Bench planes are crucial for a woodshop, as you can use a bench plane to do a particular job on your work-piece.
There are several types of bench planes however, and they all do different tasks and have different characteristics.
One type of bench plane is the jack plane, while another is the jointer plane.
Jack Plane vs Jointer Plane
The jack plane has earned its name because it is regarded as the jack of all trades among the bench plans. It can remove material quickly like the bench plane called the fore plane.
It can straighten the wood like the jointer plane. It can also prepare the wood for finishing by making it extremely smooth, like a smoothing plane can. This is the ultimate general-purpose bench plane.
The jointer plane is meant to prepare long pieces of wood before jointing them, which is why it’s called the jointer plane.
You use this to accurately level and square the long edges of the boards so you can joint them edge to edge to produce a wider board. You can see this effect on a typical table top, when you have several boards lined up together in your dining room table.
Once you’ve used a scrub plane to somewhat flatten a rough board, you can use a jointer plane afterwards to shave off smaller amounts of wood. This is called “sizing”, when you reduce the wood to the size you want.
You can also use this for the initial stage of the smoothing process. As the jointer is longer compared to a smoothing plane, it can do a better job at removing the high points of wood instead of just following the undulations. You can then end up with a straighter edge.
Once you’re done with the jack plane, you can then use the jointer to really straighten up the edges of the board so they’re really prepared to be jointed.
You can also use this to prepare the board edges for gluing, as you can add a spring joint to a panel glue-up. When you plane the mid-section of the edge just a tiny bit hollow, you end up with a spring joint.
You use a clamp at the center to close up the joint to close the ends tightly. You keep the ends of the joint in tension and the extra pressure helps when the ends of the panel lose and gain more moisture faster than the center.
Bench Plane Numbers
Specific bench planes are differentiated by certain numbers. The jack planes include the no. 5 bench plane and the no. 5¼ though this is often called the junior jack.
The jointer planes include the no. 7 and the no. 8 bench planes.
The sizes differ depending on the number. With the no. 5 jack plane, the length of the sole is 14 inches and the cutter width is 2 inches. The no. 5¼ plane is 11½ inches long at the sole, while the cutter is 1¾ inches wide.
The no. 7 jointer is 22 inches long with a cutting width of 2⅜ inches. The no. 8 jointer plane is 24 inches long with a cutter width of 2⅝ inches.
The no. 8 is a lot heavier and wider than the no. 7, and for some it can be somewhat unwieldy and difficult to use. However, the larger size makes it a lot more effective in dealing with tough grain.
Both the wooden and the standard metal versions of the jack planes and the jointers have irons pitched at 45 degrees with the bevel facing down.
However, they both have low-angle metal versions with the iron at 12 degrees with the bevel facing up.
Cutting Edge Shape
The jack plane has a cutting edge that’s honed straight, but with rounded corners. The straight edge helps with jointing and smoothing, while the rounded corners prevent you from leaving tracks on your wood surfaces.
The jointed cutting edge is typically straight, since its primary use is to cut perfectly flat surfaces.
Which One Do You Need?
From this comparison of Jack Plane vs Jointer Plane you may have understood what do you need.
But if ask for a fair opinion on these two, I say, It depends on how many bench planes you have in your woodshop. If you’re planning to have just one bench plane, then you better get the jack plane. It can do many types of jobs, so it’s like having many different bench planes in a single tool.
However, if you’re planning to get many different types of bench planes, then you need a jointer along with a smoother and a fore plane. That’s because when you use a jointer to produce perfectly flat edges, the results are better than what you get with a jack plane.