With a slick, slightly industrial looking design, the silver, orange and charcoal colored RIDGID is a big machine that features a unique construction. Instead of four steel columns in the corners, the R4330 has four lead screws that turn in sync to move the motor/cutterhead carriage up and down. A system of gears and chains transmits power from a horizontally mounted hand crank to the columns when changing the depth of cut. Although the four lead screw columns are designed to add stability to the carriage assembly, they add so much friction that it takes a lot of effort to crank the RIDGID. This makes setting the planer’s cutting depth a tedious task, especially when raising the carriage a great distance when planing a thick plank or beam.
The RIDGID does have a very full feature set, including an easy-to-use depth-of-cut indicator that I liked even better than the DeWalt’s, as well as a depth scale and cursor that were precise and highly legible. The R4330 also has a useful sliding preset depth stop mechanism with eight different settings ranging from 1/8" to 1-3⁄4". Each of the presets were capable of producing planed stock that varies by less than 1/64" of the intended thickness: quite impressive. Like the DeWalt’s, the stop setup is adjustable, so you can tweak it as necessary.
One of the RIDGID’s most interesting features is its convertible dust hood, which uses a fan-assist to help blow chips toward its 4" dust port (it includes a removable 2-1⁄2" hose adapter). Rotating the hood’s sleeve opens up the underside of the hood so that chips are deflected downward. Although this allows you to plane a few boards without hooking up a shop vacuum or dust collector, the open hood does spray chips everywhere.
The RIDGID’s planing performance was on par with the other 15-amp planers in terms of power, and its 13" wide, three-knife cutterhead created surfaces that were only slightly less smooth than those produced by the DeWalt. Even though the R4330 has the longest infeed/outfeed tables in the group, the planer was still prone to creating a noticeable amount of sniping on the ends of short as well as on long boards. I did try the usual trick of lifting the board slightly at the end of each pass, but I couldn’t eliminate the sniping entirely.
When it comes to changing blades, the RIDGID’s blade wrench and knife removal tools come packed in a nice kit that stows under the outfeed extension table. The plastic container even has a compartment that holds a set of extra knives (not included).