If you want to know how to use a jointer planer, bench top jointer, or just how to flatten, thickness and square out a twisted piece of wood, this is the short guide for you.
(*Note that this is a general information guide only, and not professional advice. Do your own research about proper safety and operating practices before using a jointer planer or bench top jointer)
How To Use A Jointer Planer & Benchtop Jointer: FAQ, Tips & Different Uses
Why Use A Jointer Planer & Benchtop Jointer
You want to use a benchtop jointer or jointer planer to make sure your faces and edges of the board are flat and square.
If you work in a woodworking trade where flat wood is required for high quality finishes, like high end furniture or fine cabinet making for example, a bench top jointer will be a very valuable tool.
If you are working with twisted or bowed pieces of wood, you’ll need to mill and plane them to flatten them out so your reference points aren’t out from the beginning, and so you get that superior finish.
What To Buy First – The Jointer or the Planer, or Both?
If you only have enough money for one tool, a planer is better suited to get getting the end result we are after (although it won’t give you a perfect finish).
So, get a planer if you only have the money for one tool. The reason we say this is the following:
The objective of using both a planer and jointer is to get board faces and edges flat, square and parallel. When you look at the boards from side on, they should be the same thickness.
A jointer will mill or flatten your boards (on one face and one edge), but it will not make them the same thickness along their length (when you look at it from side on it will be different thicknesses still if you only mill it/flatten it)
A planer will thickness wood i.e. make the board the same thickness all the way along its length
You can actually buy pre-milled or pre-flattened boards, which all you need to do is then plane or thickness
Even if you don’t want to buy pre-milled wood, you can select the board that looks the flattest, and run it through the planer to get the thickness right (alternate faces on each run through)
You can touch up your edge with a saw or a manual hand planer – takes a bit of extra work
If you have a lot of work to do or you’re a professional, having both a jointer and a planer will save you a lot of extra time and run around.
How To Pick The Right Jointer Planer & Bench top Jointer
Understand that you can either choose a 2 in 1 jointer planer machine, or buy them separately
Read more about selecting the right jointer and jointer planer tool in Best Benchtop Jointer & Wood Jointer: Buyer’s Guide & Reviews
As a general rule, figure out whether you will be flattening boards thinner than 6 inches wide and 4-6 feet long. If longer and wider, consider an 8 inch jointer tool.
For the planer, consider the thickness depths you want on your board.
How To Use A Jointer Planer & Bench top Jointer
1. Ensure your jointer tool is level and the tables/bed are flat in it’s default position
Ensure the fence is 90 degrees to the bed in its default position
2. Adjust the cutting depths using the knobs.
Start at 1/32 of an inch, or for really twisted wood, go up to 1/16 of an inch
You have more safety margin for splinting of the wood at 1/32 of an inch
3. Get your board ready along with your push blocks and turn on the jointer machine
4. Push the wood through slowly letting the jointer cut the wood, and push it through with push blocks for the last bit
Cut with the grain to prevent ‘chipping out’ of the wood
5. You can tell the wood is flat when all the rough parts on the surface disappear
6. Flip the freshly flattened face of the wood up and put it against the fence, and repeat the process with one edge of the wood
7. You should now have one flat face and one flat edge of you board to begin thickness/planing the board
NOTE: some people prefer to only flatten one face of the board first and then go to the planer
1. Now the piece of timber should be flat and straight, but not parallel to the other face or edge
2. So, set the planer to 1/16 or 1/32 (less aggressive is recommended for the first pass, as there might still be some rough or high sports on the face) and send your board through the planer
3. You’ll now have a board with two faces flat and parallel, and one flat edge
Table Saw or Circular Saw
1. For the final thin edge of the board, run it through a table saw or go over it with a circular saw JUST enough to trim off the final edge
Measure the Square the Wood
1. Now all sides should be flat and parallel
2. Get your squaring tool and tape measure out to check, and if everything is ok, you can now build with you board