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.)