At first glance the RIKON 25-135H looks just like you'd expect a lunchbox planer to look like. The 2 speed feed rate option is a nice higher end options for certain hard hardwoods. I'm not sure how often you or I will use that speed adjustment but I also dont feel like youre paying extra for it in the overall price. You can correct me if I'm wrong but the only other lunchbox planer I know of that has that option is the Dewalt DW735 and that planer was a disaster for me and many others. Right out of the box the quality control was impeccable. Perfectly level from bed to bed and NO snipe! The updated look of the depth dial has great eye appeal. It has positive stops at 1/8", 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1-1/4", 1-1/2" and 1-3/4". It snaps into place well and there isn’t any give in the handle rotation once you hit your desired depth.
I can't say enough how great it is to get a bench top planer with a factory installed helical head. If you're like me and have your shop in your garage you know space is tight. I pretty much gave up on the idea of a helical head planer because most of them are larger machines that take up a ton of space not to mention the price tag. Now I'm able to get that smoother cut and not deal with the headaches of nicked knives. Lets be honest there's nothing worse than getting a nick on one knife right away and getting that annoying line down your board until you replace the knife. Its even worse when it happens almost instantly on a new set! Also, and I‘be noticed this with my jointer as well, the helical head makes the unit much quieter than my previous planers. I don’t have a decibel reader to give you specifics but I can say it’s noticeable right away that it’s quieter when you turn it on.
One thing I really like is the accessibility in the back. I always felt changing knives was a pain in the ass. There were a bunch of screws to take off and the space was tight. The space here is much more open ( see pics below) and rotating a single cutter or two is simple and fast so you can be back working in no time. Even the rubber nobs to remove the cover is a nice touch. The tool storage is a little different than most. It's not a pro or con, just pointing out it's different.
So now the question is what's price and is it worth it? The price is $699 and I believe it is. All of us care about value, performance, and reliability which RIKON delivers. I also know RIKON’s history of sales at Woodcraft and Rockler so be on the look out for even better value then. If you look at the competition you get the value you’re accustomed to getting from RIKON. Grizzly just released a spiral head lunchbox planer and its $750. Dewalt's DW735 is $649 with the in feed and out feed table kit, isnt a spiral head, and that internal breaker has been a nightmare tripping for so many woodworkers. The Ridgid 3 knife planer is $459 and was my favorite planer prior to using the RIKON. You can add an after market spiral cutting head to it but they start around $435 which put’s your total investment close to $900. For my money in the lunchbox category it's RIKON for the win. Its really powerful and has been eating through 8/4 ash for me with zero bogging down and helical head leaves the perfect finish. If you're budget keeps you in the $400 range then the Ridgid is what you should buy. Based on my history I’d stay away from the DeWalt planers.
In the interest of fairness there are a couple things I wish RIKON would change. The first being the cord length. Currently the cord is around 5ft. Would love to see a longer cord to give more flexibility in the shop. Second is the engraving on the depth dial. If you look at the picture not only is the number the same as the dial, but the top of the fraction appears slightly cut off with a slight shadow effect. Would love to see the numbers white for a clearer read. Are those deal breakers? Nope, but It's my job to be honest about any product.
One thing that gets overlooked is customer service. If you need to call RIKON, you get an actual person; not a computer prompting you to pick through a million menus. To some that's not a big deal but to me it's a lost art that needs to be brought back. Person to Personal customer service with someone who knows the product and can actually help you is worth supporting.
Would love to know your thoughts or questions below.
Thanks for reading!