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Better drill than I expected, serviceable impact driver, so-so radio

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Review by Dan Lyke posted 08-29-2014 11:47 PM 4197 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Better drill than I expected, serviceable impact driver, so-so radio Better drill than I expected, serviceable impact driver, so-so radio Better drill than I expected, serviceable impact driver, so-so radio Click the pictures to enlarge them

This is not a brand I would have ever expected to have in my shop, but… From my Twitter stream, on April 30th 2014 I got a follow from @RIDGIDPower, and said I’d be an unlikely customer. Surprising me, they engaged! We sent email back and forth, their rep offered to send me a battery powered tool combo kit with a drill, impact driver, and radio. I actually declined, on the basis that I didn’t need another set of chargers and batteries in my shop, but by that point the box was in the mail.

So: Awesome points for engaging on social media! In this world of auto-DMing bots, this shows a dedication to brand quality that’s impressive. And: They gave me free stuff! It’s hard to be too critical…

Drill
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Had a six year old drop by the shop, he wanted something to do while his parents and I talked, so I grabbed a block of fir, a hammer and some nails, and as an afterthought grabbed the drill and some square drive screws. The thing that impressed me was that the low speed performance was what I’d come to expect from brushless motors. He was able to make that thing crawl as he figured out how to drive screws.

We also recently ran a sub-panel, and needed something to drive a hole saw for a bunch of holes. Normally I’d use my Festool C12 for this, but in the disaster of a project in play I couldn’t find the appropriate chuck (normally I like interchangeable chucks, but…). The RIDGID does indeed have the low range torque capability to sprain your wrist, or ram your knuckles into the edge of an electrical panel, or do any number of other horrible things (and, yes, it has a detachable second handle that I should have put on…). Weirdly, it wouldn’t do much of anything in the “2” range, the current limiter or whatever kicked in and the drill wouldn’t re-start for a short time, but in low range it got us through, and between the two batteries and a lot of drilling carried us until we could turn the power back on to run the battery charger.

My only complaint: Where my Milwaukee drill has a setting that overrides the clutch, and the Festool drill has a slider that’s adjustable with one hand, this drill takes a full rotation of the clutch to go from gentle clutch to driving screws mode, which means that if you use the same drill for driving screws as for drilling, it’s more than changing the bit and a flick. So the answer is: This is not your only rotary tool on the job site. Have the impact driver or another drill around for driving screws.

Impact Driver

Me and this impact driver don’t really get along. What’s the one thing you want in an impact driver? The ability to put some serious force on the back of it to make sure it grips the screw. The picture at right shows the back of the Festool C12, the RIDGID impact driver, and the Milwaukee M12 hammer drill, you’ll notice that two of those provide a comfortable place to put a palm to apply some serious force.

So the air vents at the back of the case make that feel a little flimsier than I think it should.

There’s also something about the action of it that makes me reach for the smaller lighter Milwaukee first. But then I also have the luxury of being in the shop, where run-time isn’t as much of an issue.

It may grow on me over time.

Light Location

My Festool C12 doesn’t have a light. The Milwaukee has a light that’s close to the axis of the bit. The RIDGID tools have the light in the bottom of the handle. In practice, this means I get a bit of shadow and depth from the light of the RIDGID tools, but when working in close quarters (like between the joists and sills of a house, running electrical wiring up into the wall) that shadow can obscure what I hoped to see.

Not sure which I like better, just something to be aware of.

Radio

This is a little job site radio that works off the 18v battery, and has a 3.5mm plug on a wire for plugging in your favorite audio source.

It’s cute, seems to work, but…

The input should really be a socket, with the wire an accessory. Yeah, there are some potential dust and fouling issues, but it’s far more likely that that wire is going to wear out or tear out, and it’d be nice if we could just replace the wire.

The strap on the back to hold your MP3 player isn’t big enough to hold a modern smart phone. If this had a socket, you could lay the phone flat, but it’s hanging off the wire otherwise, and…

The audio quality is okay. I need to do head-to-head listening, but in the end I’ve gone back to a USB wall wart and a set of cheap computer speakers.

Might be handy on a job site, not so much in the shop.

Conclusion

My impression after a few sessions in the shop screwing around with these tools is that RIDGID is targeted at the mid-range homeowner or low end contractor, carpentry rather than furniture building. Which is quite a bit better than my original impression before I held the tools.

In a shop with a brushless Festool and a nice light Milwaukee M12, I find myself reaching for the drill a lot. Given the lifetime service agreement, and the possibility of getting free batteries for life (if you’re a good enough record keeper for that), I could totally see suggesting this drill to people who need a good all-around drill beefy enough to drive hole saws, and the impact driver is totally serviceable.

Edit: I dropped this to 3 stars. I still like the drill for the price, but… See the comments. I’ve used the impact driver more and I’m less and less impressed by it.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke




View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4121 days



8 comments so far

View scarpenter002's profile

scarpenter002

606 posts in 3901 days


#1 posted 08-30-2014 01:54 PM

I have the same set that I bought about a year ago and so far love them. To me the radio is trash. I can not afford to spare my battery pack for the radio.

Nice writeup. Thanks for sharing.

-- Scott in Texas

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20475 posts in 3101 days


#2 posted 08-31-2014 06:38 AM

Thanks for the review. That will be my next drill I buy

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

4764 posts in 3239 days


#3 posted 08-31-2014 07:32 PM

Did anyone notice the black feet at the right of the impact driver picture? Otherwise, good review.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4121 days


#4 posted 08-31-2014 08:47 PM

Hee hee hee. Yep, 5 Fingers are my shoe of choice for everything.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View SirFatty's profile

SirFatty

540 posts in 2208 days


#5 posted 09-01-2014 12:17 PM

As a user of several Ridged drill/drivers, the free battery deal is not as great as it would appear. It’s a complete hassle getting the batteries replaced, I’m trying to resolve a replacement issue right now (I sent two defective batteries in, they decided to replace one).

The batteries fail rather quick, then it’s a hassle to get them replaced. I should have purchased Makita, but the free battery replacement lured me it.

-- Visit my blog at dave.spalla.com

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

7941 posts in 2126 days


#6 posted 09-02-2014 03:16 PM

I love this set. Buying it as a handyman, very active homeowner, and increasingly active woodworker it’s done everything I’ve wanted it to do.

Fatty, the battery replacement lured me in as well. And I have had to replace batteries and found it to be a painless process. I took the tool, battery, and charger into Home Depots Rental Area, filled out some paperwork, left it with them for the day and picked up my replacements the next day. I will note that this only works with batteries (and maybe chargers, I don’t know), but if your tool is the issue it either needs to be sent back to Ridgid or taken to an actual service center, but I’ve not had to deal with this yet.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11819 posts in 3684 days


#7 posted 09-05-2014 01:12 AM

I use this set at work.
I like the drill , but the impact driver seems very wimpy at best. Maybe it’s a bad one, but I’m glad that work bought it and not me. The radio really isn’t a bonus either. Every time you need to use the second battery, you lose whatever station(s) you might have selected and you still need to find an outlet to plug the charger into in order to recharge the battery that has quit. I guess the portability is nice though if you really must have a radio and you’re able to finish your job before the first battery quits.. I would also say that the batteries don’t seem to last very long compared to my co-workers DeWalt set. I would give the set a strong 2, possibly a 3 on a good day.
JMHO : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4121 days


#8 posted 09-15-2014 06:19 PM

Great feedback, guys! Follow-up on the impact driver: I was out finishing up a fence, and my 5” fence screws have a bigger Torx bit than my 2” screws, so I had one impact driver for each bit, and ended up switching the 5” Torx bit over to my Milwaukee M12 driver: Drove faster, battery lasted longer. more control.

I still think the drill is fine for the price, and if you need something beefy enough to run a big-ass hole saw (which I like it for) it works well, but that impact driver didn’t start out strong, and the new toy shine has worn off..

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

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