Tool Test: Ridgid’s New 13" Portable Planer

Most woodworkers consider the thickness planer to be one of the most important machines in a woodshop. As a result, many manufacturers have produced a variety of sizes in planers. None has been written about as much as the 13″ portable planer.

This size planer has gone through a multitude of changes over the years with each transition making it a better machine. More features are being added, and the tool is growing into a workhorse in most home shops.

Ridgid has an improved version of its portable planer, the new R4330. This 15-amp machine has new features, but it retains the useful features from the previous model.

The improvements start with the guts of the machine. What used to be a two-knife cutterhead is now a three-knife design. Also, the rpm was increased by more than 10 percent. The planer now produces 30,000 cuts per minute (CPM) versus only 18,000 CPM with the prior unit. That greatly improves the cutting performance of the machine.

Plus, the newly designed knives are still of the dual-edge, quick-change variety; each is self-indexing and self-aligning, and you can adjust the knives from side-to-side to compensate for small nicks. A complete knife change can be accomplished in 30 minutes or less.

According to Ridgid, differences in the appearance of finished cuts from either of the two cutting speeds on competing models was negligible, so the company decided against a two-speed function for the R4330 planer, settling on a single speed of 96 cuts per inch at a feed rate of 26 feet per minute.

A significant design change in the R4330 planer is a four-post design on which the cutterhead travels instead of the two-post design used in the past. Ridgid officials said the cutterhead is secure enough in this design that it eliminated the depth-of-cut locking mechanism from the machine.

On portable planers, as with the R4330, snipe is controlled by adjusting the infeed and outfeed tables. However, right out of the box, this planer showed little snipe and it was at the trailing end of the board. So little in fact, that regular sanding would correct the problem.

An improved dust hood that opens and closes by simply rotating the hood door is a nice added feature. No planer should be used without proper dust collection, but there are times when being able to open the door to clear an obstruction is an added benefit.

The “Repeat-A-Cut” and “Ind-I-Cut” features are from the previous model. I found the Repeat-A-Cut feature handy to use. Being able to reach one of eight different thicknesses by selecting a predetermined depth stop builds accuracy into your work. I did, however, find the Ind-I-Cut feature to be a bit fussy and not as accurate to use.

Ridgid’s 13″ portable planer is available at Home Depot for $349. That’s a savings of $50 versus the older model. However, no extra set of knives is included and if you want a stand it’ll be extra, too. Also, check the box to ensure you’re buying the new machine. Both models have identical Home Depot SKU numbers. (more specifications are available on Ridgid’s web site.)

– Glen D. Huey

7 thoughts on “Tool Test: Ridgid’s New 13" Portable Planer

  1. tangent railing

    Sorry guys, but I do not like this planer. I had the older model, and it was much better. The older one was better built. The knives were bigger, so they absorbed more heat. The feed rollers on the old one garbed better. I probably plained 1/2 million square feet with the old one. Went through three sets of rollers, and eventually just wore it out. The knives lasted much longer in the old one.

    Quote from articular.

    “The planer now produces 30,000 cuts per minute (CPM) versus only 18,000 CPM with the prior unit. That greatly improves the cutting performance of the machine.”

    Well guys, in most cases this is not good. With any machine that cuts any material, the least number of times a cutting edge comes in contact with the material and is capable of giving you the results you want, the longer the cutting edge will stay sharp.

    I hate to put a negative spin on this, the only reason I bought this machine recently was because of how happy I was with the last one. I’m not happy with this one. I will be returning it.

    The only reason (in my opinion) this machine was redesigned is because three things.
    1) Competition
    2) Revenue
    3) More Profit

    Any one who used the old machine for a while and has bought this one, I’m sure would agree with me.

    If the other machine was still available, I would buy it today.

    Just this woodworker’s opinion!

  2. John JOhnson

    I’ve been wrestling with the planer decision for about 2 years. I finally needed one to dimension 3/4 stock so that it mated with "3/4" playwood (which is a little less then 3/4). I thought I was getting the old Ridgid, and even questioned the HD clerk about the stand and extra set of blades that I thought were included! What a joy the 3 blade system is!! I especially liked the zero feature on the ind-i-cut that allowed me to zero the cutter head based on the thickness of my plywood ensuring my stock would end up at that thickness as well! I can live with a bit of snipe, but I found it was easy to get close to zero snipe (got lucky?). Hopefully the blades will last longer then the DeWalt 3 blade system – time will tell. For now, I am extremely please with this find.
    JJ – San Marcos CA

  3. Jim Fields

    i cant find this planer anywhere. home depot only carries the old model at lease here in OR, is there anywhere else to get it?

  4. Raymond B. Dowdy

    I was in the market looking for a good planer 2 years ago, when I didn’t know what to look for. Then your magazine
    (Popular woodworking) arived in the mail. It showed EXACTLY what I needed, didn’t need / want, and I ended up purchasing the Ridgid 13" Portable Planer. This planer has performed OUTSTANDING. I did work for Toys For Tots here in WV. I used this planer to square and size the 8 quarter maple lumber so I can create blocks for an alphbet block wagon we make for the kids. This planer never hesitated. I LOVE
    IT! Thank You Popular Woodworking and Ridgid!!!
    Raymond B. Dowdy

  5. Bill Willis

    I just bought this planer and really enjoy it but I’ve had trouble getting the infeed/outfeed tables level with the planer table. The manual says use a metal carpenter’s square to level it but I just can’t get it right. Any suggestions?

  6. Alex Moseley

    Technical (as in blog software technical) issue. There’s a character here that’s preventing Internet Explorer 7 from displaying the blog’s RSS feed page.
    Based on the error message I get, I suspect it’s that stray character before the parenthetical statement that’s the culprit.

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