Which Ryobi Power Tools Are Worth grabbing?
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For years people have been asking me the question, “What tools do you use?” Some think that the tools in my toolbox are too “commercial” or big and bulky for a homeowner. Others think that what I use would be too expensive for them to even consider.
Sure there are tools and equipment that I use that the typical homeowner/handyman would never use on a regular basis. Some tools they would be better off renting if only needed for one project. Yet they are surprised to find out that many contractors use the same tools that they would buy. Good quality tools that work well, last long and are moderate in price. Contrary to popular belief, not every builder straps a $1,000.00 cordless drill to his side and heads off to work or packs an expensive stud finder in his toolbox.
So I put together some information on the types of cordless power tools that I use, have used and recommend. I hope this will answer some of your questions and get you on your way to putting together a collection of functional and usable tools.
The Original Cordless Drill
The photo to the right is of the “Original Cordless Drill”. Not really, even though it is cordless. It is called a Brace and Bit. The brace is the handle part that you crank and the bit is, well just that, the bit. It has been around for hundreds of years and was used as a drill or as they said in the old days, “a wood boring tool”. All you needed was a sharp bit, strong arms and hands, and you too could drill a hole.
A “mini” version was made with a side crank for light duty drilling. It almost looked like something you would find in a kitchen. We always called it a “hurdy gurdy”.
My dad was a carpenter. In fact my whole family as far back as we could trace, were carpenters. The brace and bit is what they used to drill holes. No power tools. My dad owned one power tool during his entire life. It was a 1/4″ Craftsman electric drill that he got after he retired. All the wood was cut with a handsaw. They were a tough and hardy bunch.
Today, however, we have been blessed with modern technology. Power tools…cordless ones even! Since we are so blessed, let’s start learning about them so we can start using them.
Oh and by the way, you can still buy a brace and bit today. They really are a nice sturdy tool.
My Cordless Drill
This is where it all began. My very first cordless drill was given to me in the late 1970’s. I won’t tell you the brand because I’m sure they are sorry that they ever made them back then. No sense bringing up bad memories for them. This drill, with a full charge on the battery, had less power than a can opener. You could hold the trigger in and grab the chuck with the other hand and totally stop the drill. You could drive two screws in (and not all the way in either) and then it was time for a re-charge. Not a real good design. But things did get better…much better! Read on.
The next cordless drill that I owned was given to me by my wife for Christmas in 1993. Great tool! But just recently my 18 year old cordless drill quit on me. Now you need to know, this is a 12 volt drill that was used for hundreds and hundreds of hours. It was used for every construction task imaginable, even to drive 3 1/2″ screws through framing lumber and drilling holes in concrete. I love this drill. It is well balanced and just one of my favorite tools of all time. By the way, it is a DeWalt. I do want to give credit where credit is due for this fine tool.
Now this drill is still fine and willing to work, but the batteries aren’t. Over the course of 18 years I have gone through four batteries. Not bad considering the workload that they faced. I’m still looking for batteries for it (which are hard to find now) to revive it to active service. In the meantime, my wife bought me a new drill in a “combo” kit. Read on as I explain a little about this type of package.
Instead of buying just one tool, the combo kit usually comes with a total of four tools. Mine included: a 1/2″ drive drill, a circular saw, a reciprocating saw and a powerful worklight. All cordless and all 18Volts. The package also included two NiCd batteries, a charger and a zipper tool bag to carry all of this in. A very nice package.
Since I have not tried all of the brands and models on the market today, with the exception of my old 12 volt DeWalt, the Skil, Milwaukee, Black and Decker and my new 18 voIt Ryobi combo, I am speaking generally on my overall observance of these products and the use of mine in particular. Let me share some info with you.
Ryobi Cordless Drill
A cordless drill, as I mentioned earlier, is one of my all-time favorite tools. The new ones are even more powerful. In my opinion every homeowner should have one. I think you will find yourself using yours all the time. From hanging curtains, and putting together boxed furniture, to building a deck or installing replacement windows, this is a tool that will do the trick.
The Ryobi has a 1/2″ keyless chuck. It is variable speed and reversible with plenty of power in both directions. It even has a little magnetic tray just above the battery slot so that you can put some screws there as you work.
I must admit it took me a little while to get accustomed to the design shape and balance of the newer drill, but all in all, I’m very satisfied and highly recommend this particular model to homeowners and builders alike. If you need more specifics on this particular drill, check out drillpressor.
When looking to buy a tool, as a builder, I look for two things right up front. The first, does the tool have the “umph” (the go power) to do the job I need it to do all day every day? Then secondly, is it comfortable and manuverable enough in my hands that it is not going to wear me down since I need to use it all day.
Ryobi Cordless Saw
Next, the cordless circular saw. This little “bugger” is so handy. If you just need to cut a few boards, why drag out the big saw and 50′ of extension cord? In just a few minutes you’re done and have saved time and effort.
Now this little guy isn’t built for all day cutting and framing work, but it is my tool of choice for trimming plywood along a roof overhang, or in hard to reach places.
It is lightweight and with a sharp blade and a good charge, chews through wood like a big boy.
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It comes with a 5 1/2″ carbide tipped blade. The saw depth is just deep enough at 1 9/16″ to cut through a 2×4, so just be mindful of that as you make your cut.
Ryobi Reciprocating Saw
The reciprocating saw isn’t a normal everyday handyman tool, but it should be. Have you ever tried to cut a piece of wood right up next to a wall? You probably tried using a handsaw, right?
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Then after you tossed the handsaw out of the kitchen window you grabbed your hammer and pry bar to finish the botched up project. Well that won’t happen with a reciprocating saw (some people call them by one manufacturer’s trade name, “Sawzall”). With this saw, you can get right up to the wall and make a clean cut. It comes with a couple of blades and my favorite feature, the tool-less blade clamp. The clamp latches onto the blade and is just that quick. This tool can be labeled under the heading, “The Right Tool for the Job”.
Using the variety of blades available for this type of saw, you can cut wood, metal or plastic. Cutting metal or plastic pipe with a hacksaw gets old real fast. However, with the fine toothed hacksaw blade available for the reciprocating saw, you can make short work of the job and make nicer, smoother cuts.
Ryobi Work Light
The flashlight. Or to be more accurate, the work light. How many times have you tried working with a regular flashlight just to have it roll off to the side and light everything but what you are working on? Maybe you have a flat bottomed light, but still had to try and prop it up somehow to see what you were doing.
Oh, and I love this. You have someone hold the flashlight for you and the person positions it so they can see and you are still in the dark and every time they talk to you, they shine the light in your eyes like they need to see you before they speak!
Well, the light that came with my combo pack (and is similar in function to all the others I have looked at) is very bright, sturdy and the lens is adjustable. You can position it to shine in various directions. The first time I used one of these, I was working under a friend’s sink hooking up the water and drain lines for him. He handed me his light (from his combo pack) and I was sold. It lit the whole area and wasn’t shining in my eyes.
Chargers & Batteries
The charger and batteries vary from brand to brand. Some companies have the new Lithium Ion batteries that are quite pricey, but are supposed to last longer between charges, with a longer life overall. So far, I am happy with the basic Ni Cd batteries and charger that came with my Ryobi.
This type of combo pack is a great gift. Whether for Christmas, a birthday, Father’s Day, anniversary or a “just because” gift, you can’t go wrong.
I’ve included a selection of combo packs below for you to look at. Each one is capable of doing what I have explained above, and are well worth considering for your next tool purchase.
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Not all cordless tools are created equally. There are some out there that, to put it bluntly, are just plain useless and not worth the money regardless of how low the price. Also there are others that carry a big price tag and really don’t perform any better than the medium priced tools
Oh, and one more thing…
If you see a cordless tool for sale and it says something like, “18V Cordless Drill-Bare Tool”, that means that it comes without a battery. Now if you already have a battery to fit it at home, you can get some very good prices buying this way. However, if you don’t, remember that you will have to purchase a battery and a charger separately for the tool.
So with those things in mind, be an informed shopper. If I have included a product description with the items for sale, read them. I am giving my honest opinion based on years of experience. I have used various tools from each manufacturer, so I know their quality, and you can’t go wrong when you choose a quality tool.
Hope this information helped you. You know what you are going to use these tools for, so shop wisely and stay within your budget.