Planer/thicknesser/jointer confusion!

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2sheds

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Hi all,
I've done quite a bit of research on this but still not clear. I believe a surface planer is what our US cousins will call a jointer, and this has cutting blades on the bottom and is designed to create a smooth planed face and I think at 90 degrees to the edge.
But a thicknesser has the blades on top, and will plane the top face consistently to the same thickness.
Do I need both? I'm looking at using construction timber (sawn untreated) and also pallet timber to use in other items. I saw one video on the Triton side which suggested I should ideally have both, and their machines look pretty good, so maybe that's the way to go.
Or do I just use a thicknesser on all four sides?
Any advice and guidance welcome.
Cheers
 

Jameshow

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You really need both or a combination machine. I'm no expert but avoid the cheap Chinese ones. (I have one and avoid using it!)
Metebo 260s seem good.

Others with more information will be along soon.

Cheers James
 

Fitzroy

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A surface can be flat near to the point you are looking at but not flat over a long length, think of a flat but bowed board. If you put this board through a Thicknesser it’ll be a uniform thickness but still bowed.

A surface planer tends to have long beds to result in both a locally flat board and a straight board. You can then put this through a Thicknesser and get a flat, straight board of constant thickness.

A board has two sides that need to be straightened and flattened. Normally a ‘face’ and an ‘edge’. You normally want these perpendicular to each other. This is achieved using the fence on the surface planer.

Many machines combine these two functions. The top long bed is the surface planer, the Thicknesser is below the planer bed and has a shorter bed that the board runs on.
 

akirk

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Planer (UK) / Jointer (US) is like an upside-down hand plane - in table and out table to run the wood over the blade to take a lumpy board down to flat, you need one of top / bottom to be flat and one of the sides - they act as reference points

Thicknesser (UK) / Planer (US) is usually a box into which the wood disappears,, with blades in the 'ceiling' of the box - this will thickness the wood - i.e. reduce the thickness bit by bit to the thickness you want... It uses the underneath side as a reference, so if you put in a banana shaped piece of wood it will thickness it in banana shape - therefore it doesn't flatten the board per se... that is why you need the two reference sides from the Planer to then thickness their opposite sides (so if A & B are flat from the planer, you thickness C & D) - that way it will flatten the other sides as well...

generally you either buy:
- a planer / thicknesser - plane on top and then lift the in out tables and switch over the dust extraction to go through the machine to thickness it
- separates - small versions of the thicknesser being known as lunchbox thicknessers
depends on your budget

ideally you have both - you can plane wood in a thicknesser but you have to build a jig to hold the wood level (using shims underneath the un-level bottom) and then once the top is flat, turn it over and now use that as the flat reference side - but easier if you have both machines...
 

Ollie78

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Yes you need both.
If you just use a thicknesser you will be following the wood and any bend it already has.
It will be parallel and smooth but just as wonky as when you started.
Plane (joint) one face and one edge first so you have a reference face and edge, then it can be put through the thicknesser to make it parallel.

Ps, if you put pallet timber in either you are likely to have a bad time.

Ollie
 
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Sgian Dubh

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Surface planer sometimes aka a surfacer, what Americans call a jointer. (image source: Pre-owned SCM F520 Nova Surface Planer CE mark twswood.co.uk)


IMG_20190523_095053-1024x768.jpg

Thicknesser, aka thickness planer, what Americans call a planer. (source: 20: single surface planer)

iu

Both of the above are generally pretty heavy duty pieces of kit.

Below. Small light duty planer/thicknesser in surface planing mode. The tables flip up for thicknessing or thickness planing. Smaller and less robust versions of the below example exist. Image below sourced at this link where you can read more about it. There's more information about a similar Record Power machine here

So, in general, the routine is to face and edge a piece of wood in surface planer mode, i.e., get one face flat and one edge also flat and planed to 90º to the just trued face. Then use the thicknesser to get the other two faces parallel to the previously trued up face and edge. Having said that there's frequently an additional step where the board just trued on one face and edge is ripped to a size slightly bigger than the required width and/or thickness prior to final dimensioning in the thicknesser. Very wide boards may be too wide to sit on edge to pass through the thicknesser for final dimensioning - it all depends on the thicknesser capacity, typically anything between about 170 mm and 250 mm depending on the size and quality of the machine. Slainte.

iu
 

TheTiddles

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Using pallet wood with either will nadger them up at some stage.

Nearly all machines are made in China, like other cheap rubbish such as iPhones and Dell computers… you get my drift.
 

martin.pearson

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OK so now I am confused lol, I thought the difference between a planer & a jointer was down to the infeed & outfeed tables rather than which side of the pond you lived, my understanding was that a planer had infeed & outfeed tables at the same level like a hand plane & a jointer had an outfeed table that was adjustable but would generally be set higher than the infeed table, not sure where that thinking came from to be honest but it is how I have understood the difference for the last 5 or 6 years lol
 

Sgian Dubh

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I thought the difference between a planer & a jointer was down to the infeed & outfeed tables rather than which side of the pond you lived,

The first image I posted above, the white machine with F 520 Nova showing at the machine's bottom right corner is what's known in the UK as a planer, aka a surface planer, and very occasionally called a surfacer. North Americans call this a jointer.

Confusingly, the machine we call a thicknesser or thickness planer North Americans call a planer. That's the second image in my post above, the green machine branded General. Slainte.
 

Jones

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Pallet wood is cheap but often has staples in even broken off legs that you can't see . Planer blades are quite expensive and chipping a set on a nail or staple can really spoil your day and wipe out any savings on timber. But overall a planer thicknesses is a great tool, I don't think you need to spend lots on a wide one as you can always joint up boards after thicknessing.
 

Ollie78

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Pallet wood is cheap but often has staples in even broken off legs that you can't see . Planer blades are quite expensive and chipping a set on a nail or staple can really spoil your day and wipe out any savings on timber. But overall a planer thicknesses is a great tool, I don't think you need to spend lots on a wide one as you can always joint up boards after thicknessing.
Not to mention embeded stones from being dragged around everywhere which aren`t detected with a magnet or metal detector.
I must disagree with your statement about the size. I say buy the biggest one you can fit in, you can then plane the glued up sections too.

Ollie
 

Vann

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Surface planer (UK) = Jointer (Nth America) = Buzzer (Aust. & NZ)
- Used to plane one face true - then using fence to plane a second face (edge) at 90 degrees to the first.

Thicknesser (UK, Aust. & NZ) = Planer (Nth America)
- used to make timber parallel (preferably after first planing true).

So if you're watching a Youtube video and they refer to a Planer - find out if it's a Nth American or British clip, because they are two completely different machines.

Cheers, Vann.
 

2sheds

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Awesome, thanks everyone. The confusion of our North American cousins using planer for a thicknesser, and jointer for a planer (or surface planer) is now clear, as is the usage model for each. So combined you could have a planer/thicknesser (UK) and a jointer/planer (US), but the planer component of each is completely different. A mixed US/UK could be a planer/planer :) or a jointer/thicknesser. And our antipodean cousins would have a buzzer/thicknesser.

So for my £5-600 budget I could get a TSPL125 surface planer and a TPT125 thicknesser from Triton or a combined item from Metabo HB 260 C. I quite like the idea of two separate units and the Tritons - although looking very similar to others from Makita and unknown brands - do get really good reviews.

What's the views on 2 single units or 1 combo unit?

Thanks, Steve
 

akirk

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I prefer 2 separate, was using them tonight, I have a combined one but just use it as a planer, then a separate thicknesser (triton) - much simpler than fiddling around to convert from one to the other, but depends on your space
 

TRITON

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Using pallet wood with either will nadger them up at some stage.
Thats debatable :confused:

Course if theres staples of nails in them then thats obvious, but these boards that were used to originally make the pallet were themselves thicknessed.
But its just basically softwood timber
Below. Small light duty planer/thicknesser in surface planing mode. The tables flip up for thicknessing or thickness planing. Smaller and less robust versions of the below example exist. Image below sourced at this link where you can read more about it. There's more information about a similar Record Power machine here
This is the one I have at home. And boy is it a pain in the proverbial with RP adding safety features where none are required. Like underneath in at the thicknessing bit so if you are to use it for surfacing(Jointing) then you need to put the dust hood/tube in there so it contacts a safety switch by lifting it up to connect the circuit.
Naturally of course the switch is at one end, and the handle to lift the table to enable the hood to move that switch are at opposite ends and its really easy for the hood to move and not come into contact with it so you wind it back down again, reposition the hood, back to the other side and wind it up again, trying to listen for the click noise. And of course each time you need to press the on to see if its connected or whether you need to faff about with it again. TALK ABOUT URINE BOILING 😖😫 You can spend ten minutes trying to get that stupid feature to connect.
I keep meaning to get a sparks in to remove the darn thing.
And all it is there to do is ensure you have the hood in place, not even to use an extractor.
So I use a bit of wood to lift the switch.
If you think its to stop the operator having access to the underside of the blades where a horrific accident would occur, then you probably are a clueless Darwin award wannabe and shouldnt be using woodworking machinery in the first place.

Sorry Rant over. Damn, that feature is annoying.


PS
Yes you need both, you cannot accurately square plane timber without such. It's probably the most important machine you'll buy/own/use
 
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Orraloon

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If you have the space and the money 2 separate machines are better than a combo. Avoids the faffing around changing over functions and any inaccuracies that arise due to changing over. Dust extraction is definitely required for those machines to work properly.
Regards
John
 

Ollie78

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A single planer/thicknesser unit with cast iron beds if possible will most likely be superior to the triton seperates. There is something to be said for mass in these tools. Also better fences. And only needing to buy one type of knives is another thing to consider.
Don`t discount second hand stuff.


Ollie
 

stuart little

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I have a Metabo HB260C & find it a 'doddle' to change from planer to thicknesser, barely a couple of minutes, with no 'faffing' with switches or extractor tube.
 

TheTiddles

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One better combination machine will probably be superior at both operations than two cheap separates, can you really get two separates for £600? Wasn’t aware a decent combination machine was that little anymore.
It’s a machine that’ll last you decades if you get a good enough one and they are mostly essential unless you like doing things the hard way
 

Vann

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...but these boards that were used to originally make the pallet were themselves thicknessed...

You must have fancy pallets over there. Most of the pallets I see are rough sawn, and often with not very parallel faces.

Cheers, Vann.
 
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