When to Use a Hand Planer or A Jointer

red powerful electric planer on white backgroundIf you are getting into woodworking, you might be wondering: what is the difference between a hand planer and a jointer? Aren’t there machines called a jointer planer that can do both? For starters, each is an entirely different tool with an entirely different job to perform. There are, however, combination machines that combine both a jointer and a planer. But they are typically larger machines and don’t perform the functions of a jointer and a planer simultaneously.

If you’re confused about the differences between the two tools, no worries, that’s what this article is for. At the end, you can decide which tool would really work best for your project or which would be the best for you to buy.

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 of it. That will make it much easier to use within your project and to make sure everything lines up.

A jointer can also be called a jointer plane, as it is a type of planer tool. But it has a very specific purpose that can’t really be done by a hand planer or similar planer tools to that.

How to Use a Jointer?

When you have a jointer machine, there is typically an infeed table and an outfeed table, as there is with many other types of machines. 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 your piece go through easily while the infeed table can be lowered to equal the depth of the wood you want to remove.

As with other industrial types of machinery like this, there is a guard on it which rests on the outside of the cutter head and a portion of each table to prevent any injuries and ensure that your piece doesn’t move out of place as the machine is cutting.

As you might now be able to tell, passing a board over the cutting head will remove the wood you want and 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 usually up to 45 degrees when you want to joint the board edges.

What’s a Hand Planer?

A planer in general helps make a board that has been jointed flat equal thickness from end to end. While you might expect a jointer to make the board pretty even in thickness, there can still be some areas that don’t match up with another because of 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 just have a small piece of wood you need to shave off of something – like 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 still effective at creating a flatter or smoother surface of your wood piece.

How to Use a Hand Planer?

A hand planer is made up of several blades and has knobs to change how far out the iron blade sticks out from the mouth where it is housed. 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 that you sharpen it properly each time before use.

Some planers have an adjustable mouth that create more rough or fine cuts as well as control the tear-out of the wood.  No matter whether the mouth is adjustable or not, you begin calibrating your tool to your piece 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 you are 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 it.

If you want to make rougher cuts to remove stock for the board more quickly, plane at a very steep diagonal angle to the grain of the wood. This doesn’t make a smooth surface, however. For a smoother surface, move the plane parallel to the rain.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Machine with Both

These were briefly mentioned early in this article, but there are machines that combine both a planer and a jointer into one machine. The advantage is that the stationary machine is combining two tools, saving space wherever you are working on your project. They’re also great if you want a heavy-duty or wider planer or jointer.

A disadvantage of these machines is that some can be more difficult or time-consuming to flip between tools than it would be if they were separate. This isn’t particularly common, but it is a potential problem for some who are 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’ll have to replace or sharpen, if possible, far more often than you might expect if these are tools you constantly use.

Conclusion

There are many variations of each tool and each brand will be operated slightly differently from the others, so make sure to read into each of the brands you are interested in and to check out your instruction manual on how your machine operates.

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