I’ve been busy with 360Woodworking. With my head down giving it what for, I didn’t see that Ridgid came out with a trim router powered by a battery until one of our members – thanks, Eric – brought it to my attention. My reaction was, “You Betcha.” I enjoy using the corded Ridgid trim router and to not have to pull electric cords around the shop sounded good, so I set about getting my hands on the new R86044B.
With router in hand and the battery attached, I simply turned it on to listen. I have to admit that the router sounded “tinny.” Weak. Certainly not like other routers. Then I remembered that it was brushless, so the noise would be different. (This could be the router for those afraid of the hand-held power tool that does so much in woodworking.)
To put the new battery-powered router to work was the logical next step. Just so happened that I had a wee bit of inlay to do; the perfect test. I loaded my 1/8″ spiral bit into the router to clean out waste for my diamond inlay. I know that spinning the 1/8″ bit is not a huge test for today’s trim routers. Baby steps. There are things to learn.
I positioned the bit in the middle of the waste and took my hands off the tool – in the middle so if the router bounced around I could grab it before it walked outside my lines. I didn’t need to grab it. In fact, Ridgid’s R86044B stayed put – no movement whatsoever outside of about a quarter turn during the 20 seconds it was running at full RPM. A smile came to my face. (That’s the router spinning in the opening photo. Click the image to get a good look at how little movement occurred.)
Okay. Let’s bump up the test. I chucked a 1/4″ spiral bit in the router and used it to cut dados in quartersawn white oak (QSWO). Admittedly, the procedure was a little rough, kind of herky-jerky. I slowed the variable speed, a nice feature to have on these tools, and tried it a second time. Again, it was not as smooth as I had hoped, but the action was better. I then decided to check the same cut using another trim router – did I mention that these small routers have all but taken over my router work? Results with another trim router were the same. It was QSWO, by the way.
More tests? I tossed a couple more bits into the battery-powered Ridgid router – bits I would normally run in trim routers – and each and every bit worked as expected. (I seldom run large router bits in my trim routers. Those are reserved for my router table.) Ridgid’s R86044B, battery-powered router does have a few things to consider.
On the downside, there is no plunge base for this tool. A plunge base added to any trim router makes the tool so much more useful. The biggest downside, for me at least, is that Ridgid trim routers are not set up for guide bushings. Of course, you could change the base, but … Also, if you purchase the router, charger and battery (R86044SB) at $129, the battery is a 2Amp hour unit. Is that enough power? My guess is yes unless you’re planning to run miles of molding at a time. (If you have a compatible battery you can pick up the naked router for $119, but for another $10, I’d take a new charger and and extra battery.)
I have to add that the switch location, especially for right-handed users, is awkward. Being on the right side of the tool as you look at the controls causes you to have to spin the router to reach the switch with your left hand.
On the upside, along with what’s mentioned above (smooth running, variable speed, no cord worries), I like the fact that you can easily store the router battery-end down when it’s not in use. And I cannot envision purchasing any router that does not have built-in lighting, which Ridgid’s new trim router does. Lights inside the work area are invaluable. Plus, the micro-adjust feature works great to tweak setups, and the fast-release gets you in the neighborhood in a hurry.
Final thought: I plan to make this trim router my inlay router. No cords to mess with is a big plus in my book, and the battery sitting on top of the tool does not make it top heavy. I would purchase this trim router if you’re looking to add another to your arsenal, and if you’re not a regular router user but are interested in a tool for entry-level router work.
UPDATE: I’ve been using this router for a few weeks, and I have to say that I’m extremely happy with its performance and with the 5_Amp hour battery longevity – I have yet to change or recharge the battery. Plus, I’m using the battery-powered router for far more than inlay work.