If you’ve ever used a hand-held power planer to shave down a sticky door, or put a smooth face on a piece of rough-sawn lumber, you know what a time saver it is. There have been battery powered planers on the market for several years now; the Ridgid R848 was introduced well over a decade ago. Recently, the folks in Orange introduced its successor, the Ridgid Octane Planer, aka the Ridgid R8481B. Join us as we check out all of its features – and help some lumber shed its outer skin.
Before we get too far along, it’s worth mentioning that the earlier Ridgid 18V planers, the Ridgid R848 for example, were very good tools. They had a good set of features, with decent power and speed for paring down lumber. Ridgid used those features as a starting point to take the Ridgid Octane planer to a whole ‘nother level.
One obvious upgrade is the brushless motor. These motors were just a gleam in the engineers’ eyes when the previous models came out. They’re more powerful and efficient, they run cooler, and they’re far less likely to require maintenance. Pairing the brushless motor with the most recent advanced electronics, both onboard and in the Ridgid Octane batteries, helps bring about boosted performance, like a 30% increase in speed.
And you want more power, captain? According to Ridgid, the Ridgid Octane Planer is up to 2.5 times as powerful as the previous version. Knock those chips off your shoulder, and check out the list of features and specs from Ridgid:
• Up to 2.5X the Power than the previous version when paired with OCTANE™ battery (not included)
• Industry’s Only Adjustable Chamfer Depth with 5 positions for a more accurate chamfer
• Depth Adjustment Knob with 20 locking positions for a more precise cut
• Dual Chip Exhaust allows users to select left or right side for added versatility
• Covered for Life with Registration
• Includes: – (1) R8481 OCTANE™ Brushless 18V Planer, (2) Planer Blades, (1) Dust Bag, (1) Edge Guide, (1) Hex Wrench, and Operator’s Manual
No Load Speed: 14,300 RPM
Maximum Cutting Width: 3-1/4 in.
Maximum Cutting Depth: 5/64 in.
Maximum Rabbet Depth: 1/2 in.
Bringing The Power – And A Powerful Deal – To The Ridgid Octane Planer
From the moment you liberate it from its cardboard packaging, the Ridgid Octane Planer is almost ready to make the chips fly. Just peel off the protective plastic film from the base, and slide in a battery. To keep the cleanup portion of the festivities from getting out of control, you may want to also slide the dust bag into place; more on that shortly.
Currently, the Ridgid Octane Planer is available only as a bare tool; in other words, if you don’t already have a battery, add one to your shopping list. Although the planer will run on any Ridgid 18V battery, to take full advantage of its power you’ll need a Ridgid Octane battery.
To maximize power and run time, Ridgid recommends their new Ridgid 9.0 Ah Bluetooth Octane battery. They sent one along for us to use, and it provided plenty of power, and excellent run time, during our testing. Its advanced electronics help wring the best performance out of both the battery and the tool it’s attached to, and the Bluetooth capabilities provide a lot of info on the battery’s status, like “Time to recharge,” or “I’m cold and lonely”.
Another excellent option, if you’re getting started on the Ridgid Octane platform – or just have a lot of Ridgid tools and need some fresh juice – is the Ridgid Octane battery starter kit. Along with an 18V charger, the kit includes a 3.0 Ah and a 6.0 Ah Ridgid Octane battery. The whole shebang comes in a very nice, oversized canvas carry bag, large enough to squeeze in an Octane tool with everything else.
To make this an offer you can’t refuse, right now there’s a smokin’ deal available at the Home Depot. Buy the battery kit by 8/5/2019, and select any one of eight Ridgid tools or batteries free, including the OCTANE Cordless Brushless JobMax Multi-Tool with Tool-Free Head, the ½” Octane impact wrench, the Octane jig saw, or even a $149 Octane reciprocating saw!
Getting A Grip On The Ridgid Octane Planer
Controls on the Ridgid Octane Planer are pretty intuitive. The tool is ambidextrous-friendly; the handle feels equally comfortable in either hand. The handle is covered with a rubber overmold, which adds some comfort, while also reducing vibration a bit and improving your grip.
The dust bag does a very good job of corralling the chip spewage; just be prepared to empty it frequently. With the blades set to maximum cutting depth, the bag is full before reaching the end of a single pass over an 8’ piece of material. A little extra time emptying the dust bag will save you a fair bit of cleanup at beer o’clock, though, so I think it’s a tradeoff worth making.
The dust bag can be attached to either side of the Ridgid Octane Planer. It attaches with a friction fit; just push it on, and it stays solidly in place. A little push-through switch changes the direction of the chip ejection. It’s much less effective if it’s aimed in the wrong direction, although it cuts way down on how often you have to empty the bag. A vacuum hose can also be attached to the dust port, so if being free-range isn’t essential, that’s your best bet for dust control.
Dialing It In
Setting the depth of cut on the Ridgid Octane Planer is easy peasy. The control knob on the front has planing depth markers for 0, 1/64, 1/32, 3/64, 1/16 and 5/64 inches. To fine-tune the depth, there are a total of 20 “clicks” along the way, all clearly marked on the scale. The numbers and scale markings are white on black, and very easy to read. The only thing that isn’t so easy to see is the pointer; it’s tucked away at the back end of the dial, and it’s black on black. Might have to give it a little dab of White-Out.
Astute observer that you are, you undoubtedly noticed that there is a second set of numbers on the depth-setting dial. You may even have noticed that those numbers are negative numbers. Yes, incredibly, Ridgid has found a way to add wood back to your workpiece, if you shave too much off!
OK, fine. The second scale is actually there to set the depth of cut for chamfering cuts. It allows you to set the depth from a microscopic 1/32” up to a maximum of 1/8” in a single pass. It’s great having that amount of control, and Ridgid claims the Ridgid Octane Planer is the only planer on the market to have this adjustable depth-of-chamfer feature.
Once your depth is set, you’re ready to cut. At the forward edge of the handle opening is a push-through switch, similar to direction-reversing switches found on drills. Since planing in reverse is probably a bad idea, the switch on the Ridgid Octane Planer acts as a passive lockout.
To operate the planer, just pick it up, grab the forward knob with your support hand, and press the lock button in with your thumb. This unlocks the trigger, and you can start making wood chips. When you release the trigger, the tool automatically resets the lock. This is pretty much a necessity on a tool with a blade that spins at over 14,000 RPM, and a handle that naturally places your finger on the trigger when you pick it up.
More Stand-Up Features To Make Your Work Go Smoothly
When you release the trigger on the Ridgid Octane Planer, the blade stops almost immediately. To protect your workpiece, though – as well as the blades on the planer – a little spring-loaded kickstand drops down as soon as the planer is lifted from the wood. This keeps the blades well clear of the work surface. The kickstand retracts automatically when you start planing.
By the way, in the event those blades wear out, or get trashed by that hinge you forgot to remove, they’re reversible. They can be removed, reversed and re-installed, giving you a fresh set of edges to get on with your work. New blades are reasonably priced, and available through Ridgid; we’ll include a link at the end of the post.
Also included with the Ridgid Octane Planer is an edge guide. It slides through a hole in the front of the planer, and locks in with a little locking knob on the front; no tools required. The edge guide can be used to help guide the planer when doing edge cutting, or when cutting rabbets. The planer can be used to cut rabbets as deep as ½”, using multiple passes.
Taking The Ridgid Octane Planer For A High-Speed Spin
For its maiden voyage, I gave the Ridgid Octane Planer some tasty Douglas Fir to munch on. I set the depth to the max, 5/64”, and slid in the Ridgid Octane 9.0 Ah battery. The planer has a very solid feel to it, and although it’s a bit heavy with the large battery, it’s very manageable. That bit of weight is the price you pay for quality construction and portability.
For the first couple of passes, I left the dust bag off, and let the chips fly. And boy, did they fly. As with any planer, when you shave off a bunch of wood, it has to go somewhere… The Ridgid Octane Planer easily went through the Doug Fir, going at a steady clip, with plenty of power to spare.
I added the dust bag, which only takes a couple of seconds, and made some more passes. The dust bag works VERY well, collecting the majority of the shredded wood. As I mentioned earlier, the bag fills quickly, but it’s fast and easy to remove it for emptying.
Next, it was on to the red oak. I’m in the midst of installing a lot of oak trim, and the nonstandard wall depths I’m working with means I have to fabricate extension jambs for every window and door I trim out. The Ridgid Octane Planer worked very nicely to fine-tune the widths on the oak, leaving a very nice finished edge. Again, the planer had plenty of power.
One of the Ridgid Octane Planer’s superpowers is its ability to create a rabbet. I attached the edge guide, and made a few passes at full depth along the face of a piece of red oak. The planer had no trouble chewing its way through the dense wood, and after three passes I had a trench about ¼” deep.
Note: There’s a bit of a learning curve to using the edge guide. Make sure your work piece is secured, and that you have clearance deep enough along the edge for the guide to get through. Practicing with a piece of scrap wood is time well spent.
Some Smooth Finishing Thoughts
Spoiler alert: I really like the Ridgid Octane Planer. It’s a well thought out, robust tool, with power equal to corded planers I’ve used, and a lot of useful features. It would be a great choice for jobs like shaving down doors or trim, or taking the humps out of framing lumber. I have a stack of oak slab doors to install, most of which will likely be getting introduced to the planer’s carbide steel blades.
Hesitant about making the investment? Buying the Ridgid Octane Planer from the Home Depot takes the risk out of the process. Their no-questions-asked return policy lets you send chips flying for 90 days, risk-free. And if you register the tool within 90 days of purchase, the tool is covered by Ridgid’s Lifetime Service Agreement, meaning you get free parts and service for life. So quit plane around – try one out, and see how smooth it can make your next shaving project.
Buy the Ridgid Octane Planer from the Home Depot:
Buy the Ridgid Octane 9.0 battery from the Home Depot:
Buy the Ridgid Octane battery starter kit with 3.0 and 6.0 Ah batteries:
Buy replacement blades for the Ridgid Octane Planer from Ridgid: