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Thread: Should I buy a jointer or a bandsaw, and maybe a jigsaw?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    South Carolina

    Should I buy a jointer or a bandsaw, and maybe a jigsaw?

    Sorry for the long post, but I am trying to provide all the data I can think of that will help you help me.

    I am trying to decide on my next purchase and if I really need to make one. The primary tools up for consideration are a bandsaw and a jointer, with a jigsaw a possibility. A quick background on what I have now and would be replacing:

    • I have an old Craftsman 4” jointer that my dad gave me. I have only used it a few times due to its width and bed length.
    • I have an old Craftsman bandsaw that my dad gave me, I use it more than the jointer but the opening is only about 4” and the blade comes off all the time. The tires were new two years ago and it has not been used enough to wear them out.
    • I have an old Craftsman jigsaw that is way underpowered. I tried cutting some 1.5” pine this weekend, crosscut and rip. It struggled, chamfered the cuts, would not hold a line (there is actually rotational play in the blade) and I broke three blades. I am sure some of this is my fault.

    Jointer needs
    I have a 735x planer and use a sled with shims to face joint wood, then flip the piece to flatten the other side. Then I use a different sled on the table saw or my track saw to joint the edge and the tablesaw and fence for the other edge. With those two sleds and three pieces of equipment, I can joint most stuff adequately.

    I have a bunch of 5”x18”x3/4” sycamore that needs to be jointed for boxes. I have done some with the planer sled and it is a pain. I could cut it narrower and run it through the jointer I have, but then I am wasting wood.

    I have a router flattening sled for bigger pieces.

    Would a jointer really be beneficial over my current methods? When I buy one, I am going to do as I usually do and cry once and get an 8”. Likely purchase is a Powermatic with straight blades with the intent to upgrade to helical later.

    Bandsaw needs
    I do not use the bandsaw or jigsaw a lot due to frustration with them but I have a few chair builds coming up that I will need a bandsaw and/or jigsaw so I can make the templates and then do the rough sizing before routing with the template. Could I do this adequately with a good jigsaw and save money and space not buying a bandsaw?

    I am also getting ready to build a bedside table and the three drawers will be made from a single slab so they have continuous grain, so I will need to resaw the drawer fronts. I could do it on the table saw by running the piece through, flipping it, and running it through again, but would the bandsaw really be better?

    I would like to start making bandsaw boxes, but that it less of a concern right now, I just think they are neat.

    Likely purchase is a Laguna or Jet with 12” resaw capacity and/or a Festool 420.

    I am a hobbyist so none of this is really needed. But I have free time and disposable cash; and I have gotten a lot more use out of the tools I have bought over the last year than I thought I would. I have been bitten by the woodworking bug and have made some cool pieces and want to continue. One thing for me is that if I have the tools to make it easier, I enjoy it more. That is not to say that I do not enjoy making things work the hard way. I have after-all made good use of the various sleds I have and it brings me joy to take a warped slab and flatten it.

    I also have the option of joining the woodworkers guild and using their equipment. The issue is the hours they are open and that it is a 30-45 minute drive each way. If they were still in their old location, about 5 minutes away, I would join quick.

    So given the above data, which tool would you say I would be better served buying in the next few months? Any strong feelings on the brands? I know which way I am leaning, but want the more experienced makers here to advise.

    Last edited by Paul F Mills; 09-26-2019 at 1:18 PM. Reason: fixing typos

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA
    What do you use for your workbench right now?

    If you routinely need to mill your project stock, the jointer is a time-saver. Since you already have another technique for this, you have a good feel for what is involved. With a jointer, this would be pretty straightforward, at the cost of some floorspace and the opportunity cost of another possible tool now. Your choice if that has value. I've also found a handplane to be useful for face jointing if too wide for jointer/planer. I still like a jointer for routine stock prep.

    Your current bandsaw should not be throwing blades -- are you sure it isn't the setup? Might be worth figuring out, as bandsaw tuning skills will be useful with a future bandsaw, as well. A larger bandsaw will buy you capacity. I don't think I'd try to do chairs with a jigsaw -- seems like your current bandsaw would have similar capacity, no?


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
    You stated that you have a planer and table saw already. I would buy a jointer next,then you have the three basic machines needed for solid wood stock prep. If funds allow a bandsaw would be next,if the jointer depleted the cash reserves then a jigsaw could fill in to accomplish some of what a bandsaw does until the cash is available for a bandsaw.Buying used tools would stretch your buying power dramatically.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kees View Post
    You stated that you have a planer and table saw already. I would buy a jointer next,then you have the three basic machines needed for solid wood stock prep. If funds allow a bandsaw would be next,if the jointer depleted the cash reserves then a jigsaw could fill in to accomplish some of what a bandsaw does until the cash is available for a bandsaw.Buying used tools would stretch your buying power dramatically.
    The jigsaw is not a serious tool for fine woodworking. Even the best of them (Bosch) have issues with tracking over longer cuts, plus the dust collection is poor no matter how you slice it. A decent bandsaw is invaluable, and it would be the first tool I'd buy. Used is your friend, if you have the means to transport it. Get something good, and only cry once.

    A jointer would be the next purchase, if you're totally opposed to hand planes (which you shouldn't be.) People talk up sizes wider than 8", but when I get a board wider than that, I just rip it and rejoin it (which has the advantage of increased stability, and the difference in figure matching is IMO negligible.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    US Virgin Islands
    Blog Entries
    I had a Ridgid bandsaw that I could never get set up to cut well. Finally I bought a Rikon a professional bandsaw and it’s a dream to use. Get a good bandsaw and you will be amazed and probably won’t need a jigsaw unless you need to do inside cuts and very intricate stuff. Go with a 220v saw if you can wire for it.

    Get a jointer, and get the widest bed you can afford. It will make things a lot easier for you.

  6. #6
    I have a Festool jigsaw and it is far better than the Ryobi it replaced, but even my tiny Ryobi benchtop bandsaw would be better for following patterns, etc. Its just much easier for some things to have the tool solidly in place, and there is very little vibration with the bandsaw compared to the oscillating motion of a jig saw. It sounds like your bandsaw has setup problems, but I'm not sure how much you want to futz around with trying to tune it.

    My "vote" would be either a bandsaw or jointer, depending on which one you are more frustrated with. Having your tools work well for you definitely makes the hobby more enjoyable.

  7. #7
    Obviously you should upgrade all three tools, jointer, bandsaw, and jigsaw -- but your question is which one to upgrade first....

    It may be that the issues you are having with your current bandsaw are "fixable" by proper tuning of the saw. Throwing of blades seems likely due to the tension and tracking adjustments, rather than tires. Optimizing the adjustment of the blade guides both above and below the table can make a big difference in the saw's performance as well. A nice new sharp blade can also make a huge difference! So my first step would be to make sure that the bandsaw is appropriately tuned. Now it may be that there are structural problems with the saw that making tuning (or holding tune) impossible, in which case upgrading to a better saw would be the next step (and would address your capacity desire as well).

    It sounds like you have other options for face jointing boards -- your current 4" jointer should still be useful in edge jointing those boards (although certainly longer tables help with longer boards). There is also a lot that could be accomplished with a decent workbench and a few sharp hand planes.

    Some of the issues you describe with your jigsaw I think are endemic to jigsaws generally, which is why others have suggested that jigsaws have little role in fine woodworking. That said, I do find many uses for my jigsaw (including cutting metal).

    So all this said, I would first look into trying to tune your current bandsaw, and if that didn't work out, probably upgrade the bandsaw first. If you can tune your current bandsaw to get acceptable performance out of it, then I would invest in an upgraded jointer first. A new jigsaw is not the same scale investment as the above stationary tools, so buy a new one of those whenever you decide that a jigsaw is the best solution to a particular project problem (need for portability, workpiece too big to manipulate through a bandsaw, need to cut an inside opening in a piece, etc...)
    Last edited by Timothy Thorpe Allen; 09-26-2019 at 8:29 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    The band saw and the jig saw are complimentary tools. I use both, although the band saw gets used more often. I could not be without my jointer and have a J/P combo that provides me with jointing width capability equal to thicknessing width capability. So if the three tools you mention, you need to ascertain which is going to have the biggest impact on the work you are doing "now". Ultimately, all three tools will likely benefit you, however. Were it me, I'd get my "basic milling" capability in order and probably opt for the jointer unless there was a compelling case for the bandsaw for immediate work. They sled for flattening on the planer is certainly effective and you may still need to use it unless you buy a jointer that's as wide as your planer, but being able to easily go through the best practice of flattening before thicknessing as well as having quality edges perpendicular to the faces will make your joinery jump a notch. In fact, consider a quality J/P combo seriously as a replacement for both the tiny jointer and the lunchbox thicknesser...the best of "wide" combined with efficient space utilization.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    I built a lot of stuff when I first started out with a Sears TS, a router with some bits, a handheld jigsaw, and basic handtools. I was limited to S2S for stock, however, so the next machine I bought was a 10" J/P. Game changer. The bandsaw didn't come until years later. Being able to buy rough lumber saved me a ton of money and allowed me to produce parts of any thickness needed for my work, easily and efficiently. A chair maker would benefit more from a bandsaw over a jointer, but that's not me.

    Buy used if machines are available in your area. Above all, buy the widest bed jointer you can find that will fit into your shop. 8" would be the minimum IMO. Brand is nearly irrelevant. And I wouldn't shy away from a good used jointer with straight knives over lusting over a new machine with a segmented head. Sure, they are nice, and the guy selling you his perfectly good used straight knife machiine just to have one will be the one taking the hit to have one that won't cut wood any flatter or straighter.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    West Lafayette, IN
    Jointer then Bandsaw. But used.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Western PA
    Your last statement is something i echo a lot. I have a relatively nicely equipped shop, and people always comment about the money i have tied up in the place. Creating something gave me just as much satisfaction back then as it does now, but its safer, cleaner, and much easier to achieve that satisfaction today because of the tools i have. However, i always remember a saying from my highschool golf coach when i think abut tools--it's the Indian, no the arrow. Although, i should contact him and have him change it to 'Native American', that is if hes still alive.

    I cant imagine a world where i didnt have a quality jointer. Its just the bedrock to so many fundamental references later on in a build. Your process works, im sure, but you are spending 20-30 mins to do something a jointer would do in roughly 30-45 seconds. However, for building chairs like you want to, a jointer might not be the most useful allocation of your funds. Im neck deep in a sculpted rocker/maloof rocker build, and my italian 20" jointer was fired up a couple times early on for the seat, and thats about it. 90% of my time has been at the bandsaw and the bench with grinders and hand tools. I dont know what style chair you have in mind, but the bandsaw is critical for a lot of chair parts.

    I missed it, what is your budget? You mentioned an 8" PM, which runs you about $2,000+/-, right? in the Pittsburgh used market i could get an 8" jointer and 18-20" bandsaw for that budget. If your budget is less, i might consider splitting the baby and getting a used 6" jointer(usually in the $300 range), and the ubiquitous 14" cast iron frame bandsaw($400 range). I didnt care much for the 14" jet i had, but im sure it would be a dream compared to your current craftsman, which sounds like a headache and not a bandsaw.

    Save your money on the jigsaw. I dont find it to be that useful of a tool.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Toronto Ontario
    Hi, in my opinion the best bang for your buck would be a used 12" jointer/planer.

    Regards, Rod.

  13. #13
    For chairs the bandsaw will be invaluable.

    But ultimately I would get a jointer. Get. 6 used in from clist. Then upgrade later when you can appreciate it for what it will cost. For now a 6 will Be a low cost, huge upgrade to your current system for most of your work.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Western PA
    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    For chairs the bandsaw will be invaluable.

    But ultimately I would get a jointer. Get. 6” used in from clist. Then upgrade later when you can appreciate it for what it will cost. For now a 6” will Be a low cost, huge upgrade to your current system for most of your work.
    This is the point i was trying to make dependent on budget. There is nothing wrong with a 6" jointer! I could probably make most projects with a 6" machine. It wouldnt be as fast, or as enjoyable, or as safe, but i could do a lot with a 6" machine. Also, i had a 735 for awhile, and that planer is plenty capable of making furniture. I see it in more than a few "pro" shops from time to time. I shake my head when i see it, but it works for them. A lot of chair parts are 6" or less. Take a common chair design, the Morris chair, for example. The arms are 6" or less. The legs are 2-3" square. The only thing on that chair that is probably greater than 6" in width is the front stretcher. And for that piece, you pop the guard off your jointer and run it through. Id get the best deal on a 6" machine i could and blow the budget on a solid bandsaw.

  15. #15
    Since you are wanting a jointer then you probably have space for a good bandsaw also.
    I would definitely get the bandsaw first, but I don't mind hand planing (the stock I work on doesn't need much.)
    Get the first bargain you come across, if your not put off by 3 phase, you could buy both machines your after for the price of one.
    Slap a 100 and something quid VFD on them both, and you're good to go.
    Just in case you stumble on planer thicknessers, they will normally have two motors and that complicates things.
    Not seen someone make a thread on this, but believe it can be done.

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