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The Ridgid jointer is a solid machine with good capabilities in this price range.
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Ridgid 6 1/8" Jointer/Planer

Economical and solid

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

Initial Impressions

   The Ridgid JP06101, 6 1/8" jointer/planer appears to be a solid, capable machine that comes with an attractive price tag.
   The fit and finish of the parts is good. The cast iron tables and fence mechanism are beefy iron castings and cleanly machined. All contribute to a good overall appearance.

Instructions and Assembly

   The Ridgid JP06101 cutter head and tables are factory assembled which saves the user a bunch of time though adds to the effort a bit because that assembly makes up a substantial portion of the overall 208 lb weight. Having help with this part of assembly is a good idea.
   The instructions are easy to follow and guide the assembly process in a logical sequence. Clear illustrations augment the text, making assembly, use and maintenance easier.
   The fasteners come in a blister package with the correct number of pieces and all labeled for easy identification. A nice touch is that all of the nuts need a ½" wrench and the bolts a 9/16" wrench.
   The sheet metal base panels are accurately formed, allowing the bolt holes to align properly. While most of the base is easy to assemble, two bolts are a bit challenging to get to, one on the motor mount and another on the base itself. The good news is both access problems are due to a very effective dust chute that runs on a 45-degree angle from the cutter head to the left side of the base. The dust system works so well we can forgive the one-time hassle of installing two bolts.
   I was able to complete assembly in less than two hours. In my case, adjustments added another 30 minutes or so to get the Ridgid JP06101 ready for use.

Factory Adjustments

Checking the factory setup revealed a few small, easily fixed alignment issues.
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I make it a habit to go through the setup and adjustment procedures on new machines before plugging them in. Checking the factory settings revealed a couple small problems with the Ridgid JP06101.
               Two of the three knives were set within an acceptable 0.010" of level with the outfeed table. The third was 0.020" high at the front (operator side) and 0.030" high at the rear. After correcting that knife, I also tuned up the other two and got all three to within 0.002" of perfect.
   This misalignment would not have caused damage to the machine but certainly could produce a vibration and "choppy" surface on the wood.
   The fence base was out of line with the table enough that the right side of the fence nearly contacted the table while the left side was about ¼" high. Again, a simple adjustment involving two cap screws fixed it.
   Both the inward and outward 45-degree fence stops were perfect right out of the box but the 90-degree setting was off badly. When adjusting it, I found the adjuster bolt had been left loose. Again, correcting this last problem was easy and I soon had the Ridgid JP06101 ready to begin testing.
   Note: Since posting the notice that the review of the Ridgid JP06101 was in progress, I heard from several current owners of this machine. Only one related similar factory adjustment problems to the ones we encountered. That makes me confident this is not an ongoing factory issue.

            

Motor

The motor mounts to the angled dust chute using slotted holes for belt adjustment. This is easy during assembly but might be a little tougher later if the belt stretches or needs replacement.
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   The Ridgid JP06101 is powered by a 1 HP, induction motor that comes wired for 110V (112 amp) but can be converted for 220V (6 amp) power. The TEFC (totally enclosed fan cooled) motor has a no load RPM of 3450 RPM and drives the cutter head through a belt, producing 10,350 CPM (cuts per minute).
   The motor is mounted on a slotted base that allows tensioning of the belt. While the initial setting of the belt is not a big problem, making this adjustment later may require turning the machine over or removing the rear base panel for access. Fortunately, this adjustment is required infrequently.
   The motor comes pre-wired with the On/Off switch and power cord attached. The switch and cord stress relief mount are factory installed and only need to be screwed in place to the base.

Tables

(Top) The tables are 45"-long with a rabbeting ledge on the outfeed end.
(Bottom) a magnified depth scale makes adjusting cuts easy.
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The infeed and outfeed tables combine for an overall surface area 45 ½"-long by 7 ¼"-wide. The tables on our Ridgid JP06101 arrived correctly adjusted parallel to each other.
               Both tables have gib screw adjustments for correcting these types of problems should they develop later.
   The outfeed table is also adjustable for height though that will be used infrequently by most woodworkers. A ledge on the outfeed table allows forming rabbets up to ½"-deep.
   The infeed table has a large hand wheel for adjusting the depth of cut. A magnified indicator on the front face of the head assembly makes accurate cut depth adjustments easy.
   The surfaces of both tables are ground flat with a smooth surface that when treated with paste wax or one of the newer chemical preparations, allows the wood to slide smoothly over the cutter head.

            

Fence

(Top) The Fence bevels in or out to 45-degrees.
(Bottom) The fence support is huge, strong and accurate.
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   At 29 ¼"-long and 4"-tall, the fence is not huge but more than sufficient. The face is ground flat and smooth to work with the tables to slip the workpiece across the cutter head easily.
   The fence can be adjusted to 45-degrees in or out, a very good feature. Positive, adjustable stops are provided for 90-degrees and both 45-degres settings. The locking mechanism for the fence angle is solid and secure. Adjusting the fence for cut width is equally secure with a large diameter rubberized hand wheel used to lock and release it.
   The mechanism for controlling fence tilt and position is made from a heavy iron casting that insures a stable fence and adds to the overall bulk of the Ridgid JP06101 to soak up vibration.

Cutter Head

   The Ridgid JP06101 has a three-blade cutter head that is designed for easy replacement and adjustment of the blades. A nice touch is the use of jack screws for setting blade height. I use a Oneway Multi-Gauge for setting blades and the jack screws makes it easy to adjust the blades within 0.003" of perfect.
   An open end and Allen wrench are supplied for making blade and other adjustments on the Ridgid JP06101.
   The cutter head seems very well balanced despite having plenty of mass for smooth cutting.

Dust Collection

This 4" port can be slid up to open the chute if a dust collector is not available.
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   That dust chute that caused minor assembly problems did so because it is designed to be efficient. The chute forms a straight path from the cutter head to the outlet with no crevices to collect or deflect dust. With a reasonably sized dust collector hooked up, dust control is very good.
   The outlet port has a positionable cover with a formed 4" connector but the entire plate can be slid up out of the way by releasing two thumbscrews. For those without a dust collector, opening the outlet cover dumps the dust onto the floor without blowing it all over the shop.

In the Shop

There is plenty of power to handle virtually any jointing or planing task and leave a silky-smooth surface behind.
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  The Ridgid JP06101 performed very well throughout our testing. The cuts came out smooth and accurate to the fence setting. The motor has plenty of power and handled planning 6"-wide oak stock without a whimper.
   The fence angle system is easy to operate and proved to be very repeatable. Changing from 90-degrees to 45-degrees in or out produced accurate cuts each time without further adjustment.
   When connected to a good dust collector, the chip evacuation on the Ridgid JP06101 is nearly 100-percent efficient. I doubt any machine with a spinning cutter can be absolutely dust-free but the Ridgid JP06101 is getting very close. This efficiency makes it easy to forgive the minor difficulty reaching a couple bolts during assembly.
   The Ridgid JP06101 is surprisingly quiet considering what is going on at the cutters. The belt drive system, along with housing the motor within the base appear to help reduce the sound level.

Minimum Material Thickness

This machine is designed to work with material at least 3/4"-thick. The wood in the photo is exactly 3/4"-thick and shows how one or two cuts will reduce it to the point it will pass under the safety guard.
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   The only design feature I am less enthused about is the ¾" minimum material thickness as stated in the instruction manual. The safety guard is cut with this minimum thickness in mind, allowing material under ¾"-thick to pass beneath it rather than make contact to push it aside as it is moved across the cutter. A ¾"-thick board can be planed once, maybe twice with very light cuts but will then be undersize according to the Ridgid JP06101 instructions.
   This minimum thickness is only a problem when planning boards and has no impact on the more frequent jointing operations.
   Whether this design specification would be an issue in your shop depends solely on the material you use. I suspect for many woodworkers, this will not be an insurmountable problem.

Conclusions

   The Ridgid JP06101 Jointer/Planer is a solid machine that handles jointing operations very well. The overall design and materials used are very good. With minimal care and maintenance, the Ridgid JP06101 will perform well for many years to come.
   With a street price of $349.00, (4-31-05 - Homedepot.com) the Ridgid JP06101 puts full-sized jointing capabilities within many budgets.

   You can see this and other Ridgid tools at your local Home Depot or on line at www.homedepot.com.

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