For a fast, neat job when trimming laminate or getting a nice edge profile, nothing beats a compact router. Most are fairly easy to set up and control, and can accept a variety of bits to reshape your world. Making life even easier, some battery-powered models have come out in recent years, meaning no more getting tangled in cords. One of those cordless routers was made by Ridgid, and it had very good power and features. Technology keeps surging ahead, though, and the folks in Orange recently introduced their latest upgrade: The Ridgid Octane Cordless Router. Join us as we take it for a high-speed spin.
The new Ridgid Octane cordless router looks very similar to its predecessor, the Ridgid R86044. Both are powered by brushless motors, and the older version is still a very capable tool. The Ridgid Octane cordless router has just raised the bar a bit, though.
Feel the need for speed? Top speed on the Ridgid Octane cordless router is 20% faster than the previous model, cranking out 30,000 RPM vs. the older version’s 25,000 RPM. Another very welcome addition to the Ridgid Octane cordless router is its dust extraction port. Ridgid says the port will divert up to 95% of the dust churned out by the those rapidly-spinning bits.
The biggest difference, though, is in the new router’s brain. The Ridgid Octane cordless router is optimized to take advantage of the added power and features of Ridgid’s Octane line of batteries. Using the new router with an Octane battery kicks up the power by 15%, according to Ridgid. Here’s a list of features for the Ridgid Octane cordless router, followed by a charged-up video from Ridgid on the Octane battery lineup:
• Up to 15% more power than previous models (R86044B, RIDGID 18-Volt Cordless Brushless 1/4 in. Compact Router with Fixed Base and Tool Free Depth Adjustment)
• Vacuum Dust Chute: Eliminates sawdust on work piece when properly attached to 1-1/4 in. or 1-7/8 in. sizes
• Quick Release Lever and Micro-Adjust Dial: 2-ways for easy depth adjustments
• SOFTStart Technology helps prevent gouges on work surface and extends motor life
• Extended runtime compared to previous models (R86044B, RIDGID 18-Volt Cordless Brushless 1/4 in. Compact Router with Fixed Base and Tool Free Depth Adjustment)
• Lifetime Service Agreement with registration within 90 days of purchase
• Includes: (1) R860443 18-Volt OCTANE Brushless Compact Router, (1) square base, (1) round base, (1) detachable dust port, (1) edge guide, (1) 1/4 in. bit, (1) collet wrench, and operator’s manual
• Assembled Depth: 5.88 in
• Assembled Height: 7.25 in
• Assembled Width: 3.50 in
• Collet size: .25”
Bag It, Danno: What’s In The Box
When I opened the box for the Ridgid Octane cordless router, I was surprised to find a nice bonus not listed in the specs above. The router and other components were nestled comfortably inside a soft-sided storage case. While my preference is for a hard-sided case, many tools today come with no case at all, so it’s a welcome addition.
The main event, of course, is the Ridgid Octane cordless router itself. While it weighs only 2-1/2 pounds, it feels very solid and substantial, and has the heft and appearance of a well-made tool. The motor rests inside the fixed base, with the square base plate attached. A round base is also included.
Now for the goodies. Users who prefer their work spaces not be covered in sawdust will be very happy to see the dust port, which will connect to any 1-1/4” or 1-7/8” hose. And anyone who can’t freehand a perfectly straight line (my hand is up) will love the edge guide.
To round out the assortment of goodies, they also tossed in a nice round-over bit. Back to the mundane, there’s also a collet wrench, which might come in handy sometime, and a user’s manual.
Getting Ready To Make The Ridgid Octane Cordless Router Spin
Since it’s a cordless tool, the obvious first step in firing it up is to install a battery. The router will operate with most Ridgid 18V batteries. If your goal is to maximize its potential, as the inspirational speakers like to say, you’ll want to power it with an Octane battery. Once the battery is in place, powering up the Ridgid Octane cordless router is accomplished by pulling out the power switch. Pushing it back in shuts the router down, which takes a few seconds. The switch can be a little awkward to get to, but I think it’s a good from a safety standpoint, in that it’s unlikely the router will be powered on accidentally.
I was concerned that if the switch was set to the ON position with the battery removed, the router would fire up when a battery was installed. I tested this scenario several times, though, and the router just sits there waiting patiently for you to power the switch OFF and then ON again. That’s an excellent safety feature.
Wanna go faster? Or slower? Adjusting the router’s speed is easy. Using the dial on the front of the motor housing, rotate it until you reach your happy place. The router can be adjusted anywhere along the scale from 17,000 to 30,000 RPM.
Dialing It In
Removing or repositioning the motor housing from the base is fast and easy. Just swing the quick-release lever out, and depress and hold the motor release lever. Now you can slide the motor to the desired position, or right out of the base.
Changing bits is also fairly simple. Remove the battery. Then open the quick-release lever, and slide the motor up so you have good access to the collet. Press the spindle lock button, loosen the collet nut with the included wrench, and pop out the bit you’re finished using. Since those bits get HOT chewing through wood at 30,000 RPM, good gloves or a cool-down period are highly recommended. Now slide in the new bit until it bottoms out, move it back up about 1/16”, and tighten the collet nut.
Slide the motor until it’s roughly where you want it, with the bit positioned a fraction above the work surface, then release the spring-loaded release lever. Now you can make your final adjustments using the micro depth adjustment knob, until you’ve dialed in the exact depth of cut you need. Got that bit set right where you want it? Clamp it into place with the quick-release locking lever, slap an Octane battery back in and get to work!
The Ridgid Octane Cordless Router Finds Its Groove
For its maiden voyage, I put the Ridgid Octane cordless router to work carving out a 3/8” deep dado in the back of a piece of ash baseboard. It was just the right size to hide a run of RG6 cable. Note: Normally, a cut this deep would be made using two or three passes. To test the router’s power, I cut the first couple of grooves in only one pass. If you’d like your router to live a long, happy life, we recommend against overworking it like that.
I tightened up a 3/8” wide bit in the collet, and slid in a standard 6.0 Ah battery to see how it would perform. In an effort to get a straight-ish line, I attached the edge guide, which is fast and easy. Since I’m a big fan of cleanup, and for comparative purposes, I didn’t attach the dust port yet.
Despite its “soft start” feature, when I switched it on, the router got up to full speed very quickly. The bit dug right in, and started carving out a nice smooth channel. After about 18” or so, the Ridgid Octane Cordless Router sounded like it was struggling a bit, and then abruptly stopped. I lifted it out, blew out some of the sawdust clogging the channel, and switched it back on. It fired right up, and continued plowing through the wood for about another 18”, at which point it quit again. This is the overload circuitry doing its job.
At this point, I decided that the Ridgid Octane cordless router had suffered enough, and I attached the dust extraction port. What a difference – the router chugged right through, with no further stalling. The router has very good power, but the combination of an overly-large cutout and a lot of shavings were enough to stall it out at first. It is still, after all, a ¼” drive battery powered tool.
Getting Edgy With The Ridgid Octane Cordless Router
Another current project involves installing and trimming out a bunch of new windows. Once again, the character of the project house provides ample opportunity to hone my customization skills. Every window needs extension jambs, and almost every window opening is just a fraction different. The windows arrived with unfinished interior surfaces, and we’ve been staining and polyurethaning them to match existing trim. It might sound tedious but…actually, yes, it IS tedious.
All the windows are being trimmed out in 1×4” oak. The inside edges of the windows have a recessed area about 3/16” deep, to allow the jamb extensions to be recessed for a better-looking fit. Unfortunately, not all of them are wide enough to accommodate the full ¾” width of the trim. Time for some Ridgid Router Rabbet Rotation.
Using the edge guide again, I set the router up to carve out a chunk approximately 5/16” wide and deep along the edge of the trim. I clamped the board down, connected the vac to the dust port, and commenced making sawdust.
The Ridgid Octane cordless router moved slowly and steadily through the oak, with no bogging down or hesitation. Even with a pause or two along the way to reposition the clamps, the trim was quickly right-sized. Once the downsizing was finished, the trimmed edges fit perfectly into the recessed area. I connected the trim pieces together with pocket screws, and nailed the whole shebang to the wall. After that, it was off to measure for the NEXT batch of custom trim.
All my previous experience with routers has been with corded models. While they certainly get the job done, the ability to do laminate trimming, edge routing, and other jobs without fussing with a cord made doing all these tasks a LOT easier. The Ridgid Octane cordless router is a solid, pro-grade tool, easy to use and adjust, and the very efficient dust port is icing on the cake. With no sawdust in it.
So here’s the big question: If you already own the older Ridgid router, is it worth upgrading? And if you don’t have the old router, which is the better bet to purchase? Hmmm, okay, that’s two questions. For question #1, the answer requires you to do some contemplation. Have you been satisfied up ‘til now with the old router’s performance? How often do you use it, and is a 15% boost in power and a 20% speed boost worth $99? Ah, but there’s also the sporty dust port, complicating the decision…
For someone who DOESN’T own the earlier model, I’d definitely lean toward the new Octane version. It comes very nicely equipped, and even if you don’t invest in Octane batteries to power it right away, it will work very well on a standard Ridgid battery. The price is decent, and once again, the dust port is the clincher.
No Power Struggle With The Ridgid Octane Cordless Router
For any reasonable task, the Ridgid Octane cordless router has plenty of power, and battery life was excellent. Once I started keeping the channel clear of sawdust, the router had no trouble making a big 3/8” x 3/8” cut with a standard Ridgid 5.0 Ah battery. After switching to an Octane battery, I had no issues with any cuts.
If you’re a power user, you might consider stepping up to an Octane battery, as Ridgid is continually expanding its lineup of Octane-optimized tools. Ridgid provided us with a very handy Octane battery starter kit to use for our testing. The kit includes 3.0 Ah and 6.0 Ah Bluetooth-enabled Octane batteries, along with a charger and – yes – another bag to stow it all in!
Ridgid backs the Ridgid Octane cordless router, and the Octane battery starter kit, with its Lifetime Service Agreement; just register the tools within 90 days of purchase. The Home Depot’s return policy gives you a risk-free opportunity to use those 90 days to see how edgy or groovy you can be. And now’s a great time to give it a try – they recently put the router to work trimming its own price down by $30, to $99, meaning it’s actually cheaper than the older version!
Buy the Ridgid Octane Cordless Router from the Home Depot:
Ridgid Octane battery starter kit with charger, kit bag, 3.0Ah and 6.0Ah batteries: