Which trim router is right for you?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, we want to provide a little context to this battery power trim router comparison. We are not 100 percent sure there will be a clear winner in the end. We have both units in our professional woodworking shop and they each have their specific application and are very good at them. We will compare each unit in a variety of categories and specs. We will discuss what unit is used for what application in our specific situation and how you might be able to relate. Some categories may have a clear “winner” and others may be better for one application over the other.
By the end of this blog post and video review, it should give you an idea of what each unit is capable and if it is right for your shop or job site.
What are we comparing?
We are going to compare the Makita XTR01Z brushless 18-volt compact trim router to the Ridgid R86044B 18-volt compact trim router. These two units are intended for the same type of work whether you are in the woodshop or on the job-site. Decorative edge work, laminate trimming, light mortise and tenon work, inlay work, and various other woodworking and cabinetry applications. We will dive into various different features and specs on the units and compare them. What is better or more suited for certain applications? These comparison points are:
- Size and Weight
- Battery Platform
- Run Time
- Horse Power
- Collet and Bit Size
- Changing Bits
- Base features
- Dust Collection
Construction Material, Size, and Weight
With a tool like a trim router, size and weight are extremely important. You don’t want something that is large and heavy for the type of work you will be doing. On certain applications, a little heft is nice to have but for the majority of the work and applications that a trim router will be doing, something that is compact and maneuverable is something that is desirable.
Coming in with a more plastic than the Makita model, the Ridgid unit is a bit lighter with a weight without a battery of 2.4 pounds. With a footprint of 7′ tall and 3′ wide, the unit is very compact. Placing a battery on top of the unit will make it a bit taller and heavy but most importantly throwing off the balance. Both units will be top heavy with a larger battery. We are a big believer in 2.0ah batteries in these units. The Makita unit is a bit heavier with more a beefier metal construction coming in at 4.6 pounds with a battery. The size of the Makita unit is similar to the Ridgid unit with a footprint of 8-7/8″ tall.
No question the Makita LXT 18-volt battery platform is a front-runner in this category. They have the world’s largest 18-volt tool lineup and are always adding more tools every year. Ridgid has a significant amount of tools under their 18-volt battery platform but not nearly the amount that Makita has.
We are a firm believer in battery platforms and minimizing the number of batteries and chargers you have in the workshop or job-site. As a professional tool reviewer and user of these tools, we don’t have a choice. We review tools that require a plethora of different batteries and chargers. More and more companies are working to minimize the new battery platforms that are being created and to keep all the compatibility towards their past tools and battery technology.
Battery platform may or may not have a big impact on your buying decisions but we will leave you with this. If you look at your batteries and chargers in your workshop or job-site and have both a Ridgid and Makita battery platform, then it is a mute point. If you have one and not the other, then that becomes a big factor. If you have neither, then you have to look at what each company can offer you and what you want to plan for in the future.
Battery Balance – These tools will be top heavy with larger batteries. Use a smaller 2.0ah battery for the production work and have multiple batteries. For the heavier duty work that requires more juice, put in a larger battery. For inlay work, a larger battery is preferred for the additional weight.
Dust collection is typically a topic that is true to many woodworkers hearts. Collecting the dust at the source is the most effective way to keeping it out of your lungs. Definitely a second thought but keeping your workshop and/or your job-site clean and dust free. But in some instances in our woodworking shop, we have efficiency over dust collection at the source in mind. We will wear our respirators and not have any dust hoses and quickly bang out our task.
In our opinion, there are three areas where the dust collection debate can occur. First, the production shop that would prefer to achieve maximum efficiency over cleanliness. Second, inlay work that requires you to be up close and personal with the task at hand. And last but not least, work on the job-site that is being lived or worked in. Dust isn’t a pleasant byproduct of woodworking or construction, especially in a place people are living or working.
To cut to the chase, the Ridgid unit doesn’t have a dust collection port on it and the Makita unit does. Makita has dust collection while the Ridgid does not. If dust collection is important to you, then the Makita is the one for you.
We will give you a little insight on how we use the two different units in our shop. We have 6 Ridgid units that are all set up with different bits in a cubby system ready to be grabbed and utilized on a project or job. This is our production system that allows us to minimize wasted time in changing bits. If we want a small round over, we grab the router in the “small round over” cubby and get to work. These unit do not have dust collection on them but when we grab these units, they are typically used for edge treatment in a production setting. We will have our dust respirators on and protected.
We have a single Makita unit in our shop that we use for inlay work or other larger tasks that produce a lot of dust. We will slap the dust hose on the unit and collect most of the dust.
Shank Size, Largest Bit Size, and Changing Bits
Both units can take up to a 1/4″ diameter shank. There is no need for a 1/2″ shank in a compact trim router.
Changing the bits in these units is nearly identical. You want to loosen the base adjustment mechanism and place the base position to allow for easy access to the collet nut. Place the collect wrench on the nut and hold down the arbor lock. Loosen or tighten the collet nut accordingly. Neither unit has one better than the other and they are both easy to do.
Attachments on any power tool is always a bonus. Whether they are included with the tool or needed to purchase after the fact, it gives the consumer the ability to utilize that tool in another application. Right up from the Makita takes the cake in this department while the Ridgid unit is more simple and straightforward.
A vital accessory that is key for inlay work and other joinery applications. The Makita unit can accept a 1 1/4″ bushing system. The standard is the Porter Cable sets but many companies have in-house versions. They simply get placed into the base of the unit and a nut is screwed from the backside to secure. Big win for the Makita router.
The Ridgid unit cannot accept a bushing system regardless of the size of the bushing.
Both units come with an edge guide. We prefer the Makita edge guide over the Ridgid for it compatibility with other accessories. Makita has a track accessory that allows the router to be used with their tracksaw tracks. Something we have not found the use of yet but another great feature of the Makita router.
The Makita unit comes with a laminate bearing attachment.
Height Adjustment Mechanism
Adjusting the height is extremely important. You want to be able to set that router bit that you have in the unit at exactly the right measurement. This is especially important for joinery applications, inlay work, and edge profiles. If you don’t have the height properly set and secured, your results will not be how you expect them.
The mechanisms are completely different but achieve the same results. They raise and lower the base which in turns increases or decreases the height of the bit. The Makita unit uses a Rack and Pinion system while the Ridgid uses a threaded rod.
We much prefer the Ridgid mechanism due to its precision and micro adjust. Both units have the ability to loosen the mechanisms and move it rapidly to roughly set it in position but the Ridgid unit is the only one with the micro adjust.
If you are in the market for a cordless compact trim router, you will be happy with either of these units. If you are someone that is going to utilize a trim router for more than edge treatment, then we would strongly encourage you to focus on the Makita. The Ridgid is a solid unit but is intended for more basic edge treatment and straightforward mortising work. Makita has the flexibility with more accessories and capabilities which is why we would put that into the hands of the professional.
Keep in mind, we have 6 of the Ridgid units in our shop and use them every single day. We are extremely happy with them and wouldn’t change them for all Makita units. We love having the Makita unit in the shop for the applications the Ridgid can’t do.
It boils down to a simple statement: Makita can do everything the Ridgid unit can but Ridgid can’t do everything the Makita can. If you need those additional capabilities, Makita is the model for you. If you need a basic cordless compact trim router, the Ridgid is right for you.