Review By Dean Bielanowski  Ryobi Website - http://www.ryobi.com.au


Ryobi 12v Cordless Impact Driver
Model BID1211
 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

A cordless screw driver is a tool that just about every woodworker owns. If you don't have one already, chances are you will likely be buying one soon. They are extremely handy for driving in screws for assembly of many woodworking projects, not to mention the myriad of home renovation tasks or general additions where they are equally as useful.

Today we are reviewing the Ryobi BID1211 Cordless Impact driver by Ryobi. This model is available in Australia and New Zealand, and may also be available in Europe. I was quite surprised at the size of the tool when I first opened the box. It is small but solid and very easy to move around from here to there for all those drilling tasks requiring your attention, or your tools!

Note for USA Readers: An 18v Ryobi cordless impact driver is available in the USA under the new Ryobi One+ range. However, we have not tested that particular unit as yet, and it appears a little different visually and would have different specifications, so any review information pertaining to the 12v unit here does not apply to the 18v unit available in the USA, and other countries.

Package Contents
As with many new Ryobi tool products lately, the BID1211 comes in its own molded carry case. As you can see from the first image in the right hand column, the contents of the case are as follows;

  • 1 x BID1211 12v Cordless Impact Driver

  • 2 x 12v rechargeable batteries

  • 1 x "brick" charger

  • 1 x double-ended driver bit

  • 1 x product manual (not shown in image)

Battery Power & Charging
I thought we would start with the battery and power discussion first this time. It's logical given that you will need to charge up the batteries when you first receive the tool. The included 12v charger is almost identical in design and function to all other chargers included with Ryobi's Pro Series tools. It provides relatively fast charging of around 1.5 hours during a normal charge cycle. For the first battery charge however, it took closer to 2 hours. Bear in mind that most rechargeable batteries don't actually reach their full charge potential until they have gone through several charge/depletion cycles. A normal cell of this type is good for about 400-500 charge cycles, but this is really an average figure and can vary greatly depending on how well you look after the battery.

The kit contains 2 x 2.0Ah batteries. For a cordless tool, you probably don't want anything under 2.0Ah rating these days, and these battery types are generally found on the higher end tools. Forget the cheap cordless drills and drivers. Their batteries very rarely cut the mustard. If you are going to buy a cordless drill or driver, buy a quality one. You won't regret spending the extra money for one. The cells are of the Ni-Cad variety so you have to be somewhat careful of "memory effect" but they are high-end Panasonic cells in the battery case so you are assured of a high power output, long lasting cell.

The included battery charger has LED indicators to show the current charge status:

Red = Fast Charging Mode
Green = Fully Charged Battery
Yellow + Green = Control Charge of Defective Battery Pack

This last indicator (the yellow + green) will show when you first start the charge cycle. Here it is basically examining the battery to check that it is in good condition and suitable for recharging. In normal charging the LEDs will switch over to red a minute or two later and the battery begins to take a charge. If the yellow and green lights remain on after say 10 minutes or more, they may be indicating a problem with the battery that should be checked. So far I've had no problems with any of the Ryobi batteries I have used, but it's good to know that the charger will provide some type of indication if one of the batteries does develop a problem. The battery stem is not symmetrical so it is impossible to put the battery in the charger the wrong way. it can only go in the charger, and attach to the driver one way - Fool proof? Perhaps. I've seen some people do some odd things in my time. You shouldn't have a problem though.

Battery life on the unit is quite good. I didn't really perform any rigorous tests of battery life this time around, but after you have used a few good drills, you can tell when it is using a good, long-lasting battery or not. Needless to say, we have run the batteries down at least three times each over the testing period through normal workshop and home drilling tasks, and both batteries show signs of good extended battery life and consistent power delivery right up to the time when they start to deplete, which is usually a short and sharp curve of power drop. You will soon know when it needs a re-charge as the power drop-off is quite quick, not slow and drawn out.

Given that the tool carries and uses 12v batteries, it is not going to be as powerful as a 24v driver. It does however deliver up to 108 Nm of fastening torque. Not a bad rating for a small cordless driver. I've seen better, but not by much. As an example, the comparable 12v DeWalt cordless impact driver rates at just over 112 Nm. As long as you don't expect the tool to drive large screws/bolts that a 18v or 24v driver should be driving, you will be ok. If you are driving bolts, you can expect to have pretty good success with sizes M5 - M12 and screws of sizes M4 - M10. You can drive just about any standard gauge woodscrew with little problem, however, you will need to pre-drill in most cases. I tried driving some non-self-tapping screws directly into wood and it did not drive some of them all the way in before the tool ran out of torque. With pre-drilled holes, there was no problem at all. Pre-drilling also helps to eliminate wood splitting, so it's worth doing.

Tool Features
As I have mentioned in the introduction, the driver itself is quite small compared to a standard 12v cordless drill. You can see in some of the pictures an example of this. It fits the hand very nicely, and best of all, it is relatively light at just 1.7kg. You can cart this driver around all day and not have your arm drop off. A tool of this type is really quite a simple device. It simply drives screws/bolts, or removes them. The rotation direction is controlled by the run-of-the-mill three-position selector switch. They call this a "reversing switch" in the manual. I'm not sure why. In the middle position, the trigger is locked and the tool cannot be used. In one of the other two positions, the chuck and bit will rotate clockwise for screw or bolt driving, and in the other, it rotates anti-clockwise for fastener removal. Simple stuff really.

The variable speed trigger controls how fast or slow the drill rotates the driver bit. As a consequence, it also has an effect on how much torque is applied to the screw or bolt you are driving. In general terms, the faster the speed, the higher the torque. Different screws and bolts will require different torque amounts for driving, somewhat loosely based on shank diameter and fastener length. You will do fine if the max torque needed for the driving operation does not exceed the max capable torque of the tool itself. Speed (under zero load) ranges from 0 - 2300 min-1, controlled by how much you squeeze the trigger. Even at full speed when driving a screw or bolt, as soon as you release the trigger, the drill basically stops. This allows the user excellent control to avoid over-tightening of the fastener. The BID1211 has a constant "clutch" setting, so even if you did over-fasten, in most cases, particularly with denser materials, the drill will reach max torque and 'slip' with a ratcheting type sound, preventing you from driving the fastener any deeper. You can easily over-drive into softer woods, particularly with small screws and pre-drilled holes, but the trigger action and some care will avoid this in almost all instances.

Perhaps the best feature of this tool is the bit "chuck". I guess its not really a chuck per se, but a bit holder. It will take all 1/4" shank hex shaped drivers. These are the most common and you will likely have many of these already if you own a power drill of any type, or even a hand-held screw driver that uses replaceable bits. To "chuck" a bit, you simply pull the black metal sleeve of the bit holder forward, insert the bit all the way in and release the sleeve. The bit is now locked into the bit holder and ready to go. No chuck key, no manual wrist-wrench tightening, no fuss. To remove the bit, again just slide the sleeve forward and remove the bit. Even my two and a half year old year old boy ("almost three" he says) can add and remove bits on this tool - under direct supervision of course.

Another feature of the BID1211 that I believe should come standard with almost any power drill is the inclusion of a small work light at the front of the tool body just above the trigger (see the photo in the right column). Although it's only a small light, it does adequately light up the direct area where the driving is taking place in dark or dimly lit environments. It's no 500W halogen work lamp, but it serves its purpose well and is a nice addition to the tool. I guess the downside is that it only lights up when the trigger is squeezed and the tool is in motion, but you will still find it handy to have in some instances. I know I have.

Comments in Use
I have used the BID1211 to drive screws of all types and sizes into all types of hardwoods and softwoods for various projects, have used it to secure a few down-pipe drainage fittings, assembled a couple melamine cabinet carcasses, mounted some curtain rail fixtures (for the better half), used it to remove sheet metal fasteners for access to roof space to insulate and have even driven a few tek screws into wood, but just for testing. I even threw in a small drill bit with hex shank and tried some drilling with the tool. It worked fine too. In most cases, the drill performed well. In some instances it didn't have the torque to drive the fastener in all the way, but in general, I had pretty good success. For general woodworking project fastening and light-medium duty driving needs around the home, the success rate was very high. This tools packs a good punch for its size and weight.

It feels comfortable and balanced in the hand. I like the speed at which you can take it off the shelf, or out of the case, add a bit and be driving in record time. Even after the tool has been laying stagnant for a week or so, you can pick it up and be drilling with good battery capacity. It doesn't seem to lose a lot of battery power when idle for short periods of time. I'd imagine you would need a recharge if you hadn't picked it up for 6 months however.

Overall, the tool seems to work well within its limitations. It doesn't compare with my 18v heavy duty drill/driver for power, but it is not designed to. It has its limitations, but the majority of activity this tool would see in a woodworker's shop or every day tasks around the home would fall within these limitations, and as such, it should make the BID1211 12v cordless impact driver a compact and reliable choice for many.  

The drill on its own merits is priced fairly at AUD$289 given the quality of build (made for trade/professional use), easy to use features and those high quality Panasonic batteries, bearing in mind you do get two of them included in the kit. If you do a lot of screw driving, this tool will be a valuable asset. If you are after an all-around tool that you will use for drilling tasks also, I'd probably suggest a general cordless drill/driver. Ryobi do make several trade quality 18v drill/drivers with a similar price tag that pack plenty of power (see our other reviews on this website).

I'd suggest that if you are interested in buying this tool to find a store that sells them and have a look at it in person. Only you can decide whether the tool will fit your needs, or whether it is comfortable to hold etc. The Ryobi Professional Series range is available in Australia through TotalTools, Gasweld stores and Mitre 10 stores (although you may need to order in specific tools through this chain).

The Ryobi Australia website can be found at www.ryobi.com.au
In the USA, the Ryobi website is at www.ryobitools.com

 

Ryobi BID1211 Photos
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Driver, two batteries, plus battery charger, all in a nice molded case.


The BID1211 is compact, but fairly powerful


The heavy duty charger will charge a flat battery in around 1.5 hours.


Trigger and forward/lock/reverse rotation switch.


The small light at the front of the unit is very useful when working in dark or dimly lit areas. Despite its size, it works quite well.


Simply pull the nose of the chuck forward to add or remove hex shank bits.


Securing a downpipe clamp with the BID1211.


Driving screws is what this tool is designed for.


You do need to pre-drill for screws, because if you don't and try to drive them in without pre-drilling, you could split the wood, and results can be inconsistent, as shown here.


Assembling a child's push cart.

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