The 13" Ryobi AP1301 is the least expensive model in the group that has a sort of “what you see is what you get” design: There are no large side panels or top plate that cover up its standard four-post construction. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you don’t toss the machine around, lest you damage one of the exposed posts. The Ryobi also lacks extension tables. These omissions do contribute to the AP1301’s dainty waistline: At 53-1⁄2 lbs, it’s by far the lightest planer in this group.
Despite the Ryobi’s Spartan character, it has two very nice features: Below the planer’s plastic depth-setting crank, there’s a large wheel with very fine index markings that show increments as fine as 1/512 of an inch! By zeroing the wheel relative to a small pointer on the crank, you can gauge very small depth-of-cut adjustments fairly accurately, without having to bend down and view the planer’s regular scale and cursor (the DeWalt has a similar feature, but it’s not as well implemented). The AP1301 also includes a nice fan-assisted dust hood that’s very similar to the RIDGID that converts from a vacuum hood with a 2-1⁄2" dust port to a simple chip deflector with a twist of the wrist.
Powered up, the Ryobi planed boards with about the same amount of gusto as the other 15-amp-motored planers — slightly surprising, given this model’s low price tag. I was also pleased to find that its depth adjustment crank was very smooth turning when both lifting and lowering the cutterhead assembly. Working around its lack of extension tables forced me to use a pair of auxiliary supports when planing long boards, but I generally use supports when running long stock through any thicknessing planer.
The Ryobi’s cutterhead holds a pair of double-edged knives, and it does have an automatic lock that prevents cutterhead movement during knife changes. But, unlike the slot-and-pin knives on the other models, the AP1301’s wide knives fit into deep slots in the cylindrical cutterhead and are secured with gibs and jackscrews, an arrangement common on even large industrial planers. The downside of this setup is that you must turn the jackscrews with an open-end wrench and pry the knives out of their slots with a special tool that’s included. This arrangement makes knife changes a bit fussy. However, the Ryobi did produce the smoothest planed surfaces among the three lowest-priced models, leaving only a very light washboarding and just a touch of snipe on the trailing edge of boards.