I have some rough-sawn lumber and would like to make it flat and square. I don't have a planer yet so I was wondering if I can do it using a jointer and a bandsaw only? I've got the following types/sizes of timber:

  • Jarrah : 6 by 4 inches
  • Rimu: 4 by 4 inches
  • Maple: 6 by 2 inches

My current process is:

  • plane one face and two edges using the jointer
  • plane the second face using a hand plane.

The process that I am thinking of following is:

  • plane one face and two edges using the jointer
  • cut a thin layer from the second face on the bandsaw to try to make it square with the edges.
  • pass the second face on the jointer to make it flat and remove the bandsaw blade marks.

I don't use the resulting wood for anything other than boxes and cutting boards so I am not too worried about it being a 99% square at this stage, just good enough.


That process would certainly work, although if you want better results, you might consider a slightly different method that requires no bandsaw work at all:

Face-joint one face. Edge-joint one edge. Now glue some tiny wooden shims (no more than three, with none on the thickest corner) onto the remaining rough face to bring it to the desired thickness. Plane the shims as necessary so that the shimmed thickness of one side equals the shimmed thickness of the other side.

Now with the jointer turned off, set it for a 1/32" depth of cut. Rest the leading tip of your board on the outfeed table, just beyond the cutterhead. Turn the jointer on and make as many passes as are necessary to bring at least 30% of the board's length to a smooth surface. Now turn off the jointer and flip the board end-for-end and repeat that process until the second face is entirely flat and square to the jointed edge (although not perfectly square to the ends).

Expect the board to be tapered slightly from one end to the other end. If you find that to be the case, repeat the above procedure, with the thinnest end resting on the outfeed table when you start the jointer. Every time you do that, the jointer will counter the taper of the board. You can, if you like, intentionally cut a radical taper onto a board using only a jointer and that method... but this time you're using it to remove a taper.

Repeat this process, more or less, with the remaining edge to bring it dead-parallel to the first edge.

Working this way, you can bring a board to an astoundingly fine trueness without the use of a thickness planer. You're limited to the size of your cutterhead, of course.

  • This is an interesting way of doing it. I assume when you turn on the jointer the cutter head wont be in contact with the board until after moving it? It would be nice to have some sort of a tutorial about this as I saw lots of questions from people asking if they can use only a jointer. – OKAN Sep 7 '15 at 10:23
  • When you touch the outfeed table with the workpiece before turning on the jointer, the knives only barely kiss the bottom of the workpiece (assuming that the jointer is properly set up). They should touch, but only barely... like to a depth of less than a thousandth of an inch. Given some time, I could probably write up a photo-tutorial - it's pretty simple. – TDHofstetter Sep 7 '15 at 11:05
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    Interesting... this is, in a very real sense, the inverse of using stabilizing rails and/or a shimmed -sled to make a planer function as a wide jointer. – keshlam Sep 9 '15 at 17:19

another possibility that also eliminates the need for the bandsaw is to think of the jointer as simply an upside down motorized plane. You'd flatten one face the way you normally would. Then, you'd use the regular hand-tool approach to flattening:

  1. mark/scribe a line along the entire circumference of the board a fixed distance away from the new flat face (your reference). This will be the target final board thickness.

  2. using the jointer - and push blocks as needed! - take very shallow cuts, starting at the high points and slowly working towards running the entire board through. Part of this will involve a little finesse with applying pressure in the right place at the right time.

i think the tendency is to see using the jointer the same way as using a thickness planer - you run stuff through it from beginning to end. It becomes a lot more flexible when you realize that (similar to TDHofstetter's post above) you can run only parts of the board over the blades in each pass. It's takes a lot more active involvement and skill, but it gets you the results you want.

Above all, be safe. When you're doing this, there will be times when you'll be placing the board down or removing it, and you'll have to push the guard out of the way. Kickback shouldn't be an issue if you take very shallow cuts, but watch your fingers.

  • Personal reaction: I'm not convinced a plane is that much more work than this partial-jointing technique, and the hand tool would be both easier to control and safer. And I, at least, find playing with a plane relaxing. De gustibus... – keshlam Sep 10 '15 at 12:07
  • The original question did not mention use of a hand plane , only jointer and bandsaw. – aaron Sep 11 '15 at 11:27
  • Granted, but it's worth pointing out alternatives, especially when they're likely to be on hand and have safety/controllability advantages. – keshlam Sep 11 '15 at 14:19
  • @keshlam I can agree with that ;-) – aaron Sep 12 '15 at 17:04

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