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I have a question for all you good wood workers out there. I'm interested in purchasing either a jointer or a planner. Not sure which one I should get first. I'm not a big wood worker yet but I would like the projects that I do to turn out nice. Joiner or Planner first or would a table saw work for now. Any help on this would be great.

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Hi John,

Good question!  I think it depends on where you are buying your wood and what kind of projects you are doing.  I have only a table saw.  While I would love to have both a joiner and planer, I don't have the room or the funds right now.  I now get my lumber from a mill that is fairly close to home and for a price they will plane and cut the wood to my specifications.  I always ask for S4S (surfaces 4 sides).  If you get your lumber from one of the big box joints then while the selection is poor it is sold S4S which should give you at least 1 or two square edges to work with from the table saw.  You can do a lot with a table saw.  But if I had a choice, I would go with the planer first.  My 2 cents.

I haven't got the physical space nor the budget for either. Instead I rigged the infeed fence of the router table so that can do the jointing and purchased a Woodhaven planning sled to do the resurfacing and thicknessing. Little more labor intensive but definitely more economical.

Hi John, I guess the best way to answer your question is to say that it depends on how good your table saw is.  In my case I am blessed with owning both and to be honest with you I use the planner much more that I do the jointer.  It sits there and seldom gets a board run across it.  The reason is that I have my table saw tuned up enough that I do glue ups right off the saw table. Another reason is that in most of the projects that I build where a super clean smooth edged is required I can use the planner also as it will open up to a 6" height allowing me to run my lumber through the planner on both edges after I have planned it to the required thickness. 

 What I build is cabinets and all sorts of custom furniture so I buy all my stock in the rough.  I get better lumber prices and better lumber this way.  It also allows me the  ability to mill the exact thickness that I need.  My demands are broad and I require different types of wood so the saw and the planner is the most important

  I approached it this way when I began working wood years ago.  Knowing that the most important tool in the shop is the table saw, as it is the major work horse, I purchased a good 10" saw with a cast iron table.  I upgraded the fence system to a vega professional and added a slide table to the saw. 

I trued up the trunion and table and added some machined  pulleys junking the  often found cast pulleys.  I trued up the blade to absolute 90 degrees to the table and adjusted the tilt scale to when the tilt scale says "0" it is "0".  I tuned the fence to absolute 90 degrees to the blade and run the rear of the fence at .001 open.    Last but not least I run forrest blades using the 40 tooth combination and also run the blade dampeners.  I keep my blades sharp.   I also run a good drive belt to dampen out the viberations . 

Since I am very safety minded I have a method to check the saw operation for operation.  Religiously I set a nickel on edge and turn the saw on  let it run a bit and turn it off.  If the nickel is still standing on edge the saw is ready to cut wood.  The nickel will detect viberations that you can't feel, and it is viberation that causes alot of cutting problems as well as it just plain dangerous. 

Sorry if i'm rambeling on here but for me I use the planner and the table saw 98 percent of the time over the jointer.  If I was starting out, my preference is first a good table saw then a good planner and then consider a jointer, however i would most likely make sure I had a good router table and bits before I went for the jointer, but here again that is my method of work. 

 

Hello John; Jay has good advice. It seems that every time I read something that Jay has posted, or every time I chat with him, I learn something. I pondered the same question as you, which first, planer or jointer. Well I  decided on both, but decided to go with the jointer first.  I got spending some time on router forums, and learned that it is possible to do jointing or edgeing on a router table, so wound up purchasing a Kreg router table and percision fence to dress the edges. I have used this feature several times and it leaves a very nice surface. I decided to use a planer to dress the face of the board.So far my planer is still in the box ( which is another story in it's self ) and for the money I was about to spend on a stand a lone jointer, I now have a really good router table set up that will do jointing. Jay, I am very interested to hear your thoughts on this concept.

kenny

 

Hello Kenny,  first of all thank you for your kind comments.  I am glad that I can give some help out there to my fellow man.     I believe that you have a sound plan in mind and a great direction on the methods you are taking. 

A good router is a great tool and it has the ability to do an excellent job of not only routing but leaving an edge that is of top quality.  In many cases it is actually better than a jointer as it takes the motion of a mans natural swinging arc of the arm and the tendency to lift the lumber off the table and replaces it with a simple pushing action against a fixed fence.

Providing that you have a bit that is accurate and has keen cutting edge it will perform giving you an edge that is as accurate as that of a good jointer.  The jointer does have its advantages by having the ability to edge joint a piece of lumber at a miter determined by you where a router table will depend on the installed bits angle for example a 45 degree or a 22 1/2 degree.  Other than these miter angles it becomes difficult to do where as with the jointer you can set the angle you desire by tilting the jointers fence.

One item that I did not mention in my prior post dealing with the tablesaw blade cutting is that glue ups off the table saw is ideal for a glue up as it leave a surface that still has an a rough enough edge that it will except glue better than the edge from a sharp jointer blade and or a rotating edge of a sharp quality router bit.  There has been occassions when I have had to sand the edge to rough it up enough to hold glue.  This is most noted when cutting the extreme hard woods like purple heart or bubinga where the jointer or router would almost polish the cut edge to a point where the edged is left as if the cells in the wood are closed.  In my experience it is the tablesaw that gives the best edge for glue up provided that it is set up correctly and equipted with a good blade.

Of most importance in good glue joints is  mating of the surfaces,meaning a near 100 percent surface to surface contact and absent of voids in the surface caused by a non straight cut,where you have to clamp the two surfaces together to close the joint and the ability of the surfaces to grab onto a glue.  Failure of this is like adding a thin film between the two joints.  Of course the quaility of the glue is important but so is the lack of an adquate amount of glue, also known as a "dry joint".  This is why it is better to use too much glue than not enough. Another cause of a dry joint is excessive clamp pressure as over clamping the joint actually pushed the glue out of the joint. 

I have found as a rule of thumb that when you see the glue start to squeeze out of the joint in a uniform amount the clamp pressure is enough,  I wait and then when the glue sets I clean the squeeze out by using a sharp item like a thin blade putty knife and finally with a sharp item like a razor blade.  to be sure the joint is clean of glue I rub the glue line with a rag soaked in a mixtue of about 50 percent water and 50 percent white vinegar and wipe dry after.  use of pure water actually thins the glue and drives it into the wood cells.  Using the vinegar mixture  prevents this as it removes the glues ability to adhere to the wood cells.   This might be an overkill but glue in the wood surface always shows up when you apply the finish and you get this blotch in the finish.  Takes time but it does not fail me either.


Hello John; Jay has good advice. It seems that every time I read something that Jay has posted, or every time I chat with him, I learn something. I pondered the same question as you, which first, planer or jointer. Well I  decided on both, but decided to go with the jointer first.  I got spending some time on router forums, and learned that it is possible to do jointing or edgeing on a router table, so wound up purchasing a Kreg router table and percision fence to dress the edges. I have used this feature several times and it leaves a very nice surface. I decided to use a planer to dress the face of the board.So far my planer is still in the box ( which is another story in it's self ) and for the money I was about to spend on a stand a lone jointer, I now have a really good router table set up that will do jointing. Jay, I am very interested to hear your thoughts on this concept.

kenny

 

Wow I have to say I'm new at this word working and I just LOVE all the feed back from you guys. I now know if I ever need a question answered I know I can come here and someone will help me out. So from what I've learned here it sounds like I should look into a Planer before a Joiner. I do have a good router so that is even an option for me. Just need to make a good Router Table. Does anyone have any plans for a router table? Something small. Not going to use it everyday so it doesn't have to be this big Cadillac.
Just my humble opinion but the router table is second only to the table saw in terms of usage.

John Grish said:
Wow I have to say I'm new at this word working and I just LOVE all the feed back from you guys. I now know if I ever need a question answered I know I can come here and someone will help me out. So from what I've learned here it sounds like I should look into a Planer before a Joiner. I do have a good router so that is even an option for me. Just need to make a good Router Table. Does anyone have any plans for a router table? Something small. Not going to use it everyday so it doesn't have to be this big Cadillac.


 I agree with John Schaben however in my case only because I use rough sawn lumber, I have placed the planner ahead of the router table because with out the planner I would not have any lumber to run on my router table.  I put the jointer at the bottom of the list of the 4 mentioned tools: table saw,  planner, router table, and the jointer. 

 If I worked with finished lumber then yes it would be definately the router table as being right behind the table saw as I depend on the router table system for building my doors and specialized moldings.  Without one of these three tools I would be hard pressed to function in my shop.  I can get along without a jointer just fine as between the table saw and the router table a person can run a pretty nice shop providing that he uses finished milled materials.  It is because of my method of work that I place the planner where I have .  If i used finished milled lumber then I would move the planner to #3 and like I stated in my first post I still would not pick the jointer until I had a well tooled router table. 

 The point I'm trying to make is it depends on what method of lumber purchases do you want to make.  If it is finish milled lumber then you can run a nice shop with a table saw and a router table.  If you want to run rough sawn lumber then it will be the saw, the planner, and the router table but in either of the two cases the list does not include the jointer as being in the running ahead of the other three.  I seldom use the jointer that I have.  I hope this all makes sense.
John Schaben said:

Just my humble opinion but the router table is second only to the table saw in terms of usage.

John Grish said:
Wow I have to say I'm new at this word working and I just LOVE all the feed back from you guys. I now know if I ever need a question answered I know I can come here and someone will help me out. So from what I've learned here it sounds like I should look into a Planer before a Joiner. I do have a good router so that is even an option for me. Just need to make a good Router Table. Does anyone have any plans for a router table? Something small. Not going to use it everyday so it doesn't have to be this big Cadillac.

John - I think you'll be surprised at just how much you will use a router table once you get one up and running and find out just how versatile the thing is. I understand what Jay is doing by starting with rough lumber, there isn't much you can do until you run it through the planner. As a hobbyist, I really haven't got access to rough stock. For me to get it, I would need to order it by the pallet and I haven't got the upfront $$ for that kind of action. I use a Freud fusion blade on the table saw so I can get glue ready joints on either the table saw or the router table (with the proper fence setup). The $200 Woodhaven planning jig + $15 router bit gets me 27" of planning capacity.

Hi, people.

 

Enjoying this discussion.  Although I'm blessed with neither lots of money, nor lots of space, I have the tools

being mentioned, and my own input.  The table saw is so very important, but, really only so if it is working

at it's best.  As mentioned by well-experienced writers earlier, the set up of the table, trunnions, arbor, and

fence, should not be seen as optional.  They are vital, and it's a rare saw that is proper out of the crate.  A

good fence is critical.  When you see what a simple device it is, it's hard to shell out several hundred dollars

for a mere cutting guide, but it does steeply ramp up the accuracy of your work.

A thickness planer is a wonderful tool because in front of your eyes you see the evolution of oxidized or

rough wood into something dazzling and remarkable.  But do your research and you'll find that there is no

magic that will flatten a board in a thickness planer.  It reduces thickness, and the bottom of the board is

the reference, as it passes across the platen, to what will be milled from the top of the board.  The rollers

and infeed devices apply downward pressure in order to gain traction for feeding the wood to the cutterhead.

A board which is cupped, bowed, buckled or twisted does not magically become true.

A long bed jointer becomes the wizard of all things good.  There are meaningful videos on YouTube that

clearly explain how to create one true edge.  And because you perform this cut over the great distance of

a flat table, you will, if you do your pressure points properly, produce a finely trued surface.  You then use

that surface against the fence to flatten one face of the board.  This will take longer because of the much

larger surface area.  Now you have two perpendicular surfaces that act accurately against your next operation.

You place the finished flat of the board facing down through your thickness planer, and  have the result of a

seriously good reference surface against the platen.  When you apply this board to your project, you won't be

taking bends and cups away with clamps and screws because the board is flat and stable.  The final fourth

surface, which is the edge, can be ripped with the table saw.

Yeah, this is a lot of effort.  It's important to note that you cannot possibly true more than two surfaces of a

board on a jointer, and they need to be two perpendicular surfaces.  The jointer has no way of knowing or

accomodating thickness.

The router table has no limits, and many lumber stores can precut panels for you as you buy them, so a table

saw could be bought as your circumstances permit.  After several routers, I ending up falling in love with a

3.5 hp Milwaukee.  It never makes excuses for itself, it just gets busy.

Bear in mind, that with jointer and thickness planers, you have to plan to lose some length off both ends of

your wood to snipe.  You can learn several methods of minimizing snipe, but I suggest you buy wood longer

than the finished dimension so you can cut away the undersized ends you have milled.

If forced to make a priority list, I'd have to say router table, table saw, thickness planer, jointer.  But I would

not fool myself into believing my wood was flat without that jointer.  Best of luck to you.

Thanks to all that have posted replies to this post. I think what I'm going to do first is SAVE my money for a Planer. I do have a table saw already so I'm going to start using that more. Ok so that everyone pretty much is in favor or a planer, what are good ones on a LOW budget?

John.

The initial buying of a thickness planer will depend on how massive your wood pieces are.  If you are

doing beam work and heavy stock, the capacity of a light and portable planer is really not intended

for heavy duty work.

Let's assume you only want to end up with dimensional stock 2" or less thick.  There are roughly one

bazillion manufacturers lusting after your dollar.  All things are not equal, though.

The cutterhead ought to raise and lower, so that the infeed and outfeed extensions you will add will

not have to be constantly adjusted.  There should be four guide posts for the cutterhead for stability.

The knives should be reversable, so you can flip them when dull, and should be sharpenable.  To

sharpen them yourself is do-able, but requires some finicky and accurate grinding set-up.  They

should be about 1/8" thick if you want to retain them in a grinding jig.  The thinner ones like found

on Delta work great, but are pretty thin.  Carbide knives are awesome, but can cost as much as a

cheap planer, and one nick will pretty much break your heart.

As a sidenote, if you nick a knife, and are out of fresh edges, flip one knife over, then with one nick

at each end of the cutterhead, the rib left on the board will be cancelled out.

Forget horsepower boasts that are listed on a portable planer motor.  If it plugs into 110, that means

normally a 15 Amp circuit.  One horsepower requires 746 Watts.  A 15 Amp breaker will provide the

current for ONLY 2 horsepower.  If the planer label says 3 or 4 hp from a standard household outlet,

someone is stretching the truth a long ways.  Your breaker, house or shop wiring, receptacles, and

tool wiring have to be a primary consideration, and without them being perfect, there is no lucky

break.  Extension cords should be 12 gauge or larger, and while you're buying that cord, heave all

your frayed and undersized cords in the recycle bin.

While you're shopping, spend a fair bit of pre-planning on-line, with sites that feature tool reviews

by both new and seasoned users.  Some annoying weakness in a machine will often sideline your

work.  The cutterhead should be clearly accessible for knife adjustments, and there is a difference

in the final finish between a 2 knife and 3 knife head.  The planer should be stand-mounted, either

by you, or with the included stand if that's how you buy one.

And remember that LIGHT cuts, well supported work, good current flow, consistent maintenance and

cleaning, should have a decent planer lasting you for decades.

I know you want specific brand names.  But sometimes you need information to help eliminate things

that are part of the process.  Good Luck.

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