Tools & Expertise for Every Project's Success.

Difference Between Jointer and Planer

Electric Planer

One of the first things that all beginner woodworkers want to know is the difference between a jointer and a planer. The planer and jointer are probably two of the most misunderstood tools in the workroom.

Having said that, planer and jointer are two extremely useful tools to have in most woodworking projects. This is because the combination of these tools can help any woodworker to get the maximum out of rough lumber.

What is the importance of lumber in a woodworking project? A ‘4-square’ lumber is part and parcel of any quality woodworking project. What does a ‘4-square’ lumber entail? This lumber is perfectly square with flat edges and faces that lie parallel to one another.

While there are several different ways to mill lumber, the best and easiest method involves the use of a jointer and a planer. Therefore, it is important to not just understand these tools but also find out the difference between jointer and planer. We will start by explaining a Jointer.

What Is a Jointer?

Used to flatten a bowed, twisted, or warped board face, a jointer is a machine that removes twists and warps in the board to make it perfectly flat. Not only does a jointer flatten a board but it also straightens its edges.

After flattening a board, a jointer starts to straighten and square its edges. This is done by running a board’s surface over the cutter head of the machine. This flattens the face and edge of the board to its limit. To completely flatten a particular side and edge of the board, a jointer removes material at a preset depth.

Since a jointer helps to flatten a board by removing warps and twists in it, it would be best to start work on rough lumber with a jointer and then introduce a planer into the process to ensure the board’s edges and faces are perfectly parallel and there is a consistent thickness to the board.

How a Jointer Works

A split with a flatbed is present at a jointer’s cutter head. This enables the raising and lowering of the bed’s forward part, which ensures that the cut made on a pass can be adjusted. With the rear of the bed raised higher than the bed’s front, support is provided simultaneously to both ends of the boards that are being worked. This ensures that the board is evenly cut and there is no damage to it.

In addition to the above, a fence that features on the jointer allows vertical handling of the boards on the bed. This allows you to achieve a perfectly perpendicular cut. This is extremely important when looking to fulfill the primary purpose of the jointer which is to prepare the edges of a board for jointing.

Another major purpose of a jointer, especially when it is used with rough-cut lumber, is to square up the board. Here, a side is picked as a reference side with which the others can be squared up. With the reference side being the starting point, all of the board’s sides are made to go through the cutter head. Perpendicular sides are ensured by using the fence.

One last thing that a jointer helps to achieve is that it enables us to flatten twisted, cupped or warped boards and make them usable. This is easier to accomplish with shorter boards as compared to the longer ones. This is especially true when you’re dealing with boards that are twisted.

In the end, we will say that a jointer is perhaps the only tool besides a hand plane that can be used to get the most out of rough lumber and turn it into well-finished lumber that can be used in any quality woodworking project.

If you’re looking for quality jointers, then you can find a range of tools that are priced between $370 and $1,500. The difference in price is mainly due to the quality of the jointer and what can be achieved with it.

What Is a Planer?

Also called thickness planer or thicknesser, a planer is a machine that is used to modify a board’s dimensions. A planer achieves this by eliminating material at a thickness that is predetermined. This makes the side that has been cut parallel to the side at the opposite side.

However, running your board through a planer will only reduce the thickness and the bow will remain as it is if your board is naturally bowed. The only way you can ensure the board’s sides are flawlessly parallel to each other is to start by running one side of the board over a jointer. This is especially useful if your board has a natural twist or curve.

How a Planer Works

With a cutting head mounted over the board, a planer comprises of a flatbed on which the board can rid. As the material goes through the cutting head, its speed is controlled by the input and output rollers. Compared to what is produced by a jointer, this ensures a more consistent and smoother finish.

In addition to smoothing a board’s face and back, planers are designed for two main purposes. The first is making sure that the surfaces of the board are perfectly parallel while the second main purpose of a planer is bringing a board to a precise thickness by shaving off material.

The exact same thickness can be noticed on several boards that pass through a planer. This is regardless of the board’s original state. However, the thickness can vary if there is a change in the setting of the planer. It is virtually impossible for a jointer to successfully accomplish the two main purposes of a planer.

While you could get close with it, a jointer is not built to help you achieve the same level of board thickness that you get with a planer. Also, a jointer won’t help you keep the board’s opposites faces exactly parallel. This is because the overhead cutter of a jointer lies exactly parallel to the bed and there are no overhead rollers to make sure the material is held flat.

The Difference Between a Jointer and a Planer

The difference between jointer and planer should be clear by now. Explaining the jointer and planer tools and what sets them apart from each other was extremely important. This is because the difference between jointer and planer is a question frequently asked by beginner woodworkers. The question will be asked by beginner woodworkers in the future as well.

To sum up, a jointer flattens your board by shaving off its material. Additionally, it fixes any curls or twists in the board. On the other hand, a planer ensures that one side of your board is parallel to the other. The planer will reproduce the curve on the side that is cut when a naturally curled board that has not been flattened is passed over a jointer.

Jointer and planer are two of the most important tools to have in any woodworking project. Therefore, it would be a mistake to choose one over the other for your project. Instead, you should try a planer-jointer combo. This will work in your favor!

Related Reading