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Which machine next (jointer, planer...?)

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Forum topic by mdoleman posted 01-27-2016 04:42 PM 794 views 0 times favorited 42 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mdoleman

36 posts in 330 days


01-27-2016 04:42 PM

I’ve been jumping back into more “serious” woodworking after an absence of more than a decade. Not that I ever “gave it up,” but I paused at the point of acquiring more equipment, at some arbitrary point. I like to do mostly smaller projects, and have a few specialized interests, such as bows and musical instruments. Aside from that I do a bit of cabinetry and small/simple furnishings.

Lumber-wise, I mostly buy from the local Crosscut Hardwoods. They always have great stock in select and FAS board, and I am content to buy S3S pieces that I then cut to size using my table saw. The process isn’t “perfect,” but I’ve been generally content with it.

There are times, though, that I think I’d like to go a bit further. I’d like to be able to confidently purchase boards that might need a bit more work to prepare. I’d also like to be able to re-saw smaller pieces on my band-saw, and even pick-up some odd logs, here and there, to cut down for use.

None of my equipment is high end in the sense of “fine” woodworking, and I have very little interest in spending the money to go that route. It’s “just a hobby” for me, and I don’t have the money or space for a thoroughly outfitted shop.

All that said, I’m also not really interested in developing the skills needed to effectively square and size pieces via hand planing. It just seems to me that the investment in proper tools and time is prohibitive. I have a “day job,” after all, so my work is limited to weekends for the most part.

At any rate… I currently own a table saw, band saw, drill press, and router/table combo as my primary, floor-standing tools. To my mind, the next logical piece to add would be a jointer, but I have some reservations about spending the money, for a variety of reasons…

  • The money I have to spend would only get me a consumer-level, “bench top” unit with 6” capacity, and I read very mixed reviews on those sorts of devices. Is it even worth it to spend the money, or would I be so disappointed with the results that I’d be better off just getting-by without?
  • Or, am I wrong in thinking that a jointer is the next step? Would I be better off buying a planer, perhaps, or even something like a mini drum sander, and continuing to make careful board selections?

Thanks in advance for any input…


42 replies so far

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6574 posts in 1615 days


#1 posted 01-27-2016 04:47 PM

Planer before jointer. You can joint on a planer using a sled, but you can’t use a jointer to accurately thickness wood.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View ChrisK's profile

ChrisK

1809 posts in 2547 days


#2 posted 01-27-2016 04:54 PM

I use my planer a lot more than my joiner. A good blade in the table saw makes a joiner less of a need.

-- Chris K

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 951 days


#3 posted 01-27-2016 05:04 PM

Ehh. I’m kinda opposite. I use my jointer the table saw to dimension small stock. I try to avoid the planer but for boards wider than 2-3/4” it absolutely necessary.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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JayT

4785 posts in 1676 days


#4 posted 01-27-2016 05:05 PM

To me, sounds like you would be better off with something to thickness lumber after resawing. If you are doing much with musical instruments and very thin stock, you might be better off with a drum sander instead of a planer. Both can thinkness and smooth off your resaw cuts, but the sander would be better for thin stock and making the small adjustements required for instrument building.

Benchtop jointers are next to useless, IMHO. If you decide to go the jointer route, a decent quality used unit (if you can find one) would be leaps and bounds better than a new benchtop.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View mdoleman's profile

mdoleman

36 posts in 330 days


#5 posted 01-27-2016 05:08 PM

This makes sense to me, and it’s what I originally thought…

But then, upon reflection, it seemed that more often than not, the case is I want to purchase a particular S3S board that isn’t exactly “flat” on one or both faces. It might be a section of—say—6/4 S3S walnut in 6” width… and I find that the piece has a bit of a bend to it, so I can’t buy it with confidence.

And my understanding is that I can’t really expect to “fix” such a defect with a planer—that I really need a jointer for that work. I know of the “sled” method, but am not sure it’s something I want to tackle. Again it seems more inconvenient than simply being extremely judicious with my lumber selection…

On the other hand, a lot of times I note that It’s simply a matter of the superficial face surface not being perfect—i.e., the “surfacing” is extremely rough and needs a fine-cut pass through a planer.

I guess, ultimately, if I’m going down this road then I need both machines :-/ So in that case I guess my question turns to that of whether it’s even worthwhile to acquire “consumer” lever, benchtop units… The planer I have my eye on is the DeWalt… The less expensive 12-1/2” one…

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mdoleman

36 posts in 330 days


#6 posted 01-27-2016 05:16 PM

Thanks again… Seems like sound advice…

And yes, THE main thing I want to be able to do is smooth-out my re-saw cuts. Right now I… um… well… I use an orbital sander. Don’t judge me. :-)

The thing with re-sawing, though, is I rarely end-up with a cut that is dead-perfect square/flat. And my understanding is that I can’t really use a planer in expectation that it will correct that defect. Is that true? Sorry if this is all elementary stuff—I simply don’t know…

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6574 posts in 1615 days


#7 posted 01-27-2016 05:22 PM

A jointer will only flatten one face. You need the planer to flatten the other face afterwards. A planer with a sled can flatten one face first before sending it through without a sled to thickness the piece. A jointer alone will not do what you want. You either need both a jointer and a planer or a planer and a planer sled.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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mdoleman

36 posts in 330 days


#8 posted 01-27-2016 05:25 PM

Awesome, and thanks for all the clarification…

So, again, here’s where my line of questioning now lies… When I re-saw pieces, or want to purchase a piece that has a minor flaw on one of the faces, I’m not talking about significant deviations from square or flatness. I mean, I wouldn’t attempt to process anything where the piece was actually “wobbly.” I just want to be able to clean-up a re-sawn face that is perhaps half a degree out of square. Is that something I can do on a planer, assuming the opposing face is nicely flat & square?

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jmartel

6574 posts in 1615 days


#9 posted 01-27-2016 05:28 PM

Yes. A planer basically takes whatever the bottom surface looks like and makes the top surface look the same. If the bottom surface is flat, the top will be flat. If it’s bent like a banana, it will still be bent like a banana, just thinner. If it’s wedge shaped, it will make the top parallel to the base.

Drum sander does the same thing, but much slower.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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mdoleman

36 posts in 330 days


#10 posted 01-27-2016 05:33 PM

Okay, bingo, you answered my question perfectly…

Sounds like get the benchtop planer now, and eventually spring for a floor-standing jointer.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 951 days


#11 posted 01-27-2016 05:37 PM

Well, a planer might be better for you.

Just another thought. I’ve had boards that have been air drying for 30+ years that cup twist or bow after initial milling. Doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s straight when you get it, cuz when you start cutting it may or may not stay flat after initial milling.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

1784 posts in 604 days


#12 posted 01-27-2016 05:45 PM

I was wrestling with the “jointer or planer first” question not long ago. I decided to go with the planer and use hand planes to flatten 1 face before planing. Well, that was fine but it is a lot of work to flatten a batch of rough stock for a project and was taking more time than I wanted. So then I built a planer sled to flatten the board instead. So I run it through on the sled to flatten 1 face, plane the other face to thickness, then I use a simple sled/jig on my table saw to joint an edge and then rip the other edge square. Now, I get by just fine without a jointer. Setting up the planer sled can take a while, but for the $ and space it saves me in my shop, it’s more than worth it.

It’s nice to be able to buy any lumber I want and be able to process it myself. Just my $.02 since I recently had to make the same decision. Not saying you won’t still want a jointer. Not even saying that I wouldn’t like to have a jointer. Just saying you can process raw stock with a couple simple jigs and get by without one.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View skatefriday's profile

skatefriday

380 posts in 948 days


#13 posted 01-27-2016 05:45 PM

I have a bench top jointer and it’s better than nothing.

Tried the joint with a sled on the planer and it was a pain in the ass and the results were poor.
The bench top jointer is not perfect but it did improve the quality of my work.

View RogerM's profile

RogerM

764 posts in 1864 days


#14 posted 01-27-2016 05:50 PM

Jointer then planer.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View Minorhero's profile

Minorhero

372 posts in 2070 days


#15 posted 01-27-2016 06:00 PM

You really need both planet and jointer. Wood movement will fool you every time. Just because something is flat when ytbuy it doesn’t mean it will stay flat when you introduce it to your shop humidity or after you begin cutting.

It sounds like money is the controlling factor for yt. Try looking into used machines. A 6” jointer floor model can be purchased off of craigslist in maryland where I am at for 200 all day long. A lunch box planer for 300.

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