Submitted by: Greg Lobb
A thickness planer is a necessity in any modern shop and the market is vast with many options. A combination of impatience and stock availability led me to acquire the Ridgid R4331. I had wanted desperately to bring a Dewalt DW735 home, but finding one for the right price and that was in stock was becoming a challenge. Purchased new from HD, the Ridgid R4331 regularly retail for $629cdn, taking advantage of a sale price plus the charge account discount I managed to only pay $359. My decision to purchase this was due to the availability of replacement blades and Ridgid’s lifetime service agreement, which requires the tool be registered (something I’ve yet to do).
The planer comes equipped with in and out feed tables which makes planing larger material much more manageable. An occasional waxing to ease the friction is highly recommended. These fold up nicely for storage and don’t add much to the overall footprint. Some flex can be expected but not a significant amount.
The chip ejector is quite effective and will spray debris everywhere. The 2 1/2″ port easily attaches to most shop vacs or dust collectors and doing so will take care of nearly all the shavings.
I use my planer mainly for surfacing my material and for this it succeeds. The blades are cheap, easy to change, self aligning and double sided. If the need arises to upgrade to a larger machine, this would remain in the workshop for surfacing salvaged materials. New blades will leave a clean surface with very little left to do for a clean finish. I have fed it all sorts of different material and it has handled it all well. Some materials such as wider hardwoods and wet softwoods have bogged it down, but they still push through with no compromise on the surface.
Now to the issue of snipe, this is the first planer I’ve ever used so this is new to me. The first while I was experiencing a tremendous amount of snipe, nearly over 2″ at the beginning and end and almost a full 1/8″. I later found out that there is a carriage lock that will help with snipe, this however only reduced the depth, it is still noticeable in the first and last couple of inches. Being mindful of this, I make sure all my material is longer than I need it before I pass it through. I’m sure a reading of the manual would have prevented the early disappointment, but I get excited with new tools. There are a couple of convenience features like the Ind-I-cut which gauges the amount of material being removed and Repeat-a-cut for dimensions stock to the same thickness.
This being said, I found this planer to be a good value, especially with the service agreement, and should be considered if the price is right. I keep mine on a mobile cart for ease of storage and maintaining a decent working height.