The Difference Between a Jointer and a Planer

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This is the Difference Between a Jointer and a Planer. In this post, I’ll show you how to point out the difference between a jointer and a planer, so that way you know exactly what you’re looking for when you decide to pick one up. Enjoy.

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Difference Between a Jointer and a Planer

The-Difference-Between-a-Jointer-and-a-PlanerWhen you are new at woodworking, the names for all the tools can be a little bit confusing. Also, it’s not always obvious by what the tool looks like what it does. All of this leads to confusion, and that can make it tough for a new woodworker.

One of the biggest issues that you run into is seeing the difference between a jointer in a planer. After all, these tools are fairly similar, and they actually do nearly the same job.

This post, I’ll show you the difference, so that way when it comes time for you to select between these two tools, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for. This way, you can make a good decision, and you don’t have to worry about accidentally buying something that you won’t use.

See Also: 10 Helpful Tips for Buying a Used Planer

First the Similarities Between Jointers and Planers

First, it’s important to cover the similarities between a jointer and a planer. Once you know how they are alike, it will be actually a lot easier to spot the differences. After all, it’s the differences that makes them two different tools.

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The first similarity is what they are used for. Both the jointer and the planer are used to create smooth surfaces on pieces of wood. It may not be obviously apparent why this is important, but as you start to build things, you’ll figure it out right away.

When you have a smooth surface, it’s easier to create joints. Pieces of wood glue together the best when they are two flat surfaces that meet together perfectly, without any gaps in between. This is why making flat surfaces is really important.

Another similarity between these two tools is that they both use a set of knives or inserts that spin, and that’s how the wood is removed. In fact, other than the housings, this part of the tool is identical on both units.

See Also: 6 Genuine Reasons You Need a Jointer Planer in Your Shop

Best Uses for a Jointer

Now for the differences. There are times when it makes more sense to use a jointer instead of a planer. The most common of those times is when you need to straighten out the long edge of a board.

Jointers in general are more narrow than planers. This is because the manufacturers know that most of the time a jointer is going to be used for the edge of a piece of material rather than the face. Edges tend to only be a few inches wide at the most, hence the size of the jointer.

Jointers are also good for flattening out the faces of pieces of wood, as long as they are not wider than the size of the cutter head. Most of the time, this is going to be about 6 inches wide at the most.

If you are going to be flattening pieces of wood that are fairly narrow, or just using it on the edges, then a jointer is more than likely the tool for you.

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See Also: 9 Trusted Tips on How to Laminate Wood

Best Uses for a Planer

Now onto the planer. This is essentially a jointer just in a different configuration, and with a wider surface for cutting. It’s designed so that way you can pass boards through it flat, which trims their faces smooth.

The best use for this tool is for flattening out the faces on larger boards. Most of these tools start out at around 12 inches wide, and they go up from there. This means you can get a pretty large piece of wood through the planter.

Contrast, it’s a little bit more difficult to straighten up the edges, because the board would have to go through vertically, and that can get dangerous. You can make a jig for this purpose though, and it will help out quite a bit.

This way, you can buy a planer and with a quickly made jig from scraps you can also get some of the benefits of a jointer. It’s not quite the same, but in a pinch you’ll be able to put flat edges on your boards.

See Also: How to be a Modern Renaissance Woodworker

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What’s a Jointer/Planer?

Some of you will have already jumped to this conclusion, and yes there is a thing out there called a jointer planer. Basically this is the name for a jointer that has just a little bit wider cutting head than necessary.

It allows you to do both joints in operations and cleaning operations, though it still doesn’t do quite as well as a dedicated planner. However, for a hybrid tool, it’s a pretty good deal for a beginning woodworker.

If you think you might use a little bit of both, it’s a good idea to pick up a jointer planer, because it will essentially give you two tools for the price of one, though again a tiny bit limited in capacity on the planer.

See Also: 50 Awesome Reasons to be a Woodworker

Which One Do You Need in Your Shop?

So, which one is the best for you and your particular shop? It really just depends on what types of wood you need to smooth, or actually where on the pieces of wood you need the smoothing to be done.

If you know that the majority of the work you need has to be done on the faces of boards, then I recommend getting a planer.

For the few times that you need the jointing capacity, you can always make a jig. However, the wide surface will give you plenty of room to planing down even bigger boards. This extra capacity is really nice, and the few times you needed it will be worth it.

If you are really only interested in the edges of your boards, and making them straight, then pick up a simple jointer and don’t look back.

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Your Action Assignment

Now that you know the difference between a jointer in a planer, it’s time to get out in your shop and take action. Start doing a little research, and pick up one or both of these tools to add to your arsenal.

Once you have a new tool in the shop, you start to find uses for it immediately. Also, if you are not used to planing your wood before making joints, you’ll find that your joints go together a whole lot better too.

That means better looking projects, and joints that are almost invisible to the naked eye.

If you have any questions on the difference between a planer and a jointer, please post a question and I’ll be happy to answer them. Happy building.

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  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
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