13" Planers: Dewalt, Ridgid, or Steel City

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Forum topic by Ripthorn posted 08-19-2012 12:07 AM 13281 views 2 times favorited 52 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1459 posts in 4072 days

08-19-2012 12:07 AM

Well, I am in the market for a new planer and, having evaluated space, power, and my woodworking needs, have settled on a 13” planer. I have narrowed my choices down to the DW735, R4331, or 40300H planers. I have started a pros and cons list for each tool, but was hoping others could shed some light on these based on their experiences. Here goes:

DW735 Pros: Performance, build quality, depth stops, quick knife changes, built like a tank, two cutting speeds.
DW735 Cons: Most expensive of the three, loud, knives dull fairly quickly, heavy as all get out, disposable knives.

R4331 Pros: Lest expensive of the three, good performance, Ridgid’s LSA.
R4331 Cons: Disposable knives

40300H Pros: Helical head, moderate price, relatively lightweight
40300H Cons: Helical head uses 2 sided HSS inserts (though I have read of others successfully using carbide inserts in them), the steel city stigma from the 40200H debacle a year or two ago.

Now, in addition to the pros and cons, my judging criteria are (roughly in order):

- Performance
- Noise
- Cost (Initial and upkeep, such as knives)
- Weight

Now, I look at these three and think that I would likely be happy with any of them. The thing is that I have to choose one, but I don’t know which. I know each has very strong supporters. I really like the idea of the steel city for the spiral head (about the same cost as just the shelix head for the DW735). Any one else have thoughts or ideas about this? Any input is useful. Thanks.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

52 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3685 days

#1 posted 08-19-2012 12:19 AM

I have been pleased with my Dewalt 735, blades last a long time and are reversible. A little spendy, but a quality tool. Cant say much about the other two, aint used them.

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 3324 days

#2 posted 08-19-2012 12:33 AM

Have you considered the Dewalt 734? I picked up the 734 about six months ago and I have no complaints. Granted, it is a 12 1/2” and not a 13” planer, if that matters to you or not. I did a TON of research before buying a planer and I decided on the 734 for a couple reasons: 1) it is $150-$200 cheaper than the Dewalt 735 (I shopped around and got my 734 for $365) 2) It had the most favorable reviews of any planer that I looked at and 3) the blades are disposable, but they are also reversable and are apparently long-lasting (I haven’t used mine enough to comment on that). I can tell you that no matter what website I looked at, virtually NO ONE had anything nice to say about the Steel City Planer. Now, maybe Steel City has cleaned up it’s act in the mean time I don’t know, also it is my understanding that the Steel City is not a ‘true’ helical cutterhead-hopefully somebody more knowledgeable can comment on that. As an aside, the Ridgid was in my top three when I was trying to decide which one to buy myself. Hope this helps!

View NiteWalker's profile


2742 posts in 3664 days

#3 posted 08-19-2012 12:36 AM

+1 on the 734.
No need to spend more unless you want a stationary.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 4072 days

#4 posted 08-19-2012 12:51 AM

I do need the full 13”. I build a lot of guitars, and most bodies are just a shade under 13” wide, so a 13” blank is very common. 12 1/2” is too narrow for what I want to be doing.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 3324 days

#5 posted 08-19-2012 01:17 AM

Well then, I say if you can afford it, go with the Dewalt 735. If you want to save a few bucks, go with the Rigid.

View bhog's profile


2238 posts in 3777 days

#6 posted 08-19-2012 01:28 AM

Another vote for a 735,I have used the crap out of mine,and im not talking cedar and pine.

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View Dominic's profile


43 posts in 3420 days

#7 posted 08-19-2012 01:29 AM

Buy the DeWalt 735. It will actually plane a shade over 13”. Save up a few more pennies and pickup a Byrd Shelix. I just made the switch over and it is the quietest machine in the shop, prior to this it was the loudest. The chip ejection system works great too. If you don’t have a dust collector they make a collection bag that mounts on top of a shop vac canister or garbage can. I just so happen to have one for sale (:

-- Dominic

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3777 days

#8 posted 08-19-2012 01:43 AM

Don’t know about the DeWalt blades but I have my Ridgid blades sharpened and they cut better and last longer than new ones.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View tommyt654's profile


122 posts in 4535 days

#9 posted 08-20-2012 10:38 AM

The Steel Citys as good as the other two and will do the same as well with less final finishing in the long run as you will get a much smoother finish. Its as good as it gets and a newer planer than either of the other 2 models listed, while the 735 has great chip vacumn during the planing process due to it’s included fan you can get the same from others with a good DC unit. I’d go that route as its also less money in most case’s and Dewalt is phasing out both planers for newer models to come out soon from what I hear.Personally I have never heard a bad word said about the Steel City by anyone who knew how to setup a planer correctly in the 1st place , ,

View ellen35's profile


2749 posts in 4519 days

#10 posted 08-20-2012 10:49 AM

I have the General International helical head that is the sister to the Steel City. It is an excellent machine. I replaced the Ridgid with this machine (passed it along to a new woodworker friend). Both the Ridgid and the General are good planers… but the helical head is what made me go with the General. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them but I’d go with a helical head as they are the future of planers. I suspect Dewalt with come out with one soon too.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View toolie's profile


2203 posts in 3715 days

#11 posted 08-20-2012 12:11 PM

if quality of finished product is your primay focus, the DW735 appears to be the unit for you. ive never seen a comaprative test where it wasn’t rated as the top performer. i’m personally partial to ridgid, but the 735 consistently dominates the 13” benchtop planer field.

-- there's a solution to every just have to be willing to find it.

View b2rtch's profile


4921 posts in 4135 days

#12 posted 08-20-2012 01:11 PM

Ridgid,I have one and I like it and the blades can be sharpened

-- Bert

View robjeffking's profile


26 posts in 3193 days

#13 posted 08-20-2012 01:23 PM

I have the dewalt 734 and the older 2 speed 13 inch delta 580 The delta 580 is a brute I use the dewalt for smaller thinner boards but the 580 is my workhorse for my big pieces of cherry.

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 4399 days

#14 posted 08-20-2012 01:59 PM

I have the DW735, and bought it because of its heavy built construction. The first side of my blades lasted over a year planing hardwoods.

Key for me is to take a wire brush to rough stock prior to planing or jointing to get any grit or silica out.

It is the loudest machine I have, and maybe one day I will get a helical head for it, but otherwise it is a workhorse and I have it on the DW mobile base, so weight is not an issue.

I added a Wixey to my planer and wow that really adds precision and repeatability to an already great machine.

Good luck, all the units you are looking at should be good performers for you.

View knotheadswoodshed's profile


225 posts in 3259 days

#15 posted 08-20-2012 02:11 PM

you can also upgrade the cheap Dewalt 735 blades for some nice ones from Infinity…I really like them

-- Randy - "I dont make mistakes, I make design change opportunities"

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