Anyone venturing into woodworking will know the importance of flat uniform boards. Rough cut lumber will need 4 sides planed and squared, otherwise known as surfaced 4 sides (S4S). This preparation not only removes any warping in the wood but S4S will ensure that your project comes together beautifully. Now a board has six sides but for now we are only concerned about four of the sides (two surfaces and two edges). A question that often arises is whether a jointer or a planer is best to achieve S4S. At first glance these two machines seem to accomplish the same task, in actuality they work together to produce boards that are flat with the same thickness throughout.
What is a Jointer?
Let's begin with the jointer. This piece of Cutech machinery is designed with spiral cutters that mill the board from the bottom. Its job is to straighten out any bowing, twisting and/or cupping in the wood. A few passes through the jointer and the board is perfectly flat on that surface. Then by placing that flat surface against the jointer fence, the jointer will square up the edge facing the spiral cutters. A common misconception is that from this point forward, you can simply flip the board over and mill the other side. Doing so will achieve two flat surfaces, however the thickness of the board will vary from one end to the other.
What is a Planer?
This is where the planer comes into play. Its shining role is making the second surface parallel to the jointed surface and ensuring that the board is the same thickness throughout. This is achieved with rollers that pushes the board down while spiral cutters mill the top of the board to mirror the flat surface the jointer created. Any desired board thickness can be programmed with the Cutech planer. It is also often asked why not just use the planer to square up the boards. While the planer excels at thicknessing the board, it does not address any warping in wood. By using just a planer, the wood will be uniform in thickness but may rock from side to side or may have a gap from the warping of the wood.
Together, the jointer and planer opens the door to the woodworking hobbyist to work with a greater variety of wood that may not be available with the pre milled lumber from big box lumber stores.