Ryobi tools have been on the market for many years, and they offer the general home DIY enthusiast, woodworker, metalworker or crafter a range of tools at very competitive prices. From time to time, Ryobi have also released specialist Professional tools designed to meet the demands of everyday use. Their latest range of power tools is not a lot different from others in their range, except for an improvement in safety features, namely the inclusion of new "Live Tool" indicators which are designed to further help prevent accident or injury from accidental startup or other electrical hazards.
The Live Tool Indicator
I 'm not going to go into detail about the indicator, simply because their is not a lot of detail to go into. Each of the tools reviewed below features a "Live Tool" Indicator. This is simply a blue LED light that illuminates when the tool is connected to a live electrical circuit. It is a visual indicator to alert the user that the tool is plugged in and power is available to begin work. While it won't totally prevent accidents from happening, it is a very welcome addition to the tools as it provides another level of safety via the visual LED alert light so users know whether the tool is "live" or not. This is also handy when changing out cutting bits with the tools, such as grinding discs, router bits or drill bits. The last thing you want is to accidentally hit the trigger while you have your hands clenched onto a grinding disc fitting it to the tool, as an example. It may sound silly, but it DOES happen! The same goes with changing out router bits and drill bits (although drill bits are the least damaging of the three). Regardless, being able to quickly identify whether the tool is plugged into a live circuit is helpful in preventing accidents and injury, and any safety feature added to a tool is a welcome addition in my opinion. In some outdoor situations involving bright sunlight, it can at times be difficult to see the "LiveTool" light without having to shield the light with your hands to provide a shadow. In shady areas outdoors or under artificial light however, like in a workshop or indoors, the LiveTool indicator is much easier to see.
So with that part taken care of, let's take a look at all the new tools in the range featuring the new "Live Tool" Indicators:
Ryobi EID550RE and EID750REN Impact Drills
I will review these two models together as, for the most part, the operational features and design are very similar. Some of the specifications are different, and I will make note of these.
Firstly, the EID550RE is not as powerful as the EID750RE N drill. The EID550RE features a 550W input. You probably do not want to go any lower than this in terms of power. 550 watts should be enough power for general drilling operations around the home, and is suited to the home handyman, or handywoman of course. For woodworking, it provides enough power for most boring needs. In use I found it handled drilling in wood with virtually no problems. Having sharp drill bits makes it slice through wood easily. When attempting to drill metal, again, it handled the task reasonably well with sharp, quality metal drilling bits, but with blunter bits you could hear the motor struggling at times. This is not unexpected as drilling metal requires sharp bits and using blunt bits on any drill would put some strain on the motor. And of course, blunt bits and metal just don't really work together. In masonry drilling, the drill handled well for smaller diameter holes, but was put under a bit of strain with wider holes. Ultimately, the drill did the job without any noticeable damage, and to be fair, it performed the tasks well using bits up to the sizes specified in the manual, so it did perform as per specs. The EID750REN drill features a more powerful 750 watt input and that extra 200 watts does make a difference. It is handy to have that little extra in the power department to make drilling quicker and easier with a little less strain on the motor. I used both drills for a variety of home and project tasks, including a large re-roofing project of a patio, fixing down a small shed, and drilling numerous pilot holes for a number of woodworking projects.
Left: The EID550RE kit.
Middle: Variable speed dial, trigger and forward/reverse switch.
Right: EID550RE ready to go!
Left: The "LiveTool" indicator on the EID750REN
Middle: Both drills have a similar shape and design.
Right: Onboard bit storage built into the handle. nice!
In terms of features, these drills conform to your standard corded drill design. You have a trigger on the handle with an adjustable speed w heel (0 - 2,700 rpm on the EID550RE and 0 - 2,800 rpm on the EID750REN) to adjust rotational speed for the specified task - drilling wood usually requires faster speeds, metal lower speeds. There is also a trigger lock button that allows you to lock the trigger on for extended drilling tasks (usually masonry or metal drilling). Each drill has a forward/reverse rotation switch conveniently located just above the trigger for ease of operation. Up top, there is the sliding switch to change between standard drilling and impact drilling mode (for masonry). Both drills can around deliver around 44,000 blows per minute max. Both models also feature a 360 degree rotate-able auxiliary handle with removable depth of drive adjustment rod. Interestingly, on the 750 model, the auxiliary handle also doubles as a drill bit storage compartment. Unscrewing the bottom cap of the handle reveals a small drill bit holder where 5 or so drill bits can be conveniently stored. This is very handy when using the drill to mount common objects around the home requiring smaller drill bits. Both drills feature comfortable rubber overmolds on the handle and rear of the drills.
The drill chucks are also slightly different between the two models. The 550 uses what I call a two-piece chuck. I.e. you hold the inner "ring" of the chuck firm while you move the outer part of the chuck to loosen or tighten the chuck jaws around the drill bit. The 750 model has a spindle lock button on the underside of the drill body to lock the spindle from rotating while you loosen or tighten the chuck. It's personal preference really as to whether you like one or the other. I prefer the spindle lock version, but that's just me. The only other noticeable difference is that the 750 model features
a bubble level at the rear of the motor housing. This comes in handy when you want or need to drill a level hole, or perhaps to drill an angled hole too. The 550 lacks this feature.
Both tools ship in plastic molded cases, come with printed instruction man uals and some starter bits to get you going. The 550 model provides 5 twist drill bits while the 750 model is supplied with 3 twist drill bits, 5 masonry bits and 2 double-ended screwdriving bits. The supplied bits are in fact quite sharp, but they did seem to dull a bit faster than good quality high speed steel bits. Still, they are ok to get you going.
As mentioned, we tested both drills in a variety of situations and ga ve each a fairly good workout. I'd recommend to grab the larger 750 watt version of the two if you had to make a choice between them. The extra power comes in handy with masonry and metal drilling. If you only needed a drill for woodworking, the smaller 550w model would probably be ok, plus it's a little lighter and a little smaller in physical size (good for overhead work). Note that these drills are primarily designed for home use. They probably won't outlast a good industrial duty drill, but their price tags are far less also - just AUD$49 for the 500 watt model and AUD$69 for the 750 watt model. I've had several Ryobi corded drills before and had good luck with them. I'd expect the same good service from these models too. As long as you look after them and don't work them beyond their capacity, they should work for you. They are backed up by a 2-year warranty too, so you have that extra piece of mind, plus a 30-day satisfaction guarantee if the drill doesn't live up to your expectations. In a nutshell, these drills seem fine for general purpose use around the home and in the woodworking shop and are reasonably good, basic corded drills, with the new Live Tool Indicator feature to boot.
Ryobi "LiveTool" Grinders
Ryobi offer several (six to date) grinders in the LiveTool range encompassing various disc sizes and motor ratings. We tested four from the range, the models tested as follows:
- EAG95100 - 100mm 900watt Angle Grinder (AUD$49)
- EAG75115C - 115mm 750watt Angle Grinder (AUD$69)
- EAG8012C - 125mm 800watt Angle Grinder (AUD$79)
- EAG1518GSP - 180mm 1500watt Angle Grinder/Sander/Polisher (AUD$109)
The two other models not tested include a 125mm 850watt Grinder/Sander kit and a larger 230mm 2200watt angle grinder.
The range offers a tool to suit most regular grinding tasks, and user's budgets. Each tool features the "LiveTool" indicator of course, as well as a very useful tool-free adjustable blade/disc guard.
Left: The EAG95100 Grinder.
Middle: Disc change tool has a neat housing right inside the auxiliary handle.
Right: Tool-less guard clamp allows rapid moving of guard to protect user.
Adjustable Blade Guard
Most angle grinders are generally the same in terms of design and function. Many grinders require a tool of some type to be able to adjust the guard that protects the user from sparks and debris. This new range of grinders from Ryobi incorporate a handy tool-less guard movement system. By adding a clamp (like a cam-clamp) to the collar of the guard that fits around the shaft body of the grinder, the user can quickly release the clamp, move the guard to the required position for best protection and the re-apply the clamp to lock the guard in place in its new position. In use this works very well, and surely beats having to pull out a screwdriver to loosen a guard screw all the time. One downside to the clamp system I noticed during use was that it can sometimes get in the way of making a full depth cut. It protrudes a little from the end of the grinder and in situations where you might need to make a full depth cut (say when cutting thick metal or tube or when cutting masonry) you lose a little bit of depth capacity because of the clamp. You can work around it however and use the side where the clamp isn't obstructing, or use the grinder in a position where it will not be a problem. I really only found it an issue when I was trying to make full depth cuts into masonry with a diamond blade fitted. It didn't really present a problem in any other tasks personally. I think it's a small sacrifice to make on those rare occasions to save the time you save by being able to move the guard easily most times you use the tool.
Another neat feature of these grinders is the inbuilt tool storage. The handles on these models will hold the blade changing tool so it's difficult to lose or leave behind. It's always right there ready to go when you need it. It simply slides in and out of the body of the handle. As long as you remember to put it straight back in the handle after using it, it's almost impossible to misplace. It's a simple and convenient way of storing the blade changing tool. Thumbs up here.
Left: Each grinder comes in its own plastic molded case with a grinding wheel to get you started.
Right: The EAG8012C 125mm model with standard fare power button. Note the LiveTool indicator (not illuminated).
Other common features to all grinders
As you would expect, all of the grinders feature multiple handle position holes. The 100mm and 125mm grinders mentioned above allow you to screw the handle either to the left or the right of the forward metal casing. The 115mm and 180mm grinders have a third handle position option on top of the front casing as well, adding more flexibility and comfort options to the user.
Each grinder features a spindle lock button that is pressed to lock the spindle to allow blade/disc changes to be made safely and easily. Pretty much standard fare on angle grinder designs. Nothing special here.
Each grinder also comes with its own "Ryobi" branded grinding disc of a size to suit each particular unit. Finding replacement discs shouldn't pose to much of a problem as each tool uses pretty standard sized bores for the discs or diamond blades you can mount onto it. I have outlined the specs for each tool in the table below.
All grinders come supplied with a molded plastic carry case, and black and white printed user manuals.