Jointer Vs Planer | Which One is Right for Your Needs?

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Sure, you could always buy regular lumber for your woodworking projects, but that’s not exactly the most efficient way to spend your money. Buying rough lumber is way cheaper. However, it’s useless for any woodworking until it’s transformed and this is where the jointer and planer tools come into their own. They enable you to buy the cheapest wood and very quickly turn it into something you can use for your projects, and over time the savings made pays for the tool.

The question we get asked a lot is: Do I need a benchtop jointer and a wood planer or will one be ok? This article will help you to answer that question.

Here’s a rundown of what we’ll provide in this Jointer Vs. Planer article:

  • First, we’ll explain what each tool is and what they do
  • Next, we’ll explore the reasons why you need a jointer or a planer
  • Then, we’ll tell you about their differences
  • And finally, we’ll take a look at their plus points and also their drawbacks you might need to know about

Sound good? Let’s begin!

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What is a Jointer?

A jointer is a heavy-duty machine used to get both a straight edge and a square edge of rough sawn lumber pieces before joining them to create a larger panel. One may argue that it is possible to do this without a woodworking jointer by using a hand plane across the wood piece instead of moving the wood through the machine, which is true.

However, you need to be a highly-skilled woodworker to pull such a move. This locks out beginners or intermediate woodworkers who may not have acquired such skills. It is also quite time-consuming even for those with the right skills to avoid using a jointer.

You need a wood jointer to quickly square edges, saving you time and effort. You will also use this tool to remove twists, warps, and cupping from boards.

What is a Planer?

Running your rough cut lumber through a jointer leaves behind one flat surface and a perfectly square edge. You need a way of dealing with these before going ahead with your project. Whereas it seems viable to run the same board through a jointer plane repeatedly, the process requires a lot of effort, time and may, in the end, prove ineffective.

A jointer will hardly ensure that the wood surface is parallel or of the same thickness, which calls for a planer. A planer tool has a flatbed, which provides a body for the board to ride on, and a cutting head right above it.

It offers a more precise and smooth finish thanks to the infeed table and outfeed table that manage the board’s speed through the cutterhead to achieve the desired thickness.

Why Do You Need a Jointer or a Planer? 

Before we look at a detailed comparison of the two, you need to know why they are essential woodworking tools. You may not need them when you choose pre-finished wood. However, most woodworkers and DIYers prefer unfinished rough lumber, which has always proved to be strong, durable, and inexpensive.

Despite the advantages, such pieces of lumber are not fit for different projects unless they are prepared. They usually have uneven surfaces that can cause a big challenge when it comes to jointing. The wood may also come twisted, warped, or even cupped, rendering it unusable.

You need these tools to turn unusable wood into usable wood. A jointer will help you work on the warping and twisting while the surface planer will smoothen the surface, getting your wood in ready condition.

Video: Jointer Vs Planer – What Does Each One Do?

Differences Between a Jointer and a Planer


Joiners and planers are used for different purposes. Planers control the thickness and creation of parallel surfaces, whereas jointers are used to square a given edge or flatten a single face while woodworking.

One should also note that jointers can even finish wood or boards to roughly the same thickness. However, you will still need a thickness planer for high accuracy levels since it ensures that the boards have the same thickness all through. A benchtop planer is not only quicker than a hand planer but way more accurate.

Jointers are also used to remove warping and cupping, making wood assume a usable form, whereas planers are used to achieve smooth finishing.

What Are The Pros of Jointers and Planers?


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Cutting mechanism

These two tools cut differently owing to the location of the blade in each. Jointers cut wood from below since the cutter head blades are mounted on the table, whereas planers cut from above thanks to the strategic location of the knife.

Order of usage 

Jointers are mostly used at the start of a woodworking project to get the wood into a usable condition. It is used to create a perfectly flat surface and square one wooden edge, which allows you to connect the piece of wood to other boards.

On the other hand, a planer steps in if you need all the edges and faces in your woodworking project to be parallel and consistent. This is necessary if you intend that your final creation will be more durable.


These two items differ in price. Jointers are usually cheaper than planers since they play a relatively simple role in woodworking. However, this does not mean that they are dispensable.

A jointer table is fully adjustable, giving you a chance to change the cut angle depending on your needs. You can therefore achieve delicate curves provided that you know how to use one well.

A jointer offers users the most comfortable way of dealing with warping and twisting, allowing them to turn unusable wood into usable boards. It also saves users the effort of squaring edges by hand, an approach that may seem ineffective in the end.

What Are The Pros of Jointers and Planers?


A jointer is fully adjustable, giving you a chance to change the cut angle depending on your needs. You can therefore achieve delicate curves provided that you know how to use one well. 

A jointer offers users the most comfortable way of dealing with warping and twisting, allowing them to turn unusable wood into usable boards. It also saves users the effort of squaring edges by hand, an approach that may seem ineffective in the end. 


Planers allow woodworkers to achieve consistent thickness, which is necessary for given projects. 

It is much easier to use a planer as compared to a hand tool. This tool has a hassle-free working mechanism, which comes in handy for heavy projects. 

You may use a jointer in place of a planer, but you will not get the characteristic smooth finish. 

What Are The Cons of Jointers and Planers?


Jointers do not offer a guarantee of constant thickness across the price of wood or board. 

You will still have uneven surfaces, which call for a planer. 


A planer cannot remove warping, twisting, or cupping, which renders a piece of wood unusable. 

The average planer is more expensive than a quality jointer. 

You have to spend more to reduce the chances of planer snipe.

Jointer vs Planer Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use a jointer on both sides?

It’s important to use the correct tool for the job. A jointer can only be used on one side of a board because it ensures that they are square at each corner but cannot make both sides parallel with each other as a planer does.

Can you use your hand planer as a jointer?

While it is possible, they are not designed for that purpose and will require some skill to take on this task. Powered electric planers are better suited for raw material preparation; however, if you’re skilled in the trade of woodworking then we would suggest buying a manual or handheld plane instead.

What is a thickness planer used for?

Woodworking machines are an essential tool for any carpenter. But some tools come with more unique uses than others–a thickness planer is one of those specialties that you may not be familiar with yet! A woodworker might need a machine like this to trim boards so they’re all the same size and flat on both sides, as well as smooth out small imperfections from previous cuts or saw marks. One thing’s clear: once you see how great these things can work, it’ll have your eyes peeled open at every job site!

What is the difference between a surface planer and a thickness planer?

A surface planer, or jointer, is one machine that can be used to get boards flat. It’s not just for the top side of your board either – it has two sets of blades and a cutter head which set into the bed surface on each end so they trim both sides at once! That being said though if what you’re looking for is consistent depth throughout an entire length without cutting any more than necessary then go with our suggestion: A thickness planer!


Should You Buy a Jointer or a Planer? 

It is quite evident from the pros and cons of these two items that you may need both of them. Both are limited in regards to specific functions. Even though a jointer plays an important role, you will probably end up with opposing edges, calling for a planer.

On the other hand, you will need a jointer when doing anything other than dealing with a board’s thickness. Planers cannot rectify warped or twisted boards. Therefore, if you are thinking of opening a workshop, we advise that you buy both tools or seek out a jointer planer combo.

A planer jointer combo is one tool that performs both roles, but they are expensive, and so we recommend full research before buying one. Knowing the types of jobs you have to do will also determine whether you will get value for money and whether you can get by with just one or the other. It’s a personal choice for you.

Here are some other articles you may like:

10 Best Electric Hand Planers of 2021 | Honest Reviews & Buying Guide

9 Best Benchtop Planers for 2021| Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Jointer for the Money – Top 5 Reviews and Buyers Guide

Other Wood Planers to Consider

Walter Snyder