Wood jointer or planer – Which one should you get first if you could only afford one at a time? That’s a question many beginner woodworkers ask, and it’s a good question.
A jointer and a thickness planer are two important woodworking power tools that you’ll need if you intend to dimension rough lumber in your wood shop or home garage.
It will be nice to have both at the same time, but if you don’t have money for both, you can always settle for one until you get enough money to get the other one.
The question is, which one should you get first? To answer that question, you should know the difference between the two.
That will help you determine which one you need and which one you can do without for the time being.
What is a jointer used for?
A jointer is a woodworking power tool for flattening a wood along its length. It’s used for making one face of a lumber or board flat.
It’s used together with a thickness planer for dimensioning rough lumber so they can be flat and square. The primary job of a jointer is just to make one face of the board flat and square. That’s all it does.
When you buy rough lumber, you get some that are warped and twisted along the length of the lumber.
If you put that warped lumber into a thickness planer machine and plane it, it will still come out warped.
But with a wood jointer machine, you can flatten one end of that warped lumber, and then you can take that lumber into a thickness planer, and the planer will do a good job of making the other warped side parallel to the side you’ve flattened with the jointer. The board will then come out flat on both sides and square, ready for use.
Next is the thickness planer.
What is a thickness planer used for?
A thickness planer is a woodworking machine meant for making both sides of a board parallel and for reducing the thickness of the board.
The name say it all. It’s for thicknessing or reducing the thickness of a board. That’s why it’s also called a thicknesser.
When you get a board that’s too thick for the project you have in hand, you pass it through the thickness planer to reduce the thickness and also to make both sides flat and parallel to each other.
One thing you must note is that, a thickness planer makes both sides of a board parallel to each other. That is why when you feed a warped or twisted board through it, the thickness of the board will be reduced, but it will also come out warped or twisted, because the thickness planer makes both sides including curves in the wood parallel to each other.
This means you get a consistent thickness throughout the length of the board once you’ve passed it through the planer.
So, if you have a warped board or twisted board, you need to pass it through a jointer first to get one side of the board flat first, before you feed the board through the planer to get both sides flat and reduce the thickness at the same time.
The question now is:
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Which one should you get first? The jointer or planer
If you ask me, I’d say you should get the thickness planer first, if you can only afford one at a time. You’ll have more uses for a thickness planer than you would for a jointer.
You’d always have the need to reduce board thickness, but you might not have need to use the jointer to produce flat edges, especially if all the boards you have are straight boards.
If you don’t have a jointer, you can always opt to buy straight boards or only dimensioned lumber with flat faces.
Just avoid buying warped or twisted lumber and you will not have much use for a jointer. But even if you only buy dimensioned or straight lumber, you’ll always have use for a thickness planer.
You’ll always have the need to reduce your board thickness to fit the project you have in hand. That is why you should go for the planer first.
Then later, you can get a jointer.
Also, even if you have flat faces of wood but the edges of the board are not flat or square, you can always use a circular saw with a guide, a table saw or a hand planer to get the edges square.
This is not a perfect alternative to a jointer, but over time you’ll get your jointer and you’ll have both of them to work with.
Of course, this is my own personal opinion, but it’s an one I’ve arrived at based on the scale at which you’ll use each of them. If you have an opinion about this, you can always tell us about it.
The jointer or planer, which one will you get first?