Ridgid JobMax Multi-Tool Review
You’d think that after reviewing a ton of multi-tools—in fact, just about every tool on the market now—that we’d be sick of them. Well, we are—except that they are so handy. And then Ridgid got a hold of us and showed us their new JobMax system, which uses a suite of rugged new heads and can seemingly tackle just about any job you throw at it. Well, that was a claim worth investigating, and a Ridgid JobMax Multi tool review was all but inevitable. After all, we had to find out if a multi-tool really can be a jack of all trades. We won’t spoil the review for you, but I think the answers will be surprisingly candid and unexpected for most users of these types of tools.
Ridgid JobMax Multi-Tool Features
The Ridgid JobMax, which is available as both a corded and 12V cordless tool, remains a very unique tool. While everyone else seemed to fall over themselves to develop the most unique way to take advantage of the expired Fein Multi-tool patent, Ridgid went off the deep end and developed something no one else had (apparently) even dreamed of.Shop Amazon
Perhaps taking a cue from their sister company Ryobi’s line of Expand-It outdoor tools, the company created a system whereby the same 12V engine could power a variety of cordless tools. This had a number of challenges, but also promised the potential of a lot of flexibility and portability. So what can the JobMax do? It can take the place of 6 different tools, thanks to its innovative removable head system. Here are the currently available heads (but we’d be surprised if Ridgid didn’t keep them coming):
Ridgid JobMax Multi-Tool Attachments
Multi-Tool Head ($44.97, included in the basic kit)
This is the head that is included in the Starter Kit and allows you to insert the included wood/metal cutting blade and segment saw blade as well as the included sanding attachments. But more than that, it comes with a universal adapter, so you can stick just about anybody’s accessories on the tool and get to work.
Ridgid Right Angle Impact Driver Head for JobMax ($49.97)
Yes, you read that correctly. With 650 in-lbs of torque, this is a serious tool that will let you get into tight spaces and then drive fasteners all the way home.
Ridgid JobMax Right Angle Drill/Driver Head ($49.97)
This head gets you in close but has a 3/8″ single sleeve chuck to allow you to insert a drill bit if needed, or even a hole saw to get into those impossible places and pave the way for electrical wiring, plumbing, or low voltage cable. 120 in. lbs. of torque is enough to get through most dimensional lumber applications you’re likely to run into.
JobMax Ratchet Head ($49.97)
This unique tool provides a full 250 in. lbs. of torque to its 3/8″ square drive ratchet connection – that’s more than many air-powered ratchets and it’s certain to deliver satisfaction. An integrated forward/reverse switch allows it to both tighten and remove even the most stubborn bolts and nuts.
Ridgid Jobmax Auto-Hammer ($49.97)
Auto-hammers have been toys for the most part, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see our results in testing this particular JobMax head with a magnetic nail guide.
JobMax Jigsaw (~$49.97)
The Jigsaw head is the newest addition to the JobMax line-up and it’s exciting for a number of reasons. One, it’s a cool head and allows the JobMax to have an incredibly new and different versatility than before. The resulting tool is almost like a shoe-less Ridgid R3100 barrel-grip jigsaw. On top of that, it reveals that Ridgid isn’t yet done with this tool and will continue developing for it. The JobMax line is something we should expect significant expansion from in the future.
OK, so that’s 6 tools in one. Not bad for a platform that’s fairly new and only just getting started. We have it on good word that the JobMax line is just getting started, and we’re hoping for some additional heads in the near future (maybe they could come out with something like a one-handed reciprocating saw or a rotary tool?)
Ridgid JobMax Multi-tool Build Quality
Despite the differences in the various Ridgid JobMax heads, the body maintains the same orange plastic with gray rubber overmold. That gray material is very grippy and keeps the tool firmly in your hand during use. That’s really not surprising, and it doesn’t set the Ridgid JobMax apart from anybody else.
What does set them apart are some pretty nifty things like an elongated two-finger switch (that is locked out until a head is secured in place), a Forward/Reverse switch that is located strategically underneath the trigger, and a 4-way directional head system that lets you position the JobMax heads in 90 degree increments – just about any way you want. Each head is driven by a single gear that comes up from the center of the tool body and is covered by a rubberized cap to protect it against premature wear (an extra rubber cap is included in the Starter Kit).
Durability and Gearing
And when you look at these JobMax heads, what you find is an incredibly durable gearing system that, while overlaid with rubber overmold, is nothing but solid aluminum underneath. They are also built like nothing we’ve experienced in this level of tool. For example, while the Ratchet and Multi-tool heads are less than a pound each, the heads of the Auto-Hammer, Right Angle Impact Driver, and Right Angle Drill/Driver weigh between 1 lb 9 ounces to 1 lb 15 ounces each! Those are not your average cheap plastic add-ons, but tools designed to withstand some serious use and abuse – and that’s amazing coming from a tool with an entry-level kit price of just $99 retail.
There is even an LED work light integrated into the Ridgid JobMax just above the trigger that goes on when you pull it and turns off when you let go (no delay).
No Battery-Level Indicator
One glaring omission as the lack of a battery level indicator on the tool. When you pop in a battery, you really have no idea of the charge remaining. It’s a big oversight and Ridgid seems to be working that feature into all of its newer cordless tools. Other than that, the only thing we didn’t really like about the Ridgid JobMax Multi-Tool Starter Kit was that the case it includes is rather lame. It’s the same flat rectangular case that is showing up with Bosch, Craftsman, and other tools and it’s really unusable for practical purposes.
The thing that we found odd was that, with a modular system, wouldn’t you want to encourage the purchasing of these additional JobMax Heads? Well, then why would you include a bag that can’t fit anything else in it beyond the starter kit? Why not include a standard top-zipper tool bag with some extra storage space for the full suite of tools?
Field Testing – Multi-Tool Head (R8223404)
If you listened to us field testing the Ridgid JobMax you’d hear strange things like “Oh, come ON, you’ve got to be kidding me?!” and “This is impossible!” It’s partially because we kept running into things the tool simply shouldn’t be able to do (but did) and, well… I sorta talk to myself… Anyway, the first thing we brought the JobMax to was a job renovating a 1920’s bathroom. Before we could install some subway tile around the perimeter of the bathroom (which we picked up from the local Lowe’s Home Improvement Store), we first had to rip out the old tile.
Now, there are two ways to do this: one, rip off the entire wall, and 2, rip off just the area where the tile is located. In deciding on option #2, we used the JobMax and included segment saw blade to “etch” a line all the way around the border of the tub enclosure tile, thus allowing us to remove the tiled section and replace only a limited area of the concrete backer board.
We also found a great use for the multi-tool in the same application. We grabbed a Bosch diamond blade and, using the OIS adapter, slapped it onto the Ridgid JobMax. Armed with this, we found we could easily cut out the oddly-shaped cornering we needed to perfectly fit the Durock to the edge of the bathtub. With the blade and the JobMax Multi-Tool, the Durock was sliced through like butter, and though it made a tremendous mess (be sure to wear breathing protection), the job was completed very quickly and with much less effort than if we would have used our scoring tool.
We next used the JobMax Right Angle Impact Driver to remove some screws from a commercial toilet paper roll dispenser during a job where we were replacing it for Parker Street Ministries here in town. Impressive. That’s the word I’ll use to describe this head. We were able to squeeze the JobMax up into a very cramped area and remove three screws that were tucked up inside the unit.
The clearance was hardly bigger than the depth of the Impact Driver plus the (rather rusty) 1/4″ hex bit we inserted into the head. The impact mechanism worked flawlessly on this and many other projects and was out favorite use of this tool… well, at least until we donned the 3/8″ Ratchet Head and did some more hard-use testing.
Ridgid JobMax Multi-Tool Review – 3/8″ Ratchet Head (R8223403)
The 3/8″ Ratchet Head puts out 250 in. lbs of torque, a fact that I had not realized until it sank a couple of 3″ long x 1/4” lag bolts into our test piece of 4×4 pressure-treated lumber without first drilling pilot holes. Even our air-powered ratchet couldn’t do that (of course it has nearly 200 in. lbs less of torque driving it). I liked how slim and lightweight the Ratchet Head was, and the presence of the large orange Forward and Reverse switch made it a very simple matter to change directions for either cranking down or removing a bolt or nut. This proved to be a very reliable tool that was flexible and could be used in a myriad of job applications.
The Right Angle Drill/Driver helped us in a number of ways. It was perfect for using a hole saw to get through some 2x4s that were spaced closely together. This way we were able to run some low voltage cable through the studs to get to a location we needed for a flat panel TV installation. Using a hole saw for drilling a stud isn’t terribly impressive, however, this TV was corner-mounted and so making a hole between studs that are only 9″ apart is a whole other matter. For a job like this, the ability of the Right Angle Drill/Driver Head to work well in close-quarters was just what we needed.
Ridgid JobMax Multi Tool Review – Auto-Hammer (R8223405)
We had reservations about using the Auto-Hammer Head of the JobMax. After all, we haven’t found one that we liked yet – most proving to be little more than just gadgety gifts that are fun to use and look at, but not much good at actually… well, driving nails. So what we figured we’d do was line up some of our more frequently used nails and see how well the JobMax Auto-Hammer put them into our test piece of pressure-treated 4×4 material. We know this is a hard test (literally), but most of our wood around here is old heart pine or worse, so this seemed a reasonable experiment. Here are the nails we lined up for the hammer to put into the wood:
- 16d 3-1/2″ hot dipped galvanized
- 12d 3-1/8″ coated sinker
- 6d 2″ bright finish
- 4d 1-1/2″ bright common
- 3d 1-1/4″ hot dipped galvanized
- 3d 1-1/4″ bright finish
- 1-1/4″ galvanized rink shank
What Can’t It Do?
We were amazed. We actually found that the JobMax handled everything we threw at it with the exception of the 16d hot-dipped galvanized nail (likely because it was so rough, not to mention huge). And honestly, that one was slowly making its way into the wood, but given the incredible volume of noise the Auto-Hammer puts out and the time it was taking, it’s fair to just say it’s not made for this type of nail. The big surprise was the 12d 3-1/8″ coated sinker.
For the Ridgid JobMax Auto-Hammer to pound that one flush was a real surprise and pretty much tells us that you can pick up this tool for those awkward locations where you can’t really swing a hammer and get the job done. We don’t really recommend the use of an Auto-Hammer to replace a traditional hammer, but it certainly has its uses. With Ridgid’s version, it actually works – these nails went down flush and with very little resistance.
Aside from working, the only other thing to add is that the outer ring of the head (not the center punch) is magnetic, so it will grab onto nails fairly well to get you started, though larger ones will need to be held in place (and really, all of the nails should be held in place if you want them to end up where you place them.)
So what exactly do we conclude with the Ridgid JobMax Multi-tool Review? Do we recommend it to the professional? To the do-it-yourselfer? How about the Average Joe homeowner? The answer is really a resounding ‘Yes’ to all three – and for good reason.
For $99 for the Starter Kit, you really can’t go wrong – no matter what walk of life you represent. It comes with the Multi-Tool Head, a single 12V battery (*and newer kits apparently come with the new Hyper-lithium 12V version), bag, blades, sanding pads, universal adapter, Allen wrench, and charger.
Pros will like it because they can buy the heads they want, and leave the ones they don’t. Also, if you already have some Ridgid 12V tools, you can expand your arsenal in one fell swoop. For Performance, it was easy to give the Ridgid JobMax a 9/10, dinged only by the lack of a battery indicator. For Value, it’s an easy 10/10 product. To score a versatile 12V tool for $99 with battery and charger is well beyond the norm. Go get one and load up on the heads you will use – it’s a great tool that should last a long time.