Jointer vs Planer- Which One Should You Pick?

Last Updated on October 24, 2021

Two common tools you will end up using when woodworking is the jointer and planner. Both are indispensable tools that, despite having some similar parts, have different working mechanisms.

Many starting woodworkers often get them confused and don’t know which one to use at times. This jointer vs planer guide will help you understand more about the two different tools as well as listing scenarios where each will be helpful.


A jointer is a machine that can smooth edges and flatten boards. It has two long parallel tables with a cutting tool inserted between them. A motor drives the cutter head.

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Also, the two parallel tables are called infeed and outfeed. Moreover, the cutting blades are adjusted with the outfeed table while the infeed allows you to adjust how much wood you want to remove. Some jointers have parts called fences that allow you to adjust the angle when working. Both tables are adjustable.

A jointer works by removing wood at a set height. To use a jointer, a woodworker has to align the wood with the infeed table. Then they need to apply pressure and push it towards the outfeed table.

This will allow the cutting tool to cut through the surface of the wood and remove it. For very rough wood, you may need to do this multiple times. A jointer can also be used to straighten some bent pieces of wood. This is done by shifting a part called the guard.

The piece of wood is placed on the jointer, and successive cuts are made at each end. By carefully approximating the cuts, one can straighten the wood. There are some different types of jointers that can be found. They are:

1. Closed-Stand Jointers

They are characterized by having the motor in an enclosed base, hence the name. This is the type of jointer you will most use coming in different sizes for different applications. It features good stability, and so is a good beginner’s choice.

2. Open-Stand Jointers

A less expensive alternative to the previous one. They feature better portability but at the cost of being noisier.

3. Benchtop Jointers

A smaller and less powerful version meant for smaller woodworking projects.


Planers are used to shape wood and make the surface of wood smoother. Some are muscle-powered, while others have a motor to make the job much easier. Planers consist of a horizontal iron blade and a lever to help secure said blade.

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It has a part called the tote, which is the main part one uses to grip the machine. Also, it has an adjustable wedge called the frog that allows one to adjust the angle of the blade to match the surface.

There are many different types of planers ranging from differences in size to what type of material they are constructed from. Some of the most used are:

1. Manual Planers

They are hand-powered and come in many different sizes. These are used for smaller projects as it is much easier to use and guide them.

2.Electric Planers

They come in both cord and cordless versions. Also, they are very powerful and used for larger projects. Cordless versions are usually more expensive but more convenient to use.

3. Stationary Planers

As the name might suggest, they are larger than the usual planers and have their own tables. Instead of pressing it over a surface of wood, they are fed planks of wood. They are mainly used for complex projects.

Jointer vs. Planer: The Differences between Them

Reading up on the two, you might notice that there are some key differences. They are:

Controlling the thickness

In the case of a jointer, you cannot control the thickness of the piece of wood at the end. When using a planer, however, you can shave the wood off to make the plank have the desired thickness. Due to this limitation, a jointer cannot ensure that two pieces of wood being joined will have the same thickness.

Removal of Distortions

Planers cannot remove distortions from a board of wood. So you might need to sand the plank of wood you want to plane if you want to ensure a smooth operation.

Jointers can be used on distorted or warped boards. Normally boards that are distorted are seen as unusable, but jointers can help remove them and make them as usable as anything you can find on the market.

Round Edges

Planers cannot work on the round edges of a piece of wood. If you want to smoothen out the edges of a board, your only option is using a jointer.

Making Workpieces Parallel to Each Other

Jointers cannot make two pieces of wood parallel to each other because of how they work. On the other hand, planers can perform this task well.

When Do We Use a Jointer?

A jointer is primarily used if you tend to recycle or use fresh lumber. Usually, lumber will not be instantly workable due to the rough texture and distortions on the surface. A jointer can be used to remove all those and make the wood easier to work with.

This will cut down costs for you if you work regularly. It can also be used to straighten out wood. If you need to prepare the lumber for a finer finish or make it easier to work with, then a jointer will help you achieve this very easily and fast.

However, if the work you need to do needs to be precise or intricate, a planer will hinder you as they’re not made for cutting wood precisely. Also, if you plan to connect two edges together, a jointer will not help you.

When Do We Use a Planer?

Benchtop Planer

The main use of a planer is to take uneven pieces of wood and level it. With a planer, one can adjust the thickness of the wood to their requirements, so any serious, precise work will benefit from a planer.

Once the wood has been cut free from imperfections, a planer can be easily used to level the wood. If you need to connect several wood planks together for a project, your best hope is to use a planer to level the edges and make them parallel so that they fit together.

A neat application is that you can bevel door edges to make them drag less with the ground. This will allow the doors to open and close smoothly.

Using Both a Jointer and Planer

Expert woodworkers will often have both a jointer and a planer. A jointer is used first to make the wood much more accessible and workable with the planer. Both times to ensure that the wood is properly chipped, you will need to pass the board of wood over the blades of the jointer and planer multiple times.

Note that this will reduce the thickness of the board you are working with. Uneven bits of the wood can be removed by feeding it to the planer again.

What Is the Jointer-Planer?

Having read the previous part, you will probably be aware of the fact that you might need to buy both a jointer and a planer. There is good news for you in that there exists a tool known as the jointer-planer that combines the features of both tools.

It looks similar to a jointer, but it has another height adjustable bed inside that allows the cutter head to perform both functions.

This allows you to use the jointer with a greater degree of precision as you can adjust the thickness of the wood to meet your requirements. While this seems very advantageous, note that they are very expensive, and their ability as a planner is reduced as they often come in smaller sizes.

Which One to Choose?

It should be noted that both are important as they serve different purposes. You should try to get both, but in the case that you can only get one of them, then it is recommended that you get the planer as it is much more versatile and will serve you more than a jointer.

I hope this article has cleared up most of the confusion regarding these two tools. If you are aspiring to be an expert craftsman, you should get to know your tools well and master them.

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