For decades now professional contractors have been using what I have always called “Imp” cutters to cut various types of tubing in hard to reach places. The RIDGID model 101 Close Quarters Tubing Cutter has long been the industry standard for plumbing and HVAC pro’s and is likely to remain atop the bunch because of its robust build quality, simple design and function along with its capability to handle not only copper but aluminum, plastic and brass tubing. Its likely you own one or more of the model 101 cutter, I know I do so I was excited to get my hands on the new #118 Autofeed Cutter for review.
First off the model I have tested is RIDGID catalog number 32573, model 118. The #118 refers to the self-feeding cutter included in the 2-in-1 Close Quarters AUTOFEED® Cutter. The #118 is deigned to operate much like other brand “auto cutters” that have been around for a number of years but there’s a significant difference with RIDGID’s offering in that it can handle a range of tubing sizes like it’s predecessors; the range here is tubing sizes ¼” – 1-1/8”. The 2-in-1 includes a ratcheting handle along with the self-feeding cutter w/ a football-shaped knob for easier turning than the original round tension knob.
I’ve noticed these cutters at my local wholesale house, they’re available online and at Home Depot as well. To be honest I didn’t know RIDGID had a self-feeding cutter and I was excited to try it given my loyalty based on all of their tools I already own and use. You can see the tool in action and get some of my thoughts in the video below.
Overall I’d say the 2-in-1 did the job and would likely standup to the task for many years to come. As you could see in the video its not a one-handed operation like most of the other “auto-cutters” out there but it should be noted that it wasn’t RIDGID’s intention to be such a tool. The idea that you can replace at least three auto-cutters [1/2”, ¾” & 1”] with one tool is attractive but the added ratcheting handle hasn’t sold me yet. I can see where this may be a benefit but even after years of working in the trade I found it less cumbersome to use the cutter without the ratchet handle. I’ll continue to use the model #118 cutter without the handle for sure. Maybe in this case it’s a matter of trying to fix something that isn’t broken?
The ratchet handle and cutter fitment leaves a little to be desired. Take notice from the video, the ¾” tubing I was cutting was rigidly secure in the vertical position. When turning the handle there was a decent amount of play between the cutter and the ratchet head; I’m not sure this matters considering the tube was cut as planned but it just doesn’t feel right. Nonetheless, the cutter itself is built solidly, the handle feels great in your hand and is fairly easy to use.
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