Noob Jointer / planer questions

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by smboudreaux posted 06-08-2011 02:21 AM 1897 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View smboudreaux's profile


51 posts in 2595 days

06-08-2011 02:21 AM

alright fellas, i have been doing woodworker for a couple years now but fine woodworking, mainly cabinets and furniture has sparked my interest something fierce here lately. the bug has bite and i’m hooked.

from what i have read jointers are used to create a flat surface, basically the first step in prepping lumber for a project. i picked up a dewalt dw735 planer when i built the cabinets for my shop. cant i accomplish this task with a planer? what are the benefits of a jointer vs a planer?

19 replies so far

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3783 days

#1 posted 06-08-2011 03:57 AM

The planer will work if the work piece is flat- no twists. A jointer is used to make one side of the work piece flat.

If a piece of wood has a twist and you run it thru the planer, the rollers will press out the twist as it planes. But, as the board exits the planer, the twist returns.

On a jointer, the twist- on on side- is nibbled away by successive passes over the blades. When you finish you have one flat surface which probably will not be on a parallel plane with with its’ opposite side.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Moby's profile


64 posts in 2787 days

#2 posted 06-08-2011 04:09 AM

If you only get one, get the planer. You can make a planer sled by hot gluing the rough sawn board on a flat, true board then running it through the planer until you get a smooth face. Remove the board and flip it over until you are happy with the thickness.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#3 posted 06-08-2011 04:12 AM

You need both if you are serious about making solid-wood furniture.

The jointer won’t, without elaborate and awkward jigs, duplicate the
function of a thickness planer. The planer can substitute for the
joiner adequately in flattening work – but not, in my opinion, at the
level needed in the finest work (especially as the scale of the work

Thus you need both. A jointer with 42” beds is very adequate
for most furniture. For jointing timbers for entry doors additional
support comes in handy.

Where the jointer has no equal is in establishing straight and
clean edges easily on relatively short stock. With longer
jointer beds, this ease is increased but the machines start
to take up a lot of space and when you run into them when
walking too fast in the shop it hits you in a very unpleasant

Get a modest, used 6” jointer off Craigslist. You should only
have to pay $100-200 for it. The tool requires some
skill to use to accurately flatten and straighten board faces
and edges, You’ll develop the skill in time.

I’ve found a 78” level invaluable in the shop for assessing and
refining my work with the jointer.

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3157 days

#4 posted 06-08-2011 04:38 AM

Your may get some various opinions on this. It may be difficult to sort them all out. But if your going to get in to woodworking you may be better off going to the library rather than relying on posts. Get a comprehensive book on machine woodworking. This will give you the basic knowledge to judge for yourself. I believe once you have read up a bit you will understand the relationship between jointer and planer. Also you will get a good grasp of the relationship between the jointer and the table saw. Remember that the jointer establishes the flat face AND the right angle straight edge of the board. Planers and tables saws merely repeat in parallel the flat faces and straight right angle edges established by the jointer. There are of course various opinions, but I think you will find the trinity of any shop is jointer, planer, tablesaw. The Dewalt planer you have is the best of the portables and will serve you well, but it is not a jointer. Get the widest jointer you can afford to go with it. Grizzly makes a great jointer for the price.

View EvilNuff's profile


60 posts in 2656 days

#5 posted 06-08-2011 05:20 AM

I’m still quite new myself but here is what I have discovered so far…there is no substitute for a thickness planer. There are several options to make do without a jointer. There are jigs for the planer that can be used (there’s even a video and pdf of one on FWW). You can also use a jig with the table saw to joint one edge, the jig has a flat edge to run against the fence and holds the wood tight so you get a flat 90o edge.

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4125 days

#6 posted 06-08-2011 06:08 AM

Personally, I find monkeying with jigs to do basic functions a pain. I agree with Mcase if your doing a lot of building with machines, you will want jointer, plainer, and tablesaw.

That or use hand tools and go with a bandsaw as your main power tool ah la Jim Tolpin.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3103 days

#7 posted 06-08-2011 02:12 PM

I would point out that a jointer plane hand tool can be used in lieu of a power jointer. It is more work and it takes a little skill but it can be done. In fact, at one time that was the only way a board was flattened.

If you have a low volume of material that needs a jointer, this is an option.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2951 days

#8 posted 06-08-2011 03:08 PM

Both planers and joiners are designed to make one edge under the cutters flat. Flat is good, but you also want edges to be square to one another, and faces to be parallel to one another. So, the difference is what the machine uses for references.

A jointer can take a piece of raw stock and make one side flat. It doesn’t depend on any other prior work to do that. So you start with the jointer and make one face of the board flat.

A jointer can also make an adjacent side flat and square to the first flat side. So when you have one face flat, you flip the board so the flat face is against the jointer’s fence, and make the adjacent edge flat and square to the flat face. Now you have two sides done.

You now take the board to your planer. The planer makes one face flat and parallel to the other face. It depends on the face opposite to the cutter to be flat, and that face is the reference for the planer. So the planer makes the face flat and parallel to the first face. If the face under the cutter is flat and parallel to the opposite face, and the adjacent edge is flat and square to the first face (jointer did that), then the opposite face (the one under the cutter) is also square to that edge. You can’t start with the planer, because it needs the face opposite the cutters to be flat.

The planer also is used to get the board to the right thickness. When you are done, you have 3 flat faces, square to one another.

Typically you then take the board to your table saw. You put the flat edge on the fence, with one of the flat faces down, and cut the other edge to width, but of course also parallel to the edge against the fence. Now you have a board that is flat on all 4 sides, with surfaces parallel to the opposite surface and square to the adjacent surface. It’s also the thickness you wanted, and the width you wanted. You can now put a flat edge against a miter gauge or a sled back fence, and cut one end off, measure to length and do the same with the other end. Now you have a board with 6 flat surfaces, parallel to the opposite surface, and perpendicular to the adjacent surfaces, ready to be put into your project.

View smboudreaux's profile


51 posts in 2595 days

#9 posted 06-08-2011 11:08 PM

i really appreciate the help fellas. much appreciated. i am beginning to understand what these machine are used for. Besides, i’m always looking for a reason to convince myself i need a new tool

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

264 posts in 2625 days

#10 posted 06-09-2011 11:31 AM

Loren has nailed it. The two go together. The standing rule is to first joint one face and adjacent edge of each board that ever passes through any planer…... Something I took for granted until I moved to another part of the world …..Couldn’t believe my eyes…..
If SMB is serious he would be well advised to look at a combination jointer/planer which has the advantages of a smaller footprint and matched capacity of the two functions in one machine. Grizzly have one . Seems to be a rare bird in USA but common in Europe (where they are advanced when it comes to woodworking (;).
Since we talk of furniture making it is not necessary to have a particularly long bed for the jointer or surfacer- you can do most work accurately with a medium length bed such as 5 feet or so.

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2696 days

#11 posted 06-09-2011 11:58 AM

The only thing I can add to what ,Loren has said, is ,Do your homework on, Preparing Stock Flat Straight and Square, Understanding Wood Movment, and Reading The Grain

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View cloakie1's profile


204 posts in 2583 days

#12 posted 06-09-2011 12:06 PM

i reckon width is everything with a buzzer(jointer). the length can be sorted by adding extra removeable supports.but to get the best results it is very important that the blades are set correctly to the tail bed,i have used buzzers in workshops that aren’t and you end up putting a twist into your timber.i set the blades by using a steel rule and making sure that each blade is lined flat with the bed,also using it to measure a distance of 6mm when rotating the head…place the edge of the rule on the tailbed with about 100mm over the blade,rotate the head and note the distance it moves the rule…if no movement then left the blade until there is….if it moves more than 6mm then lower the blade until it is 6mm.repeat across the bed…usually i work from the centre out. i do this cos past experience has shown me that not all blades are sharpened the same….unless the buzzer has ta blades. either way iot is worth spending the time in setting up the machine.
i also reckon that the saw is the next step with the finer finish with the thicknesser,mainly cos there is less waste to consider and the saw sometimes offers a useful offcut rather than sending all the waste up the shoot

-- just get stuck in and have a go!!!

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

264 posts in 2625 days

#13 posted 06-09-2011 10:24 PM

Cr1: are you joking?

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2721 days

#14 posted 06-09-2011 10:32 PM

^not sure if kidding. I like to hand joint boards and I’ve relatively successful at the short dimensions that I use in my projects. Anything over a couple of feet and I go to the power jointer and there’s no real substitute, like others have mentioned. I’ve got a SC 6”, nothing fancy, but very valuable when needed. I think that if your jointer is tapering boards, there’s a bit of an issue;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

264 posts in 2625 days

#15 posted 06-10-2011 08:04 AM

Apologies to CR1 but I think he needs an instructor rather than the witness he asks for.
The tapered cut problem: is usually due the infeed and out feed tables not being co-planar or operator technique or a combination of both. As long as each table is straight then there will be a way to make them co-planar-well designed machines are readily adjustable and you can always use shims-nothing wrong with them.
The stick method is a tried true and accurate method of ensuring that the knives are exactly true to the outfeed table for their entire length. Their actual projection or otherwise above the o/f table is shown by the distance that stick travels when the block is rotated. Setting a knife so that the stick moves forward by a 64th is ideal-if you want to reduce that even more then many good jointers have the o/f table adjustable for that purpose too. I keep a dedicated piece of smooth heavy hardwood which I have planed dead straight for this purpose and prefer it to any gauges, jigs or setting devices I have tried so far-over 30 years or so.
There are simple checks to confirm whether things are as they should be eg planing a board on edge and stopping half way : stop the machine and see if any rocking at all is detectable…..
It’s a machine: it can be as accurate as you want.

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics