The 12 1/2″ Ryobi thickness planer was recently released and I was lucky enough to receive one from team Ryobi to evaluate. The timing was good as I had recently gone back to a local Amish shed builder and restocked my supply of rough cut hemlock boards. They are all 6″ x 1″ full dimension rough cut boards. I have found a number of uses for these thick boards, and have primarily used them in their rough cut form. I was in need of some smooth boards though, as I needed a larger table top for set up at our local farmers market. Five boards planed smooth on one side and two portable saw horses later, I was in business. The table is ready, the vegetables are ripe and we’re ready to go! So let’s take a quick look at the new 12.5″ Ryobi thickness planer.
Ryobi’s 12 1/2″ planer is a substantial tool. There are no worries about this tool walking on you during operation. It features handy fold down tables that stabilize the work piece on both the in feed and out feed sides. My previous planer had removable tables that complicated storage and were fussy to set up and get aligned with the base of the tool. kudos to Ryobi on this clever design feature.
Ryobi Thickness Planer and the Big Switch
The on/off switch is oversized and conveniently placed. The size allows for easy access for starting the tool as well as a large easy to hit target in the event of the need for a rapid shutdown. The piece being planed should always be carefully inspected for any foreign objects before being introduced into the tool, but sometimes even careful inspection can fail to find bits of a nail or screw in old wood. In the event of such an issue, rapid shutdown can minimize damage to the blades and workpiece. The switch is also equipped with a removable tab. Removing this tab will disable the switch, preventing accidental or unwanted starts.
Easy to Read Scale
One of my favorite features on the Ryobi thickness planer was the large, easy to read thickness scale. With both imperial and metric scales displayed as well as precise increments, the tool is easy to set up for desired thickness. As I get older and my visual acuity fades I really appreciate large bold print. The scale on the Ryobi planer fills the bill and is pretty foolproof.
Powerful 15amp Motor
The large knobby crank at the top of the tool is used to move the cutter head up and down. The cutter head features a powerful 15 amp motor which allows for smooth cuts on the stock being planed. I was planing air dried hemlock boards which didn’t present any challenge for this tool. Thanks to the combination of the motor that powers the tool and the in feed and out feed tables, I never experienced any snipe when starting or finishing a board. The cutting head moves smoothly on four columns that provide additional stability and accuracy.
Ryobi Planer Dust Collection
The Ryobi thickness planer is equipped with a removable dust collection port. It is sized to be compatible with most central dust collection systems. I was using mine out in the driveway and was able to adapt the port to my shop vac with a bit of duct tape. Planing operations produce a large volume of chips and dust, so dust collection is essential. I did note that you need to be sure to clear the collection manifold after each board as otherwise the chips can back up and plug up the port, which results in chips being ejected from the cutting opening. Once I started clearing the manifold regularly I did not experience any further problems.
Planing for Good Results
As with any planer, proper set up is necessary to achieve good results. Supporting the stock to be planed is important, leveling the support to the in feed and out feed tables will help to eliminate snipe and cupping, which can ruin expensive stock, especially if the stock is already cut to working length. It’s also important to sneak up on the desired thickness. It is good practice to find the thickest point on the stock and set the planer up to remove a 1/16th” of an inch, even if that means you have to manually feed the board until it engages the high spot. Naturally, you’ll want to follow all manufacturer safety recommendations to keep anything but your board from getting close to the cutters. Continue to lower the cutter head in small increments until you reach the desired thickness or surface finish if thickness is not a factor.
Overall Impressions on the Ryobi Thickness Planer
I was pleased with the performance of the Ryobi 12 1/2″ thickness planer. The 6″ thickness capacity should be sufficient for almost any application and the 12 1/2″ width is standard for planers in this class. The 15 amp motor proved to be plenty powerful. I experienced no stalling when running stock through at the proper settings. As with any thickness planer, setup is a significant factor in achieving good results. Properly aligning the stock to be planed with the cutter head is also important, especially when working with wider stock. I was pleased to be able to replace my older planer with this new model from Ryobi, it’s easy to set thickness and has plenty of power for anything I would throw at it.
The Ryobi Thickness Planer (Model AP1305) is available for well under $400.