On a budget: Jointer, Planer or combo?

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Hi all,


I am making benches, tables, dog beds, etc. from pallet wood to raise funds for our local Humane Society (in La Paz, Mexico). It is really starting to take off and I find I loose a lot of time in preparing the wood (squaring up the wood, sanding, etc.) and especially squaring up the wood is a tricky and slightly dangerous operation (using my table saw).


I am thinking about getting a jointer or a planer or possibly a combo to help me with this, but my budget is limited. I have found some jointers and planers and even combos that would fit my budget, but I am unsure what would best fit my needs.


What do you guys think would be my best option to get the wood ready for use on my furniture. Since it is pallet wood, quality is not my highest priority (and Yes, I am very careful in removing all nails and other metals before using the wood).


Thanks in advance for your advice.



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My thought is, scour craigslist, and get a planer and a jointer. I picked up an 8" helical Grizzly jointer for 500 bucks. I've seen 6" delta/rigid/grizzly jointers for anywhere from 200-500 bucks. I could've bought a 220 Grizzly planer with 10 sets of knives for 250. Stupid me, I didn't buy it because I had just bought a brand new dewalt planer, and didn't have another 220v outlet for it.

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Do you have a router table? If so, a straight bit or a flush trim bit and a shimmed out outfeed fence to offset makes a jointer, especially for thinner pallet wood at what 3/4 inch? Or you could make a sled for your table saw and trim one edge then use that reference edge to square the other side. This leaves you with the planer. That's my setup now and while not ideal it worked to make a pretty squared bench from 8/4 oak bought in the rough.

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Thank you all.


My budget would be a couple of hundred bucks (400-500) max.


While we do have Craigslist here, it is VERY limited, so I don't think that's an option here (unfortunately).


I have tried the table saw jig method and while that works, it is a bit clunky to work with, as the length of my boards is quite a bit larger than my little (Craftsman) table saw (I guess it's a contractor's table saw). And that only squares up the sides, but not the faces. I can do that with the belt sander, but that's a lot of work. And I've run them over the table saw standing on end, but that's a bit hairy...


I did see a cheap combo on Amazon that got some good reviews (value for price, mostly), but unfortunately that combo (and a lot of the stuff on Amazon) doesn't ship to my location. I can get a Jet JJP10BTOS combo, but the reviews on that one aren't too great. Therefore I asked if it would be more helpful to start with a jointer and then at some point in the future get a planer or start with a planer and later get a jointer.

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Very cool. The problem I have with this is that it's not (that) quick and repeatable. It needs some setup, plane the board, take it off, glue the next board, etc.


Basically what I'm looking for is a quick method of cleaning up the surfaces (especially the faces) so I can get to work with them. Since they are 'rustic', perfection is not a goal.


There is even the possibility that what I'm trying to do is not a task for either one of these tools...

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If it's pallet wood and things don't have to be perfect you could use a power planer if S4S isn't a requirement. If you need it to be a certain thickness throughout and all sides parallel, a jointer and a planer are your quickest, most repeatable options. If you just need to clean up faces and parallel faces aren't a huge deal a jointer would be what I'd get. 

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I have read those review prior and was thinking of getting the same Jet combo model, personally i don't think try to keep that thing true would be worth the hassle. If you're trying to avoid spending time milling, then i think you'd spend just as much if not more with a cheap combo jointer\planer.


I would go the route of buying a workbench joiner you can get a inexpensive 6in porter cable from lowes I am not certain given your location that would be an option but its a valid idea considering your funds. Here is the issue, those are not always flat so you need to get straight edge and check the tables. Used might be better for you depending


Then with that left over money you can then purchase your lunchbox planer, maybe pick up a used one.


Point being is that getting quality combo machine is going to blow your budget, so separate and used might be your best way to go.

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Thank you all for your opinions. I greatly appreciate it and I will take it all into consideration. I think getting a (possibly used) jointer first might indeed be the best idea. My problem is that I can get some stuff from amazon, but shipping/import duties are almost the same as the price of the unit (be it a joiner, a planer or a combo), so that (* bleep *). Getting something from the local eBay variant will be an option, I think. I did see a jointer once at Sears (yes, we do have that here), but I haven't seen it recently. Although I'm not a big Craftsman fan (My table saw works great though)... So much to consider... Anyway... THANKS! :-)

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Hi Robert,

I have the JET Jointer/Planer Combo Model# JJP-10BTOS and I would not recommend it unless you are going to stick with pallet wood clean-up as your primary goal.

I actually have two of them.

The first one came out of the box coplaner and level and all that good stuff.

All that I had to do was the assembly and I was making square boards.

One hour into my first-ever jointing session and the sound of the machine changed.

I had ear muffs on and the shop-vac was running so I wasn't sure of it, but it seemed like something was wrong.

After an inspection I started up again and by the third pass smoke started coming out of the cowling and it was clear something drastic was up.

A quick dis-assembly showed that the pulley on the cutter head had loosened and crept off of the shaft.

Clearly it was not properly tightened at the factory, and the result of such a thing is to cause a large amount of "tweaking" and stress on the belts, pulleys, and anything else that is in the way.

I got on the phone with customer service at Jet and in the middle of my explanation the guy from technical service stopped me and said "Return it, that's not something that should happen."

The return was smooth and they didn't want the machine back (they registered the serial number as "machine destroyed").

I got a new machine but it wasn't at all "dead on" as the first one was out of the box.

I don't see any way to make adjustments on the beds of the machine, and although it "works" it does not have the accuracy that I would like.

I "fixed" the damaged unit and that is what I'm using up to my last project.


My main complaints aside from the lack of adjustment are that it is very cheaply made and even if it was "dead on" the beds are too short for jointing anything over 36-48" long.

That said...it would work to clean up pallet wood (which is what you were asking) as long as you're not counting on precision.




Edit: That quote of 36-48" above was being extremely generous. 24-36" is probably more accurate.

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Maybe this will change your mind. Similar to Marc's method, but using wedges, should be faster. A thickness planer used this way will take care of both jobs, cheaper than the combo machine.

WoodShop Tricks]

Thanks for positing this - very interesting.

Maybe I'm just a complete newbie, but how would you then go about getting at least one straight edge?

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