Ridgid 18-Volt Combo Kit
Cleanup Goes Cordless
Jigs & Clamps
Ridgid 18-Volt Combo
I recently had the chance to check out Ridgid's new 18-volt
four-piece cordless combo kit, model #R922. The kit includes a
cordless drill with hammer function, 6 1/2-inch circular saw,
reciprocating saw, flashlight, two-bay battery charger, and two
batteries, all packed in a heavy-duty nylon bag. While the
Ridgid name has been around plumbing circles longer than copper
tubing, the manufacturer is new to the cordless power tool
industry, so I was interested to test these.
Heart of the System
The charger is beefy, measuring 9 by 7 inches by 5 inches
high. It allows you to charge two batteries simultaneously and
has self-diagnostic electronics that test the charger and pack
every charging cycle. Compared to the single-hole, one-light
charger included with my other cordless drill, it struck me as
big and cumbersome. The manufacturer claims that it provides
faster, more complete charging and prolongs battery life.
Because fast charging generates a lot of
heat, the Ridgid two-bay charger uses a fan to cool the packs.
Mesh-covered holes in the pack allow air to reach the
The literature indicates that it takes about 30 minutes for a
battery to charge, but I found that most recharge times tended
to take from 15 to 20 minutes. The charger has a cooling fan
that comes on whenever a battery is charging. The fan continues
to run even after the pack is fully charged, so my coworkers
ribbed me about carting around a hair dryer.
Once I got the green light from the charger, I grabbed the
cordless drill and went to work. Like most carpenters, I
consider my cordless drill the one battery-powered tool that's
indispensable, and I used the Ridgid drill nearly every day for
about two months.
The 18-volt drill has a two-speed
transmission with 24 clutch positions housed in an aluminum
gear case. The auxiliary handle adjusts easily and removes
without anything having to be taken apart.
The drill has plenty of power for screwing and drilling, and
the reversing/neutral switch is conveniently placed above the
trigger. Switching between the two speeds is smooth, and 24
clutch positions prevent breaking or overdriving a screw.
The comfortable T-handle grip is complemented by an easily
adjusted auxiliary handle that includes a depth rod for
drilling concrete or counter boring. I checked out the hammer
function when I needed to attach some sleepers to a concrete
floor. While it works for occasional drilling, I'd save the
heavy-duty stuff for your rotary hammer.
My only complaint with the drill is that the knurled locking
ring on the chuck is not as comfortable as others I've used. At
7 pounds 3 ounces, it's also a little heavy, though comparable
to 18-volt drills from other manufacturers.
While some newer drills have a
transmission lock that holds the chuck stationary for
one-handed bit changes, the 18-volt Ridgid does not —
bit changes require two hands. The author found the small
knurls on the chuck less comfortable than other
The reciprocating saw feels heavy and solid and has a nice
blade-change mechanism. The flip-up lever is a vast improvement
over the old-fashioned pinch bolt on my corded recip saw.
Unfortunately, the shoe adjustment doesn't work as well: Two
bolts hold it in place, and it requires a hex wrench.
A small lever unlocks the blade clamp
for easy changes. Blades can be installed upside down and even
when the clamp is at the top of its stroke.
A variable-speed trigger controls the speed from 0 to 2,500
strokes per minute, but it doesn't have a dial or lock to keep
the speed constant. Although the saw vibrated more than the
corded saws I've used, it has excellent power, easily cutting
plywood sheathing, rough framing, 1/8-inch metal bar stock, and
Starting with a fresh battery, I made a series of crosscuts in
a 2x3 stud to test run time. I managed 53 cuts before the
battery was dead. Even though I let the saw stop between cuts,
it essentially ran continuously for about 12 minutes. My only
complaints with this tool are the antiquated shoe adjustment
and the safety lock above the trigger. While I'm sure the
safety switch is a good idea, it requires too much contortion
to start the saw.
I've never owned a cordless circ saw, so at first I was a
little skeptical about its capabilities, but I was surprised at
how well it performs. It won't replace your corded saw, but
it's handy for small jobs or where power is tough to come by.
The 6 1/2-inch blade bevels to 50 degrees and has a 2 1/8-inch
depth of cut. It crosscuts 2x framing material well, although
it tends to bog down or stop if it's pushed too hard when
ripping. I also tried crosscutting some rough 8/4 Douglas fir
and 4/4 maple. The saw cut those materials easily.
The cordless circular saw has a scale on
the back of the blade guard that shows the depth of cut at a
glance. The 6 1/2-inch blade can cut through 2x framing
material at a 50-degree bevel. White markings on a black
background make depth and bevel settings easy to
To test run time, I made continuous crosscuts in a kiln-dried
spruce 2x3 using a freshly charged battery. I was able to do 55
cuts, but the saw slowed noticeably after about 40. With a
fresh charge, I was able to rip another 2x3 about 20 feet
before the battery gave out.
At 12 inches long, the heavy-duty aluminum shoe is stable, and
bevel settings are easy to read. The circular saw, like the
reciprocating saw, has a safety switch above the trigger that
must be depressed before starting the saw.
The flashlight that rounds out the kit has a lantern-style
handle and an easy-to-use trigger-type switch. It's well
balanced, and the xenon bulb is bright and effective. I was
pleasantly surprised to find that a fully charged pack would
keep it burning for about 3 1/2 hours.
Overall, my impression of this kit was positive. I don't think
either the recip saw or the circ saw will replace your corded
ones for production cutting, but they are useful and plenty
strong for particular tasks. At a street price of $480, this
combo kit is priced about the same as the other pro-duty kits
and deserves consideration if you're in the market for a
Gary Godbersenis a carpenter and woodworker in northern
Cordlessby Patrick McCombe
Admittedly, I'm a bit of a neat freak, but I think DeWalt's
newest cordless tool, the DC500 shop vac, is one of the best
ideas to hit the job site in a long time. The two-gallon vacuum
runs on any of DeWalt's standard battery packs from 12 to 18
volts. For bigger jobs or when batteries are in short supply,
you can plug it in and it automatically switches to AC
DeWalt's DC500 will run on any DeWalt
standard battery pack from 12 to 18 volts. The battery
compartment is behind a gasketed door that prevents dirt
particles from escaping the housing. With an 18-volt pack, it
runs about 13 minutes, plenty of time for a quick
Aside from running cordless, the DC500 has a number of
features that make it significantly better than many compact
vacuums. It's capable of both wet and dry pickup, and you don't
have to change or remove the filter when sucking up liquids.
The pleated-fabric filter works well at capturing small
particles, and it cleans up easily. It even held on to a
bottle's worth of blue chalk that I spilled during a remodeling
project, without blowing it all over the place.
The DC500's pleated-fabric filter
captures small particles effectively and removes with a quarter
turn so you can bang off the dirt. This dirty filter (right)
was still providing good suction before cleaning, a testament
to the excellent fabric.
The tool's housing is made of impact-resistant ABS plastic. I
especially liked the high-quality latches that clamp the tank
to the motor housing. They hold securely and latch easily. A
flexible, real-rubber hose locks into the tank and stores in a
special holster along with a crevice tool and a 6-inch nozzle.
A threaded drain makes emptying liquids easier.
A threaded drain plug makes emptying a
tank filled with water easy. A rubber gasket prevents leaks,
and large knurls make the tool easy to grip, even with gloves
In an informal test, I plugged in a new 18-volt battery and
let the vac run. It ran for about 13 minutes, which seems like
plenty of time for most cleanup tasks. The tool has enough
power for what it's intended for, quick cleanups of sawdust and
remodeling dirt, but the tank is too small for bigger
A lot of builders and remodelers are bothered by noisy vacs,
and this one definitely makes a racket — the
high-pitched blower is especially loud in tight spaces. But
because the tool isn't meant for extended cleaning or dust
collection, I don't think it's a big problem.
While it won't replace your full-sized shop vac, the DC500 is
great for small messes. The cordless convenience makes it easy
to clean up a pile of dirt or sawdust before it can get tracked
around the house or job site. The little vac also makes it easy
to keep your truck clean — you could give it the
once-over while you wait for an inspector or subcontractor to
I have only one complaint: In keeping with its super-portable
nature, it should have a shoulder strap so you can carry it
while your hands are full of other stuff.
The DC500 costs $100, which seems like a fair price. But that
doesn't include a battery pack or charger, so if you don't have
any other DeWalt cordless tools, that will add at least another
Jigs & Clamps
Not Just a Pretty Face?
many clamps can be used for joining cabinets, Cabinet Claws
from Pony have an additional screw for aligning the face and
drill guides that ensure straight and accurate screw holes. The
padded jaws have a 4-inch capacity and work with frames up to 1
1/2 inches thick. The maker also offers a version of the clamp
for European-style frame-less cabinets. Both varieties sell for
about $60 a pair.
Adjustable Clamp Company, 312/666-0640,
Getting tight outside
corners and preassembling coffers and other elaborate trim are
a lot easier with these cool Miter Clamps from Collins. These
spring-loaded clamps have sharp points that grip firmly without
slipping, and the tiny holes are a lot easier to fix than the
bigger ones left by competitive products. While you don't
necessarily need them, Miter Clamp Pliers make placement and
opening the clamps to their maximum 2-inch spread easier. If
you're a finish carpenter doing high-end work, you'll wonder
how you lived without them — really. A dozen clamps
sell for $30, and the pliers sell for $15.
Collins Tool Company, 888/838-8988,
On the Fence.
A good featherboard
can improve efficiency, quality, and safety, but the
time-consuming setup is frequently more trouble than it's
worth. However, Grip-Tite Magnetic Feather Boards set up faster
than traditional featherboards because the magnetic base holds
them firmly to cast-iron table saws and steel fences without
clamps. The manufacturer sells a steel plate that bolts to
aluminum stock fences. According to the manufacturer, the
Grip-Tite is strong enough to hold a sheet of plywood tight to
the table without any out-feed support. Grip-Tite featherboards
sell for $40 each; fence plates start at $25.
Mesa Vista Design, 800/475-0293,