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OK, first a disclaimer: I do not work for Ridgid or anybody affiliated with Ridgid. Hell, I am a retired library employee. Elsewhere on this site I have previously reviewed the company's 12-inch sliding-compound miter saw and 14-inch band saw, and the reason I purchased those items is that they looked good, had received decent reviews elsewhere, and one of the two Home Depots in this town is fairly close to my home.

OK, I had also made comments in another thread about the small (30-inch) Delta JT160 tabletop jointer/planer I have owned for some time, and defended it as a decent small-scale item for quick jobs and a nifty tool for situations where portability is important. I still have the thing and have removed it from its stand (and also removed the extensions I had installed on it to make it behave as a longer jointer/planer) and now store it on a shelf where it can be quickly hauled out onto my shop's workdeck for rough-and-tumble work.

The 45-inch-bed Ridgid JP unit has replaced it as a precision tool, and of course the new unit has a built-in stand. It is a pretty basic jointer/planer, with outfeed table star wheel and lock screws for that end of the cast-iron table assembly and a hand crank to allow for quick adjustment of the infeed table. The table tops are very well finished and I found no misalignment issues once I had the unit assembled. Assembly itself was rather simple, and the fence was also perfectly aligned (leveled) and went into place with no hangups. The assembled machine weighs a tad more than 200 pounds.

The manual is pretty good about dealing out instructions, but I do recommend making sure that the two pullies are not only set up properly in terms of vertical alignment but are also parallel to each other. The manual mentions the first potential problem but does not mention the second. Adjustments for in/out alignment can be made by moving either the motor or the table assembly, but adjustments for parallelism can only be made by moving the motor before tightening the motor-mount screws. Only basic hand tools are needed to assemble the tool. The tool also came with a comprehensive parts breakdown list.

The manual suggests mounting the motor with the assembly flipped upside down, but it also mentions that tensioning the belt can also be done with the assembly rightside up - using gravity to do the tensioning. I followed the latter suggestion, but one must remember that the motor is heavy enough to put too much tension on the belt. Care must be applied to get the belt deflection to the 1-inch point the manual suggests.

I modify nearly all of my tools, and this one was no exception. The amount of "editing" was more than what I did with the Ridgid sliding compound miter saw I reviewed elsewhere and considerably less than what I did with the company's band saw, also reviewed.

First, I installed it on a mobile wooden platform under the unit's metal stand. This helped to stiffen up the entire lower assembly. The platform sits on 3-inch wheels, each of which can swivel. Doing this not only allows me to move the unit out onto my shop's outdoor workdeck but also gets the cast-iron table surface 6 inches further off of the floor. I like my worksurfaces to be rather high up. To stablize the base I built two large wooden "wedges" that I can push under one end of the platform to keep the unit solidly against the floor at four contact points and from moving about as I slide workpieces along the table.

Second, the motor mounts to oval-shape cutouts in the bottom of the dust chute. The motor chassis does not cover the holes completely, which will allow woodchips to drop into the motor area. To combat this I put pieces of clear packing tape over the cutouts inside of the dust chute after mounting the motor. This reduces the amount of dust dropping onto the motor itself.

Third, I replaced the stock belt with one that I picked up at an auto parts store. I did the same thing with the band saw, but in the case of the jointer/planer the belt that came with the product was not as weird as the one that came with the saw. Indeed, the stock belt seemed reasonably well made, but it was still too stiff for my taste and so I now have that much more flexible (and American made) belt installed.

Fourth, the unit has a four-inch dust port on the left side of the stand. (The port assembly can be removed so that gravity can pull chips down the square chute to the floor if one cares to do things that way.) All of my other tools have ports that are 2.5 inches or smaller, so my dust-collector device (which is simple, uses no bag, and simply blasts dust out into my "natural" yard area) has a 4-inch to 2.5-inch adaptor solidly attached to the end of the 4-inch hose. To facilitate the use of this adaptor I installed a similar adaptor to the 4-inch port on the jointer. The reduced air flow from the neck-down configuration has not resulted in dust piling up inside of the tool's dust chute.

Finally, the unit has two vertical cutouts on one end of the metal stand (the end opposite the dust-port) where one can store the two push blocks that came with it. When in place they tend to rattle and so I store them on a shelf next to where the device is parked when it is inside of my small shop. To make use of the two cutouts I installed a very solid handle that lets me more easily manhandle the unit out onto the deck. I can do this by grasping the table assembly, of course, but I prefer to not use that part of the jointer as a handle. The added handle works fine and there is more than enough clearance between it and the outfeed table crank.

I like this jointer/planer. It runs smooth and cuts true. It is easy to adjust and after running through dozens of feet of wood the blades still seem dangerously sharp. I ordered spare blades from Ridgid ($10 bucks apiece for three) and will use them when honing the blades that came with the unit no longer is viable.

Certainly a jointer/planer with a longer bed would work better with longer boards than the 45-inch Ridgid, but it would probably be so heavy that I could not wrestle it out onto my workdeck. It would also cost more. The Ridgid unit was listed at $399 at Home Depot but I talked to a clerk about that price (up from the $349 it had been a few months before), and he knocked it back down to $349.

Howard Ferstler
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