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Ridgid 13" Thickness Planer
Tough, accurate and priced right
Text & Photos by Tom Hintz
Ridgid's' TP1300LS 13" Thickness Planer has caught the eye of many woodworkers, due in large part to the accolades from those already using one. The lack of problems – and snipe – combined with the general praise offered by current owners and a budget-saving price meant NewWoodworker.com had to look at this machine.
The Ridgid TP1300LS looks well built as it comes from its substantial packaging. Ours arrived undamaged even though the outer box had seen better days. All of the parts and pieces are sturdy, cleanly made and assembly appears to be first rate. We would find that the factory adjustments were also very well done.
One of the unique features of the Ridgid TP1300LS is the specially designed stand that comes packed in the box with the planer. The stand comes in 16 pieces, which makes the exploded diagram in the instruction manual a little frightening, but assembly is rather straight forward. A blister pack containing the fastener set eliminates coming up one short.
The stand holds the Ridgid TP1300LS at a working height of nearly 33 inches above the floor, which is comfortable and makes handling the stock in and out easy. Though made from stamped sheet metal, the stand is solid and holds the Ridgid TP1300LS steady during use.
The only addition I would make to the stand assembly instructions is to set it where you intend to use the Ridgid TP1300LS, place a level on top of the stand and level it before tightening the nuts that locks it together. It is easier to work with a machine that is level and this additional step takes only minutes.
The Ridgid TP1300LS is powered by a 15 amp, 120V motor that is built into the cutter head. It has replaceable brushes and a thermal protection circuit with a front-mounted rest button. Though no horsepower claim is made in the accompanying literature, the motor never lacked power throughout our evaluation process.
The motor also drives a built in fan that helps direct chips and dust into the manifold for evacuation by your dust collector or shop vac.
The Ridgid TP1300LS is a single speed planer with the motor spinning the cutterhead at a stout 9,500-rpm. That produces 19,000 cuts per minute from the twin knives and 66 cuts per inch at the 26 feet per minute feed rate. All that means that unless the operator does something very wrong, the Ridgid TP1300LS will produce a very smooth finish.
Blades & Replacement
The cutterhead of the Ridgid TP1300LS is easily accessible from the top by removing three knobs that secure the dust cover and chip evacuation manifold. The blades are secured by expanding bolts that are loosened with the included wrench. Ridgid also includes a specially made blade extraction tool that makes picking the blade out of the cutterhead easy and safe for your fingers. Reaching the bolts through the opening is reasonably easy, especially when compared to some other planers I have worked with.
The double-edged blades rest in a machined channel in the cutterhead that controls depth, making setup a drop-in task. Ridgid also includes an extra set of double-edged knives (clipped under the outfeed table) in a reusable plastic case, something that is not only a good idea but makes the price of this machine look even better.
Cut & Snipe Control
Cutter height adjustments are made throughout the 6" maximum capacity range by turning a large-diameter hand wheel. Each full revolution of the hand wheel produces a 1/16" change in cutter height. A clear scale on the front of the Ridgid TP1300LS is read through an adjustable cursor that makes judging cutter height accurate and easy.
Directly above the hand wheel is a finger-operated lever that locks and unlocks the cutterhead to help control snipe. Though easy to operate, this lock appears very effective.
On the front of the cutterhead is a gauge that accurately predicts the depth of cut that will be taken from a piece of wood. Hold the wood an inch or so under the cutterhead as it is lowered and the indicator begins to rise when the knives will engage the wood. This "Ind-I-Cut Ô Depth Gauge is surprisingly accurate and easy to use.
The Ridgid TP1300LS also has a system they call "Repeat-A-Cut Ô " that automatically stops the cutterhead at one of 8 positions representing depths from 1 ¾" down to 1/8." The mechanism is adjustable through a cover on the side of the machine but in testing, we found these presets to be right on the money as it came from the factory.
Like any effective planer, the Ridgid TP1300LS produces a remarkable volume of chips. While the internal system is reasonably good at tossing the debris out of the bare port and onto the floor, using some form of collector is a better and far less messy alternative.
Recognizing the different dust collector capabilities woodworkers have, Ridgid designed a manifold that allows using either the common 4"-diameter dust collector hose or the smaller 2 ¼" versions found on most shop-vac's. A dual-purpose plug seals the unused end of the manifold.
I made similar depth passes with a 6-hp shop-vac and then with my Delta 50-760 dust collector connected to the Ridgid TP1300LS with predictable results. The full-on dust collector does a much better job but the manifold design is efficient enough for the shop-vac to prevent a bunch of sweeping when you are done planning.
Also standard equipment on the Ridgid TP1300LS are fold-up infeed and outfeed extension tables that make getting stock in and out of the
machine straight much easier. Each table is 14"-wide and 12"-deep, adding up to a 33 7/8" total support width including the fixed Ridgid TP1300LS bed between them.
These tables are very effective at limiting snipe, especially with stock up to 4' to 5'-long. As with all planers, when the board length gets much longer, the weight hanging off the table can leverage the end up and cause snipe. When planning long boards, adding work supports outside of the tables to carry that weight lets the rollers do their job and snipe is not a problem.
In the Shop
Despite its bargain price in the home thickness planer world, the Ridgid TP1300LS is a very good machine that performs well. During evaluation, I ran pine, walnut, red oak and a couple varieties of maple through the Ridgid TP1300LS. All species emerged smooth and flat, needing just a touch of final sanding to be ready for finishing.
The lack of dual feed rates does not compromise the performance of the Ridgid TP1300LS. The results it produced in my shop suggest that Ridgid has balanced the cuts per inch and feed rate very well and eliminated a common source for trouble at the same time. Even harder woods like red oak that I would normally plane at the slower feed rate on two-speed machines emerged from the Ridgid TP1300LS with a very smooth surface.
As mentioned above, dust collection through the Ridgid TP1300LS manifold is good though not 100-per cent. Like all planers I have tried, a small amount of debris is thrown out by the knives, a point of physics we will never totally overcome. However, the amount that does escape, particularly when a full-on dust collector is attached is easily dealt with and does not hinder the performance of the planning operation.
The Ridgid TP1300LS is loud enough to make wearing hearing protection a very good idea. Again, this is common to this type of machine, not something unique to the Ridgid TP1300LS which is no louder than other planers I have tried.
The Ridgid TP1300LS is a very capable thickness planer for woodworking shops. It has the power and quality of cut we need but with a street price of $349.00 (3-20-2006), the Ridgid TP1300LS is also easy on the budget. Factor in the free extra set of knives, plus the included stand and this deal gets better yet.
If you need a thickness planer, the full set of features, quality construction, solid performance and attractive price should make the Ridgid TP1300LS a must-see tool.
The Ridgid TP1300LS is available at Home Depot stores nationwide. To visit the Home Depot web site – Click Here
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