At what point do I bite the bullet and buy a jointer and planer?

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Forum topic by BTimmons posted 01-09-2012 06:27 AM 2561 views 0 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2303 posts in 2721 days

01-09-2012 06:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jointer planer router sled

Here’s my situation. I’m pretty new to all this. Only one project completed and posted so far. Don’t even have a proper workbench to speak of just yet. That said, I haven’t invested a lot in equipment, and it’s quickly becoming apparent just how expensive it is to purchase lumber that is dimensioned and surfaced on four sides.

I was lucky enough to find a nice mix of Honduras and African Mahogany in the scraps and cutoffs bin at Rockler, and picked it all up for a song. It’s rough lumber though, so the boards need flattening (and maybe resawing, but I’ll worry about that later).

My question to my fellow LJs is this: I have a router and can make a flattening router sled jig like some here use for leveling cutting boards and such. But at what point is it more practical and/or economical to invest in a powered jointer and planer? I really hate having to persuade my wife to let me spend more money. You know how it goes.

-- Brian Timmons -

39 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3813 days

#1 posted 01-09-2012 07:08 AM

If you intend to do woodworking long term I would defiantly invest in a planner first and maybe later a jointer.
Just a lunch box planner is better than no planner.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View cathyb's profile


839 posts in 3480 days

#2 posted 01-09-2012 07:27 AM

I don’t know where I’d be without my jointer. I use it every day. After looking at your jewelry box, you are definitely going places with your woodworking skills. Here’s why I love the jointer: I always buy rough lumber. First step in milling is to get a flat edge and at least one flat side, then off to one of the saws. If I want to edge join some boards for cabinet sides, shelves, a door ,etc back to the jointer for a perfect glue joint. If you want to run a board through the planer, you’d better have on flat side or it will be a bit of a challenge. Get a jointer and you will never regret the decision.
Best of luck to you…....

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3548 days

#3 posted 01-09-2012 02:18 PM

If you are going to continue into any kind of finer woodworking projects you will probably need both so start saving now.

Buying the rough lumber is cheaper and offers more alternatives than the big box stores.

I bought a planer first, because it was on sale at an unbelievable price, but within 2 months I had to get the jointer.

Makes a world of difference to have flat, square, and dimensioned boards to work with.

View Jayrod's profile


2 posts in 2572 days

#4 posted 01-09-2012 02:36 PM

I found a nice 6” jointer on craigslist, not one with a lot of features but it was the right price. At the time I had access to a friend’s planer, so the jointer is what I needed. I constantly see used power tools online, some items are barely used, pull together a wad of cash and watch the sites, you might get a good deaL.

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2813 days

#5 posted 01-09-2012 02:40 PM

Planer first, then a jointer once you can afford the luxury.

You can flatten one side with the router jig as mentioned, and even edge joint with a router.
I’m buying my first planer in the beginning of february; my jointer will probably come early summer.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7689 posts in 3036 days

#6 posted 01-09-2012 02:57 PM

I got lucky. When I first started out I got an amazing deal on a barely used jointer and planer. I couldn’t live without them.

Anyone who wants to do serious woodworking MUST have them both. Even store bought boards aren’t perfectly flat. And you pay a big premium for it over what it costs to buy rough stock. And consider the fact that those machines open up an entire new source of great wood you couldn’t use before, like splitting up firewood and milling it yourself to make small boards, etc.

Like has been mentioned above, a planer can do some flattening if you make a sled for it, but it is a real pain to do that. However a planer will do BOTH sides of the board, while a jointer will only do ONE side, so if you have to buy only one right now, buy the planer. But get a jointer as soon as you can. And don’t get a small bench top one, they are useless for all but edge jointing. Get a 6” model (larger ones like 8-12” are a LOT more expensive).

Of course, if you only do a modest amount of woodworking, you can also get buy with a good jointing plane. You can even start out with an antique wooden one for less than $40.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View jmos's profile


905 posts in 2605 days

#7 posted 01-09-2012 03:01 PM

I’m pretty much stuck buying S2S from my local dealer (they don’t carry rough stock), but even at that I have to re-flatten the faces, which is a real bummer since I loose even more thickness. I’m usually lucky to end up with 0.7” out of 4/4 stock. So, even if your buying S4S, it helps your projects a lot to be able to really flatten and square up stock.

I would agree planer first. One thing to think about first is how much you like working with hand tools. If you’re into it, and think you may prefer hand planing, you might be able to pass on the jointer. But hand planing to thickness is a lot of extra time and effort, and I think well worth the cost of the planer.

-- John

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2929 days

#8 posted 01-09-2012 03:03 PM

A planer changed my life. The jointer I can handplane around, but the planer I couldn’t live without.

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

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3150 days

#9 posted 01-09-2012 03:27 PM

Ditto on what Cato said. I also quickly learned that a planer is just not enough. My vote is to pick up a jointer, preferably at least an 8in., but if you are EVEN considering a 6in jointer THEN GO USED. There are boat loads of used 6in jointers on CL and elsewhere.

For example, I just found over a dozen on CL in my local area or within a two hour drive. Just sayin’...

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4454 days

#10 posted 01-09-2012 03:45 PM

A planer is a necessity if you want the creative control of choosing what thickness lumber you want to use in your project. I don’t own a jointer, and I can honestly tell you I rarely feel like I’m missing anything. But I will say I build mostly small projects, and usually buy S2S lumber. If I had ready access to inexpensive rough stock, and built more furniture, I’m sure I’d want a jointer.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 3383 days

#11 posted 01-09-2012 04:29 PM

Sadly, you really need both. Or neither. You can certainly flatten and thickness boards with a router and a jig, And, you can edge joint boards with a router. Or you can go old-school and use handplanes (although a set of planes will cost a pretty penny and there’s a steep learning curve). But life is so much simpler when you have both a jointer and planer.

I have a 6” jointer. I face join rough stock then use it to put one square edge on it. Then it’s off to the planer to make both faces parallel.

The sad thing about this is that you really need a bandsaw that can resaw at least a 6” wide board to make it all pay off.

And that’s the thing. There’s a synergy from having more than one tool. That synergy reaches maximum when you have the trifecta of tools.

And then there’s the really expensive part, a workable space in which to efficiently use these tools. Woodworking is an expensive hobby.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View brtech's profile


1054 posts in 3158 days

#12 posted 01-09-2012 04:41 PM

Find a lunch box planer on CL. It will change your woodworking life.

The jointer is a great tool, but the planer is a necessity. I may be more lucky, or my local sources may just be great, but all the rough lumber I’ve gotten lately went through the planer just fine, no sled needed, and I was able to table saw the edge easily. I have a 6” jointer, and I use it when the wood is just too warped to slide through the planer, or the edge is just too wavy to run against the TS fence, but I haven’t needed to do that for a while.

For the planer Makita, Rigid, Delta, Dewalt are all fine. My Rigid cost me $200.

I do think the bench top jointers aren’t worth it. Get a substantial tool. 8” is really more expensive than 6”. Again, used on CL is your best bet. It’s not too hard to find any problems before you buy. Bring a straightedge and a really good square, make sure the tables are flat, the fence is square, and run some wood through it. Listen for bad noises, make sure all the adjustments work, etc. Lots of info on this here, search for it. I got a nice 6” Jet for $225.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2721 days

#13 posted 01-10-2012 06:23 PM

Thanks to everyone for the input. Looks like a router sled is in the near future. Now, I just need to wait for my tax refund, then beg my wife to let me invest in a planer.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Manitario's profile


2703 posts in 3119 days

#14 posted 01-10-2012 06:38 PM

Sooner or later most beginner WW, myself included ask this question on LJ’s, as it is a substantial investment for both a planer and a jointer; you can get by with hand planes or elaborate router set ups to joint and plane your wood, but really, the easiest way is to just buy a jointer and planer.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2929 days

#15 posted 01-10-2012 07:19 PM

I’m hesitant to suggest this, given the mixed reviews. But there are combo machines out there. For example the 12” JET is about $2000.

Now, this sounds like a lot of money but if you think about it, I bought a Dewalt lunchbox 735 and a Powermatic longbed 6”.
Planer $569.00
Stand $138
Infeed outfeed $50
Jointer $1000
So I spent $1757 for the pair and they take up a good bit of room in my tiny shop for 6” and 13” capacity.
Just sayin.

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

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