When to Use a Hand Planer or A Jointer?

If you are new to woodworking, you’re probably wondering when to use a hand planer or a jointer. Isn’t there a tool called jointer planer that can do both?

For starters, each is an entirely different tool with a completely different job to perform. However, there exist combination machines that work as a jointer and a hand planer.

These are typically larger and can’t function as both at the same time.

If you’re confused about the differences between the two, we’ve got your back. By the end of this read, you’d be able to decide which tool will work best for your projects.

Table of Contents

    What’s a Jointer?

    A jointer is a tool that helps make a piece of board that is twisted, warped, or bowed flat again.

    This is important because a warped board can ruin the integrity of your project and may be likely to collapse (if you can even make it into an object).

    Usually, it makes it almost impossible to use it in your project, and you’re more likely to split the wood trying.

    Once your boards have been flattened, you can also use the jointer to straighten and square the edges.

    That will make it much easier to use within your project, ensuring everything lines up.

    A jointer can also be called a jointer plane, as it is a type of planer tool.

    However, it has a very specific purpose that can’t really be done by a hand planer or similar planer tools.

    Basically, this woodworking machine aims to straighten an edge or flatten a board’s surface before joining them into a wider workpiece.

    Unfortunately, it does not have a depth adjustment setting to get your required lumber measurement.

    You can pass the board to the jointer to flatten the surface, removing around 1/16 to 1/8 inches of wood each time.

    While not all woodworkers need a jointer, you must consider getting this machine if you are inclined to work with rough wood.

    Keep in mind that getting a jointer will require you to set aside an ample amount of workspace because of its size.

    How To Use a Jointer?

    How does a jointer work? When you have a jointer machine, there is typically an infeed table and an outfeed table.

    In the middle of these two tables is a cutter head with little knives sticking out of it.

    These knives are aligned flush with the outfeed table to let the wood go through easily. The infeed table is then lowered to match the depth of the wood you want to remove.

    As with other industrial types of machinery like this, there is a guard on it that rests on the outside of the cutter head and a portion of each table.

    This helps prevent any injuries and ensures that the wood doesn’t move out of place as the machine is cutting.

    Passing a board over the cutting head will remove the wood you want; as you do, your board should be flat on the other side.

    To clean up the edges of your board, there is a fence included on the machine.

    It’s used as a guide when you flatten the board, but you can adjust it up to 45 degrees when you want to joint the board edges.

    Combining all these components allows them to work in harmony, ensuring the effectiveness of the machine’s primary function.

    However, you can only use a jointer on some sides of your lumber to achieve a flat and square workpiece.

    After flattening one side, you must use a planer to get a good finish and achieve the wood thickness your project needs.

    Different Ways To Use a Jointer

    As mentioned, it works well when you want to flatten bowed, warped wood—a process called face jointing.

    Wood tends to form a cup or twist as it continues to dry. You can pass one side of the wood through the jointer to flatten it and then make it parallel using a thickness planer.

    With edge jointing, you can remove the upward-arching curve, or the crown, found on the wood’s narrowest edge as you try to look down.

    You can eliminate gaps when jointing by placing the flawless face of one board against the fence while the other faces the opposite direction.

    Additionally, you can utilize the adjustable fence of the jointer to create a neatly-cut chamfer by working in the wood grain’s orientation to prevent damage.

    You can also make consistent and identical tapers, such as chair and table legs, by marking the wood and jointer for precision.

    Also, making a rebate cut or a rabbet is possible with free-standing jointers. But it is not suitable to use this tool for smaller materials.

    Choosing the Right Jointer

    Having the right type of jointer in your woodworking shop helps you produce well-fitting wood, saving you time and effort.

    The market currently offers four kinds of jointers for your woodworking needs, which are:

    Benchtop Jointers

    A benchtop jointer is the most popular variety, offering portability, power, and consistency.

    Since it is transportable, you can easily carry and move it elsewhere. However, it has a smaller motor, so you might find it challenging to use on large hardwood pieces.

    Closed-Stand Jointers

    A closed-stand jointer boasts durability. Its reinforced base is fixed and enclosed, protecting its blades, motor, and other internal parts from dust and debris.

    Additionally, it produces less noise and dampened vibrations, making it an excellent choice for larger tasks that need consistency.

    Closed-stand jointers come in different sizes, often measuring eight to 16 inches. Choose one according to the length of wood you usually work with.

    Open-Stand Jointers

    An open-stand jointer is a lighter machine and more portable than the closed variety, allowing you to move it quickly from one place to another.

    It is the perfect tool for all your stud and framing works. However, open-stand jointers produce more noise and vibrations due to the lack of enclosure.

    Tabletop Jointers

    A tabletop jointer is not as portable as the benchtop model but can handle more heavy-duty wood flattening tasks.

    It has a longer and bigger table, allowing it to flatten wider and thicker wood. This means it is suitable for a small workshop that needs a power boost.

    What’s a Hand Planer?

    A planer, in general, helps make a board that has been jointed flat achieve equal thickness from end to end.

    Yet, while you might expect it to make the board pretty even in thickness, some areas will still not match up with others.

    That heavily depends on how bent or warped it was in the beginning.

    Hand planers may not be used nearly as often anymore, but they are still a great tool to have around in case you have a small piece of wood you need to shave off something.

    You can use it for working on a door that’s just a touch too big for the door frame.

    It requires a lot more muscle power than an electric hand planer, but it is effective in creating a flatter or smoother wood surface.

    If you don’t have a hand plane in your tool chest yet, maybe it’s time to get this versatile tool as part of your arsenal.

    You will find this classic, easy-to-handle, and inexpensive manual tool a part of every home improvement project.

    It can remove micro-thin shavings from wood, helping your workpiece fit together better, like when working on doors and drawers.

    Also, it is more portable, easier to store, and is available in different styles to give you plenty of options to choose from.

    Different Uses of a Hand Planer

    Now that power tools are a thing, do you still need a manual hand planer?

    There are some things that power tools cannot handle, thus the need for manual and handheld tools. If you’re still in doubt, let’s talk about some practical uses of a hand planer.

    Imagine your door sticks and does not fit appropriately to its frame. If so, you can grab a hand planer and make quick passes to remove small amounts of wood and make it fit.

    You can do the same to cabinet doors and drawers that do not close wholly.

    A hand planer lets you level some workpieces that will not fit, like baseboards, crown moldings, and door and window trims.

    You can also trim the edges of engineered and solid wood floorboards using your hand planer to make them fit.

    How To Use a Hand Planer?

    An electric hand planer is made up of several blades and has knobs to change how far out the iron blade sticks out from the mouth.

    The plane iron should be sharpened to around a 25-degree angle for almost all the work you will be doing.

    It must be sharp each time you use it, so make sure you sharpen it properly each time before use.

    Some planers have an adjustable mouth that creates more rough or fine cuts as well as control the tear-out of the wood.

    Whether the mouth is adjustable or not, you can begin calibrating your tool to your wood by advancing the iron out until it is flush with the mouth.

    There is a knob that allows you to retract the iron into the mouth and slowly advance it back out when making test cuts on a separate board.

    Once they are paper thin and are the full width of the iron, that is a good place to keep them.

    If you want to make rougher cuts and remove stock from the board more quickly, set the plane at a very steep diagonal angle to the grain of the wood.

    It doesn’t make a smooth surface, though. For a smoother surface, move the plane parallel to the grain.

    The effectiveness of your hand plane, whether manual or electric, will always depend on different factors, including those we mentioned.

    Additionally, you must know how to use the tool correctly to ensure efficiency and safety.

    Basically, you’ll need to get a good grip on the tool and make firm and decisive movements while pushing it away from you.

    That is one drawback when planing wood with a hand planer. It is not only time-consuming but more tedious.

    Different Types of Hand Planers

    Hand planers fall under different categories, and each type depends on what kind of task you want to accomplish. Here are the most common types:

    Bench Plane

    Typically, bench planes are used on top of a woodworking bench, hence the name.

    Woodworkers use them to reduce lumber size or straighten and smooth wood. The plane types in this category include jack, fore, smoothing, and jointer

    Block Plane

    Block planes are smaller and meant for use with one hand while the other holds the workpiece. They are typically used for chamfering wood and planing end grain.

    Specialized Hand Plane

    These are distinct hand plane types for cutting and smoothing curves, grooves, moldings, and other decorative shapes.

    Scrub Plane

    This short and narrow plane is ideal for reducing board sizes or wood pieces. It is fitted with a thick blade to prevent it from flexing under pressure.

    Traditional Japanese Plane

    The primary difference between a traditional Japanese wooden plane and its western counterparts is how it cuts on a pull stroke.

    Its body is generally made of wood except for the razor-sharp steel blade near the heel of the plane.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of a Machine With Both

    Again, some machines combine the functionalities of the two, so you might not even need to know when to use a hand planer or a jointer.

    The advantage of this is that the stationary machine combines two tools, saving space wherever you are working on your project.

    They are also great if you want a heavy-duty or wider planer or jointer.

    One disadvantage of these machines is that some find it more difficult or time-consuming to flip between tools than it would be if they were separate.

    It isn’t particularly common, but it is a potential problem for someone trying to churn out their projects more quickly.

    The blade on the machine is also more likely to dull much more quickly than it normally would if it were being used for just one machining purpose.

    This means you will have to replace or sharpen, if possible, far more often than you might expect if these are tools you constantly use.

    When To Use a Hand Planer or A Jointer?

    There are many variations of each tool, and each brand will be operated slightly differently from the others.

    Hence, make sure to read into each model you are interested in and check out how the machine operates.

    Most woodworkers need a jointer and a planer to get excellent and accurate results from rough lumber.

    You have to use a jointer to flatten one side of your rough lumber, which you cannot achieve with a planer.

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