A jointer makes a board flat, it can also true the edges for glue up, cut
rabbit joints, cut tapers and curves as well.
A planer makes both sides parallel and reduces the thickness of wood.
Maybe you don't for flooring if the boards are relatively flat and you
have a good blade. My initial woodworking training included a jointer and
I am convinced that I must have one, although I have been getting by with
The sequence I was taught is this:
1. flatten one face on the jointer
2. true one edge on the jointer, you can rough it out with a TS, cut
opposite side parallel with TS, then joint to width
3. use planer to make sides parallel and get within a hair of final
4. tool the wood
5. sand/scrape (I usually use 60-80-120)
7. final sand/scrape (150-220)
I've probably left something out, but I'm sure someone will remind me.
You can substitute hand planes during steps 1-3, it's just more labor
On 15 Aug 2003 03:03:31 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (RickHlavka) wrote:
This is a confusion that arises through shortened terminology. In
full, the names are:
Planer - anything that planes
Surface planer - planer with knives and tables in one surface.
Jointer - narrow surface planer with a vertical fence
Thickness planer - planer with knives above the table
You _need_ a thickness planer. You will get wedges with the others.
If you saw the boards fairly flat, and they stay that way when drying,
then you don't need a surface planer.
If you have cupped boards, then a thickness planer will flatten them.
Not using excess pressure helps (don't try to _iron_ the wood flat !)
and sometimes some hand plane work to knock the high spots down. But
you _can_ remove most cupping on a thicknesser.
If you have twist, then you can't take this out with a thicknesser and
this is where a surface planer is useful. Personally I look twice at
the board. Boards (in most timbers) shouldn't twist, so it's either a
drying fault or an unstable board. Often I rip this in half (if I can)
to get the smaller useful and stable part out, rather than machining
it perfectly flat and knowing it will twist again tomorrow.
You don't need a jointer for hardwoods or the "timberyard" part of the
process, because we rarely need squared edges. But many of us have
them for joinery anyway, so we use them as surface planers.
Gary Rogowski who writes articles for Fine Woodworking, has addressed
this issue and agrees that, if it existed for the same price and size
range as the other tools, a 12 or 13 inch jointer would be the perfect
companion to the 12 or 13 inch thickness planer. You bring up a
surface planer -- interesting. Now I know that you have to have a
dead flat surface extending a ridiculous distance out each end of the
jointer for a long board. This adds up to a very large and expensive
machine. Of course the planer was in this category just a few years
ago. The benchtop thickness planer brought this machine down to a
reasonable size and price. Somehow it just seems that a 12 inch
"jointer" or as you describe, a surface planer might be created along
the lines of the innovative thought that went into a benchtop
thickness planer. It might not do a 6 ft board the way an 8 or 12
inch jointer would, but it might -- if not to bed -- could possibly
put this discussion into a light sleep. What do you think?
On 20 Aug 2003 20:59:16 -0700, email@example.com (Eric Anderson)
Isn't that where the European combination planer / thicknesser is
heading ? These cost the same as 12" thicknesser + 6" jointer, but
work on 10" overall. If there were some affordable 12" combinations,
I'd be considering them.
One problem with this is that the thicknesser is underneath the
surfacer tables. If these tables are heavy (wide, long or substantial
cast iron) then they get awkward to move out of the way.
there are also very nice combination machines, that use the same
rotating blades both for planing/jointing and thicknessing, by the
simmple effort of having an infeed/outfeed table, a (removable)
vertical fence and an additional thicknessing table below that
setup. It works very well (at least my fathers Metabo machine, now
about 20 years old) and saves a lot of shop space (and money...).
Steps for truing stock.
Absolutely necessary. A flat face to work from.
Joint (make flat and straight) one face (reference face) so you have
something to true (reference) the remaining three sides to. Not to be done
on a planer because the feed rollers will push out any warp and it will
reappear as the stock exits the planer. For the same reason use very little
down force when jointing.
Joint one edge with the reference face against the jointers fence. This will
give you a straight edge that is at 90 degrees to the reference face. Also
an edge to reference the next edge.,
Rip a second edge on the table saw with the reference face against the table
and the reference edge against the fence. Try to do it on the jointer and it
will give you a straight edge but not one necessarily parallel to the first
Now you can plane the piece to a proper thickness with the reference face
flat down on the planers feed table. Since the reference face is flat the
planer has no warp to press out so the face being planed will be not only be
flat but parallel to the reference face.
The jointer performs the two most critical steps in the process (the
reference face and edge) but, with sufficient dicking around, there are work
arounds. but, without the dicking around, the planer will not perform the
functions of a jointer and the jointer will not perform the functions of a
How long will this urban legend be around?
C'mon over and I'll buy you a case of your favorite if you can smash the cup
out of a piece of rough 4/4 maple. Then I'll show you how you really have
to flaunt good sense to do it to 3/4 pine.
BTW, I doubt any lunchbox planer out there can apply more pressure on a
board than a 210 lb human bearing down with pushblocks at the jointer.
Oh yes, and one face does not have to be absolutely flat to feed the planer.
It just has to sit flat.
What ever you say bubba. We'll ignore the fact that the PSI pushing down on
the stock as it feeds through a planer is concentrated on the very small
contact area of the feed rollers as well as the fact that if it ain't flat
going through the planer it ain't going to be flat as it comes out. We'll
also pass on the fact that proper feeding of stock through a jointer
specifically precludes pushing down with any great force on the stock. It's
neither desirable nor necessary.
We'll also pretend that the comment "> Oh yes, and one face does not have to
be absolutely flat to feed the planer. It just has to sit flat.." actually
makes some kind of sense and that there will be an efficient and accurate
way to get a true edge with such a board.
Where do these people come from???????????
Run a twisted board through a planer, get another twisted board of
equal thickness all along it's length. The planer will not remove the
twist, only jointing one face and THEN planing to thickness will
remove the twist.
Not if you shim it. I watched our instructor do it in a class last
weekend - two shims taped to the high corners of a twisted board.
2 passes later, the topside sat flat on the table. Then he ran it
through on the other side and voila! A flat board.
Now that I've seen it done, I know I can do it, too.
Locking the material with a shim on a stationary table is much easier than
trying to shim a 6' board that is going to move on a short table under the
If you have a consistent cup, it may work, but if you have some odd twisting
at different points, it is going to be much more difficult to get it right.
Only a couple of feet of the board is supported at a given time.
The shorter the board, the easier it is. The thicker the board, the less
likely to get pressed down if cupped. I've tried taking very light cuts on
some pine boards with cup and had no luck. It is just too soft and easily
flattened by the rollers to work properly. On 8/4 oak, I had no problem.
I don't have a jointer yet and I've gotten by, but there have been times
that life would have been much easier with it. I've also passed on some
cheap wood that could have easily been used with a jointer, but would have
been a PITA with just a planer.
No matter how bad a piece of wood may be twisted, someone here has been able
to get it perfect with an Xacto knife and beer can opener, but it sure is
easier with the right tools.
I think it boils down to people who learned with a jointer and people who
didn't. There are many workarounds for not having a jointer, but you have
to recognize they are workarounds. I learned with a jointer and will always
see uses for one and consider it a priority in the shop for precision
There are going to be plenty of people on here that tell you otherwise (due
to ignorance or justifying the money they spent) saying that you can't live
without a jointer but I do just fine. I don't want to dedicate the shop
space to a machine of such limited usefulness. I do have a planer and would
not want to do without that.
Let the flames begin.
now THAT's an attitude that qualifies for the pot calling the kettle
black! (in case you can't figure it out, I'm referring to your idea that
folks are ignorant for having a jointer). Green monster, perhaps? Grow up.
Now, if you're flattening your lumber with hand planes, you may not
need one, but otherwise you're hilarious.
Anyone can "live without" any tool. A jointer simply makes truing
stock faster, easier, and more accurate than workarounds.
Barry (justifying the $375 I spent on a jointer)
No flame. AAMOF, I could live without a jointer, and did for a long time,
but I wouldn't want to. So happens I recently took delivery of a new
Powermatic 54a, which replaced an old benchtop model. As far as "justifying
the money", read on and see that even SWMBO had to agree that ! have
summarily, if luckily, done so in this case.
I had recently picked up 43 rough walnut "blanks" a local sign company gave
me for the asking. They were half-moon shaped pieces about 48" long X 3"
thick, likely S2S1E at one point and I got the rough edge and the curve
only. The only way to make these things useful was to begin by jointing the
rough edge and going from there.
Each of these 43 blanks, after being jointed and planed, resulted in S4S
walnut stock with dimensions of 3" X 3" X 36" ... perfect table leg blanks.
At local hardwood lumber dealers prices of $11.75 b/f for S4S walnut blanks
of this size and grade, the new jointer basically paid for itself, and made
another $380, in less than a day.
I could of done the same thing with a hand plane and realized a greater
gain, but I wouldn't have.
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