaces on the tables or desktops you make, and jointers can help with that.

As you prepare your lumber, using a jointer is a good place to start for various projects. It will give you a flawlessly flat face and square up one edge of the wood to make an even, gap-free connection. However, you’ll need a level surface once you link the boards. That’s where the second tool comes into play.

What Is a Planer?

Planers are similar to hand planers, except they are powered and can plane the full surface of a piece of lumber rather than a single strip or joint. A planer has a flatbed that supports your board as it passes through. The planer‘s cutting head is above the flatbed and runs the length of the bed. As the lumber passes through and out of the machine, rollers feed it along the flatbed and under and against the cutting head. This removes a layer of wood.

What Is the Main Purpose of a Planer?

As a result, the board has a smooth and consistent flat surface. You can create parallel surfaces by turning the board over and passing it through the planer again. When you use a jointer and a planer together, you create parallel surfaces on the timber. That way, when you unite the pieces of wood, they are flat, smooth, level, and straight with square edges.

You can make many things with a planer. Consider creating a new tabletop or desktop, new shelving, or perhaps a new workshop workbench. When it comes to benchtops, you can save a little money by using a tabletop planer instead of a floor model planer.

The Main Differences Between a Jointer and a Planer

It‘s a little simpler to understand the differences between these tools now that you know what they are. Those distinctions are evident in the thickness of the planer vs. jointer debate:

  • The planer will offer you uniform thickness and parallel surfaces, whereas the jointer will give you a precisely square single edge and flatten that single side.
  • Planers cut from above the wood, whereas jointers have their cutting knives embedded in the table with the wood passing over them.

When working with rough lumber that you‘ve acquired directly from the sawmill, though, each is valuable.

Are There Such Things as a Planer/Jointer Combo?

Luckily, there are a number of planer/jointer combinations. They accomplish the functions of each with a single cutter head and convert from one to the other as needed. They take up less space in the workshop than individual machines and are less expensive than buying each one separately.

However, converting from one to the other takes time and is less handy than moving from one machine to the next. Also, they require a 220-volt outlet and are somewhat hefty to transport. Even if they are less expensive than purchasing each piece of equipment individually, they are still costly.

What Is Better—A Jointer or a Planer?

The answer to the question of whether to use a jointer or a planer is simple: it depends. What is the nature of the project? What kind of wood are you working with? Is it dimensional lumber purchased from a reputable lumber yard, or is it straight from the sawmill? Many expert woodworkers believe that you can do more using a planer on its own regardless of your project.

However, there are alternative possibilities for the task that a jointer does. Each professional woodworker‘s home shop already has a power tool that they can use for that purpose with a little inventiveness.

Can You Use a Table Saw Instead of a Jointer?

It’s amusing that you should inquire. In short, the answer is yes. You can get the first side of the wood flat by laying it on a flat table that can move through the planer, leveling it with a sticky mat and shims. This is the most difficult part of milling wood. Once one side is flat, plane the second side to make it parallel to the first, and you’ve created a milled piece of wood with only a table saw. The ultimate result is the same, and it doesn’t necessitate the purchase of yet another costly piece of shop equipment.

Can You Use a Planer as a Jointer?

There are so many clever and skilled woodworkers who always seem to discover workarounds to compensate for limited tool inventory or substandard wood. Intelligence emerges once again in the wood planer or jointer debate. Can you use a planer as a jointer? The answer is yes, although there are certain restrictions. The most important limiting factor is the size of your planer. For example, consider the width of the bed and cutting knife and the thickness of wood that you can run through the chamber.

We hope this article has informed you of the differences between jointers and planers! If you’re looking to purchase a Rikon benchtop jointer or a planer, be sure to reach out to Bear Hollow Supply!

Jointers vs. Planers: What’s the Difference?
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