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Thread: What am I missing? 12" Jointers

  1. #1

    What am I missing? 12" Jointers

    Hi all,

    I'm in the market for a jointer and doing all the normal research (and more). What I can't get my head around is that it seems a good 12" combo machine (jointer+planer) is under $5k, whereas all the brands that offer a combo machine also have a 12" standalone jointer that costs more money (almost all are more than $5k).

    Why does a standalone 12" jointer cost more than a 12" jointer/planer combo?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hi Jody,
    I have a 12” combo machine and would say the difference would be in the overall size of the machines. The dedicated 12” jointer is going to have much longer tables and would be able to handle much longer board lengths than my combo.

  3. #3
    Agreed. However some combo machines, like Felder or Hammer, have the ability to add extension tables in order to increase the capacity. I have had great success with the extension tables on my Hammer A3 16" combo machine. Clearly, a dedicated jointer with extremely long, fixed cast iron tables is ideal, but these take up an awful lot of space.

  4. #4
    Maybe you are paying for the convenience of not having to use a combination machine

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Blog Entries
    Welcome! You ask a good question in "what am I missing?". I have found that when I run into something that just doesn't seem to make sense, I am usually missing something. Not always but, that's another discussion . A combo machine certainly allows you to put more functionality into a smaller foot print than dedicated machines. This is a convenience and can supply the desired functions for many with limited space for a workshop that would not allow them the placement of dedicated machines.

    To get the functionality into a smaller package there are compromises. Products in the Hammer/Felder tier have been combination machines for many years, are of a very good quality and priced accordingly. Even at that tier you can see the difference in form of a combination machine versus a dedicated machine that performs one of the combined functions.

    If you are looking at 12" jointers you may be doing larger work as a regular part of your shop time. I would guess you have a shop scaled to do these things. If that is so I would recommend dedicated machines that are fully focused on their function. If you have larger material to prepare and are space constrained (most of us are or were or will be again ) a combination machine can make that happen.

    I would be very unhappy with a 12" planer although I made do with one for many years and could work around things again if I needed to. Similar to the difference (for me) between a 6" and an 8" jointer; that seemingly incremental step in capacity completely changes the machines usability for me. I only run a 15" planer. I have a 13" but it just collects dust right no. It's just a couple of inches but for what I do the 8" jointer and the 15" planer hit the sweet spot for functionality.

    In the end it all comes down to what will work for you and your situation. Currently cars make a bad analogy but I (old-think) think of it as the price of a four door truck versus a dedicated car and a dedicated truck.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Sorrentino View Post
    ....Why does a standalone 12" jointer cost more than a 12" jointer/planer combo?..
    Joey, the primary reason is economy of scale in manufacturing. Jointer/planers are a European thing that was well established over there before becoming popular here. For that reason, much of the Austrian/Italian/Belgian/etc. was already geared for manufacturing the combined units before they even made it to the US. For example, a Hammer A3-41A jointer is the exact same machine as the A3-41 jointer/planer, minus the planer table and transmission. From a manufacturing standpoint, it costs almost as much to build the jointer-only as the combined machine. I hope this helps clarify,

    Ex-SCM and Felder rep

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Northern Illinois
    For one thing, 12" jointer/planers I've seen have much shorter beds than most stand alone jointers these days, especially at the same level of quality of a jointer/planer. With all the extra cast iron, that could contribute the additional cost. I have an 8" Jet helical head jointer which was about $1800 on sale about 6 years ago. At that time, I would have paid just under $4,000 for a jointer/planer. If I were doing it over again I would seriously consider a 12" jointer/planer combo (or even a 10"). It would be nice to have the extra width when needed for jointing. However, I would then have less capacity for planing (10" or 12" instead of 13"). I usually don't consider the cost so much as what works the best for me in my shop for the work I do. My 8" jointer handles virtually all of my jointing needs since I rarely can find boards wider than 8" anyway. About a year ago I bought a 16-32 sander which will help me handle the wider boards I can't plane in my planer. It's not a complete substitute but will work in some situations and I bought the sander for other reasons anyway.

  8. #8
    I appreciate everyone's responses. It's still interesting to me, especially since the Hammer beds are almost as long as, say, the beds on a Laguna 12" jointer. That said, your answers helped.

    Thanks again, happy new year.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Perth, Australia
    Joseph, about 8 or so years ago I was in the market to replace the 8” Delta jointer I had in my home workshop. I wanted a wider bed, ideally 12”, but all the jointers available cost the Earth. A combo machine offered the width with a reduced bed length, and I realised that the length was of less importance since the furniture I build is mid-size-cabinet rather than long-dining-table. I went for a Hammer A3-31, which had then just come out with the spiral head. No regrets. I have bed extensions, but never needed them.

    Regards from Perth


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Portland, OR
    When you think about it, those combos are pretty nice because it's one motor, one bed, takes up less space, etc. The 12" jointers that are stand alone tend to have longer beds for sure.

    With that, there has been a massive price hike, which makes it harder to justify a standalone machine.

    I think my 12" jointer went up from $5000 to $7000 since I bought it in April. Seriously considering selling it for 6k and grabbing a combo.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Gold Coast, Australia
    I am not in the very long bed camp. Over the past couple of years I have milled lots and lots of boards over 8’ long on a 14” combo machine with a total bed length of 64”. I have only ever had combos in my own shop, but grew up on Dad’s Delta 4” joiner/Craftsman lunchbox. Very happy to have two superior machines in one footprint.

  12. #12
    I’m glad combos work for some folks. I’d be pulling my hair out if I had to switch back and forth and didn’t have long beds, but I’ve become shop is tiny, but I have a 12” jointer with 100” total bed length and 20” planer on steel wheels that I push out of the way as needed. Both are heavy, older and industrial quality tools. I would really miss several things - long beds, having both available simultaneously while milling, etc with the planer set to a specific height without having to mess with it, and the overall smoothness / mass of them that you do not get with most aluminum / sheet metal combo machines.

    It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I don’t think I’d ever choose to work that way at this point.
    Still waters run deep.

  13. #13
    I'm in Philip's camp, having worked with a combination and separates. The space and cost advantages of a combo are undeniable, but the convenience of two machines outweighs that for me.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Interestingly, it's rare that I ever have to switch back and forth and when it is necessary, it's about 60 seconds start to finish and that's with a totally manually managed tool. Why is that? I face joint in batches and then thickness. Unless I make a mental mistake...and that would be on me...I'm not going back to the jointer function very often. With a slider available, edge jointing was rare, but even now with being saddled with a cabinet saw in the temporary shop, edge jointing isn't a hassle since by the time I'm at that point, there's no thicknessing left. Long beds don't matter to me. I rarely process long boards other than maybe skimming rough to see what's there and that's done with auxiliary support. I don't start actually milling the material until after it's reduced to oversize component size. For me, this is all about workflow management. That said...this is surely subjective and if my space was unlimited, I could certainly appreciate separate machines.

    To the question about why stand-alone big capacity tools cost the same or more than the nice combos, in addition to the comments already provided, I'll add that sometimes these standalone tools are a bit...or quite a bit...heavier and industrial than the combos. There are exceptions like Erik mentioned, but "in general", big, stand-alone jointers are real beasts.

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

  15. #15
    I tend to work with enough long finished lengths - plenty in the 7-8’ range - that having long beds on a jointer is a real blessing and not something I would dismiss as unimportant, but everybody is different, does different work and has different needs. I think these types of discussions are good and are made much more useful when folks talk a little bit about what type and scale of work they do so that their opinions and preferences are qualified beyond blanket statements.

    I don’t always work this way, but there are times when I face joint a board, then take it to the planer to plane the other side before I decide which edge to joint based on grain direction or if I’m cutting it close on rough width vs finished width and need a certain grain layout. There are also times during milling (longer parts specifically) where the wood reacts and goes out of flat and sometimes needs to go back to the jointer for a pass or two while planing. If I had a combo machine I would probably set those boards aside and maybe not even use them and have more extra stock milled in general so I could reject bad behavior and keep on milling everything at once without having to disrupt the set up, but having separated obviously allows a bit more flexibility. Sometimes those boards need to be set aside and saved for another use regardless, but sometimes they just need another dressing on the jointer and they’re fine.

    If I had only ever used a combo machine from the beginning, I’m sure I would have a process and workflow that was adapted to that constraint, but personally I am glad for separates and will sacrifice the extra space, infrastructure, etc for them even in a small shop.

    Back to the OP - I’m curious what specific models the OP is comparing. Which combo machines are under $5k these days (and available)? Which standalone models are you looking at? May not be an apples to apples comparison in terms of build quality even within the same brand.
    Still waters run deep.

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