I saw your post last night, but @woodnthings
beat me to the response. His response is very good, but I would prefer a planer over a jointer. I was also going to recommend a bandsaw as a versatile tool.
I own a planer and would love to get a jointer once I clear out more space in the garage. I have had a jointer in the past. I think that for most woodworkers on a budget, the planer should come first. Read on to see why.
A jointer does two essential woodworking jobs:
* Flattens one side of a board.
The board must be narrow enough to fit on the jointer. Consumer jointers are usually 6 inches wide, the expensive ones are 8 inches wide.
The board will be flat on one side, but the other side may not be parallel to the newly flattened side. Even if you use the jointer to flatten the other side, you may still have a wedge-shape board with two flat sides, not parallel to each other.
* Puts a straight edge on a board that is perfectly square (90 degrees) to the flat side you hold against the fence.
The edge will be perfectly straight and square to the flat side, but the other edge may not be parallel to the newly jointed edge. Even if you use the same flat side against the fence to joint the second edge, the two edges may form a wedge shape between each other.
A planer does two essential woodworking jobs:
* Flattens the top side of a board so that it is parallel to the flat bottom side. Consumer planers are usually 12 inches wide or a slightly wider.
If the bottom side of the board is NOT flat, then the board will move and flex under the force of the planer as it goes through. The top side will not be flat. It will be more-or-less parallel (cups, twists, and all) to the bottom side. In general, you should start with a flat bottom side that you created in the jointer first.
* Makes the board thinner.
If you need a thinner board, a planer is the fastest way to do a nice clean job of it.
Note: You can waste a lot of good wood that way. If you have a bandsaw, it may pay to resaw the board first.
* (Bonus): Clean up re-sawn boards.
If you resaw a board into thinner boards on a bandsaw, a planer can quickly clean off the saw marks.
If you own a jointer and a planer, the best procedure to prepare a board is:
1. Flatten one side on the jointer. The board is now "surfaced one side" (S1S).
2. Flatten the other side in the planer so that the two sides are flat and parallel. The board is now "surfaced two sides" (S2S)
3. Joint one edge on the jointer using either face on the fence. The board is now surfaced three sides (S3S).
4. (Table Saw): Using the jointed edge against the rip fence, cut the other edge on the table saw so that it is parallel to the jointed edge. The board is now "surfaced four sides" (S4S)
Note: Some woodworkers prefer to reverse the order of steps 2 and 3. If you do that, be sure the flat, jointed side is used against the fence when jointing the first edge.
How I get by with a planer and no jointer:
* I made a planer sled. I place wedges and shims under the board to prevent the planer from moving and flexing the board as it passes under the cutting heads. This allows me to flatten one side of my board, just like step 1 in the procedure above to yield S1S. An added bonus is that the planner can flatten wider boards than a typical jointer. After that, I can remove the board from the sled and use the planer to flatten the other side of the board parallel to the first side to yield S2S.
* I use a jointer sled for my table saw. I mount the board to the jointer sled so that one side sticks out for the blade to cut. The straight edge on the sled is against the rip fence, and the table saw cuts the board edge so that it is straight and square (S3S). After that, I can remove the board from the sled and put the new board edge against the fence to make the final edge as in step 4 above (S4S).
In addition to the above, I would like to echo @woodnthings
' comment that a bandsaw is one of the most underappreciated tools in a shop. It can resaw boards into multiple thinner boards, up to veneer. It can cut curves. It can cut thick boards that are too thick for a table saw. With appropriate sleds, clamps, and supports, it can cut logs into boards . It can make 1000 quick, easy, convenient cuts for all purposes.