Jointer/Planer Combo Machines

Combining both wood-dimensioning functions into one unit saves precious shop space—and maybe some dollars.

When it comes to flattening and thicknessing lumber, a jointer and planer are like love and marriage in the old song: You can’t have one without the other. So combining both similar machining operations—spinning a cutterhead to flatten a surface—in one machine would seem like a marriage made in heaven. And it can be, once you get past the sticker shock.

But let’s do the math: Most of the combo machines in our test cost from $2,955 to $5,700, and will both face-joint and plane stock up to 12" wide. As you can see from the chart below, a benchtop planer with that capacity costs only a few hundred bucks, but to make the jointing capacities even close to equal, you’ll need to drop at least $3,000 on a 12" jointer. By the time you figure in the additional benefits of 3+ hp motors and spiral cutterheads with four-sided carbide cutters, you’ll start to see a combo machine as a smart investment.

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Because we know a machine at this price is still a lot for some woodworkers to bite off, we also tested two lower-priced and powered 10" combo machines to see how they compare with the big boys. One of those two—Jet’s 10" JJP-10BTOS—had jointer tables we could not make coplanar despite several attempts working with Jet, preventing it from flattening a board face, so we eliminated it from the test.

Is one head better than two?

Each machine has a single cutterhead to perform both jointing and planing operations. The jointer uses the top of the cutterhead, which places the working bed height a few inches higher than a stand-alone jointer.  

To switch to planer mode (below), remove or reposition the jointer fence, lift the tables up, and rotate the chip-collection hood into place before raising the planer table to set the cutting depth. The changeover for each machine takes less than two minutes.

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On three models, the jointer bed raises as one unit, and you rotate the chip-collection hood when changing between jointer and planer modes.

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The Grizzly has separate chip-collection hoods and split jointer tables, making its changeover different from the other jointer/planers.

You’ll have plenty of power

The 12" machines use 3–5 hp, 220-volt motors, and all powered through test cuts with ease, even when we hogged 18 " off 12"-wide hard maple. Even the 10" Rikon 25-010’s 112 2-hp, 110-volt induction motor proved impressive.

A quality cut = less sanding

With sharp cutters, all the machines turned out nice surfaces, although the insert cutterheads left less tear-out, especially in figured wood, compared to the straight-knife cutterhead on the Rikon 25-010. The carbide inserts, shown below, also stay sharp longer and change out easier than straight knives. The Hammer A3 31 and Jet JJP-12HH cut cleanest, if only by a slim margin over the Grizzly G0634Z and Rikon 25-210H.

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Hammer’s numbered carbide inserts help you quickly note how many sharp edges remain after you’ve turned each a few times.


Planers (and sometimes jointers) create snipe. Once dialed in, Jet’s 12" machine performed best with snipe a mere .001" deep, an amount easily sanded away. The Grizzly was next best at .002".

Jointing

Combination jointer/planers have shorter beds than stand-alone jointers, so working with boards longer than 6' on the 12" machines and 4' on the 10" model can be cumbersome. We prefer the smooth-ground cast-iron tables on the Grizzly, Hammer, and Rikon 12" models to the ribbed cast-iron tables, shown below, on the 12" Jet and the milled aluminum 10" tables.

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Ribbed grooves on the jointer tables of the Jet 12" machine increase drag on boards as you feed them, especially when face-jointing.

Most of the machines use a European-style cutterhead guard, which take some getting used to, but once we did, we liked them. Grizzly uses a familiar “pork-chop” guard, on its machine.

Aluminum jointer fences on all the test machines reduce weight, making changeovers easier. They all flex a little, but we never found it affected accuracy. Still, we recommend rechecking the fence angle every time you reset to jointer mode.

Planing

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The chip-collection hood limits access to the planer infeed table on several machines (Rikon 25-210H shown here) when planing 2"-or-thinner boards.

The planer portion of each machine sits a few inches lower than a typical stationary planer. In some cases, the chip-collection hood or jointer outfeed table impedes access to the infeed table, above. However, the Grizzly has separate hoods—improving planer infeed-table access—so you simply swap the hose from one port to the other. With all the 12" units, you must engage the feed rollers before planing, and then disengage them before switching back to jointer mode. Each planer has one feed rate, with only the Jet moving boards at less than 20' per minute.

Make it a large combo

Investing in a jointer/planer shows your commitment to your craft, and to get the best, requires a generous financial outlay. The Jet JJP-12HH ($4,300) and Hammer A3 31 ($5,700) share Top Tool honors. Both machines earned high marks in every category except one to stand out.

But not everyone can drop that kind of money for a jointer/planer, and for you, we recommend the Grizzly G0634Z ($2,955). It performed well for significantly less money, earning our Top Value award.

Hammer A3 31, $5,700

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866-792-5288, felder-group.com/us-us
Pluses
+
Changing from jointer to planer and back proves easy with this machine. Simply lock the jointer fence midway over the cutterhead before lifting the tables.
+ A microswitch prevents accidental startups when changing modes.
+ The planer left so little snipe we could quickly sand it away. (It sniped a few thousandths more in jointer mode.)

Minuses
The 120mm dust port requires an adapter (not included) to connect 4" or 5" flex hose. We wrapped it in tape to build it up for 5" hose.
The 20"-long power cord is shortest in the test.
The jointer depth-of-cut scale has no numbers or fractions to indicate increments.
It takes 73 handwheel turns—the most in the test—to raise the planer table 612 " from its low point for rotating the chip-collection hood to the 34 " board-thickness setting.

Grizzly G0634Z, $2,955

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800-523-4777, grizzly.com
Pluses
+
Boards glided easily on the polished-smooth cast-iron tables, our favorite among the test group.
+ This machine left so little snipe in both planer and jointer modes that we could quickly sand it away.
+ With separate chip-collection hoods for jointer and planer modes, you can use shorter flex hose to connect to a dust collector.

Minuses
To change from jointer to planer, you must remove the fence and cutterhead guard before tilting the (separate) tables.
The planer depth-adjustment handwheel rotates counterclockwise to increase the depth of cut—the opposite of the others and all dedicated planers—a source of frustration when making tiny adjustments.
We found the jointer-table adjusters difficult to reach, and they require a hex wrench to lock.
When changing or rotating the insert cutters, dust easily falls into, and builds up in, the counterbore around each screw.

Jet JJP-12HH, $4,300

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800-274-6848, jettools.com
Pluses
+
Because you don’t have to remove or reposition the jointer fence, this machine tied for being easiest to convert from jointer to planer and back. 
+ A mark on the planer depth-of-cut scale indicates how far to lower the planer table to clear the chip-collection chute. And it requires only 34 handwheel turns to get from this point to 34 " on the scale, best among the test units.
+ This unit created the least amount of snipe (.001") of any test unit.

Minuses
The jointer’s ribbed bed adds friction, especially when face-jointing.
The jointer tables were not coplanar out of the box. It took us about 30 minutes to correct this following the owner’s manual.
Note
Jet makes a version of this machine with a three-knife cutterhead
(no. JJP-12, $2,800). We did not test it.

Rikon 25-210H, $3,600

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877-884-5167, rikontools.com
Pluses
+
Because you don’t have to remove or reposition the jointer fence, this machine tied for being easiest to convert from jointer to planer and back. 
+ A mark on the planer depth-of-cut scale indicates how far to lower the planer table to clear the chip-collection chute. 

Minuses
The jointer tables were not coplanar out of the box. It took us about 30 minutes to correct this following the owner’s manual.
The jointer outfeed table does not have its own height adjuster, but it came set perfectly with the cutterhead. Instructions in the owner’s manual explain how to adjust the outfeed table, if necessary.

Rikon 25-010, $1,300

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Pluses
+
Its 110-volt induction motor provides plenty of power. 
+ This machine comes with an open-leg stand, and despite the unit’s small size, proves stable in both jointer and planer modes.

+ Its three-knife, high-speed-steel cutterhead with double-edge, disposable knives produced a respectable finish.

Minuses
The jointer tables were not coplanar out of the box. It took us about 30 minutes to correct this following the owner’s manual.
Converting from jointer to planer requires you to remove the jointer guard, fence, and outfeed table, a laborious process.
Chip collection was less effective in jointer mode than planer.

Note
Rikon makes a version of this machine with a carbide-insert cutterhead (no. 25-010H, $2,000). We did not test it.

Download the full Jointer/Planer comparison Chart

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