Jointer/Planer Or Wide Belt Sander


From original questioner:

I have narrowed my next tool purchase down to either a jointer/planer combo or a wide belt sander. I am a small one man shop and I build mostly frameless cabinets and really enjoy the building process and like to do as much as I can in that process. I currently have a 16 inch planer and a 6 inch jointer which are very entry level. As far as sanding goes I do it all with my trusty orbital.(never fun) My question is what would give me the most bang for my buck. I have set my budget at 15000 dollars.

From contributor Ga

How much room do you have? Are you building your drawer fronts/drawers/etc.? Do you have 3 phase power?

A 16" planer seems doable for a one man shop. Can you tune it up maybe? You can by a pretty solid 12" jointer for 2-3k, then that would leave some money for a smaller widebelt, and maybe even a helical head for your planer.

From contributor Al

I don't have much room at this point. My shop is only 800sqft and I already have a Felder K700s in there. I have been working quite hard on making the shop as organized as possible and it's making a big difference on available space. On larger job I will outsource my fronts and will make them on jobs with 20 or less. I am looking to add tools instead of employees to get jobs done faster. The market is red hot here and good employees are very hard to find. I don't have 3 phase power. I can give the planer I have a tune up and maybe add a helical head.

From contributor Br

The biggest bang for your buck is going to be a wide belt sander. You should be able to find a good used one for less than your budget, 36" wide should do it.

From contributor Ga

You should have room in the budget for all if you spend wisely. Your a small shop, without 3phase power. You don't need huge equipment, and you don't have the room for it. I remember an old barn shop I worked at had a felder multi machine (shaper, sliding table saw, jointer, planer, mortiser) that we had a 3 phase converter for and a 15" sheng shing cantilevered wide belt. We put alot of work through them both. If I remember right that wide belt was only 220v. One of those are pretty cheap compared to the larger models, and will save you Tons of time compared to an orbital alone. Even if we ran wide panel through twice, it barely gave a line, which easily came out with an RO sander. Kind of miss that machine.

From contributor Al

Today I spent about 3 hours sanding maple frames I built for the kitchen I'm working on now. I think the right move is to put some time in getting my current planer running the way it should and go for a wide belt sander. I can easily see it saving me a couple of days a month if not more. Gary B what would you say is your best time saving tool in your shop?

From contributor Ga


I think you're making the right move. It's hard to say what the "best" time saving tool's too dependent on the application and what surrounds it. Sometimes better information, or "lean thinking" provides the fulcrum for a big push. Other times its one machine that's really holding you back. Sometimes its using the existing machines in a different way. You mentioned face frames....Do you pocket screw? If so, do you have a frame table? How are you getting your frame material, is it raw boards, or being ripped s4s for you?

From contributor La

"I am a small one man shop and I build mostly frameless" Given that I'd be looking for ways to improve my frameless process rather than a widebelt. A used stroke sander could speed sanding when required. If you need to sand wide glued up panels go for the widebelt. I wouldn't get a widebelt for face frames. Tune your planer and assemble accurately!

From contributor Ge

I am run a two person shop out of 1800 sqft, and am waiting for delivery on a Felder Dual 51 combination machine. It will be replacing a 12" Powermatic jointer and 20" Rockwell planer. I am looking to save space, improve cut quality and accuracy, and reduce machine noise by half. We have a 37" wide belt, and it is a big time saver, but also takes a lot of space. I have realized a stroke sander would take half as much room in the shop. I am doing all I can to work smarter in the space I have without moving, building, or causing noise complaints. It has been a real eye opener in the past how much time savings improved cut quality makes, even with a wide belt sander. Before ordering the Dual I inspected an AD741 and was very impressed with the build quality and ease of change over. That was a real concern for me. After doing a lot of research it seems that in Europe separate planers are used only by larger production shops where a combination machine would create a bottle neck. Ask yourself how much will it cost you to outgrow your space. With the right machine you may be able to eliminate far more sanding than you think.

From contributor Al

I do use pocket screws to put my frames together. I just have a kreg clamp to hold it while I screw it. I am able to get a pretty flush fit this way. Over the past couple of years I have been buying my lumber rough cut but I have been thinking of going back to S4S to try and speed up the process a bit. I have also been thinking of getting a pocket hole machine and start putting my cabinets together that way. In the end I just want to go faster without sacrificing quality. First I thought edge banding was the slow point so I bought a edge bander and it's amazing how fast that has sped up the process, that ended up making my table saw the slow point in the shop so I've recently upgraded that. Now I'm at the point where I'm thinking either wood processing, sanding, or cabinet assembly is the slow point. I can see upgrading the tools in these these areas and see it helping a great deal in speeding up the process just want to make the right decision as to what should come first. Thank you everyone for all of the responses so far.

From contributor Kr

I don't think you would ever say "why did I get this widebelt???" Everything goes through our 36"... You will not be disappointed

From contributor Mi

You probably need a bit more space but the old timesavers are awesome, will run for ever, and will save you a fortune.