There inevitably comes a time in life when one is forced to cut the proverbial cord. When it comes to tools, power cords can be a real hassle, tethering you to the nearest AC outlet and constantly getting in the way. With the Ridgid R86044 GEN5X series 18V trim router, you get more than just cordless freedom; you get a variable speed, brushless motor that ekes up to 50% longer run time from any Ridgid 18V battery pack and boasts longer motor life than previous iterations. Ridgid sent us the new R86044 18V compact router to evaluate, so let’s check it out.
What Comes With The Ridgid R86044 Trim Router?
The Ridgid R86044 kit includes a compact 18V router body, a fixed base (as opposed to a plunge base), 1 square and 1 round sub base, a collet wrench, an edge guide and a trim bit. The package also comes with a zippered storage bag with carrying handle.
The battery and charger are sold separately. However, this tool is compatible with all Ridgid 18V batteries. If you already own a Ridgid 18V tool you don’t have to spend the extra money, unless you just want another battery or want to upgrade.
Get Your Motor Running With The Ridgid R86044
The spinny thing (to use heavy technical jargon) at the heart of the R86044 is Ridgid’s new GEN5X series motor. Since it uses permanent magnets instead of stator coils, it consumes less juice. And the hassle and expense of replacing worn brushes is a thing of the past, as there are no brushes in the GEN5X motor. The results are longer run time per charge and longer motor life. The tool also features soft start for better control upon power on.
As with most power tools, the motor is cooled by pulling air though the enclosure. Air flow is exhausted through the vents at the bottom and does an excellent job of blowing dust away from the bit, allowing you to maintain a clear view of what you’re doing. A bright white LED helps when working in low light conditions.
The router base has a port intended to direct dust towards the rear. Honestly though, it doesn’t really do much, if anything. But the blower works so well that it’s a total non-issue.
A Real Turn-On
A router is not the kind of tool you want to power on accidentally. To ensure that doesn’t happen, it’s equipped with a pull switch. At first, the switch felt kind of awkward. It’s stiff on the pull stroke and has a small finger notch that makes it kind of tricky to pull out. But it’s not a big deal once you get used to it. Thicker fingers, however, may have difficulty turning the router on; unlike some Humans I’ve known.
On the plus side, the switch is located where it’s very easy to turn off with a squeeze of the thumb. So it provides the safety you’d want from a handheld router: very difficult to inadvertently power on and very easy to power off when you want to.
Even with the safety switch, it’s advisable to always remove the battery when installing and removing bits. That’s not a lack of confidence in the tool, mind you; it’s just sensible tool handling protocol.
The Ridgid R86044 trim router is adjustable from 17,000-25,000 RPM. You probably won’t need to deviate too often from maximum (or near-maximum) speed. But it is nice to have the option to do so because different bit sizes and material densities may yield better results at lower bit speeds.
In general, larger diameter bits should be run at slower speeds. However, a router this size doesn’t have the torque to handle large bits. So speed adjustments are more likely to be in response to dull bits burning your workpiece than bit size.
The Ridgid R86044 – A Battery Powered Trim Router
To minimize the price, many cordless tools are sold sans battery; this is no exception. But – as previously mentioned – the Ridgid R86044 trim router is compatible with all Ridgid 18V battery packs. So if you already own Ridgid 18V tools you can save a decent chunk of cash.
During my evaluation, I used the 5Ah Hyper Lithium Ion battery pack. If you’re going to buy a battery, this one will give you maximum run time. The Ridgid R840094 battery charger pictured above is compatible with all Ridgid 18V battery packs, has 2 AC outlets on the front and 2 USB ports to charge your phone and other devices.
Bit Installation: Or Whatever You Wanna Collet
The R86044 accepts 1/4” shaft router bits and even comes with a 1/2” top-bearing flush trim bit to get you started. Bits can be installed and removed with or without the base in place. Simply depress the shaft lock with your thumb and tighten or loosen the collet nut with the included wrench. Nothing to it.
With routers, depth of cut is always set by adjusting the height of the base, never the bit. When installing a bit, make sure the shaft bottoms out then retract it about 3/16” before tightening the collet. Adjustment of the base is pretty standard fare: there’s a spring tensioned, lever action coarse adjustment and a rotating fine adjustment. Once adjusted, flip the locking lever to hold everything securely in place.
Now, there are markings on the router body and the fine adjustment knob. But as with every router, these are relative guides and not an indication of true depth. Actual bit height should always be measured with a ruler or gauge to ensure you’re at the desired depth.
With the R86044, there is significant backlash in the fine adjustment knob, so you can’t even trust its markings in a relative sense. I was able to try two of these units and both suffered the same degree of lash. So, just like with every other router out there, don’t trust the depth adjustment markings; they’re useless. Why manufacturers even bother to include them is beyond me. Nothing against the R86044 in particular; it’s just the nature of the beast.
The R86044 trim router comes with an edge guide that attaches to the base with a pair of metal rods. Edge guides come in handy for routing grooves and dadoes parallel to – but offset from – an edge. When you look at the collet tool, you’d swear that you can use it to tighten the guide rails, which thread into the router base. Unfortunately, the metal is too thick to do so (despite having lobes of the proper shape). A separate slotted screwdriver is required to cinch the rails.
The Ridgid R86044 18V Trim Router In Action
I could babble on all night about routers, but the real question is whether or not the R86044 trim router performs. I routed several round-overs and dadoes and put a 1/2” chamfer on about 40 linear feet of plywood (in 4 separate 1/8” passes) and just barely dented the charge in my 5Ah battery. So I feel confident that a cabinet/laminate installer will be pleased with the battery life.
In short, you get the performance you’d expect from a corded trim router, without the cord.
Keep in mind that this is a trim router. It’s ideal for trimming laminate and cabinet edges and for light edge shaping. It does not have the muscle to power through heavy routing tasks. However, you can cut dadoes and deeper edge profiles if you slow your feed rate and take light passes.
When used for its intended purpose, you’ll find it to be one heck of a tool. And at only 2lbs, 7oz (minus the battery), the weight is plenty manageable. I had some minor nit-picky gripes, but they are hardly deal breakers. The R86044 trim router’s positives far outweigh the minor negatives.
Considering what this router has going for it – cordless convenience, small size, compatibility with all Ridgid 18V battery packs, the new GEN5X motor and Ridgid’s lifetime parts and service warranty – if you’re in the market for a trim router, the Ridgid R86044 18V compact router is definitely worth your consideration.
Speaking of Ridgid’s lifetime warranty, did you know that it even covers your battery packs? I was not aware of that until very recently. Wow, what a selling point!
Ridgid GEN5X 18V tools promo video:
The Ridgid R86044 18V Compact Router retails at Home Depot for $119.00