Do I Need a Jointer and a Planer at the Same Time?

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If you are a DIYer or a professional woodworker with a limited budget, then you will not want to stack up with tools in your shop. Rater having tools that you don’t frequently use, you will go for must-have tools.

When it comes to having a planer or a jointer, people seem to be delusional about which should be owned first. As both of them are pricy, many cannot afford to buy them at once first. If you are in the same team or you have other reasons, you may be stranded with the question – ‘Do I need a jointer and a planer at the same time?’

Let’s deep dive into this confusing subject so that you can finalize your decision about which side you should pick.

When a Jointer and a Planer Is Needed?

If you have a woodworking project in your hand or want to build furniture on your own, you will need to get lumber. Buying lumber from a lumberyard or mill doesn’t make you prepared to start your project immediately. Often the lumber pieces come rough. You have to mill the lumber ready to use for your required projects. You can buy milled lumber at high prices, but that doesn’t solve the problem. If there is a humidity change between the lumber buying place and your home or shop, the lumber can show warping defects.

A board should be parallel on all surfaces to be used in a project. Otherwise, you cannot implement a project properly. Even with a good-looking board that has squared edges and smooth surfaces, you can find defects. The defects I am mentioning here are warping defects. A board can be twisted, bowed, cupped, or crooked is the warping defect of that board.

Some boards come with thickness problems. You will find that one end or edge is thicker than the other. These boards are no way near to being ready to use. A board should have uniform thickness or width all over the board to use on making something. Fine-tuning the board is the solution for both thickness problems and warping defects.

For fine-tuning or also called milling the lumber, you will need both a jointer and planer. Start with a jointer for flattening one face and one edge of the lumber. Use the flat face as a reference surface to plane the other face with the planer. The same should also be done to the edges; use the flat edge as a reference and plane the other edge. After you are done with the planer, you have to go back to the jointer again. Use the jointer for flattening the remaining edge and face to make a perfectly squared board.

Both a jointer and a planer work combinedly to the right the wrongs of your lumber. You have to go through several steps in milling lumber. In some steps, you will require a jointer, and the others require a planer. Alone a planer or a jointer can only do specific tasks, and that is the subject of discussion for the next two topics.

What a Jointer Can and Cannot Do?


When it comes to squaring boards, the jointer is the right tool to do so. A jointer also gives boards a nice flat surface either on the face or on edge. You can say that a jointer makes a board prepare to run through a planer. As a planer need at least one flat surface of a board to run it through the planer, a jointer extends its helping hand in this case.

inserting wood into jointer

Warping defects of a board is solvable with a jointer. You will not find a flat face or a flat edge when a board has warping defects. This causes problems when running a board through the planer, and you will not get the expected or satisfying result. A jointer will flatten one face or edge of the board. So, you can use that flat face or edge as a reference surface when passing the board through the planer.

A jointer doesn’t apply any downward pressure as a planer does. So, whatever the board shape is, you can easily run it in a jointer. By riding the board’s face against the jointer fence, you will get a straight and 90-degree edge.

removing wood from jointer

The downside of a jointer is, it cannot make the same thickness throughout the board. One edge or end of a board can be thicker than the other edge or end. Passing the board in a jointer will make squared edges, but the thickness problem will remain the same as it was before. No matter how many passes you make in the jointer, the thickness inequality of the board will not go away.

The jointer is made for removing twists of boards and make uneven surfaces flat. For a planer, a jointer is a helping hand. And after you are done with the planer, a jointer gives a nice finishing touch to your boards.

Know More: 5 Best Coping Sled for Safe and Clean End Grain Cuts

What a Planer Can and Cannot Do?


A planer is used for making two parallel surfaces. You can make both faces and edges parallel with a planer. A board with each surface is parallel with its opposite surface means the board has consistent thickness all over the board. Having this type of board is greatly necessary for any woodworking project.

inserting wood into planer

You can achieve a specific thickness of a board that is required for your project with the help of a planer. What a planer does is, shaves wood from a surface using the blades. You can adjust how much depth of cut the blades should make. By adjusting the cut depth, you can get desired board thickness.

As a planer reduces the thickness or makes a consistent thickness of a board, it is also recognized as a thickness planer. Unlike the jointer, there are some portable planers. These portable planers are known as benchtop thickness planers. If you have a small shop or a limited budget, buying a portable planer will help save money and space.

inseting wood into planer

Now a board can be twisted, bowed, or cupped. The result after running that board through the planer will be affected for the board shape. A planer follows the shape of the reference surface at the surface you want to plane. If the reference surface is flat, the planer planes the opposite surface flat and makes both surfaces parallel. If the reference surface has a warping defect, the planer will plane the opposite surface by following that defect. In this case, the planer cutters will take out extra wood shavings from some places. This situation is termed as thickness planer snipe.

removing wood from thickness planer

Different shapes of woods produce different types of snipes in the planer. To avoid these different snipes, you need to at least one surface flat, and this is where a jointer helps. Flattening a surface is a task of a jointer, but you can also make a planer to do this in some tricky ways.

Know More: Thickness Planer Review

Final Decision: Jointer or Planer or Both

Having a jointer and a planer is the best option to choose if you have no limitations. But for some reason, if you want to get only a jointer or a planer, then which one should be? In this situation, my suggestion for you will be to get a planer first. Then at a later time, get a jointer for yourself. Now, you may be wondering what the reasons that provoked me to give you that suggestion. Proceed further to know those.

 The planers consume less space in your shop if you have a small or compact woodshop. They are also easy to find and less expensive than a jointer. In some ways, planers can do the work of jointers. You will need shims and sleds to do this. But this will be time-consuming and annoying as a planer isn’t meant to do the work of a jointer.

wood after planing

Most woodworkers initially start with a planer as a joiner is bigger and pricy. The planers can also be portable. So, you can move them to make space on your workbench when you are not using them. But you cannot do this with a jointer as they are quite heavy to move from one place to another.

If you are looking for some recommendations for planers, then you should get a DEWALT thickness planer. You can also check WEN thickness planers as they provide quality thickness planers at an affordable price. If you have planning to get a jointer, then the WEN also manufactures jointers with a spiral cutter head that you are recommended to check.

Know More: Cutech Planer Problems and Common Planer Problems with Solutions


‘Do I need a jointer or do I need a planer?’ – is a common question for DIYers and anyone who is going to start woodworking. I have analyzed this question with each possible option so that you can get help taking the final decision. The comment section is open if you have any opinions to share.

Happy woodworking!

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