Jointer then Planer or vice versa?


New User
Working on purchasing more equipment for my shop and initially I wanted to get a jointer then a planer. First off, is this the correct purchase order?

After doing countless hours of YouTube research and not finding answers, I ask the question.... do I really need a planer if I’m getting a jointer? Couldn’t I just use the jointer on 3 sides then rip with a table saw?

Martin Roper


You can't get boards parallel with just a jointer. You can joint boards in a planer with a sled. It's cumbersome, but works better than the other way around.


Corporate Member
I got a jointer and have still not got a planer. I want one just have not been able to get it yet. If I had to start over I’d have got the planer first.

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
A lot depends on what your time is worth to you with regards to work-arounds and make-do rigs.
A jointer first and then a planer is pretty much a sound choice when equipping with powered machines.
You make straight edges on a jointer for glue-ups. A jointer can be used for squaring things.
I used the hand router to make straight edges when I first started woodworking in 1970. When I got a jointer, I never looked back and was delighted to have one. My productivity in my leisure time woodworking jumped by an order of magnitude. I got a planer several years later because of the expense of planers at the time. The Ryobi AP-10 portable planer was still 10 years away.

Mike Davis

Corporate Member
A jointer flattens one side and one edge of a board. There is nothing to register the other side or other edge against. So now you have a board with one side and one edge straight. Now what?

You will use the table saw to straighten the opposite edge. If you make a simple sled for the table saw you can straighten both edges there. Table saw, both edges done.

With only one face flat how will you thickness the board? You must use the one flat side as a reference. Using hand planes you can mark the thickness and plane to that line. Might as well do the whole job with a hand plane.

Now if you have a planer you can build a sled to go through the planer, hot glue or double-side tape the board in place with wedges to level the board so the least amount is removed to make it flat on one face. Then without the sled flip it over and thickness the board referenced off that flat face.

So, what do I use? For most boards I use the table saw to cut both sides straight and parallel.

Sometimes I use hand planes to get close to flat then finish with the planer. If the board is wider than my planer and I don’t want to cut it I will do the whole job with hand planes.

Rarely I will use a sled to flatten a board then thickness without the sled through the planer.

If I’m doing several boards for a larger project I will make the final run of all boards plus a few extra through the planer at the same time for the final thickness.

My advice after 40 years of working with different sets of tools and several shops?

After you have the table saw that will handle MOST of your work comfortably and safely then buy the best planer you can afford. For me that is a DeWalt 733. Surprise, not the biggest, not the best, not the newest. But it works just right, every time.


It is best to have both, but a planer without a jointer is much more useful than the reverse. This is especially true if you are not buying rough lumber or milling your own.


Recovering tool addict
Corporate Member
If you really can't decide, do what I did. Buy a combination jointer/ planer :) But yes, planer first, jointer second.


Senior User
I have both but the planner gets used a lot more than the jointer. My jointer is an old Inca 8 5/8 wide with a bed that is pretty short. Due to it's limitations and my skill level, I cannot reliably straighten the edge of a long board. So I use my track saw. I can flatten a board on the jointer but a lot of the lumber I get would be very thin if I flatten it over the whole length. So I plane it instead and depend on other boards to help eliminate warp in individual boards. But if you are making something fairly small, like a cabinet door, that really needs to be straight and flat, it is best to flatten a face on the jointer prior to planning.


Corporate Member
It’s against all the rules. First you have to learn how to flatten a board within 0.001” with a hand plane, then you may purchase a jointer to save some time.;)

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Already sold. That photo was taken in my shop in the late 1990s when there were lots of woodworking machines around. The planers on the right and left are still in use today. The big one on the right came in a lot of surplus and broken machines. It was deemed broken. I dug into the mechanism to see what was wrong. Turns out a shaft collar had come loose and let things slip out of place and jam up the raise/lower mechanism. Not an easy fix since it was all down in the machine's base with limited access under the stuck table, but in less than an hour, things were working fine again.

The Delta on the left was bought and fixed up with a friend in mind that wanted a small single phase planer.


Senior User
I'll offer a possible counter opinion. It may depend on your work, but for at least some folks and some work a jointer first or jointer only can make some sense. In my case I own both and don''t use the planer much despite the fact that I break down a lot of my lumber from rough slabs. The thing is that I work with a lot of resawing of thin (less than 1/8", usually around 0.090") almost veneer type pieces for lutherie work so my work is jointed, taken to the bandsaw, then to the thickness sander without seeing a planer.

That probably doesn't fit most folks work, but there is a process where the planer doesn't see much use. I do agree that in the typical woodworking shop the planer comes first. It is much like the table saw vs bandsaw argument. There are shops, like mine, where the table saw is far less useful than the bandsaw, but in the typical woodworking ship the table saw is the workhorse.

Our Sponsors