Best Jointer Planer Combo
Perhaps the most misunderstood power tools in the workshop are the planer and the jointer. This could be, at least in part, because most of us buy pre-surfaced lumber at our local lumberyards. Nevertheless, these two tools are extremely useful, even if they are so poorly understood. They are not the same, as each has its own distinct purpose. With S4S (sanded on four sides) lumber so prevalent today, it is possible to be an excellent woodworker without ever owning either of these tools.
However, those who buy rough cut lumber or who have their own sawmills just about have to have these to make their boards usable. Likewise, woodworkers who do delicate work, requiring lumber that is of unusual dimensions, especially thin wood, need these tools to be able to produce the boards they need to work with.
Much of the confusion about these tools comes from the similarity of their operation. Both jointer and planer have a rotary drum with blades, or knives, mounted on it, to machine the surface of the wood. But that’s where the similarity ends. It is the difference between these tools which is important. A jointer is use to make a flat surface on wood while the Planer can level the thickness on wood depending on your project requirement. The knives (blades) of a jointer are mounted in the table, cutting from below, while the knives of a planer are mounted above the work-piece, cutting from above. It is impossible for a planer to do the work of a jointer and equally impossible for a jointer to do some of the work that a planer does.
Therefore, serious woodworkers will often have both of these tools in their shops, something that baffles others. Yet, in order to do the fine woodworking that they produce, these two tools are indispensable.
Here is our Jointer vs Planer review to understand more about these power tools before purchasing it.
- Our Favorite Products for The Money
- What Does a Jointer Do?
- What a Jointer Cannot Do
- Best Jointers on the Market
- What Does a Planer Do?
- What a Planer Cannot Do
- Best Planers on the Market
- Jointer-Planer Combo
- Best Jointer Planer Combos on the Market
Our Favorite Products for The Money
What Does a Jointer Do?
A jointer has a flat bed, split at the cutter head. This allows the forward part of the bed to be raised and lowered, adjusting the amount of cut that is made on a pass. With the front bed lower than the rear, both ends of the boards being worked are supported at the same time, helping ensure an even cut and prevent damage to the board.
The jointer also has a fence, allowing boards to be held vertically on the bed, ensuring a perfectly perpendicular cut. This is of extreme importance when fulfilling the jointer’s primary purpose of preparing board edges for “jointing” or connecting together to make a wider board, such as for a tabletop.
Jointers serve another major purpose, especially when being used with rough-cut lumber, squaring up the board. In this operation, one side is selected as a reference side for the others to be squared up with. Starting with this side, all four sides of the board are passed through the cutter head, using the fence to ensure perpendicular sides.
This ability of the jointer does one more important thing for us; it gives us the ability to make warped, cupped or twisted boards flat and usable. This is, of course, easier with shorter boards, than longer ones, especially when dealing with twisted boards.
Nevertheless, the jointer is the only tool, other than a hand plane which can turn these less than optimum pieces of lumber into finished lumber, ready for use in fine woodworking projects.
What a Jointer Cannot Do
While jointers are very versatile power tools, they still have limits. The prime one is that while you can set the thickness of cut, you can’t set the thickness of the finished piece. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to cut several boards to exactly the same thickness, unless they start out that way.
The jointer is also unable to ensure that opposite faces are parallel.
If you joint one edge and then flip the board over to joint the opposite edge, those two edges might not be parallel, unless your jointer is set up perfectly and the workpiece is held firmly against the fence.
This problem is magnified when jointing the surface of the face side, rather than the edge, as it is impossible to hold the board against the fence in such a way as to guarantee that the two faces end up parallel.
Best Jointers on the Market
1. Powermatic 1610086K Jointer - Top Pick
The Powermatic 60HH is a professional jointer made for professional woodworkers. It has extra-long front and back tables – totaling 73 inches – for ensuring a smooth edge on long planks with plenty of control.
In spite of the extra length, the long infeed table on this Powermatic model is easy to adjust, with an ergonomically placed adjustment lever for fine-tuning the cut depth.
The Powermatic 1610086K includes a quiet, versatile four-sided helical cutter head, giving cuts a smooth finish while adding durability to the cutter head. Helical cutters are superior to the standard high-speed knives on most jointers because they are versatile, and it's easy to swap out or rotate the carbide inserts rather than sharpening the entire cutter.
This jointer is heavy, weighing in at 490 pounds, so don’t plan on moving it around often. But it makes up for this by providing straightforward fine-tuning of many of the features, including a handwheel worm gear for precise tilting of the smooth, non-marring fence.
Powermatic located the power switch over the cutting table for convenience. And the jointer comes with a five-year warranty and magnetic push blocks that fasten directly onto the housing of the unit for secure storage.
2. PORTER-CABLE PC160JT Jointer - Best Value
If you believe the Powermatic Model 60HH seems a little grand for your garage-based workshop, you might consider the Porter-Cable PC160JT, which makes our second pick for the best jointer on the market.
It’s light, affordable, and sits conveniently atop your workbench, at the same time remaining useful for most home-woodworking projects.
Porter-Cable made a name for itself in the home workshop, and this jointer is an excellent choice for woodworkers who need to save space and control their budgets.
It has a 6”-wide table that adjusts easily with a conveniently placed knob. And Porter-Cable designed the two knife cutter head on this model to swap out quickly by providing a built-in cutter-head lock.
At 30 total inches for the jointer table, this model has one of the more extensive tables available for benchtop jointers. A 1.4HP engine with a variable dial gives you more control over this jointer’s knife speed.
What’s more, you can alternate the power between 12,000 and 22,000 cuts per minute, depending on the material you’re working with and the finish you want.
Unfortunately, customer reviews report that the fence on this model requires difficult re-adjustments often. And while the sturdy, aluminum tabletop keeps the unit light and mobile, it also means that it might not hold up to extended use or more complicated tasks. The Porter-Cable is strictly a benchtop jointer and carries a three-year warranty.
3. Delta 37-071 Jointer - Beginners Choice
The Delta Power Tools, model 37-071, 6 inch MIDI-Bench Jointer is widely considered to be the best jointer for the beginners, with the best reviews. The six inch wide cutter head holds two knives for faster cutting. A simple jackscrew arrangement makes the adjustment of the blades quick and easy, when changing knives. This cutter head provides 20,000 cuts per minute and is driven by a 12 amp motor, allowing a maximum cut of 1/8 inch.
Both infeed and outfeed tables, as well as the fence are cast iron for strength and rigidity, as well as to reduce vibration. All contact surfaces are precision machined for maximum accuracy. The fence provides positives stops at 90° and 45° on both the infeed and outfeed sides, to help maintain precision. A built-in dust blower ejects chips efficiently to reduce clogging.
What Does a Planer Do?
A planer consists of a flat bed for the board to ride on, with a cutting head mounted above the board. Input and output rollers control the speed of the material, as it passes through the cutting head. This provides for a smoother, more consistent finish than that which you can get from a jointer.
There are two specific purposes that planers are designed for, in addition to smoothing the face and back of a board. They are to ensure that the surfaces are exactly parallel and to shave off material to make the board a precise thickness. Several boards passed through a planer will come out the exact same thickness, regardless of what they were before, as long as the planer’s settings have not been changed.
These two tasks that a planer can accomplish are virtually impossible for a jointer to do effectively.
While it is possible to thin boards to roughly the same thickness on a jointer, it is difficult to get them to the exact same thickness, as there is no control for thickness, merely for the amount being cut off.
Without the overhead rollers to ensure that the material is held flat to the bed and the overhead cutter being exactly parallel to the bed, it is impossible for a jointer to ensure that the opposite faces of the board are exactly parallel.
What a Planer Cannot Do
Using a planer as a jointer is basically impossible. Planers are not capable of doing much of what jointers do, specifically anything having to do with the edges of the board. Unless you are going to use very narrow boards, it is impossible to work the edges of the boards in a planer. Even if you do, there is no fence to hold them perpendicular to the bed or cutter head.
Since planers use pressure rollers to pull the material through, they cannot be used to remove cupping, warping or twists from the board. The pressure of the rollers will flatten the board against the bed, removing the deformation of the board long enough for it to be cut.
Once removed from the planer, the cupping or warping will still be there; the board will just be thinner.
Best Planers on the Market
1. DEWALT DW735X Thickness Planer - Top Pick
Planers are excellent tools for grinding a board precisely to a uniform thickness. With a good planer, you can refurbish old wood or accurately match the width of several pieces to join later. A planer is one of the most critical tools in any woodworking shop, so it’s vital to get a good one.
Our best pick for thickness planer is the DeWalt DW735X two-speed, 13” thickness planer, which should come as no surprise because Dewalt makes some of the best tools going.
it's not the cheapest planer you can buy, so determining just how committed you are to quality craftsmanship and woodworking is vital before deciding on a planer to buy.
If you’re willing to take the plunge, this DeWalt planer offers a two-speed gearbox, allowing you to switch between 96 and 179 cuts per inch.
The 15-AMP motor runs at 20,000 RPM to operate a 13-inch three-knife cutter head, which allows for a wider plank than many of its competitors. What’s more, a fan-assisted internal system helps clear the bed of unwanted chips and sawdust as you work, keeping the surface clean and allowing your wood to feed effortlessly.
Unfortunately, you might need to buy after-market table extenders to help reduce the possibility of sniping.
2. WEN 6552T Benchtop Thickness Planer - Best Value
If you’re starting in woodworking and haven’t girded yourself to spending a small fortune on a big expensive planer like the DeWalt, consider the WEN 6552T. With a solid cast iron base, it’s beefy enough to sit comfortably on a bench while offering enough features to rival some of it’s more expensive competitors such as extendable feed beds.
The WEN 6552T provides 6 inches of clearance in the feed as well as 13 inches of cutting surface, allowing you to plane large boards and posts efficiently. Its 15 AMP motor delivers 25,500 cuts per minute at a feed rate of 26 feet per minute, letting you plane lumber thickness faster than many of its competitors.
Sniping is an annoying problem that many woodworkers experience. Sniping happens when boards reach the end of the cutter head without adequate support and kick up, creating a knick at the end of the board. The WEN 6550T helps solve sniping issues by providing front and back extendable tables to support your material as it flows through evenly.
Perhaps the best thing about the WEN is the smooth granite table they included in the base. In tandem with the extendable table ends, the granite keeps your board running smoothly over the knives without binding or marring.
The WEN Planer has a tri-roller feeding system and a rubberized adjustment handle for adjusting the height of the cutters 1/16th of an inch with every full turn.
3. DEWALT DW734 Benchtop Planer - Premium Choice
DeWalt’s DW734, 12-1/2” Thickness Planer gets top reviews as the best model on the market. The three knife cutter-head, turning at a speed of 10,000 RPM, provides 96 cuts per inch for one of the finest finishes you’ll find from any planer. The powerful 15 amp motor provides plenty of power to handle even the densest hardwoods, giving up to 1/8” of cut.
The DeWalt Benchtop Planer comes with extra-long infeed and outfeed tables, totaling 33-1/2” of support between the two. A turret depth stop makes it easy to return to the same thickness setting or can be preset for your most common thicknesses. This, coupled with a material removal gauge and extra-large thickness scale help you get the greatest possible accuracy on your finished boards.
Purists would say there is no such thing as a jointer-planer, but they are wrong. Some people refer to a wide jointer as a jointer-planer, but they are equally wrong.
A true jointer-planer combines the features and operation of both a jointer and planer, using the same cutting head for both. This gives you a very wide jointer, as well as the ability of making cuts of the exact thickness and exactly parallel, like you can with any other planer.
The secret to these power jointer and thickness planers is that there are two beds.
Looking at the machine, as it normally sits in a workshop, it looks like nothing more than a wide jointer. But when the jointer bed is lifted, you find another bed mounted below the cutter head, which is height-adjustable to control the thickness. The only other part of the switchover that is necessary is swinging the dust collector from its position for jointing, to its position for planning. In this position, it acts as a blade guard as well.
The advantage of a jointer-planer over separate units is that it takes up less space, effectively freeing up the space that would be required for the planer. On the flip side of the coin, you might end up with a smaller planer, if you buy an 8” joiner-planer, rather than a 12” one (most are 12.5”).
Best Jointer Planer Combos on the Market
1. JET JJP-12 Jointer/Planer - Top Pick
If you worry about cluttering up your workshop with two large tools when you only have room for one, you’re in luck.
Manufacturers have anticipated the need for combination jointer/planer tools – but they aren’t cheap and often are extremely heavy. Be sure your workspace has room for this combo tool and settle in advance on the best place for it.
Our top pick for the best jointer/planer for home woodworkers is the Jet JJP-12. With a 12-inch bed for the planer and 12 inches to work with on the jointer table, it has room for almost any board. What’s more, it incorporates a parallelogram design to keep both jointer tables in sync with each other while you make adjustments.
This Jet JJP model converts quickly from jointer to planer by swapping out the dust chute from one to the other and tilting the jointer table 90 degrees to a locked, upright position.
But the three high-speed knives included here aren’t as durable as we hoped. Customer reviews say you need to sharpen or change the knives sooner than they thought. Of course, for an extra $1,000, you can purchase a Jet JJP-12 with helical cutters instead or buy them after-market.
2. RIKON Power Tools 25-210H Jointer Planer - Premium Choice
If you’re willing to spend a little more for your planer/jointer, consider RIKON 12-inch planer/jointer with a helical cutting head.
Much like the Jet JJP-12, this Rikon model converts quickly and easily from jointer to planer by tilting the jointer table 90 degrees. But customer reviews report issues with construction and calibration of the large fence.
One of the best things about our No. 2 planer/jointer pick is its inclusion of a four-row helical cutter head with carbide inserts.
These heads eliminate the need for regular sharpening or replacement of the cutting knives by employing a cutter studded with replaceable and adjustable carbide inserts. If one carbide insert is dull, you can turn it 90 degrees to provide a fresh, sharp cutting surface, increasing the life of your cutters significantly.
The Rikon 25-210H also features three rubber-coated rollers for the planer that help keep your finished boards stable without damaging or marring them. This planer/jointer boasts super-fast feed speeds, at 23 feet per minute, allowing you to process more wood faster than many of its competitors.
Unfortunately, the Rikon’s price tag makes it prohibitive for any but the most dedicated woodworkers. And customers report frustration with the jointer tables falling out of calibration frequently and also mention inadequate quality control, plus issues with the fence requiring adjustment often.
3. Jet JJP-8BT Jointer-Planer - Best Value
If you’re looking for a combination unit at a reasonable price, Jet produces an excellent bench top unit. If you’re not familiar with this manufacturer, they produce industrial tools, mostly for small commercial shops. This jointer/planer is ideal for small workshops. While it’s a bit smaller than some, it also comes in a 10” version.
A 13 amp motor provides plenty of power to push the two high-speed steel knives through dense hardwoods, providing smooth, straight cuts. Precision knobs allow perfect adjustments, even though this is a bench top model.
It is clear that the difference between a jointer and planer is significant. For those who are doing fine woodworking, it can make sense to buy both, especially if controlling wood thickness is an essential part of the design and build of projects.
For those who have limited shop space, the combination units are an ideal compromise, providing a lot of capability in a limited space. However, be careful to ensure that it is a true combination unit, with a planer bed below the cutter head. Some vendors mistakenly call jointers “jointer/planers” just because the jointer has a wide bed. But those are incapable of providing the accurate finish thickness of a planer.