I would consider myself an intermediate wood worker. I can frame a
wall and put up trim pretty good but when it comes to doing nice
detail work from scratch I am a novice. I plan on taking on some
interesting projects over the next year or so. First up will be some
panel doors. I'm starting small with a two panel door about 2 feet
square that will be for a kind of dumb waiter. I plan on doing some
full size doors later.
My shop and my budget are small. I'm going to need a router table,
which will be my next big purchase for the shop. I have a TS, router,
mortiser, and plainer. The question is, can I get away without having
a jointer? I've read a lot on this site about plaining and jointing
and how you can do both things with different tools. I'm just not sure
how it's done.
I will be starting with full dimensional 2X6 lumber for the rails and
stiles. If I use the plainer to get two parallel sides then lets say I
reduce it down to 1.75 inches. I now have a 6 inch wide board that is
1.75 inches thick. I now need to get the two sides square to the top
and bottom. (Is my thinking right here?) Could I just rip it on the
TS, or would I use the router and router table with a straight bit. I
would assume that the bit would need to be at least 1.75 inches high.
Is any of this right?
For this first small door the panels will be some what narrow so I
won't need to glue up boards for the panels. There is a chance I will
need to glue some 1X stock for panels on the larger doors. Would a
non-jointer method be adequate for gluing up panels?
Any insight is appriciated.
The last two seem quite luxuriant for a small budget. Why did you not
get a combination jointer/planer?
Ripping with the TS (if you have a proper blade and set it square)
should be OK, but it's also fun to use a jointer plane, although it
takes practice to get the jointed edge square to the face of the
Especialy for making wide panels a jointer plane is very useful,
because careful thinking can make any non-squareness a moot point.
But the tablesaw is also good enough for that task.
I've gotten away without one for a few years. Using dimensional you
probably can also. You must choose your wood with care as you will have
limitation that a jointer can fix. Eventually you will see that it is a
very handy tool to have, but don't let it deter you from starting.
Dimensional lumber can often be planed to thickness and end up with parallel
sides because it is flat enough. Rough saw hardly ever is, but some dealers
will give you a face and edge at a minimal or even no charge.
There are any number of ways to true up stock using a router, hand plane, or
what have you. The jointer is, since it is purpose built, is the easiest
method but certainly not the only way. I would suggest a visit to the
library for some subject matter to study and some practice on some of the
options before you go for the gold, but it certainly can be done.
Possibly you can practice by making a router table. There's no real need to
spend any huge amount of money on one, especially if the budget is tight The
actual requirements for a table that will work for a router is pretty basic.
Some 2 X 4 legs, pine edges, pine stretchers, and a melamine top and you can
have a table for under $50.00. Another $20.00 or $30.00 for an insert (which
usually comes with a pattern for cutting the hole) and you are in business.
You won't be getting your picture in Fine Woodworking's gallery with it but
it will do the job.as well as a store bought one costing three or four times
Spend the money you save on a used hand plane. You'd be surprised what you
can accomplish with one.
You don't even need anything fancy for a fence. For what you are talking
about, and for now, an L shaped 3/4" plywood fixture long enough to go to
the sides of the table so it can be clamped will do the job just fine. If
you want/have to joint with it, just glue a playing card to the outfeed side
and set back the infeed side the thickness of the card and you have a
Note: "Spelling counts." That word is 'planer', not 'plainer'. The
root is 'plane', as in geometry.
short answer: "it depends." :)
Comment: *anything* you can do with a power jointer, you can do with
an (un-powered) hand plane. It _does_ take (often 'considerably') longer,
and may require a higher degree of skill, but it _can_ be done.
FIRST, you have to get one side "flat and straight", a standard planer
can't do this, at least not easily. This is usually done with a jointer.
"Surface jointing", as opposed to "edge jointing", but the same piece of
The pressure applied by the feed rollers in a planer can tend to
'flatten' out bowing/cupping _while_ it is running through the
machine, but the material *returns* to the bowed/cupped shape after
the pressure from the rollers is removed. Thus, what you get is a
*bowed/cupped* board of uniform thickness. Less than desirable. :)
Only after you have one flat/straight surface, can you 'thickness plane'
to get the other surface flat/straight and -parallel- to the 1st surface.
Also, once you have -one- surface flat/straight, you typically use a jointer
to get one edge flat/straight, and _perpendicular_ to the flat/straight
surface. This is 'edge jointing'.
There *is* a gizmo that will let you do this operation on a table-saw.
A couple of clamps that let you attach the 'rough edged' board to the
side of one that -has- straight edges. You run the straight edge of
that 'good' board against the saw fence, and cut off the far edge of
the new board. Voila! A straight edge on it, _without_ needing a
straight edge _on_that_board_ for reference. This gizmo is advertised
in a number of the woodworking magazines, for about US$20. The 'theory'
looks good, but I haven't actually used one.
Lastly, you use a table saw, or possibly a radial-arm saw, to 'rip' the
2nd edge parallel to the 1st edge.
A table-saw is the 'commonly used' weapon-of-choice for this operation.
"Right" is in the eye of the beholder. <grin>
There are a plethora of "ways that work". Some are 'easier' to execute
than others. Some depend on having specific pieces of equipment and/or
A good clean-cutting table-saw blade will leave an edge that is, for
all practical purposes, "ready to glue".
If the saw-cut edge isn't good enough, one can touch up with a hand-plane.
or a router. Or maybe even a sander, if you're *careful* with it.
*IF* you're willing to 'pay the price' to buy 'dimensioned' lumber (which
already has 4 'finished' sides/edges), you can avoid a _lot_ of the above
This will be a general response to everyone who posted.
Thanks for the help. First off, the wood. I'm not using dimensional
lumber because I have a ton of 100+ year old redwood lumber that I
will be using. Gobs of 2X4, 2X6, 2X7, 1X12, and several odd sizes. The
doors and other trim work will be going in a house of the same age.
With the exception of the two oak fireplace mantels the entire house
is made of redwood. Any new trim or doors should be also.
Someone asked why I'm not using a planer jointer. Mainly because I
don't know what one is, and it sounds like a tool I probably couldn't
afford. Someone else mentioned that having a planer and mortiser
seemed elaborate for a small shop. My feeling is that to get a custom
5 panel door made would cost me several hundred dollars even if I
supplied the lumber. I need at least 3 doors for my house. One hundred
dollars for the mortiser and $375 for the planer seem like a small
expenditure if I can successfully make the doors. Trying to mortise
with a drill, hammer, and chisel seems like a nightmare for a novice
like me. I've read about mortising with a router, and that was my
first choice but the mortiser was only $100 and I can always sell it
on Ebay when I'm done with it.
I think the best suggestion was from someone who suggested I should go
to the library and read up on this. A lot of the jointer alternatives
are prefaced with "If you are skilled" or "if you have this $200
tool". I'm neither exceptional skilled nor do I have the special
tools. If I was going to spend $200 for a gizmo to make another tool
act like a jointer than maybe I should just go the extra mile and get
the jointer. I've seen entry level jointers in the $300 range.
After reading all of the response to this post and many other posts
here on jointing and planing it seems that if I can get one flat face
I can do what I want to do with the tools I have. The lumber I will be
working with is clear, straight grained, old-growth redwood. To my
unskilled eye most of it, or at least enough of it, seems pretty
straight and even already. I think I'll be able to make it work with
out the jointer if I get a good blade for the TS. Any suggestions of a
good blade for a 10" TS?
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