November 4, 2020

Jointer vs Planer: What's the Difference & Which to Choose

Anyone experienced in woodworking understands the importance of flat, uniform boards. Rough cut lumber needs four of its sides to be planed; a requirement known as surfaced 4 sides (S4S). This preparation removes any warping and dimensional inconsistency from the wood to ensure your project goes smoothly. To create an S4S board, the question often arises whether to use a jointer or planer. This might be confusing because both pieces of equipment appear to have the same function. This is not entirely the case. Although they operate on similar principals, each have their unique role, and both are needed to get optimal results.

What is a Jointer?

A jointer is used to square edges and flatten single faces of wood. Cutech’s jointers accomplish this by using spiral cutters that mill the board from the bottom. In short, this machine is used to straighten out any imperfections in the wood such as bowing, twisting, and/or cupping of wood while shaping its edges. After a few passes, a surface will be perfectly flat. Once this is done, the wood can be reoriented with the jointer fence to square up whichever edge is facing the spiral cutters.

What a Jointer Can't Do

A common misconception is that a board can be flipped over and milled on the other side to achieve symmetry and uniform thickness. This, however, is not the case. While you will get two flat surfaces on either side of the board, the thickness of the board will not be consistent lengthwise. To use an analogy, picture yourself cutting a piece of paper into a square freehand with a pair of scissors. While your cuts will be straight, the edges themselves may not be completely parallel with opposing edges creating a lopsided square. So how do we ensure that both sides of the wood are parallel? This requires a planer.

Learn more about CUTECH’s benchtop jointer with spiral cutterhead.

  • Efficiently make the boards' face and edge straight and true
  • Spiral cutterhead provides easier knife changes & lower noise volumes than the straight knife cutterhead
  • CUTECH's 2-sided inserts sitting 90 against the cutterhead support results in a smoother finish
  • Any damage to individual inserts can be changed out. In comparison to straight blade machines, any damage will require the costly replacement of all knives in the machine

What is a Planer?

The role of a planer is a simple but important one. In short, its primary function is to create two flat plane surfaces (hence the
name “planer”) in wood so that they could be joined. The working mechanism behind a planer is as follows. Rollers apply pressure and guide wood through an array of spiral cutters that mill the surface layers of wood. This is a secondary process to jointing that ensures uniform thickness and symmetry. We can think of planing as “fine tuning” the work done by a jointer. Back to the analogy of cutting paper, once you have cut out your square, you want to ensure that all opposing sides are parallel and cut to a desired thickness. While using scissors can create straight lines and descent angles, i.e., the jointer, you would want a device that is able to ensure that the paper forms a perfectly symmetrical square, i.e., the planer. A planer is all about precision and symmetry and the Cutech product line can be programmed to achieve any desired thickness within very tight tolerances.

What a Planer Can't Do

Although planers serve a very useful purpose, there are some tasks that are best left to other equipment. A planer's primary function is to take thick boards and make them thinner. The board must already have a flat surface so that it can be placed downwards on the bed in order for the planer to take off the top layers. A planer is also not ideal for woodworking which may involve cutting angled edges. Also, planers use pressure rollers to pull boards which will not function correctly if the boards are cupped, warped, or twisted. Addressing both of these issues is a job best suited for a jointer. In short, anything beyond thicknessing a board is not an ideal application for a planer.

Learn more about CUTECH’s benchtop planer with spiral cutterhead.

  • Efficiently make the boards uniform in thickness
  • Spiral cutterhead provides easier knife changes & lower noise volumes than the straight knife cutterhead
  • CUTECH's 2-sided inserts sitting 90 against the cutterhead support results in a smoother finish
  • Any damage to individual inserts can be changed out. In comparison to straight blade machines, any damage will require the costly replacement of all knives in the machine

Jointers and planers work symbiotically to create the precise cuts of wood required by serious woodworking hobbyists. This allows a greater variety of wood to be used that may not have been an option before with pre milled lumber from big box stores.

Jointer-Planer Combo

A jointer/planer combination machine uses a single cutterhead to joint and plane boards. Typically the jointer is mounted on top with a planer directly underneath. The combination jointer/planer is a popular machine in Europe due to its small footprint. In recent
years, it has gained the attention of US woodworkers as a way to save space in small workshops.

Comparison Between Jointer, Planer & Jointer-Planer Combo

Jointer PlanerPlanerJointer-Planer Combo
1. Flattening single surfaces
2. Edge jointing
3. Chamfering
1. Even Thicknessing
2. Unifying boards in thickness
Saves on floor space

BT

Keep Reading

2 comments on “Jointer vs Planer: What's the Difference & Which to Choose”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CUTECH and the Cutech logo are registered trademarks of Shinmax Industry Co., Ltd. Limited Company
© Copyright 2020 - Cutech - All Rights Reserved
envelopephone-handsetmap-marker