Ryobi wood planers are trusted by many woodworkers for their affordability and high quality. They have many models available that professionals swear by, but we’ll focus mainly on the Ryobi HPL51K and the Ryobi AP1301 today. With an in-depth look at both planers, you should have a clear understanding of which one is best for your woodworking projects by the end of this guide.
Pros of Ryobi HPL51K Corded Planer
The Ryobi HPL51K is a great budget-friendly corded planer that’s electric and fully portable. It comes with a storage case that makes it easy to transport and take from job site to job site. Weighing in at around 6 lbs, it isn’t all that light, but it also isn’t so heavy that you’ll start to get tired of holding it partway through a job.
Considering the low price of this electric hand planer, you might expect it to lack power or not do a great job of cutting. However, this is not the case.
The HPL51K has a powerful motor that cuts through just about anything. When you’re cutting hard wood, you might start to have some difficulties around 3/32” cuts, but nothing unbearable. You’ll notice the powerful motor starting to strain, but this can be expected at the maximum cutting depth. In fact, this planer still does a pretty impressive job.
This electric hand planer has a cutting depth range of 0” to 3/32”. When transporting the planer, you’ll want to set it to 0” but after that, you can make cuts every 1/64” until you reach 3/32”. There’s an easy adjustment knob to make changing the cut depth simple and smooth.
You can find a dust exhaust direction knob below the handle that allows you to direct the dust either to the right or the left. There’s even a small dust collection bag included with the planer. However, the bag is really small, so unless you really need it, it’s a better idea to let the dust fall to the floor and brush it up after. You can also connect the planer to your own duster extraction system if you need to.
The HPL51K electric hand planer comes equipped with a little kickstand for when the planer is not in use. It’s just a simple plastic arm, but it’s easy to kick in place when you need it and it’s quick to tuck back up when you’re done. It isn’t top notch, but it will protect your blade from extra and unnecessary wear.
With extra blades, the Ryobi HPL51K electric hand planer is easy to service. The planer uses two blades at a time and comes with two extras for when the original two get dull. The best part about the blades is that they’re reversible so once one side gets dull, you can flip them around before you have to switch them out completely.
Another part that often needs to be switched out is the belt. Fortunately, even this is easy to service yourself as Ryobi gives you easy access to it. Unscrew the two screws on the belt cover and swap it out on your own. It’s quick and easy, eliminating the need to take your planer in for servicing.
Cons of Ryobi HPL51K Corded Planer
While this electric hand planer is pretty impressive for the price, there are a few downsides to its design that you should be aware. They may not be a deal breaker, but it’s better to know ahead of time what to expect.
As mentioned above, the dust bag that the HPL51K comes with isn’t very big. After about two passes, you’ll find yourself needing to empty it out. This can greatly slow down your progress if you have to stop and empty the dust bag every few passes. If you have your own collection bag, we recommend that you use it instead of what’s included with the planer.
Another downside is that this electric hand planer doesn’t have a lot of frills and extra features. When you look at the price, this shouldn’t be surprising. It’s a simple planer that is affordable for any woodworker.
Pros of Ryobi AP1301 Thickness Planer
The Ryobi AP1301 is a 13” thickness planer that’s affordable and powerful. Even though it doesn’t come with extension tables, there doesn’t seem to be too much snipe like you would expect.
While the thickness planer doesn’t need to be mounted to be used safely, you can mount it to a table fairly easily if you want to eliminate what little snipe there is.
The AP1301 thickness planer comes with a dust collection option. The bag included is small, but it hooks on easily to the machine and can be a lifesaver when you’re otherwise at a loss. If you don’t need the dust collecting bag, you can adjust the machine to blow dust out the back and away from your work space.
The dust collector port on this planer is 2.5”, but the flip-open chute makes it easy to use the planer without an attached dust collection bag.
At 15 amps, this benchtop planer is strong enough to cut through most boards with ease. It cuts at 15,000 rpms which is fast enough to get the job done, but you won’t get the smoothest cut out of it. If you plan on smoothing the board out later or don’t mind if your boards are a little rougher, then this planer should be good enough for your work.
The Ryobi AP1301 weighs just a little over 50 lbs, making it much lighter than most benchtop planers. This planer has a maximum cutting width of 13” and a maximum thickness of 6” when cutting. Getting to perfect thickness is made easy with an extremely accurate depth scale. It’s easy to use, and it stays true to depth no matter what you’re cutting.
The planer blades are reversible, meaning you’ll be able to get double the use before you need to replace them. When one side gets dull, just flip the blades over and keep cutting. This prolongs the life of your blades and gives you more time before needing to purchase spare blades.
Cons of Ryobi AP1301
When purchasing a budget benchtop planer like the Ryobi AP1301, you shouldn’t expect to get a perfect planer. The Ryobi AP1301 does a good job for the price you pay, but there are some cons to be aware of before you purchase it.
As mentioned above, the planer doesn’t have the best cut quality. This may be acceptable for hobbyists or those who don’t need a perfectly smooth finish, but for anyone that likes clean cuts and the highest quality, the AP1301 is not the planer for you. You’d be better served to look at a more expensive planer that has faster cutting speed, more consistent thickness and greater width capacity.
On a similar subject, there is some snipe from this board. With no infeed or outfeed extension tables, that’s to be expected. It isn’t unbearable, but you’ll need to sand the boards to remove it. Another solution is to permanently mount the planer to eliminate the snipe problem, but this isn’t possible for everyone.
One more thing to keep in mind about this benchtop planer is that there aren’t any preset thickness stops or cutting depth gauge.
Ryobi makes wood planers that are simple but reliable and effective. At its price point, you can’t expect too many features or an impressive build quality. However, if you’re looking for a consistent power tool that works and does the job, Ryobi wood planers will do the trick.