There comes a time in one's woodworking career (and
it is almost always somewhere near the beginning) where you need to start
buying rough sawn stock for price reasons or to reduce the thickness of a
board to a size needed for a project, or to simply smooth out a rough face
of a board for
Yes, that is the day you realize that you cannot do
without a planer/thicknesser machine! Hand planing simply takes too long
and your handheld power planer is producing inconsistent results. Sound
familiar? If so, then I'm sure this review will be grabbing your
There are almost as many types, sizes and brands of
planer/thicknesser (P/T) machines on the market as their are cordless
drills, which is great for competition and price wars, but not so healthy
when you need to make a decision to buy one. Almost everyone has a budget
of course, and this will ultimately govern which machine you can afford
and will also help rule out those that do not agree with your bank
Today, we will take a look at Ryobi's AP13 machine. It
is at the budget end of the scale for P/T machines, and certainly does not
have all the features of the more expensive ones. Whether these additional
features are indeed needed is debatable. Ee are more concerned with the
end result on this machine. So let's now take a closer look to see whether
the AUD$359 (Australian Dollars) price tag on the Ryobi AP13 is worth its weight in coins...
AP13 Vs AP1300
Let me start by mentioning that the AP13 (reviewed here) is a
different model/machine to Ryobi's AP1300 Planer/Thicknesser (widely
availble in the USA), so please
make a not of that. The AP1300 has more features than the AP13 and,
naturally, a higher price tag as well.
Packaging & Assembly
The AP13 was shipped and packaged securely and arrived damage-free
(always a good start). All components were accounted for as per the
printed manual. We can throw a few points to Ryobi already because this
machine requires virtually no assembly out of the box, except for
attaching the crank handle for the raising/lowering mechanism of the
cutterhead and attachment of the chip guard to the rear (outfeed side) of
the machine using two screws and wing nuts. The blades ship
assembled and ready to go. So in less than say 5 minutes (the chip guard
was a bit of a tight fit requiring a few attempts to get into position), the machine
is ready for action.
Safety First (Read the Manuals!)
The included manual is excellent and should be read cover-to-cover to reduce any chance of personal injury while using the machine. It
covers assembly, features, operation, safety, maintenance, and a
troubleshooting guide. It is in black and white, however, all photos are
clear, fairly large and explain the features and operation very well in
accordance with the text. It is a quality manual worthy of your time.
Tech Specs Discussion
Let's start off with the tech specs as stated on the box and in the
|No Load Speed:
|Min. Planing Length
|Max Planing Width
|Depth Per Pass
||8m / min
||48mm with 2 blades
8000 RPM i.e. 16,000 CPM
With an input of 2000 watts, the AP13 has enough grunt
to plane down most boards, and at the recommended maximum depth of cut per
pass (3mm). In testing, we had no trouble planing/thicknessing a variety
of wood species to our needs. There was certainly enough power onboard to
meet all our needs during the test period. No stalling of motor or circuit
overload was experienced.
The maximum planing width of 318mm (or 12.5 inches) is
fairly standard on these smaller portable machines and is sufficient for
most widths of boards you will ever come across. Certainly, you may have
wider boards/slabs that may not be suitable for planing on this machine,
and if there is no other way of planing or thicknessing these boards
easily, you always have the option of ripping them into two or more
pieces, planing them and then rejoining them. Not ideal of course, but you
can only perform such miracles with miracle machines costing significantly
The planing height range of 7-153mm (0.276 - 6.02
inches) is again likely to be all you will need for most surface planing
tasks. If you happen to grab yourself a nice lump of lumber that is too
big for the machine, chances are that you are going to have to cut it down
to smaller sizes for your project anyway (or fork out more dollars for a
The AP13 is a two-blade system only, which is common for
the price range, but more often, woodworkers will prefer a three blade
system for a smoother cut. I guess this depends on how smooth you want
your surface to be, and whether you are willing to pay extra for that 3rd
blade, which will likely be a recurring expense either to buy a new set of
3 blades (rather than 2) or have 3 blades sharpened at extra cost (rather
With the 2 blades on the AP13 and a No Load Speed of 8,000 revolutions per
minute, you are getting 16,000 cuts per minute as it is. Probably
sufficient for a board that you will likely be fine sanding later anyway.
If you make your final pass at the minimum depth of cut, then 2 blades
will produce a nice finish. 3 blades are useful for finer finishes on
deeper depths of cut per pass, however, even at 3mm depth cuts, the
surfaces always came out smooth with the AP13. You would certainly have to
get right up close to spot any imperfections, and again, these would be
sanded out later anyway.
At 32kg (70.5 lbs), the AP13 is heavy but quite portable,
however, it may
be a little cumbersome for those with bad backs (or bad lifting
techniques!) to lift high up onto a truck or into a car boot. With correct
lifting techniques and a little muscle thrown in, the weight of the
machine is quite manageable allowing portability to be one of it's selling
features. In-built handles on both sides of the machine give you a firm
grip on the machine that earns itself some points in this area.
Features & Testing
The AP13 is a fairly basic machine compared to the higher priced
planers in the market (as you would expect). There is no cutterhead lock,
but is it really needed? The AP13 cutterhead sits on 4 rigid columns. We found that with proper support on the infeed
and outfeed sides when planing (particularly when first feeding in the
material and at the last few inches of planing), the cutterhead itself
remained rigid in its position and caused very few incidences, or only a
of snipe during testing. And speaking of infeed and outfeed tables, these
are both 170mm (6.7 inches) in length and feature a standard roller
assembly which adds another 25mm (1 inch) to the length. Both feed tables
fold up to lower the footprint of the machine for more efficient storage
or transfer. We found that
with the short tables found on most planer/thicknessers of this size, you
are more likely to suffer snipe on longer lengths of material if they are
not further supported along their length by some other means.
If you find yourself always in the
clutches of the dreaded snipe-dragon, you will know that those first
1 or 2 inches, and the last 1 or 2 inches are your snipe problem
areas. One way to avoid this problem is to cut your timber just
that little bit longer, run it through the planer/thicknesser to
achieve the thickness/finish you need and if the snipe-dragon rears
its ugly head, just saw off those ugly ends
and you will find you have a nice, even, uniform-thickness
board for your project.
The depth gauge on the AP13 is a simple gauge measure
tape (in inches and millimeters) on the right hand side of the machine
which uses a clear plastic, red-lined marker screwed to the cutterhead
assembly. Somewhat standard, but it works and was correctly aligned and
configured straight out of the box. You can easily wind up the correct
depth setting for planing using the gauge, however, unlike more expensive
machines, it doesn't have the secondary depth gauge that indicates depth
of cut when the cutterhead is lowered down onto the actual piece of wood.
You must set the depth before passing your wood through the cutterhead.
One turn of the crank handle will move you up or down by 2 millimeters.
The ON/OFF switch is again, located on the cutterhead
assembly (left hand side) and is a simple up/down flip switch. It features
a removable yellow locking pin, that when removed, prohibits the switch to
initiate a response when pushed to the ON position. Always better to be
safe than sorry, particularly if you do not want others to use, or accidently switch on the machine. Right next to the ON/OFF switch is a
Circuit Overload switch. In the event of an overload, the switch will pop
out to protect the machine from further damage. In use, we never
experienced an overload, so we will assume this feature works fine for
Removing & Replacing Blades
Although we did not need to install the planer blades at setup
(because they we pre-installed), we did a dummy run of removing a
replacing the blades to test how easy (or difficult) this particular task
may be on the AP13. To remove the blades, you must first remove the chip
guard from the rear of the machine. Considering I had a little
trouble placing the guard originally, this was not removed too
enthusiastically. Nonetheless, off it came and I started attacking the
lock screws holding the lock bar and blade in place. There are a total of
seven screws holding the blade in position. It sounds like a lot of
spanner work, but you only need to loosen them a short distance to 'free'
them up. Once all seven screws have been loosened, the blade 'pops
up'' slightly as it is spring loaded from beneath. You can now safely
remove the blade and replace it with a new one, or with a sharpened
blade. Inserting the blade is the exact reverse of the removal procedure,
however, you must ensure you have the blade height set correctly (for
accurate cuts) and have the blade facing the right way (or it won't cut at
all!). Setting the blade height is discussed well in the manual and is
accomplished with the blade setting gauge jig included in the package.
All up, removal and replacement of both blades took
about 10 minutes for the first attempt. You can certainly spend much more
time than that replacing a bandsaw blade and tuning your bandsaw for
proper functioning at times.
Apart from changing the blades when they become dull or nicked, their
isn't a whole lot of maintenance that needs to be carried out to keep the
AP13 in tip-top shape. Blasting the dust out with compressed air is always
a good maintenance ploy, and occasional lubrication of the chains is
recommended for maximum performance.
Testing... Testing 1, 2, 3
That is what we literally did... Although we tested the AP13 over
several weeks, to grab the shots you see pictured to the right, we decided
to set up the AP13 in the courtyard. The sun was shining and it was a
pleasant warm day, so why not!
There really isn't much a planer/thicknesser can do,
except plane really, so the only really exciting thing about the whole
process is seeing the end results. We through Pine wood, Ipe Wood, Red
wood and Ironbark through the planer and each length was planed at 1mm,
2mm and 3mm depths at each pass to see how the AP13 handled it. On each
occasion, the wood came out almost perfectly and we tested flatness with
a long metal straight-edge rule. Results were good and any light slipping
under the rule was most often the result of cranky grain rather than any
trough or gouge caused by the planer itself. On the 3mm depth passes, the
snipe was more exacerbated on the longer pieces, so it wasn't all smooth
sailing, however, this is a well known common problem with these machines,
so you take it on the chin and plan ahead for that.
On all passes, the wood was fed in smoothly by the feed
rollers both within the machine and on the tables and the feed rollers on
top of the machine itself came in very handy for moving boards back to the
front of the machine for subsequent passes.
Ok, so it's not the most featured planer/thicknesser on the market,
but for the price, the AP13 performed exceptionally well in our opinion.
This is certainly one machine the weekend hobbyist or dedicated home
woodworker would find invaluable in the production phase of their
projects. The ability to take 'rough' lumber and plane it down to a
useable state (assuming it has one flat surface) is an attribute that
makes this particular type of machine a 'must-have'. While it cannot
flatten cupped, curved or twisted boards like a jointer machine can, the
AP13 combined with a jointer would certainly have you stacking up quality
boards in your workshop ready for action. Definitely a machine you would
not look past in your purchasing decisions.
Thanks goes to Andrew Miller
from Ryobi Australia for
his assistance with this review.
Ryobi AP13 Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior
written permission prohibited
The Ryobi AP13 is ready to use straight out of the box.
The infeed/outfeed tables each feature roller-bars but the
tables themselves are slightly shorter
than those found on more
The chip guard
(with red warning sticker)
deflects chips down when planing.
Accessories include blade setting height jig, hex/allen
wrenches, spanner, 4 screws to secure the AP13 to a work surface and 4
rubber to protect clamping surface.
The ON/OFF switch (with yellow removable safety key) and the
circuit breaker switch shown here
Work support rollers on top of the machine help to move the
timber from the rear of the machine back to the front for the next pass.
The black carry handles on the sides of the machine give a solid
and trustworthy grip when moving the planer around.
The AP13 has 4 columns to support the cutterhead. This helps
reduce cutterhead movement and
The depth gauge
(in both imperial and metric)
was easy to read and accurately calibrated straight out
of the box.
With the chip guard removed at the rear, you have easy
access to the cutterhead assembly for blade removal/insertion tasks.
Since the sun was shining, we took the AP13 into the courtyard to put it
through its paces... here we are cleaning up some pine.
Wider boards planed very smoothly with only a slight hint of snipe evident
on the trailing end.
The chips flow freely on this 3mm depth cut, but are
safely deflected downward thanks for the chip deflection guard.
Even Ipe wood can't bog her down!