While they excel at trimming laminates and veneers, you’ll find that they are suitable for a surprising amount of routing work. I use mine for cutting hinge mortises, for inlay and pattern work, cutting butterfly keys, trimming edge banding, cutting narrow rabbets and dadoes, in fact, where ever I need a high degree of accuracy and precision for light routing.
What makes laminate trimmers so great is their convenience, versatility, and light weight. They are so light that you can use one for an extended period of time without fatigue. They are very easy to maneuver and their small base is ideal for getting into tight spots. You’ll also find that they are a lot quieter than their larger cousins.
Essentially, laminate trimmers are fixed based routers designed to be used singlehanded. All have 1/4″ collets, and no-load speeds of between 20,000 and 30,000 RMP. Motors vary from 3 1/2 to 6 amps, and weights vary from 3 to 4 pounds.
Various models offer a range of accessories that will be relevant to you depending upon the type of work you do.
I’ve been using the Ridgid R2400 in my shop for the past 6 months. It’s a very capable trimmer that has some nice features. The R2400’s variable speed permanent magnet 6 amp motor runs between 20,000 and 30,000 RPM, which I like, as not all bits need to be driven at top speed. Soft start is a real plus. It generates less mechanical stress on the router and delivers improved power. Advanced circuitry senses the motor load and adjusts power to maintain bit speed. The generous 12 foot power cord, with a light on the plug (so you know when it’s juiced up), is plain smart design. So is the Velcro strip that makes for a tidy job of storing the power cord. The recessed, toggle style power switch is conveniently located on the top of the unit (as is the variable speed dial). If you have smaller hands you’ll really like the light weight and excellent balance of this trimmer.
The R2400 employs a thumb operated geared roller and plastic lock-nut to effect height adjustments. While it works well, I would have preferred a precision micro adjustment system. Trying to move the head up or down 1/64″ with your thumb is a bit of a hit and miss affair. The motor housing travels approximately 1 5/8″ along the sleeve, which isn’t too bad. In order to remove the housing from the sleeve (which you have to do each time you change cutters) you have to squeeze the lock-nut. I find that a bit of a nuisance. As with most trimmers, it takes 2 wrenches to change bits. A wrench-less bit change system would be nicer.
The bit clearance hole on the clear base is 1 1/8″ diameter – a tad on the small side. I replaced the base with a piece of lexan, and gained an extra 1/4″ in diameter, allowing me to use some of my wider profile bits. However, if you use this router exclusively for trim work, it’s a moot point.
The R2400 comes with both edge and bearing guides that mount on a pair of steel bars that you thread into the base of the unit. Both of these work very well.
Lastly, replacing brushes (likely a once in a lifetime experience) is easily accomplished via the externally located brush cap.
For the finish carpenter, DIYer or part-time woodworker, the R2400 is an excellent buy. In fact, if you’re new to woodworking I would highly recommend it as a first time router. Once you get proficient with it, you can move on to a mid-sized router. Ladies, you’ll like the good balance, light weight and relatively low noise on this router. For dedicated or professional furniture makers the only point of contention might be the lack of a precision micro adjustment system. The 3 year warranty is a real bonus. And at $119, with case, guides and a 1/4″ flush trim bit, this is a very affordable unit. This is a very affordable unit. Available from Home Depot. For more information, ridgid.com
Carl Duguay - [email protected]
Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.