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13″ Ridgid Thickness Planer Review

13″ Ridgid Thickness Planer Review

by Ethan Hagan (email Ethan) | | May 9, 2013 | 13 Comments »

The 13″ Ridgid thickness planer is a new addition to the OPC workshop, and it fills a huge void in our tool arsenal. This planer enables me to process rough-cut boards and true-up lumber before starting a woodworking project. It can handle stock up to 13″ wide and 6-1/8″ thick, and the resulting finish requires very little sanding afterward. Best of all, it’s about $100 – $200 cheaper than comparable models!

Ridgid-Thickness-Planer

Ridgid provided the R4331 Thickness planer for review, and I’ve already put it to good use for some small projects. So far I really like this planer, and I wish I had it when I was building my Pottery Barn knock-off dining table. If you’re looking for a planer, this is a great choice. You can find the R4331 at Home Depot for $399.00 and a pack of extra blades costs about $30.

Features

The Ridgid R4331 features a three-blade cutter head with high-speed steel (HSS) blades. The blades are self-indexing for easy alignment, and they are reversible which means replacing the blade less frequently. There’s some debate over HSS blades versus carbide blades. From my research online, carbide blades are more expensive because they are stiffer, making them a good choice for very hard woods like Teak or Ipe. For other species (walnut, cherry, maple), the HSS blades result in a better finish.

Infeed Table

The R4331 is equipped with a 15 amp, 9,000 RPM motor, and this is right in-line with competitors products. This planer cuts 96 cuts per inch (CPI) and a moves material through at 23.5 feet per minute (FPM).

Outfeed Table

Ridgid positioned a 2-1/2″ dust port above the out-feed table. There’s no need for an adapter for connecting to a shop vac like some competitors’ models, and the chip impeller helps keep the cutter head clear for better cut quality.

Dust Port

The depth adjustment handle is on top of the planer and 1/4 turn results in 1/64″ height change so you can dial it in to the exact height required.

Depth Adjust

The R4331 Ridgid thickness planer features the Sure-Cut carriage lock to securely lock the cutter head in place. This is an expected feature on bench top planers to eliminate movement and thereby snipe (more on snipe below).

Blade Lock

The Repeat-A-Cut feature is an 8-position preset to set the plane to an exact height. It’s really helpful for planing multiple workpieces down to the same height, and it ranges from 1/8″ to 1-3/4″.

Repeat-A-Cut

Using the Planer

I’ve had this planer for about a month, and I’ve used it for a few small projects. I was pleasantly surprised with the easy setup, and the quality of the finish. After running boards through the planner, they only require minimal sanding.

Ind-I-Cut

The Ind-I-Cut is a gauge that reveals how much material will be removed from a workpiece before sending it through. It’s helpful when you know the difference between two boards, and it prevents me from trying to plane off too much in one pass.

Ind-I-Cut works when a small ball bearing comes in contact with the board. Unfortunately, that only occurs in the middle of the planer. I would have preferred a full-width gauge that would have allowed me to position my workpiece anywhere across the planer.

Ind-I-Cut-Closeup

Eliminating Snipe

Snipe is a term commonly used when discussing planers and jointers, and it refers to a slightly deeper cut usually found at the beginning or end of a workpiece. Snipe usually occurs when a board isn’t fully supported and the weight puts additional pressure against the cutter head. You can see a very faint line on the board pictured below, and that is snipe.

Snipe

To eliminate snipe with the R4331, Ridgid makes it easy to adjust the in-feed and out-feed table supports. After a few tries, I was able to run boards through without any noticeable snipe. The tables measure 13-1/4″ wide x 12″ deep, and I may build a mobile workstation with bigger supports in the future.

If you’re experiencing problems with snipe, check for dull cutter blades and try to butt workpieces end-to-end as they are fed into the planer. Alternatively, you can cut boards longer than necessary and trim the snipe after planing.

Table Support Adjust

Blade Changes

Ridgid provides convenient, on-board storage for the magnetic blade wrench.

Blade Wrench

To change or rotate blades, all you have to do is remove the dust hood (2 screws), make sure the cutter head is locked and remove the screws securing the blade. It’s very simple and only takes about 5 minutes.

Planer Blades

Overall

Overall, I’m really excited about this planer. It has a powerful motor and can handle large stock. Ridgid included a great feature-set, and the planer works intuitively.  I haven’t had any problems with the planer. It does come lubed up with lots of shipping grease so it needed a good cleaning. Whenever I get around to making that workstation, I’ll update this review.

Specifications

  • Motor: 120 V, AC only, 15 Amps
  • No Load Speed: 9,000 r/min. (RPM) 27,000 CPM
  • Cuts per Inch: 96 CPI
  • Feed Rate: 23.5 FPM
  • Capacity (W x H): 13 in. and 6-1/8 in.
  • Maximum Depth of Cut: 1/8 in.
  • Weight: 73 lbs.
  • Assembled Dimensions: 21″h x 24″w x 18″d

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Conversation on This Article

13 Responses to 13″ Ridgid Thickness Planer Review

  • supimeister responds...
    May 9th, 2013 7:32 am

    I am slightly confused about your statement that comparable models are $100-200 more… Is the DEWALT DW734 15 less powerful? Or is the DW735X its competition?

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    I’m saying this is on par with more expensive models like the $600 Steel City and $529 Makita (HD prices). The DeWalt DW734 is almost exactly the same as the R4331, and they are priced the same too.

    [Reply]

    supimeister Reply:

    Ohhhh okay. Thanks for the clarification.

    [Reply]

  • jeff_williams responds...
    May 9th, 2013 9:12 am

    I have this same planer and I really like it as well. It has very minimal assembly and has a very quality feel to it. I’m still working on the snipe issue. I know I have to adjust the tables a little more because I still get snipe when I lead and trail with scrap boards.

    [Reply]

  • Reuben responds...
    May 9th, 2013 10:12 am

    Always wanted one of these…. Just haven’t been able to justify it yet….

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    I’m in the same situation. A price tag of $400 puts a lot of other items in front of this purchase.

    [Reply]

  • John @ AZ DIY Guy responds...
    May 9th, 2013 9:27 pm

    Awesome review. I was blessed to find a new, sealed-in-the-box Rigid Planer on Craigslist for $200. It had sat in an old guy’s garage for years. It’s an earlier model than this one, but shares most of the features. It’s a great tool and has held up really well.

    [Reply]

  • poiboybf responds...
    May 10th, 2013 10:06 am

    Thanks for the review. I am sort of waiting for a used one to show up on Craigslist. I wouldn’t mind this one or the DeWalt 734 or 735. Thanks for writing!

    [Reply]

  • Eek565 responds...
    May 10th, 2013 4:52 pm

    It was a toss up for me between this one and one of the DeWalts. I ultimately went with the DeWalt 734, but have yet to put it to use. If you are ever in need of rough lumber for a larger project it’s worth the drive to the Hicksville Planing Mill in Clear Springs, MD. It’s a bit of a drive from Baltimore, but their prices are insanely low. It’s a Mennonite operation so the hours are weird. Make sure to call and make sure they are open. I don’t think they take credit either. https://plus.google.com/113382628635276489528/about?hl=en

    [Reply]

  • trebor responds...
    May 13th, 2013 1:09 pm

    So glad you reviewed this. I’ve been keeping my eye on Craigslist for a planer and I’ve seen this model come up a couple of times. Just been waiting to pull the trigger until I can justify the purchase immediately with a project :)

    Unless you want to put your planer up on the Rewards Center, Ethan… :P

    [Reply]

  • dadskills responds...
    May 20th, 2013 3:47 pm

    thanks for the review. im new to woodworking and wonder how you fell about a jointer. Is a planner good enough or do you feel you need both.

    [Reply]

  • ErWhite responds...
    May 20th, 2013 9:37 pm

    I have been meaning to get a new one after moving across the country and away from my dad’s shop. They are great for cutting boards as well… as long as you eliminate that snipe!

    [Reply]

  • JustME responds...
    June 13th, 2013 3:03 am

    Thanks for the great review Ethan It is very helpful information since my hubby has wanted a planner for some now, but since I didn’t know much about them I haven’t really known whether or not to encourage him to go ahead and get one. Which is rare because I’m always the one talking him into getting a new “toy” for the wood work shop.

    [Reply]





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