Tool test. Ryobi
I generally tell people to buy good quality tools on the basis that a cheap tool that does not do the job is an expensive purchase. But sometimes I get hooked by a really good price on something that I’d not normally look twice at. In this case the old Black and Decker 14.4 volt 2 speed cordless drill that I’d got through a customer rewards program about 10 years back was getting tired.
I’d gone through three sets of batteries, and the current set were ok but I could see the end of them off in the distance, and the mechanicals were getting very rattley. Time to think of a new one, my choice would have been a Makita 14.4 volt LI battery equipped unit, if you watch the guys building houses that’s a very popular unit. Light, powerful, tough and good parts backup. But, its quite a lot of money, and that’s not in good supply around here so I was putting the decision off until later.
However, walking through the big box hardware down the road (You can imaging me at a Hardware Stores Anonymous meeting, “ My name is John and I’m a Hardware storeaholic”. I should go in with a minder, walk around and come out having not bought anything, just to prove it can be done). Anyways. There I was, coming along the aisle with some plastic plumbing fittings for the house in my hand and a sign jumped out and ambushed me.
It said, “ Ryobi 18v Cordless Drill kit. High torque, 2 Speed, two batteries, quick charger, drill and driver selection $69.90 ( that’s about fifty bucks US) ”
All in a nice plastic case encased in a cardboard sleeve with pretty pictures on it that promise that you’ll be an instant success at whatever you do if only you buy this tool.
Some of the Ryobi tools that I’ve had have been very good, mostly the ones I’ve had for a long time. In fact my first cordless drill was a 7.2 volt Ryobi with battery inside the handle, I miss it. It was small, light, had enough grunt to drive medium sized screws, and had a good true running keyed chuck. Absolutley no frills, but then it didn’t need any.
It died after a long innings, and about the same time I had a bunch of Fly Buys points about to drop off if I didn’t use them so the B&D came into my life, and its done well. I’ve had three other B&D cordless drills since that, all have been so bad that I wouldn’t even give them away.
So, home came the Ryobi, first impressions were ok, it fit the hand well, was reasonably balanced, the variable speed trigger works smoothly and is in the right place, the battery though is a pig to get on and off, I’ve slight arthritis in my thumb joints and it takes considerable pressure to get the battery clips disengaged from the drills body in order to remove it to put it in the charger. Yes I can do it, no its not really a big deal, just annoying.
The charger, I plugged it in, dropped a battery in it, and a green light came on. Ok, came back in half an hour, it turned the drill over half a dozen revolutions and carked it.
Tried again, read through the very confusing section on charging in the book of words, and tried again. Green light, no result. But there are two lights on the charger, and a tiny recessed button between them. Whats that for?
Its printed on the label on the charger, true, but that’s not that clear either, it doesn’t work unless the battery is in there first.
Hmmm, try it with the battery in, push the button. RED light came on. Left it for a while, bingo, the green light comes on when charged. Ok, got that.
So, off to work, reasonable torque, not as much though as the tired old B&D even now, the slip ring behind the chuck that changes it from one torque setting to another is too easy to move which means that it goes from drill (no torque limitation ) to one of the settings where it stops and growls at you if its required to work too hard and you have to stop and reset it.
But its still a drill, and still does its job, or would if the chuck was a bit better.
This is the real grumble. While it is fine with hexagonal shaft screwdriver bits, its not able to hold a drill bit with any competency, any size at all, any torque of any consequence and no matter how tight you wring the thing up the chuck goes around without the drill. You know how a drill bit hangs up a little when it gets to the other side of a piece of metal? This one allows the drill to stop while the chuck merrily goes on discharging the battery. Even with aluminium or copper. Or wood for that matter which makes it really annoying.
So, I’ve a drill that can only be used as a screwdriver, and STILL need to buy another cordless drill.
I should take my own advice.