• Now accepting applications for new studio spaces at NextFab.  Learn More.
Member Login

As you delve into the intricate world of woodworking, two vital tools that can elevate the quality of your projects are the jointer and the planer. Understanding the distinct functionalities and applications of these tools is crucial for any woodworker looking to refine their craft and produce seamless, professional-grade work. Let’s dissect the roles of a jointer and a planer, helping you make an informed decision on which is more suited to your woodworking aspirations.

The Role of a Jointer in Woodworking

A jointer is an indispensable tool designed to create a flat surface along the length of a board. One of the primary keywords associated with a jointer is “flattening.” When you feed a warped or twisted piece of wood through a jointer, the infeed, and outfeed tables, alongside the cutter head, work in unison to straighten the wood. This is critical for jointer operation, as it ensures that one face of the board is perfectly flat before any further operations.

The jointer is also known for its proficiency in “edge jointing.” When preparing boards to be joined edge-to-edge for a wider panel, the jointer excels in squaring up the edges, a step essential for a seamless and strong glue-up. This makes it a favorite for tasks like tabletop creation or any project where a broad, flat surface is desired.

When to Opt for a Planer

While the jointer is about establishing a flat base, a planer’s role – another buzzword – is “thicknessing.” Once you have one face of a board flat from the jointer, a planer comes into play to make the opposite face parallel to the first. This is essential in achieving consistent thickness throughout your lumber, which is vital for dimensional accuracy in project assembly.

Planers are also associated with the term “surface finishing.” Even if you purchase pre-surfaced lumber, a pass through a planer can clean up any marks or scuffs, ensuring a pristine finish for staining or sealing.

NextFab Wilmington, DE makerspace - woodworking department

Jointer vs. Planer: Which One Do You Need?

The answer to this question lies in the kind of work you intend to undertake. If you often work with rough lumber or reclaimed wood that requires initial flattening, a jointer would be your go-to tool. It’s especially useful for those focusing on projects that demand precise angles and flat surfaces, such as fine furniture making.

On the other hand, if your projects often require lumber of varying thicknesses or you need to clean up pre-surfaced boards for finishing, investing in a planer is the move to make. It’s a staple for anyone who is into making cabinetry or working with veneers.

Can You Use a Planer as a Jointer?

A frequently asked question in the woodworking community is whether a planer can be used in lieu of a jointer. While there are methods to use a planer to flatten a board, it is a workaround and not without its pitfalls. It requires additional jigs and doesn’t replace the precision a jointer can offer.

NextFab North Philadelphia makerspace - Wood Preparation: Jointer and Planer & Wide Belt Sander

The bottom line is that both a jointer and a planer are instrumental in achieving professional-grade results in woodworking. Ideally, having both would cover all bases: a jointer to start with a flat reference face and edge, and a planer to bring the wood to uniform thickness and finish. However, if you must choose between them based on your project needs or budget constraints, assess the type of work you’ll be doing most frequently and let that guide your decision.

Mastering woodworking involves understanding and utilizing the right tools for the job. Whether you lean towards a jointer or a planer, remember that the quality of your work will not only reflect the tools you use but also the skill and knowledge you bring to your craft. So, choose wisely and craft away!

For your next woodworking project, head to the NextFab woodshop and find all the tools you need!

In partnership with FORMATION. Media