Planer or jointer?


I only have a planer, and am strictly an amateur, so my opinions are biased by those limitations... :)
A planer can usually accomodate a 12" or better width, while jointers are usually limited to 6" or 8" widths. I frequently use my planer to plane down 12" wide panels (glued up from smaller boards). I couldn't do that with a 6" jointer. In fact, there are times the 12" width seems too small.
A planer will make one surface smooth "parallel" to the opposite face. So planing a board with a warp will make it smooth on both sides, but it will still be warped. At least that's the theory. In my experience, I can usually plane out any warping by flipping the board on each pass through the planer. I have seen plans for homebuilt carriages that allow a planer to work more like a jointer, but I haven't had a reason to do that so far.
A common use for a jointer is cleaning up the edges of the boards to glue up panels in the first place. But, I've glued up dozens of panels with boards fresh from the tablesaw, and never had a problem. On a few occasions (with slightly cupped boards for instance), ripping the board on the tablesaw leaves a less than 90 degree angle on the edge. This leaves a bit of cupping in the panel when it is glued up. But, running the finished panel through the planer a few times flattens it out beautifully. In some cases, I'll run the boards through my planer on edge first (a few at a time) to clean up the edges, but I rarely find it necessary.
Other than planing glued up panels, my planer gets used a lot to clean up rough lumber. For instance, I took some old redwood 2x10's from an old deck, removed all nails, and planed them down to make a variety of shelves and a small bookcase. That old recycled wood made some beautiful finished projects.
I also recycle a lot of 1x6 T&G pine and cedar boards leftover from building our house. I typically cut off the tongues and grooves, glue them into panels, and plane them smooth.
A couple of years ago I needed some 10' long clear cedar boards, 8" wide, and 1/4" thick that I could bend into an arch for window trim. I considered buying a bandsaw, but found it cheaper and easier to just buy an extra 3/4" board and plane them down to the 1/4" thickness. The extra board cost me $40. A bandsaw would have been well over $200. It turned a lot of wood into shavings, and took a fair amount of time, but it was easy to do on the planer and turned out great. A jointer wouldn't have had the capacity to do this.
Anyway, my vote is for the planer. I suppose it depends on the type of projects you build, but my planer is one of the hardest working tools in my shop.
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