Ridgid 18-Volt Cordless Planer

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This article is from Issue 5 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Can a planing task ever be fun? Probably not, but this planer makes the chore quick and easy.

By R.B. Himes

with plenty of power, four cutting depths and a couple other nice features, Ridgid’s model R848 18-volt hand planer did everything I asked of it without a whimper.

I’ve run hundreds of feet of stock through stationary planers, but this was my first extended contact with one of their portable cousins. I liked what I found, but I highly recommend some serious practice time on scrap wood before you go after your premium stuff. The “how to plane” section outlined in the tool’s somewhat skimpy instruction booklet is one of the few shortcomings I encountered. 

The planer is ready to go to work right out of its generously sized carrying case as soon as you slide on the dust bag. The bag’s friction fit makes taking it on and off a breeze – which is good, since it fills quickly and it’s supposed to be emptied when half full. A better option is using the chip collection system’s 11/4" side port that hooks up to your vacuum’s hose, something you’ll want to do whenever portability isn’t a factor.  

Selecting planing thicknesses couldn’t be easier; a simple twist of a dial allows you to choose depths from a whisper-thin 1/64" through 1/32" and 3/64", to an aggressive 1/16".  

For testing purposes I wanted to try this 11,000-rpm (no-load speed) machine on some of the most taxing woods in my shop. I started with pieces of ash and red oak, and ran many passes at all four depths with no problem, then switched to 3/4" interior-grade plywood, which it handled with no tearout. I then tackled numerous pieces of 2"-wide walnut, taking each from sawmill-rough to glossy smooth in just a few passes. The most challenging wood I tried was 13/4" curly cherry. Once again the R848 performed well, even though the grain was pretty wild in spots.

Multitasking

I attribute my good results to Ridgid’s “spiral cut” action. The disposable blades (easily replaced when needed) are attached to a cylinder-shaped blade holder that cuts in a spiral manner. It does what I do when using a hand plane – that is, it skews the blade slightly in relation to the wood. I also dared to plane endgrain (on 1/64"), getting respectable results.

I found when planing at a sensible rate, even at a full 1/16" bite on rock-hard wood, I never had the feeling this tool was underpowered, thanks to its quick-charging 18-volt battery. (The battery recharges in just 30 minutes – a good thing since only one power pack is included with the kit.)

In addition to straightforward planing, an edge/rabbet guide provides some extra versatility. The edge guide can be attached to either side as needed. I recommend its use whenever possible on narrow stock, as it lessens the planer’s tendency to rock on the narrow widths. Cutting rabbets up to 1/2" deep is achievable by making multiple passes, while a guide groove in the tool’s front shoe allows you do chamfering. It’s a freehand technique I found okay for knocking off a noncritical edge, but I wouldn’t trade the control I can get with my good old-fashioned hand plane.

One final nice touch is a “kickstand.” When you set the planer down on your workbench, this neat gizmo located at the back of the shoe pivots down to keep the blades from being damaged or marring the work surface. It pivots up and out of the way automatically when you begin planing.

I was also impressed with the way Ridgid backs up this tool: They offer a 90-day satisfaction guarantee that allows a full refund or exchange if you’re dissatisfied for any reason. The three-year limited service warranty is more than fair and covers a lot, even cordless batteries.

While I can’t say that wood planing is ever going to be fun, the fast, smooth results delivered by the Ridgid R848 hand planer, priced at around $149, might at least bring a smile to your face.

For more information, contact Ridgid at ridgid.com.

— R.B. Himes is an advertising and graphic arts specialist who lives in Vienna, Ohio.

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