Jointer vs Planer | Differences & Winner

If you are a novice woodworker on a limited budget, you might be confused about buying a jointer or a planer for the next project. 

For this reason, it is important to know the basic differences between these two pieces of machinery. But, hold on! It is not as simple as it sounds because it is not about choosing one unit over the other. 

In fact, it is more about debunking the prevailing notion that both these tools serve the same purpose and realizing that they are meant for different tasks. As such, you are going to find out that for the best woodworking results, using a jointer and a planer on the same project is the key.  

So, to make things clear for you, we have explained the differences between these machines in detail. Plus, we have also mentioned our favorite picks, so make sure you read till the end.    

Now, without further ado, let us jump right in!      

Jointer vs Planer

Lithium-ion cordless plate joiner, special milling machine tool only works in the workshop using sipes

Do You Need A Jointer Or A Planer?

If you manage to secure prefinished wood, you don’t need either of these two machines. But, most of the time, that’s not the case, is it? You either head out to your local DIY store or lumberyard to collect unfinished or rough wood. 

Even though the wood might be durable and strong, you must deliver a proper finish to ensure that it is suitable for woodworking projects. In the best-case scenario, the unfinished wood can have uneven and rough surfaces, making jointing a hassle. At worst, prolonged storage can make it unusable.   

This is why most professionals agree that jointers and planers are some of the most important woodworking tools. A quality jointer can get rid of the twisting or warping; on the other hand, a planer can smoothen the surface to make the wood ready for use.

Key Differences Between A Jointer And A Planer

Now, let us take a brief look at the key differences between a jointer and a planer.

    • A planer is more expensive than a jointer
    • Jointers have knives attached to the table that cut wood boards from down below, while planers cut the wood from above 
    • A jointer flattens a single face and squares a single edge, while a planer provides consistent thickness and creates parallel surfaces.

Overall, a jointer is a practical option for preparing the wood. It will deliver a flat face and square one edge of the wooden board so that you have no issues with attachment. This comes in handy, especially when you are building a bookshelf or a table. 

On the flip side, if you want the wood to be consistent yet have parallel edges and faces, we strongly recommend going with a good-quality planer. It also proves useful to ensure that the finished product is sturdy and durable.   

What Does A Jointer Do?

A jointer is a woodworking tool, used to ensure that the edge of a wooden board is square and straight. Consequently, you can use it to attach different boards to build furniture. 

But, we must mention that you can construct furniture even without a jointer, so why should you use it? Well, it’s essential to move a hand plane over the wood which sounds easy but is actually far from it. It requires a lot of skill which makes it challenging to get the desired results. 

Not to mention, it is very time-consuming, which is why even skilled woodworkers ignore this process. And, this is where a jointer comes into play; it makes squaring the edges effortless and quick. On top of that, it removes cuppings, warps, and twists from the wooden board.

Pros Of Using A Jointer
  • Less expensive than planers
  • It comes with adjustable settings to manage the cutting angle
  • Easiest and quickest way to remove warps and twists
  • Saves you the hassle of squaring edges by hand
Cons Of Using A Jointer
  • Sometimes it leaves rough faces that can be treated with a planer
  • It does not guarantee uniform thickness throughout the wooden board

What Are The Various Types of Jointers

There are various types of jointers available on the market; here is a quick overview. 

  1. Hand Jointers

Hand jointers are easy to use, and are the most flexible options. With a hand jointer, you can trim wood from any direction, whereas a conventional wood jointer lets you shave from a single end. 

  1. Longed Jointers

As the same suggests, longed jointers have long arms that are used for fine trimming. It does not have too many adjustable features, except the infeed, which can be altered according to your requirements.

  1. Closed Jointers

These jointers have a closed base which helps protect the motor and the cutter head from dust. Moreover, they are regarded as the safest jointer model as the closed section helps prevent potential injuries. 

One of the main advantages of using closed jointers is that their sturdy and heavy-duty base acts as a shock absorption system. Hence, it delivers much-needed stability and proves perfect for shaving woods ranging between 6″ and 16″. 

  1. Table-Top Jointers

Table-top jointers do not come with an outfeed and are usually placed on a table. 

  1. Open Stand Jointers

In open-stand jointers, the motor is usually uncovered and offers no shock absorption or protection. Also, they are noisier than other joiners.  

  1. Benchtop Jointers

Benchtop jointers are the most popular type of jointers; they look just like tabletop jointers, except they come in closed forms, and are much smaller in size. They are perfect for shaving wooden boards that are under 6″ in length. 

Best Jointers

These are the top 3 jointers currently available on the market. We have provided detailed reviews for each of our recommendations after extensive research and testing. Furthermore, we guarantee that these 3 products will deliver excellent value for money. 

  1. Grizzly Industrial ‎G0725

Grizzly is one of the leading manufacturers of woodworking tools in the US, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is one of our top recommendations. Featuring a cast iron table, the Grizzly Industrial ‎G0725 is one of the most affordable, user-friendly, and accurate jointers that woodworking professionals can hope to get their hands on.

Grizzly Industrial G0725-6" x 28" Benchtop Jointer
  • Motor: 1-1/2-HP, 110V, single-phase
  • Cast iron table

Weighing around 80 pounds, it is the heaviest motorized jointer on this list, but don’t worry, as most of it is because of its reliable cast iron construction. Moreover, Grizzly is well-known for its durable and sturdy products, and this jointer definitely lives up to the expectations. 

On top of that, it is powered by a robust 1-1/2 HP motor that ensures that the cutter head delivers accurate and flawless cuts at 10,000 RPM. But keeping in mind that first-timers may struggle to control their powerful performance, the designers have included a 45-degree adjustable head to follow the cutting line. 

Now, we did not come across any significant drawbacks while testing this product. However, the only minor gripe we have against this unit is that it’s challenging to lower the speed based on the project’s requirements. 

That said it is one of the best options available out there and is certainly worth your buck. 

  1. Cutech 40160H-CT

Next up, we have another quality jointer from the house of Cutech. Reasonably priced, easy to use, and packed with useful features, this could be the jointer you had been looking for. 

Cutech 40160H-CT 6" Bench Top Spiral Cutterhead Jointer
  • Powerful 10 Amp 120V motor
  • Spiral Cutterhead with 12 HSS Inserts

You will find that it sports an eye-catching steel construction, ensuring that it’s highly durable. THis comes in handy while working on heavy-duty tasks, meaning you don’t have to worry about it wearing out. 

Moving on, its spiral head cutter is powered by a top-quality 10 amp motor, which ensures it delivers satisfying finishes every time. Speaking of finishes, you will be pleased to know that it is fully adjustable, thereby allowing you to tilt the head effortlessly between 90 degrees and 30 degrees.   

We found that one of the key highlights of this model is its lightweight design. Weighing about 40 pounds, it is extremely portable and proves useful if you decide to upgrade your workshop. 

Naturally, we did not come across anything that could be labeled as ‘faulty’. However, if we had to nitpick, we would say that the fence does not stay square to the table. But considering all that it offers, it is an ideal choice for professional-grade cutting and DIY projects. 

  1. Delta 6″ Bench Top Jointer 37-071

Next up, we have the Delta 6″ Bench Top Jointer 37-071, a pricey yet noteworthy mention on this list. It is totally worth the investment as it delivers fantastic results, suitable for most woodworking tasks. 

6" Bench Top Jointer 37-071
  • Durable cast iron construction increases weight...
  • Precision-machining of the table and fence ensures...

It has 2 blades that allow the 6″ wide cutter head to deliver a cutting depth of 1/8″ at a phenomenal speed of 20,000 cuts per minute. On top of that, it has much-needed adjustable features that make it easy to use. 

Apart from this, it is highly durable and compact, which makes it perfect for small workshops. Needless to say, it is one of the top-rated jointers on the market. 

Factors To Consider When Buying a Jointer

These are some of the important factors that you need to consider to make an informed purchase based on your requirements. 

  1. Bed Size

The bed size is one of the most crucial factors that you should keep in mind while buying a premium-quality jointer. It basically means how wide the jointer can trim at a time. 

For most woodworking jobs, a 6″ benchtop model works just fine. As mentioned before, benchtop models can shave wooden boards up to 6″, which makes it an ideal choice for DIYers and woodworking professionals. On top of that, they are a lot cheaper than other jointers that deliver a similar output. 

For instance, a jointer that features a bed size of 8″ is almost double the price of a 6″ model (with all the other features being the same). So, if you intend to work on materials that measure less than 6″, a 6″ benchtop jointer will do the job easily.

  1. Power

The power of the motor should also be kept in mind when buying a jointer, as, without a robust motor, you will not get the desired results. Hence, we strongly recommend opting for a model with a minimum of 1 HP of motor power for good performance. 

You should note that a powerful motor will trim wooden boards faster, thereby reducing your work time. But that doesn’t mean it should compromise on output. 

We suggest choosing a model that comes with adjustable functions, allowing you to alter the cutting force based on the type of task.  

  1. Cutting Depth

Cutting depth is directly proportional to the efficiency and productivity of the machine. In simple words, it refers to the number of passes needed for a superior finish. A unit with a higher cutting depth will need fewer passes to get the job done, guaranteeing efficiency. 

  1. Portability

Even though portability might not be the first thing that comes to your mind while buying a jointer, it is still a major factor. For instance, if you need to lend the jointer to your friend, a 40-pound model would make more sense than a 300-pound unit. 

Not to mention, a lighter model is easier to maneuver, thereby ensuring that you can work from different angles for the best results. Hence, the unit will be versatile and capable of handling various tasks. 

  1. Build Quality

Always choose a model that sports a sturdy and durable construction, as the build quality of a jointer is an indicator of its longevity. Long story short, a sturdily built model lasts longer than a flimsy product and performs much better. 

What Does A Planer Do?

After using a jointer to make a flat surface and a square edge on your wooden board, you will have to tackle the unfinished portions. This is where a planner comes in handy. Of course, you can run the wood through the jointer again but the results will not be that great. 

While using a jointer, it is next to impossible to make sure that all the surfaces are consistently thick and correctly aligned. However, in a planer, the cutting head is positioned right above the flatbed. 

You can use the output and input rollers to tweak the speed at which the wooden board moves across the cutting head. This ensures that you get an accurate, smooth, and consistent finish than what you would have gotten from a hand plane or a jointer.

Pros Of Using A Planer
  • Delivers a superior finish compared to a jointer
  • Easy to use
  • Highly useful if you want consistent thickness
  • It provides the quickest way for creating parallel surfaces
Cons Of Using A Planer
  • Slightly more expensive than jointers
  • Not appropriate for squaring edges
  • Often you have to make multiple attempts to achieve the desired level of thickness
  • Not suitable for getting rid of cupping, twisting, and warping

Types Of Planers

Planers are mainly categorized under 2 classes – electric/motorized planers and hand planers. 

  1. Electric Planers

As the name suggests, electric planers run on electricity. They are highly efficient and easy to use. Usually, electric planers come with a powerful motor and can handle heavy-duty tasks with precision. 

  1. Hand Planers

Hand planers are suited for light-scale tasks. They don’t run on electricity and require manual energy to deliver the necessary output. Moreover, it is possible to further divide this planer into three categories – pocket planer, trimming planer, and block planer. 

Best Planers

These are some of the best planers that we have personally handpicked for you.

  1. Delta 22-590

For over 100 years, Delta has dedicated itself to designing top-quality woodworking machinery. And the Delta 22-590 portable planer is no exception. 

Delta Power Tools 22-590X Bench Top Planer
  • Delta designed three-knife cutter head delivers an...
  • Snipe reduction system features a patented...

Priced at under $550, it is one of the most affordable options on the market. Therefore, it is an ideal choice for new woodworkers who are not looking to invest much. 

The planer sports a 3-blade cutter head that can handle heavy-duty projects to stand the test of time. Understandably, users can make deep cuts up to 13″ by 6″ on wooden boards. 

But especially pleasing is its incredible accuracy, thanks to its patented lock system, which is a bonus. It prevents the model from wobbling, ensuring that you can follow the cutting line without any difficulty. 

Also, the outfeed and infeed table is designed to keep the snipe to a bare minimum. Having said that, the only downside we found to this product is its heavyweight design, which affects portability. 

Nonetheless, we were quite impressed with all that it offers.    

  1. Makita 2012NB

Our next item is yet another robust planer from Makita, a Japanese powerhouse that deals with the manufacture of exceptional power tools. And on that note, allow us to introduce you to the 2012NB 12″ portable planer. 

Makita 2012NB 12" Portable Planer
  • Compact with less weight for easy transporting to...
  • Engineered for faster, easier blade changes

Featuring an automated head clamp, this device delivers unprecedented precision, and performance. For starters, it is powered by a vigorous 15 amp motor, which offers satisfying results. 

Also, the 2-blade cutter deserves mention for its no-load speed of 8,500 RPM. Speaking of blades, you can easily change and adjust them in no time which is something rarely seen with other planers. 

Along with that, it has an excellent feed rate of 28 feet per minute and works easily on thick wooden boards. However, what makes this model stand out from the other options on the market is its quiet operation and top-class efficiency. 

We were also happy to find out that it is pretty quiet. In fact, even at full throttle, it does not get louder than 83 dB, which is something all woodworking professionals will love.  Needless to say that it delivers a terrific finish without any difficulty.      

  1. DeWalt DW734

Founded in 1924, Dewalt is one of the most prominent names in the power tools industry, and the DeWalt DW734 thickness planer is another prestigious addition to this list. Integrated with unrivaled precision and abundant power, this exceptional product is an option that no professional woodworker or DIYer would want to miss out on. 

DEWALT Benchtop Planer, 15-Amp, 12-1/2-Inch, 3-Knife Cutter, 20,000...
  • Powerful 15 amp, 20,000 rpm motor of the...
  • Three-knife cutter head with 10,000 rpm...

Now, it is the strong 15 amp motor that caught our attention right from the get-go. The motor has sufficient capacity to make its unique 3-blade cutter move at speeds of 10,000 RPM and offers a cutting depth of 1/8″. 

Other than that, if you cut boards of the same thickness every day, there is a turret depth stop to help you preset the size as per your requirements. This not only makes your work a lot easier but ensures outstanding precision. 

Factors To Consider When Buying A Planer

Buying the right planer is easier said than done; there are many factors that need to be kept in mind so that you can make the correct choice. So, let us briefly look at some of the governing factors for selecting a planer

  1. Convenience And Efficiency

Always go with a model that is able to perform the necessary duties within a time limit, and has all the significant features. Furthermore, before buying, ask yourself why you are purchasing a planer; this will provide much-needed insight to help you narrow down the model you will need. 

But, no matter what, always choose an electric planer that does not get overwhelmed even when used on heavy-duty tasks. In other words, it should be super-efficient and convenient to use. 

  1. Cost

The cost varies from one model to another and also depends upon the overall quality of the machine. Having said that, we always advise users to go with a unit within their budget. 

Do note that it should also include the installation and maintenance cost in case you are purchasing a motorized planer. However, do not aim for the cheapest model out there as buying cheap machinery can prove to be detrimental in the near future. 

  1. Ease Of Use

Last but not least, always opt for a product that is user-friendly so that everyone in your workshop can use it easily. 

Safety Precautions While Using Jointers And Planers

These are some of the safety precautions that you must follow while using either of these tools. 

    • Always wear safety goggles while using the machines
    • It is crucial to wear hearing protection as well
    • Don’t forget to wear a protective foot cover
    • Make sure that the stop and start buttons are within reach
    • If you can, replace square cutting heads with round ones as they are safer
    • Ensure that the fences are in their position before starting work.
    • Clear your table off all tools before working
    • Make sure you apply a sufficient amount of forward and downward force while pushing the blocks 

Frequently Asked Questions | FAQs 

We are pretty sure that by now, you have learned the nitty-gritty of jointers and planers. However, if you still have some doubts, we strongly recommend reading this section. Here, we have tried answering some of the frequently asked questions. 

What makes motorized planers better than hand planers?

As far as functionality is concerned, there is not much difference. A hand planer does the same job as an electric/motorized planer, but using the former demands certain skills that can only be acquired through regular practice.

On the other hand, with a non-manual machine, the user doesn’t need to invest much effort to achieve top-notch cutting accuracy.

How to prevent wood warping?

So far in this guide, we have mentioned warping, cupping, and twisting quite a few times. But, if you are new to woodworking, you may have a hard time understanding these terms. They are nothing but deformities on wooden boards that occur due to changes in the humidity level.

It happens when you store your wooden boards in a closed room; moisture seeps into some parts more than others, affecting the quality of the material. However, some parts dry faster than others. And, the parts that dry faster also shrink quicker, thereby changing the shape of the board.

This means your perfectly shaped wooden board is now cupped, twisted, and bent, making it unsuitable for use. So, to avoid this, you need to store your wood in a dry and cool room.

Also, we suggest putting heavy weights on top of them to stop cupping. That being said, if your wood is still warped, it would be best to use a jointer to fix it.

What is the use of the fence on a jointer?

The fence on a jointer guides the board through the cutter blades. Moreover, it can be further adjusted for cutting bevels and angles.

How can I prevent snipes?

If you are new to woodworking, you might not be aware of the term ‘snipe.’ Well, it is nothing but a slightly deeper cut on the rearmost area of the wooden board.

High-quality planers are designed to ensure that they do not snipe, but in lower-range models, snipe remains to be an issue, which you can avoid by sanding the board. Hence, you will get a better finish by sanding and it proves useful if you want to apply a stain.

How can I prevent the wood from sticking in the planer?

New models don’t usually have this problem, but with time the speed at which the wood travels through the machine slows down and stops altogether. To prevent this from happening, you need to apply some paste wax to the bed. After applying it, let it dry for 15 minutes before starting the machine; you will be surprised by the result.

Carpenter showing pieces of walnut and maple wood that have been fused together for making edge grain cutting board

Final Thoughts And Winner

We have come to the end of our informative guide; hopefully, it has helped you gain an insight into the differences between jointers and planers. 

So, should you buy a jointer or a planer? Well, if budget permits, you should purchase both to ensure that the wood is flawlessly prepared for your project. But, if you only use a jointer, there will be no way of ensuring parallel and consistent surfaces, no matter how many times you run the wood through the tool.  

On the other hand, if you only use a planer, you won’t be able to square off edges to attach multiple wooden boards together. Not to mention, if your wooden board has warpings, twisting, and cuppings on it, only a jointer will be able to fix it.  

However, if you are a new woodworker, we suggest investing in a planer first and then saving up to buy a jointer.   

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