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Tools & Hardware

What In The World Is a Joiner/Planer?

The world of wood working has many hand and power tools, one of the most useful to serious woodworkers is the joiner/planer.

A joiner/planer is a multipurpose machine, it allows the woodworker to plane his work piece to assure a smooth flat surface for making cabinets and table tops, and it also will true and square the woods edges which is the joiner function.  If the woodworker wants to glue multiple pieces together to make a table top for example, the joiner assures each piece is true and square so gluing or joining the pieces together is much easier as the joint will be uniform and strong.


Modern woodworkers often will use reclaimed lumber for projects as old growth forests with older larger trees which provided wider pieces of lumber have been depleted or placed in conservation status. A joiner/planer is invaluable when working with this reclaimed lumber which is often warped and out of square.

Prior to the invention of modern lumber mills and power tools, artisans received lumber from the forest still in the natural state with the bark still in place, early saw mills cut the wood into individual course planks. These planks then had the hand planned to make each piece even and true, this involved a lot of work and expertise to remove just the right amount of material without unduly reducing the thickness of the piece. The edges also were hand planned to create a square edge for joining.


The modern joiner planer makes the woodworking process much easier and faster with more precision and less labor. While professional floor standing joiner/planers are quite expensive, power tool manufacturers have created smaller less expensive home shop versions which still offer the advantage of the industrial machine at a lower cost.

You can purchase several different style joiner/planers at your local Home Depot or on line at


Mike, The Home Depot Answer Man

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Posted 2019-08-29T23:17:33+0000  by Mike_HD_OC Mike_HD_OC

Not to quibble but the tool you describe is just a “jointer” not a “jointer/planer”.  As you said, it has two purposes - to flatten one face of a board and make the adjacent edge perpendicular to the face.  A “planer” (sometimes called a thickness planer) is then used to make the second face parallel to the first and mill the board to the desired thickness.  From there, a table saw is used to make the second edge parallel to the first.

(Thickness) Planer:

A jointer, planer, and table saw are the three tools necessary to accurately mill and dimension stock in a woodworking shop.  For anyone serious about woodworking, investing in the largest jointer one can afford is a smart move.  6” jointers are very common but limit the width of the stock that can be milled.  A 10” is probably the widest than most people will need but they tend to be rather expensive.  An 8” is a good compromise for most woodworkers.  Expect to spend some time setting one up too and investing in the tools necessary to do so.

As you said, hand planes can (and still are) used to mill stock.  Good planes can be expensive (e.g., Lie Nielsen) and have fairly steep learning curve.  On the bright side, they require no electricity and are very quiet.   
Posted 2019-08-31T10:36:28+0000  by Adam444
Hello Adam444,

I am sorry to tell you but you can and I have planed wood such a machine, that is why it is called a Joiner/ Planer by the manufacturers. Planing wood does not necessarily mean reducing its thickness, often wood pieces are uneven as they leave the saw mill and a joiner/planer can create a smooth even surface without a significant reduction in thickness by removing only the high spots and evening out the surface.

What you have shown is a Thickness Planer, which planes the wood only and will plane wider pieces than a joiner/planer. The woods thickness can be reduced on a joiner/planer, however, a thickness planer will give you a more precise cut, and making reducing the thickness of the wood easier and quicker. Most wood workers would use a thickness planer to size the wood and then use a joiner planer to create a straight and true edge for glue up or assembly.  Most home owner grade table saws will not give you the some quality of edge as a joiner/planer, even with a 80 tooth blade, this is due to the inaccuracy of the table surface and the rip fence.

Posted 2019-09-05T18:23:28+0000  by Mike_HD_OC

I have to admit that I should have looked closer at the picture of the Jet tool you posted.  It is a combination jointer/planer (JJT-12) that costs about $2,800.  Such combination machines were once the providence of European manufacturers like Inca, Robland, and Felder, whose customers were used to working in more confined spaces.  In any case, it can be used either as jointer or a planer.  The Ridgid tool pictured, is just a jointer despite how some marketing guru at Home Depot may describe it.

A jointer has but two purposes, to make the flatten one face and make the adjacent edge perpendicular to the face.  One CAN NOT use a jointer to make the second face parallel to the first or opposite edge parallel to the first.  Some woodworkers will rip a board to width and then take very light pass (~1/64”) on the jointer just to remove any saw marks.

Anyone serious about woodworking really needs three machines (or a combination machine) - table saw, jointer, and planer. Not starting with flat, square stock quickly becomes an exercise in futility.
Posted 2019-09-05T23:37:35+0000  by Adam444
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