Ridgid Trim Router - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

A solid performer with great features, excellent bit depth adjustment

ridgid_trim_router

Ridgid Trim Router



Trim (laminate or palm) routers are among the most useful and versatile power tools in the shop or on a job site. When it comes to trim routers, big isn't better. These routers are meant to be used single handed, up close and personal with your work.



While a trim router won't replace a full size router, it's nearly unbeatable for precision routing. The light weight and small size make it much easier to control when you need to get into tight corners, chamfer, round-over or trim edges, mortise hinges, or rout grooves for inlay work. You'll also find it easier to guide a trim router along a straight edge than a larger router, particularly when working on narrow stock.



The Ridgid Trim Router (R2401) comes with a 5.5 Amp permanent magnet motor that delivers between 20,000 and 30,000 RPMs. Permanent magnet motors are quite popular with tool manufacturers because they are less expensive to make, though they don't perform as well as brushless motors. Replacing the brushes on the R2401 is fairly straightforward via two small screw caps on either side of the motor head. It's a good idea to check the brushes every so often, particularly if you use the router on a daily basis. Otherwise you'll know it's time to change brushes when the router starts intermittently, looses power or stops in use, emits a faint burning odour, or you see more sparks than usual coming from the cooling vents.



All routers are loud, and the R2401 is no exception. I measured it at 86.8 decibels (lowest speed, no load) and 93.7 decibels (highest speed, no load). Adequate hearing protection is, of course, highly recommended.
 

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Clockwise from the top: router (with flush trim bit installed),
square sub-base, wrenches, guide bars, edge guide
 
The R2401 includes electronic feedback circuitry, another feature that is becoming fairly common, if not ubiquitous, in power tools. Some form of electronic circuitry monitors the operation of the tool under load so that it can adjust torque or speed to keep the router bit constant under increasing load. Soft start is part of the electronic feedback circuitry; it enables the motor to build speed slowly, instead of instantly hitting maximum RPM. I'm glad to see it on the R2401; you don't get that nerve racking hand jerking motion when you turn the router on. And, less strain on the motor means a longer service life.
 

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Flat top enables you to sit router on its head for bit changes (Note: power switch is shown in "on" position, variable speed dial is to the left)
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Comfortable overmold grip and the brush cap (one on each side)
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Depth scale is useful for making rough bit depth settings
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Motor release lever (top) quick release handle (bottom)
The on/off switch and speed control are at the top of the tool, unobtrusive, yet easily accessible. The router top is flat so that it sits upside down on a work bench, making it easier to change the bits. There are 7 settings on the speed dial to alter bit speed from 20,000 to 30,000 RPM, though Ridgid doesn't provide a speed chart. Typically you want to run smaller diameter bits at higher speeds and larger bits at slower speeds.



Regardless of bit diameter it's also useful to reduce speed somewhat when bits have long cutting lengths; it helps reduce bit chatter. In general, for bits between 1/2" and 1" in diameter, with a cutting length around 1", I run at approximately 24,000 RPM (between position 3 and 4 on the dial). Smaller bits I run at the fastest setting. The largest bit diameter I would spin on the R2401 is about 1-1/4", setting the speed to the #2 position. For bits with cutting lengths over 1" I would reduce the speed by one or two positions on dial. The density of the wood you're milling and the depth of cut will also affect your choice of speed, so you should experiment with these settings.
 

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Micro adjust knob allows for 3/128" height adjustments; reset dial can be "zeroed" at any time
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With the quick release handle opened, you need to maintain pressure on the motor release lever to adjust depth of cut, or remove base for bit change-over
Bit depth adjustment on the R2401 is excellent. You can make coarse adjustments by flipping the quick release handle, holding the motor release lever open , and then moving the base upwards or downwards. There is 1-9/16" of travel. Once the bit is approximately where you want it, let go of the motor release lever, and then use the micro adjustment knob to fine tune the bit location. I find this system to be super quick and highly accurate. The micro adjust knob enables you to move the bit up or down in 3/128" increments (.023"). Every full turn of the knob moves the bit 1/16". The reset dial can be zeroed at any time. The micro adjustment knob is quite flush to the face of the router; I would have liked it a bit more raised to make it easier to turn. There is, by the way, a depth scale on the side of the housing, which can be useful for making rough bit depth settings; I still prefer to check final bit depth with a ruler or depth gauge.
 

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The motor retention spring (arrow) pushes against the bolt on the quick release handle, making it a tad difficult to pull the base off the motor housing
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The spindle lock (arrow) makes for quick and easy bit removal with a single wrench
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Some of the chips are vented through the dust port on base; though most ends up on your work
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The edge guide is quick to ttach and works quite well
If only changing bits on the R2401 was as easy as making bit height adjustments. In theory it is; in practice it isn't. While you can actually fit a wrench into the opening on the side of the base, it's too narrow to apply sufficient torque to secure the collet nut securely. So you need to remove the base. As when making a bit depth adjustment you flip the quick release handle, hold down the motor release lever, and then pull the base completely off the motor housing.



The problem is that it takes a fair amount of effort to pull the base over the motor retention spring, and it's awkward to put the base back on. You have to continually hold the motor release lever open while separating the base from the motor housing. A lock feature to hold the motor release lever in the open position might make things somewhat easier. Once the base is off, changing bits is a snap. A spindle lock makes quick work of removing the collet nut with a single wrench. The spindle runs true; I measured runout at approximately .002", which is about as good as it gets.
 

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Illuminated power cord says "I'm turned on"
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Reasonably decent 1/2" x 1/2" flush trim bit
The R2401 comes with both round and square clear sub-bases. The square base is handy if you use the router with a straight edge. However, neither sub-base is designed to accept template guides. The clear polycarbonate bases provide excellent bit visibility; you can easily see the bit in contact with the work - an important consideration when the upmost in precision is required, as when routing inlays. There is a small port on the base through which some of the dust is ejected by the rotational forces of the bit; however, as with virtually all trim routers, you need to keep a shop vacuum at hand to clear your work area of wood chips every so often.

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The router comes with a pair of guide bars and an edge guide that works well. As on most routers, the bars thread into bosses on the base; once installed the edge guide has about 4-1/4" of travel. The guide is pre-drilled so that you can attach a wooden rail to provide better stability, particularly when routing long stock. I would have liked to see a ball-bearing edge guide included with this router, as I find they do a better job routing edges than using a bearing equipped router bit.



The R2401 is a wonderful router to use. No noticeable vibration, great balance and a comfortable overmold grip. I love the 12' long power cord as I rarely have to hunt around for an extension cord, and the illuminated plug lets me know if it's plugged in and ready to go. There is even a hook and loop strap so you can wrap the cord. Everything stores neatly, if tightly, in a soft side canvas bag. Just to get you going, Ridgid includes a reasonably decent 1/2" x 1/2" flush trim bit.



The Achilles heel of the R2401 is the effort it takes to remove and reinstall the base when making bit changes. Otherwise, this is a super trim router that can go head-to-head with any other trim router on the market. And that lifetime service warranty is just icing on the cake.

KEY FEATURES:
  • 5.5 amp motor
  • 20,000 - 30,000 RPM
  • Electronic feedback circuitry
  • Soft start
  • 1/4" collet
  • 1 9/16" spindle travel
  • Spindle lock
  • Micro depth adjustment
  • Die-cast aluminum base
  • 1 3/16" diameter base opening
  • 12' power cord
  • LED work light
  • Lighted plug
  • 3.8 lbs
  • 3 year warranty, lifetime service agreement
  • Includes: edge guide and bars, square sub-base, 2 wrenches, 1/2" x 1/2" flush trim bit. soft side carry case, instruction booklet
MANUFACTURER:Ridgid
AVAILABLE FROM:Home Depot
RETAIL PRICE:$129.00
MODEL #:R2401
MADE IN:China
Carl Duguay, October 2010
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