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What Is a Planer and Jointer?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A planer and jointer is a combination tool that combines the functions of both a planer and a jointer. These two tools accomplish very similar tasks, but there are subtle differences between them. A planer will create a flat, even surface on a board, but the opposite side of the board needs to already be flat and even for this to work. A jointer also flattens one side of a board evenly, though it does not rely on the other side of the board as a guide. A planer and jointer combines the two tools to make one functional workstation for accomplishing board finishing.

The advantages of having a planer and jointer combination make themselves apparent when working on a project that requires flat, straight boards of varying thicknesses. A planer is an ideal tool for creating boards of a specific thickness; the machine can be adjusted to thin a board to a specific measurement quickly and easily. A jointer is effective at straightening bowed boards, creating a flat surface for joining more than one piece of wood, and so on. A builder may require a planer and jointer if the board needs to be very flat on one side, as well as a specific thickness.

A Powermatic jointer.
A Powermatic jointer.

The planer and jointer machine is often quite large, heavy, and loud. It is motorized for power and efficiency, and it is highly adjustable to allow for different types of cuts. Like other types of planers, the planer and jointer is susceptible to a condition called snipe, in which the ends of the board are cut to a different thickness than the rest of the board. This is usually due to an improper feed through the machine, so special care must be taken throughout the process to ensure an even cut throughout. Snipe may also be the result of a machine that is not adjusted properly, so proper care and maintenance of the machine will be necessary.

The machine itself is usually a freestanding unit, which means it will take up a fair amount of space in a workshop space. The base is usually made from a durable and heavy metal for stability, and the jointer platform will include adjustable guides or jigs to ensure the board stays straight when it is being guided through the machine. It is not uncommon to find a planer and jointer model that features a dust collection system, since the process of planing the wood will produce a fair amount of sawdust that can be harmful if breathed in.

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    • A Powermatic jointer.
      A Powermatic jointer.