Buying rough lumber can save a lot of money and offers the opportunity to find and use interesting varieties. However, proper preparation is vital, or the finished result may be poor. Before anything else, one side needs to be flattened and is called the face. Another edge is machined at 90 degrees to the face side in order to have true surfaces as a starting point for accurate measurements.
A jointer is the tool used to create a flat face and square up the edge. It can also bevel the edge if necessary. Once that is done, a planer (often called a thickness planer) can be used to make the second face parallel to the first and bring the wood down to the required thickness.
Jointer planer combos are both of these machines in one tool. They are convenient and can be a space-saving alternative, but they’re sometimes misunderstood. Keep reading to find out the pros and cons, the key features, and some suggestions for the best jointer planer combo for a variety of needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Jet JJP-12 12″ Planer/Jointer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Jet JJP-10BTOS 10″ Jointer/Planer Combo
- UPGRADE PICK: Rikon 25-210H 12″ Helical Planer/Jointer
- BEST PORTABLE: Jet JJP-8BT 8″ Planer/Jointer Combo
- BEST WITH HELICAL CUTTER: Grizzly G0634X – 12″ 5 HP Planer/Jointer
- ALSO CONSIDER: Ridgid 6⅛” Jointer/Planer
Before You Buy a Jointer Planer Combo
The best jointer planer combos offer the woodworker several advantages, but a quick glance at the market shows there is far greater choice in individual machines. Clearly, there are both pros and cons, so before you buy a jointer planer combo, you’ll want to think about these.
At first glance, a jointer planer combo seems like an excellent idea. On the plus side, having one machine instead of two can save space, particularly for the home user or a small one-person woodshop. They can also be more cost-effective (but not always). There is only one machine to maintain, and just one machine that will need new blades.
However, while switching from jointer to planer is usually straightforward, it does slow down production. This is particularly true if two people need to use the same machine. Rather than one person using the jointer while the other uses the planer, one of them will have to wait and perhaps reset the function.
It could also be argued that with just one cutter block (which we’ll talk more about in a moment), the blades need to be changed more often. This is not only costly but time-consuming.
The following sections will help you assess whether the relative pros and cons of a jointer planer combo make it a worthwhile purchase or not.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Jointer Planer Combo
It will come as no surprise that combining a jointer and planer in one machine results in a host of technical specifications that need to be considered as well as a number of practical aspects. We have divided these into easy-to-understand segments that will build a comprehensive overview of most any jointer planer combo’s capabilities.
Size and Weight
One of the key benefits of a jointer planer combo is the amount of space it can save compared to having two machines. However, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily small. Jointer beds can be upward of 4 feet long; while the tool can be quite portable at 58 pounds, larger models can weigh more than 500 pounds.
While checking the physical dimensions of a portable planer before buying isn’t necessary, doing just that when purchasing a jointer planer is vital in planning where the machine will be installed. Also, bear in mind that the tool may require some assembly. While assembly is not usually difficult, components can be heavy, so it’s a good idea to have some help.
Power and Speed
Amps are commonly used to define power-tool performance, but jointer planer combos usually use horsepower (hp). Few are under 1 hp, and large machines can be as high as 5 hp.
However, it is still important to check both the amp rating and voltage because they have an impact on installation. A standard household outlet supplies a maximum of 15 amps at 110 volts (V). Some of these combo tools require more at 220/230V, so a separate or upgraded supply will be needed.
There are two measures of jointer planer speed:
- The feed speed is given in feet per minute (fpm). This is how fast the wood can travel through the planer. Higher speeds mean greater productivity.
- Cutterhead (or cutter block) speed is given in revolutions per minute (rpm). The faster a cutterhead rotates, the smoother the finish it provides. However, the number of blades (often called knives) needs to be taken into account.
Blades and Cutterhead Styles
The cutterhead of a traditional jointer planer holds two or three long knives, usually made of high-speed steel (HSS). The speed of the cutterhead multiplied by the number of knives gives the actual cuts per minute. So for example, a two-knife cutterhead running at 9,000 rpm gives 18,000 cuts per minute. A three-knife cutterhead might run more slowly (5,500 rpm) but gives almost as many cuts (in this case 16,500 per minute) and probably runs more quietly.
An advance in this design is the helical (or spiral) cutterhead, which contains as many as 56 small square blades in rows that curve around the head. These are often tungsten carbide, which stays sharp longer than HSS. The helical pattern presents cutting edges almost continuously so finish quality can be excellent. Sometimes it’s so good that sanding is not required.
As the square blades start to become blunt, they can simply be loosened and rotated to a fresh, sharp edge. However, eventually they will all need to be replaced, and this is a time-consuming operation. Machines with helical cutterheads are also considerably more expensive.
Bed Width and Cutting Depth
Jointer planer combos are usually defined by their bed width, which is the maximum size board that can be jointed or planed. Machines are either 8, 10, or 12 inches wide, so it is also a good idea to check the bed length. A longer bed gives the board more support and helps prevent sniping, which is when the cutter takes a deep chunk out of the board at the start or finish of the cut. However, it does impact the physical space required.
Maximum depth of cut on most jointer planer combos is ⅛ inch, although it can vary between the two functions. However, the final cut will usually be more shallow to create a smoother finish.
The material used for the tables and fence are a key feature of jointer planer combos. On entry-level machines, both of these are often extruded aluminum. This reduces weight and keeps costs down. However, there is a risk they might flex or twist, spoiling accuracy, so reinforcing webs are added. On some models, sheet metal may also be used. This is cheaper and more durable than aluminum but may eventually be prone to rust spots.
The best jointer planer combos often have an aluminum fence, but the tables will be cast iron. It is extremely rigid and absorbs machine vibration (both of which help improve precision), but it is also very heavy.
Stands are usually steel, though parts of the casing might be plastic on budget models. This doesn’t offer particularly good durability in busy workshop environments, but damage is usually cosmetic and shouldn’t affect function.
The smallest of our jointer planer combo top picks is designed as a benchtop machine, making it a good choice for home woodworkers or shops with limited space. However, most have some kind of stand.
Relatively lightweight models may have a stand that is a simple open steel frame bolted together, like a small table. It’s worth running a wrench around them from time to time as they can become loose with use.
For larger machines, the stand may be a fully enclosed cabinet. These provide the support required for cast-iron tables and help keep sawdust out of the planer mechanism. They don’t usually offer storage.
Jointer planer combos produce a lot of waste. Without some kind of dust collection, wood chips and sawdust can get everywhere. It not only makes cleaning the workshop a chore, but airborne dust can also ruin varnished finishes and is also a health hazard.
All jointer planers have an outlet port for attaching either a shop vac or a larger dust extractor. Diameters can vary, so it’s a good idea to check the models under consideration. Also, low-cost adapters are widely available.
Our Top Picks
It’s now time to look at some real-world examples that illustrate the features discussed above. The top picks are organized by category to help make it easier to identify one of the best jointer planer combos for your needs.
Given that woodworkers have a variety of different needs, picking a single best jointer planer combo is no easy task. Jet produces a range of high-quality machines, and its 12-inch model offers a sturdy build, impressive power, and a reputation for fast and easy changeover between functions.
A reliable 3-hp TEFC (totally enclosed fan-cooled) motor drives the three-knife cutterhead at 5,500 rpm, with a maximum depth from a single pass of ⅛ inch. Feed rate is 20 fpm. Tables are cast iron and 55 inches long, providing solid workpiece support even with large stock. A steel cabinet provides a sturdy base. For safety, the on-off switch locks out during function changeovers. It also needs a manual restart in the event of a power outage, so the machine doesn’t come back on unexpectedly. A 4-inch dust port serves both jointing and planing operations.
The Jet JJP-12 jointer planer combo is among the most competitively priced in its class. Those who are fastidious about finish quality might want to look at the brand’s JJP-12HH, which has a helical cutterhead but costs substantially more.
- Power: 3 hp, 230V, 12.5 amps
- Cutterhead: 5,500 rpm 3-knife cutterhead
- Weight: 500 pounds
- Cast-iron tables
- Easy-to-use controls
- Rapid change between functions
- Requires upgraded supply
- Knife quality could be better
Get the Jet JJP-12 jointer planer at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Northern Tool + Equipment.
The Jet JJP-10BTOS 10″ Jointer/Planer Combo strikes an excellent balance between performance and price. It can be used as a benchtop model or fitted to the supplied stand and will run off standard household electric supply. This tool can be a great choice for the home woodworker or small professional shop.
The two-knife cutterhead runs at 9,000 rpm and has a feed rate of 19½ fpm. Maximum depth of cut is ⅛ inch in jointer mode and 5/64 inch when planing. Changeover is fast and simple. There is a 2½-inch dust port, and a 2½-inch to 4-inch hose adapter is also included.
A table length of 36 inches provides good workpiece support, though tables are aluminum and steel rather than cast iron so the machine isn’t quite so rigid. The upside is that it is relatively easy to move around. The stand is a little fiddly to assemble and needs to be checked regularly as nuts can work loose. However, these are minor gripes, and as a whole the Jet JJP-10BTOS jointer planer combo offers outstanding value.
- Power: 120V, 13 amps
- Cutterhead: 9,000 rpm 2-knife cutterhead
- Weight: 74 pounds
- Benchtop or stand use
- Very competitive performance
- Great value
- Aluminum and steel tables
- Stand could be more robust
Get the Jet JJP-10 jointer planer on Amazon or at Acme Tools.
The key feature of the Rikon 25-210H jointer planer combo is the helical cutterhead. It has four rows of carbide blades (56 in all) rotating at 5,000 rpm. The resulting 20,000 cuts per minute produces a super-smooth surface straight out of the machine, so sanding is seldom necessary. A feed rate of 23 fpm also makes this a highly productive machine. Maximum cut is ⅛ inch in both jointer and planer modes.
Drive comes from a powerful 3-hp motor that requires a 220V supply. A 55½-inch cast-iron table provides excellent workpiece support. Combined with a strong metal cabinet, this provides the sturdy platform necessary for high-quality work. A 4-inch dust port is fitted.
The Rikon 25-210H jointer planer combo is capable of delivering the performance demanded by professionals, but quality control can occasionally be an issue. The fence can work loose, and controls may have some play, making setup more difficult. There is nothing that can’t usually be fixed, but given the price, it is no surprise that some owners find this frustrating.
- Power: 3 hp, 220V, 12 amps
- Cutterhead: 5,000 rpm helical (4 rows)
- Weight: 494 pounds
- Creates very smooth surfaces
- High productivity
- Solid build
- Requires upgraded supply
- Sometimes frustrating to set up
Get the Rikon jointer planer on Amazon or at Acme Tools.
Home woodworkers often have limited space, so benchtop machines that can be stored away when not required are ideal. Weighing just 58 pounds and with a table length of 29 inches, the Jet JJP-8BT jointer planer combo fulfills this role. It is also light enough to be of use to jobsite carpenters.
In spite of modest physical dimensions, the Jet JJP-8BT offers good performance. The motor seems to be the same model used for the 10-inch Jet jointer planer. It drives the two-knife cutterhead at 18,000 cuts per minute and provides a feed rate of 19½ fpm. Maximum depth of cut is 5/64 inch.
As expected on a budget jointer planer combo, the tables are extruded aluminum and sheet metal rather than cast iron. They are decent quality, and like the tall fence, offer good workpiece support. However, they can be fiddly to level. The 4-inch dust port comes with a 2½-inch adapter for shop vacs.
- Power: 120V, 13 amps
- Cutterhead: 9,000 rpm 2-knife cutterhead
- Weight: 58 pounds
- Ideal for home workshops
- Tall fence gives good support
- Competitive price
- Fiddly table adjustment
- Plastic casing
Get the Jet JJP-8BT jointer planer on Amazon or at Acme Tools.
Grizzly has a reputation for high-quality, durable machinery, and everything about the Grizzly jointer planer combo is focused on the performance demanded by professionals. The 5-hp motor delivers tremendous power and reliability. The cast-iron tables are 59½ inches long, providing solid support for the largest workpieces. The heavy-duty cabinet adds further rigidity.
The cutterhead is a four-row 48-blade helical unit providing 20,136 cuts per minute at a feed rate of 22 fpm. Finish quality straight off the machine is excellent. Changing from one function to the other is also rapid, further increasing productivity. A 4-inch dust port is provided.
The Grizzly G0634X jointer planer combo is large and very heavy, so it is a tool best used in a pro shop. For a machine with a helical head, it is remarkably competitively priced.
- Power: 5 hp, 220V, 25 amps
- Cutterhead: 5,034 rpm helical (4 rows) cutterhead
- Weight: 610 pounds
- Heavy-duty power and construction
- Helical cutterhead for fine finishing
- Very competitive price
- Requires upgraded supply
- Very heavy
Get the Grizzly jointer planer combo at Grizzly Industrial.
Unfortunately, the Ridgid Jointer/Planer is incorrectly described, even on Ridgid’s website. While this is a high-quality tool with versatility and some interesting features, it is not a jointer planer. Even from a quick glance it’s clear that there is no thicknessing function, so it is a jointer but not a planer.
That said, this is still an excellent machine. Tables are cast iron, which absorb vibration and provide a good platform for smooth cutting. The 45-inch length offers good workpiece support. The dual bevel fence can be angled out to 135 degrees with stops at 45 and 90 degrees for fast setting. There is a rabbeting function of up to ½ inch. A solidly built steel cabinet provides useful tool storage.
The dual-voltage motor gives the opportunity to run it from household supply or in pro shops that have been upgraded. Running at 120/240V puts less stress on the motor and delivers more power (though it doesn’t impact speed). The three-knife cutterhead runs at 5,000 rpm, and has a maximum cut of ⅛ inch.
At 6⅛-inch wide, the planing width is more modest than some and, just to reiterate, there is no planer function. As a result, the Ridgid jointer is a comparatively expensive tool.
- Power: 1 hp, 120V or 240V, 6 or 12 amps
- Cutterhead: 3,450 rpm 3-knife cutterhead
- Weight: 213 pounds
- Heavy-duty construction
- Can run off household supply
- Useful onboard tool storage
- No planer function
- Modest table width
Get the Ridgid jointer at The Home Depot.
The Jet JJP-12 12″ Planer/Jointer combines impressive capacities with high precision and is competitively priced for a machine of its size. That said, it is perhaps too large for most home shops. For those looking for a budget-friendly home-shop tool, the Jet JJP-10BTOS 10″ Jointer/Planer Combo is a fraction of the price, and of course some of that is due to build quality. However, for home woodworkers and small pro shops, it offers terrific value.
How We Chose the Best Jointer Planer Combos
I am an engineer by profession, and for 10 years ran my own woodshop. I understand how these machines work and have hands-on experience. To support my own knowledge, the Bob Vila team researched leading manufacturers and the current lineup.
The range of high-quality jointer planer combos available in the U.S. is somewhat limited, so it was a question of finding appropriate solutions for as diverse a group of users as possible.
Each of the top picks comes from a brand with a reputation for durability and reliability. We have also selected models that represent the best jointer planer combo in each of the popular sizes and are offered at a range of prices to suit most everyone from the home woodworker to the professional.
The information above consists of a comprehensive guide to the technical aspects of the best jointer planer combos and provides real-world examples. While many questions associated with these machines will be answered above, questions of a more general nature also crop up frequently. To help make the search for the best tool easier, we have responded to popular general questions below.
Q. What’s the difference between a jointer and a planer?
A jointer is used to flatten the face of a piece of wood and plane an edge to 90 degrees. It can also cut bevels (chamfers), angling an edge at 45 degrees, for example. A planer is used to make both sides of the stock parallel and to plane it down to the required thickness. Hence, it is why they are often called thickness planers.
Q. Can I use a jointer as a planer?
A jointer can plane rough stock to make it flat, and the stock could then be turned over and the other face planed. However, if there is any twist or taper in the board, planing both sides separately may not remove the twist. This is the job that a planer does well. Those who want to work with rough lumber need both machines or a jointer planer combo.
Q. Can a table saw be used as a jointer?
A table saw can be used to square an edge (and cut a variety of joints) but only if the board is already flat. It cannot be used to true up the face.
Q. Is a jointer planer combo worth it?
Whether a jointer planer combo is worth it will depend on the type of woodworking you do and the space you have available. The article above discusses the pros and cons and offers solutions for a variety of different sizes and price points to meet the needs of most woodworkers.