What Is The Difference Between A Wood Planer And A Jointer?

by:V-hold Machinery      2023-10-26

Woodworking is a timeless craft that requires precision and expertise. Whether you are a professional carpenter or a dedicated hobbyist, understanding the difference between a wood planer and a jointer is essential. These two powerful tools play crucial roles in achieving smooth and flat wood surfaces, but their functionalities differ vastly. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of these woodworking machines, explaining their individual roles, benefits, and limitations. By the end of this comprehensive guide, you will have a clear understanding of when to use a wood planer or a jointer, ensuring flawless results in your woodworking projects.

1. Introduction

2. Exploring the Wood Planer

3. The Versatility of a Jointer

4. Key Differences between a Wood Planer and a Jointer

5. When to Use a Wood Planer?

6. When to Use a Jointer?

7. Pros and Cons of Wood Planers and Jointers

8. Conclusion


Wood planers and jointers are vital tools for any woodworking workshop. Both devices are used to create flat and smooth wood surfaces, but they achieve this in different ways. Understanding their functionalities is crucial to ensure that you select the correct tool for your specific woodworking needs.

Exploring the Wood Planer:

Wood planers are machines designed to reduce the thickness of rough lumber while simultaneously creating smooth surfaces. They consist of a cutter head, usually equipped with two or three blades or knives, which rotate rapidly. As the wood passes through the planer, the blades shave off layers of material, resulting in an even surface.

The Versatility of a Jointer:

Jointers, on the other hand, are specialized machines that excel in flattening wood surfaces. They are primarily used for squaring and straightening the edges of boards. The cutter head of a jointer spins at high speeds, allowing it to remove any inconsistencies, such as twists, bows, or warps, on the board's edge. This ensures that the wood is perfectly flat and ready for subsequent woodworking operations.

Key Differences between a Wood Planer and a Jointer:

While both machines have a similar objective of creating flat wood surfaces, their techniques and outcomes differ significantly.

1. Cutting Technique:

A wood planer utilizes a rotating cutter head with blades that shears off the surface of the wood, reducing its thickness. In contrast, a jointer's cutter head spins rapidly to level the wood's surface, eliminating any imperfections.

2. Wood Orientation:

Wood planers are best suited for reducing the thickness of wood and creating parallel surfaces on both faces. Jointers, on the other hand, are primarily used to flatten the edges of boards and create square and straight surfaces.

3. Surface Smoothness:

Although both machines contribute to achieving smooth wood surfaces, jointers are typically more effective in eliminating imperfections such as knots, dents, or chips on the edges. Wood planers, on the other hand, may occasionally leave slight ridges caused by the rotation of the blades.

4. Preparatory Function:

Wood planers are often used after jointing, as they further level and smoothen the wood surfaces. Jointers, on the other hand, are employed prior to planing, ensuring that the wood has a flat edge to be further processed.

5. Material Removal:

Wood planers excel at removing large amounts of wood at once due to their adjustable cutting depth. Jointers, however, remove smaller amounts of material and are primarily used for edge straightening.

When to Use a Wood Planer?

Wood planers are typically used when you need to reduce the thickness of rough lumber or achieve a consistent thickness across multiple pieces of wood. They are also beneficial when working with reclaimed wood or repurposing old materials, as they allow you to remove surface imperfections effectively.

Furthermore, wood planers are indispensable when constructing panels or tabletops, ensuring that all the boards have consistent thickness. Additionally, they are ideal for creating perfectly flat and parallel surfaces for projects like cabinets or furniture. The ability to adjust the cutting depth of a planer enables you to achieve precise measurements as required by your project.

When to Use a Jointer?

Jointers are specifically designed to flatten and square the edges of boards, providing a solid foundation for further woodworking. They are indispensable when preparing boards for joining, such as when constructing tabletops, panels, or frames. A jointer ensures that the edges are perfectly straight, facilitating tight and seamless joinery.

Moreover, jointers are excellent for removing any twists or bends in the wood, ensuring stability and preventing future warping. By creating perfectly flat surfaces, jointers enable you to produce high-quality woodwork with professional finishes.

Pros and Cons of Wood Planers and Jointers:

Understanding the advantages and limitations of wood planers and jointers can further aid in selecting the appropriate machine for your woodworking needs.

Wood Planer Pros:

1. Efficiently reduces the thickness of rough lumber.

2. Creates parallel surfaces on both faces of the wood.

3. Ideal for achieving consistent thickness across multiple boards.

4. Removes surface irregularities and imperfections.

5. Suitable for creating flat panels and tabletops.

Wood Planer Cons:

1. May leave slight ridges on the wood surface.

2. Limited usability when working on the edges of boards.

3. Not effective in correcting twisted or bowed wood.

Jointer Pros:

1. Flattens and straightens the edges of boards.

2. Removes twists, bows, and warps effectively.

3. Creates perfectly flat surfaces for seamless joinery.

4. Ensures stability and prevents future wood warping.

Jointer Cons:

1. Ineffective in reducing the thickness of wood.

2. Limited usability when working with large boards or panels.

3. Requires additional tools for achieving parallel surfaces on both faces.


Woodworking is an art that demands precision, skill, and the right tools. Wood planers and jointers are invaluable assets in achieving the desired results. Understanding their differences and applications is crucial for any woodworker, ensuring that you select the correct machine for your project.

While wood planers are ideal for reducing the thickness of lumber and creating parallel surfaces, jointers excel at flattening edges and creating perfectly flat wood surfaces. By leveraging the strengths of these machines at the appropriate woodworking stages, you can achieve impeccable finishes and exceptional craftsmanship.

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