Jointer vs Planer – What are the differences?

It’s easy to confuse jointers vs planers because they offer similar functionality but the differences between the two are substantial. Most professional wood workers own both because they’re designed to serve for different purposes. We’re going go over the differences to help you better understand what each can do for you. This way you’ll know which one you should purchase.

Jointer vs Planer – What do they do?





A jointer is designed to make pieces of wood perfectly flat. If you are looking for a piece of wood that has two flat sides, but not need a consistent thickness, run both sides through a jointer.

A planner, on the other hand, is designed to make pieces of wood have consistent thickness. You should use a planer if you want a piece of wood that has consistent thickness, but doesn’t have to be perfectly flat.

Jointers are used to flatten the wood. Planers are used to solidify the flattening. You need both to create the flattest boards. Jointers can take any uneven piece of wood and turn it into something flat. Planers can take the flat wood you got out of the jointer and then make the thickness consistent. It all starts with jointers. If you only have a planer you could make the wood have consistent thickness but it wouldn’t be the flattest.

The best way to create flat, consistent wood is to use both a jointer and a planer. Simply start with the jointer and then run the flattened piece through a planer. There are also machines that offer combined functionality. They are called “jointer planer combos”. We have a list of recommended jointer planer combos.

Jointer vs Planer Differences

Check out the video below to see the differences in a jointer vs planer:

Why can’t you just use a planer to flatten a board?

To put it simply – that isn’t what a planer is designed to do. The main reason a planer can’t flatten a board has to do with the way that it is built. A planer has feed rollers that are designed to follow the curvature of the board without changing it at all.

A planer can be used to remove the cup out of the board as long as the board still remains relatively thick. The thinner the board becomes, the more difficult it becomes to effectively remove the cup from the board. However, the planer is never really able to get the twists and/or bows out of the wood, which is why a jointer is used to make the board perfectly flat.

Why is a jointer able to flatten a board?

The reason why a jointer is more effectively able to flatten a board has to do with how the board gets fed into the machine. Instead of feeding the wood along feed rolls, wood fed through a jointer is run along a perfectly flat surface. It is important to not apply too much pressure to the board when you are feeding it through or else it will remain twisted and/or warped and you will have to run it through the jointer again.

Which one is more important?

If you had to choose one of them - jointers make all the difference. They’re better at flatting wood because they have a better feeding mechanism for the boards. Jointers don’t have rolls but they utilize high-pressure flat surfaces that flatten wood with efficiency. You should be careful about applying pressure when you’re using a jointer because it might remain warped and you’ll have to repeat the process. If you aren't interested in a bulky machine, check out benchtop jointers. They are small and portable and offer nearly the same functionality of large jointers.

Jointer vs Planer Key Points

Jointer – Machines used for flattening. They put your wood through flat surfaces. You have to be careful not to apply unnecessary pressure.

Planer – Machines used to provide constant thickness for already processed wood. They use rollers instead of flat surfaces.

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