Wood planers and jointers are machines designed to turn rough saw timber direct from the saw mill into boards that are suitably prepared to be used in a wood shop to be used in the making for fine furniture. This work was originally done the hard way by using benchtop drill press to get the timber evenly dimensioned ready for the final product. These modern machines now utilize very fast revolving blades to dress the timber. The blades must be kept very sharp if they are to do an adequate job.
The job of a thickness wood planer is to take rough sawn boards and turn them in boards that are of an even thickness over their entire length, and are flat and smooth on both the upper and lower surfaces. This is accomplished by dressing one surface first to an acceptable flatness and smoothness, then turning the board over and dressing the opposite side as well. Because the timber goes through rollers the final result will be an even thickness. A planer consists of three parts, a table that is adjustable in relation to the actual cutting head that will determine the final thickness of the boards, the in-feed and out-feed rollers that drive the board through the planer, and the cutting head has the rotating blades that dress the timber.
A wood jointer is different then a wood planer and it is used primarily to produce one flat edge on boards making them ready to join together edge to edge to produce a much wider board. This machine has two parallel tables, one in-feed and one out-feed. The timber is passed from the in-feed table to the out-feed table, over the cutter head to produce a perfectly straight and square edge so when two boards are put together the fit is perfect and the joint will be strong and almost invisible.
as when using any wood working machinery it is essential to always wear hearing and eye protection. These machines should also always be connected to a dust collection system as they will produce a great deal of wood chips and dust that can affect your health if you do not take the appropriate steps to protect yourself. It should go without saying that you must NEVER put your hands or fingers any where near the jointer knives or inside the planer except that the machine is unplugged from the wall socket, disengaged from the blower and not in motion.
Both wood planers and wood jointer should have blades that are kept very sharp to get the best results. Relatively blunt blades will leave a surface that is not satisfactory for what you need, and really dull knives are dangerous to work with, as they boost the risk of kickback. This is when the board can be thrown back at considerable speed and this can cause serious injury to the operator.
It is possible to sharpen jointer and planer blades at-home yourself, but it isn’t really easy, and you have the possibility of filing a bit more off one knife than another, leading to bumpy contact with the wood. Professional sharpeners and numerous woodworking retailers have the correct sharpening tools readily available and they can resurface your jointer and planer knives to very good edges and standardized dimensions.
Both machines have their place in a wood working shop, but if you do not need to join boards together to make wider boards, then you may only need the planer. This will of course depend upon your needs at the time.