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

Ryobi "Live Tool" Indicator
Power Tool Range

 Reviews

By Dean Bielanowski

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 EID750REN 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 wheel (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 manuals 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 gave 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.

Tool Holder
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.

Grinder Specifications:

  EAG95100 EAG75115C EAG8012C EAG1518GSP
Grinding Wheel 100mm (4") 115mm (4.5") 125mm (5") 180mm (7")
Input 900w 750w 800w 1500w
Spindle Thread M10 x 1.5 M14 x 2 M14 x 2 M14 x 2
No Load Speed 11,000 11,000 11,000 1500 - 6500
Disc Bore Size 16mm 22.2mm 22.2mm 22.2mm
Net Weight 2.34kg 2.8kg 2.4kg 3.6kg

Significant Differences
You can easily spot the differences in specifications from the table listed above, but there are other design features between the models that the table doesn't outline. Firstly, the 100mm and 125mm grinders are similarly designed with regards to the body shape and power switch. They feature a traditional cylindrical grinder body with a basic push slide switch to turn them on, and a rear release catch (at the back end of the switch) which is pushed to release the switch and turn the grinder off. On the other hand, the 115mm and 180mm grinders feature a slimmer "handle style" grip at the back end of the grinder. I find this type of design much more ergonomic and easier to use, plus they feature Ryobi's GripZone rubber overmolds for better grip and control.


Left: The EAG75115C 115mm Angle Grinder.
Right: This model features a useful rotating back handle to ensure comfort at any grinding angle.

What is perhaps most important on these two grinders is that the handle portion of the grinders body can actually be rotated left or right 90 degrees in comparison to the forward body casing. This means you can twist the handle grip (and the power switch) around to a more comfortable user position depending on the angle the grinder is being used. This allows a greater deal of comfort and less user fatigue. This is not a new feature to grinders, others in the past have offered this handy feature, but it is good to see these two particular grinders are loaded up with it. A release button is pushed to allow you to rotate the handle body either way, or back to "center again" and the positions positively click into place. There are power triggers on these two grinders, coupled with a power-on lock button, as opposed to the standard slide switches on the previous two models mentioned above. Which you prefer is personal preference really.

EAG1518GSP
The largest, most powerful, and heaviest of the grinders tested was the EAG1518GSP. It deserves a separate mention as it not only offers your standard grinding/cutting options, but also comes with a woolen bonnet for polishing applications in the kit. Because of the numerous uses this tool offers, it also comes with a feature none of the other three tools offer - variable speed. The variable speed control dial is located on the top of the handle. Six speed settings are offered, delivering from 1500 - 6500 RPM rotational speed. For polishing applications, speeds 1 to 3 are used. For sanding, speeds 3 to 5 are most suitable, and for grinding or cutting, speed 6 is the ideal setting. This is a very useful tool and has enough power to handle even more heavy duty grinding tasks. Because of the larger disc size, it allows much faster cutting of metal materials too. The downside is that it is much larger physically than a 100mm grinder, and about 50% heavier too.


Left: The EAG1518GSP 180mm model.
Middle: Note the extra handle position on top of the main body.
Right: Adjustable speeds for use as a polisher, sander, or grinder.


Left: The 180mm grinder also features the rotating handle.
Right: A grinding disc and polishing pad/bonnet are included as standard.

Grinder Performance
In terms of performance, which grinder is best suited to the task depends on the task itself. Obviously, for heavy duty metal grinding of thicker materials, the 180mm grinder is best suited. For small scale cutting/grinding work, or where tight space is encountered or for overhead work, the smaller 100mm or 115mm grinders may be more suitable. In terms of power, each offers more than enough for your average grinding needs. I have an el-cheapo "no-name" 500w grinder I have owned for about two years now and even though you can bog it down with deliberate pressure, such pressure on a workpiece is not even needed for efficient cutting and grinding. You let the blade or disc do the work without forcing the tool into the cut. While 500w is manageable for most tasks, it's always good to have that little extra under the bonnet. 800w or 900w is certainly adequate for your average needs. Naturally, if you are using a grinder every day in heavy trade conditions, you might want something larger or more powerful. In terms of durability, I cannot offer comment at this stage, given that I have only used the tools for about 10 weeks. Hopefully in 12 months time I will re-visit and update this review with further comments on this aspect. However, I can say that there have been no problems or faults so far within the test period to mention. In fact, I seem to have very few problem with many power tools I use and own. The bottom line is to keep them properly maintained and to use them within their limits specification wise to ensure a good working life. Sure, you get the odd lemon here or there, but thankfully I have been able to avoid this in most instances with power tools in the past. Treat them well, and they will treat you well!

Overall
Overall, I'm quite happy with the design and performance of these grinders. They certainly function to a level that is reasonable with regard to their specifications. While their design and feature elements have been seen before in other grinders, the inclusion of some of them in this range is commendable given the price range and target market for these items. I used the tools to grind metal, cut metal and cut masonry and in each application there was a successful result. The grinder is a relatively simple tool to use in principle, and not overly complicated, but it's definitely a handy one to have around the home or workshop. Naturally, the big 180mm grinder was my favorite, mostly because it has the largest range of features and the ability to perform other tasks (sanding/polishing) right out of the box with no need to buy any other attachments.


Ryobi "LiveTool" Jigsaws
As of time of writing, there are a total of 3 jigsaws in the Ryobi range featuring the "LiveTool" indicator. All three jigsaws feature a very similar D-handle type design, but they each have their own slight differences.

Models:

  • EJS500LL 500watt
  • EJS500QK 500watt
  • EJS700QK 650watt
  EJS500LL EJS500QK EJS700QK
Power 500W 500W 650W
Stroke Per Min 0 - 2,600 0 - 2,600 600 - 2,600
Stroke Length 16mm 16mm 20mm
Wood (cut capacity) 75mm 75mm 75mm
Steel (cut capacity) 6mm 6mm 8mm
Blade Change Requires Hex Tool Tool-less Tool-less
Pendulum Settings 3 3 4

EJS500LL
To begin with, the EJS500LL is the most basic of the three tested. It features a 500 watt motor and is the only one of the three not to come supplied with its own molded carry case. It comes in a box with a standard saw fence, manual and wood cutting blade. As with most cutting accessory inclusions, the blade is of average quality. Sharp yes, but not premium quality you can buy off the shelf at the local hardware store. It is adequate to get you going making wood cuts however. The jigsaw accepts Bosch-style shank blades. Pretty common and easy to find replacements. If you are in Australia, or can buy P&N brand jigsaw blades locally, I suggest you grab some. They are excellent quality blades and will fit all three jigsaws reviewed here. Blade changes on this model jigsaw requires a hex wrench, and one is included in the kit bag along with the blade and manual.


Left: The EJS500LL model. The lowest-priced saw in the range.
Middle: Standard power controls. Note the illuminated "LiveTool" indicator on the handle.
Right: A tool is required for blade changes on this model.

The EJS500LL provides a pendulum cutting action with three stage settings. Depending on the type of material and how aggressive you wish to cut will depend on which setting you choose. There are many variables to consider which I wont go into, but test cutting on a scrap piece of material first will help choose the best setting for the material and blade. The pendulum action setting switch is located on the lateral edge of the tool. Down below is a fairly standard metal base, which can pivot left or right to make bevel cuts with pre-notched settings at 15, 30 and 45 degrees either way. There is also a handy anti-splintering notch cut into the base to help prevent chipout common with jigsaw cuts. In use it works ok, but controlling chipout when using a jigsaw is tough at the best of times without using a zero-clearance sub-base, or something to similar effect. You will also notice the dust-extraction attachment in the photos. This locks into place between the saw base and the main tool housing and the outlet actually extends right under close to the blade, however, it tapers down to quite a small opening. At the connection end, the attachment measures 1.5 inches (outside diameter). I hooked my vac up to this port and it managed to remove most of the finer material expelled during a cut. My opinion is that the opening near the blade is just a little too small to be really effective. There does seem to be clearance there to have made it a little wider for more efficient extraction. On the flip-side, reading the manual gives the impression that this accessory might be used to blow air toward the blade (i.e. with your vacuum in reverse cycle mode) to blow chips and debris away from the cutting blade allowing a better line of sight? So, I tried it, and it works very well. However, I would only recommend this when being used outdoors as the blowing action sends lots of dust airborne and, in a closed area, that can present an unnecessary exposure issue. Regardless, this design seems much better in principle than other dust extraction methods employed on other jigsaws where the dust is supposed to route through the jigsaw body and out the back, but hardly any dust ever seems to take that path!

Up top you have "GripZone" rubber overmold grips for comfort and control, plus a standard trigger-type switch with a lock-on button for continuous power. On the trigger itself is a speed control dial to allow you to adjust speed depending on material being cut. For softer material or softwoods, a faster setting is usually preferred, whereas harder material or metal might require a slower speed. For all intensive purposes, this model is an entry-level jigsaw, designed for the odd jigsawing tasks you may have around the home or in the workshop, and it is priced accordingly at just AUD$49.

EJS500QK
The 500QK model is pretty much exactly the same as the 500LL model bar one difference. The 500QK offers a tool-less blade change mechanism. The hex key screw on the 500LL model is replaced with a tool-less lever mechanism, which when lifted up, allows the user to insert or remove a blade. When inserting a blade the blade is held in place after the Quick Release Lever is lowered (it springs back down). Both the 500LL and 500QK models are otherwise identical in shape, design and specification as far as I can tell. The 500QK model is priced at AUD$69. So the tool-less blade change function will cost you an extra $20 for the privilege. Is it worth that much? Well, if you plan to use this tool a fair bit, then I would say yes. It's so much quicker to change a blade with this mechanism rather than undoing and re-tightening a hex screw with each blade change. The 500QK model is, in my opinion, fairly priced as an entry level jigsaw with a handy tool-less blade change feature.


Left: The EJS500QK. Basically identical to the 500LL except for the tool-less blade change.
Right: Look mum, no tools needed!

EJS700QK
Spend a further $20 and for the total sum of AUD$89, the EJS700QK jigsaw can be yours. Unlike the previous two models reviewed, this model offers several different features, and better specifications. To start with, it offers a more powerful 650W motor. This is enough grunt for woodworking tasks, and mild steel cutting tasks as well (up to 8mm thickness in steel/metal). The extra power will come in handy in the harder woods or if you plan on cutting thicker materials of 2 inches or more, otherwise 500W seems to complete the task well enough with good quality blades. However. it is always handy to have that little extra if and when you need it! A larger 20mm stroke length, as opposed to 16mm on the other two models improves the spec list. Another interesting feature on this model that is not often found on other jigsaws are the twin LED worklights installed at the front of the machine just above the blade cutting area. In shady areas or dim working conditions, these LEDs cast a handy light beam onto the cutting area to provide better visibility during the cut. The EJS700QK features the same tool-less blade change mechanism as found on the EJS500QK. The same standard metal fence is included.

   
Left: The EJS700QK offers the best value for money.
Middle: Tool-less blade change, two LED lights and 4 pendulum settings to boot!
Right: Main controls with variable speed dial moved to the lateral edge.

Also down below, you will notice a bevel lock lever. This is unique to this Ryobi model, and is not a common feature found on many lower priced jigsaws. This bevel lock lever offers a tool-less base tilt function. Simply release the lever and you can tilt the base through 45 degrees both ways, and lock it at any position within that range simply by engaging the level lock (pushing it) back into its lock position. Very nifty and extremely quick and easy to use. A similar dust extraction port is provided and seats itself under the saw body close to the cutting blade. The dust connector on the 700QK has a slightly larger opening near the blade than the previous two models, plus, it has the added feature of an onboard blade storage area built into the bottom of the dust connector itself. This area can store about 3 blades, 4 if you squeeze them in and it has a flip close door to keep them held securely - a handy addition, as long as you don't forget where you hid those blades away!

Up top the controls are slightly different on this model. The variable speed control has been moved off the trigger and onto the lateral edge of the tool. It offers a speed range of 600 - 2,600 RPM via the dial. The top handle and around the speed dial is covered with the "GripZone" rubber overmolds for added user comfort and slip protection. The 700QK also offers an extra pendulum action setting. There are settings 0, 1, 2 and 3, as opposed to just 0, 1, and 2 on the lower-priced models.


Left: The EJS700QK with the bevel lock lever shown.
Middle: Handy storage for up to four blades onboard the 700QK.
Right: A nice collection of wood and metal cutting blades to get you going with the 700QK.

In use I found the 700QK to be as good performance-wise as the previous models mentioned. Of course, the performance of all three models may not rate up against a high-end Makita or Festool jigsaw, but the end result was just about the same when it comes to the cut. There was a little vibration in all three models, as with most jigsaws, but nothing I could label as excessive. Performance on the whole was very acceptable given the price tag of each jigsaw. Of the three, the 700QK was the most appealing to me. Not because it has the most features, but simply because at just AUD$89, it offers many useful features you simply don't find on some of the competitors offerings for the same cash investment. And if the saw itself was not a good deal, Ryobi throw in a selection of 15 blades to get you started! These are of above average quality in regard to default blade inclusions with tools, but as mentioned above, they won't match or outperform a high-end blade from P&N or Bosch, or similar. But they are very well suited as a beginner set and will get you through many cuts before you need to go out buying replacements. As a complete package, the 700QK with all its features, and of course the LiveTool indicator too, in my opinion, offers excellent value for money. It is well worth the extra dollars over the base models, plus it just looks better too (if that counts for you). If you don't own a jigsaw yet, this would be the one to kick-start your collection.


Ryobi "LiveTool" Router
Model ERT1250VN

The only router so far to emerge with the "LiveTool" functionality from Ryobi is the ERT1250VN model. The router packs a 1250W motor onboard, which is powerful to handle all handheld routing tasks and most table-mounted ones too, except for say, full depth raised panel cutting. Power controls are found on the right handle (if viewed from the "front" of the tool) and comprise a standard push switch on the front of the handle, with a switch lock on top of the same handle. The switch lock allows power to be constantly applied once switched on without the need to hold the trigger in continuously. The router offers electronic variable speed from 14,000 RPM up to 31,500 RPM via the speed control dial on the front of the tool. Simply dial in the speed you need depending on depth of cut and the diameter of the router bit you are using. I.e. larger diameter router bits require a slower speed.

 
Left: The ERT1250VN Router.
Middle: Electronic Variable Speed dial and depth adjustment setting.
Right: Main controls and depth locking lever.

You can load both 12.7mm (1/2") or 6.35mm (1/4") router bits into this router. To use the smaller 6.35mm bits, you will need to use the supplied collet adaptor/reducer provided with the package. Being able to use both sized shank router bits offers flexibility and maximum use of your router bit collection in a single tool (if you happen to have a collection of both 6.35mm and 12.7mm bits already). A large yellow spindle lock button will hold the spindle steady while you loosen the collet to remove a bit, or to tighten it after installing a router bit. It seems a little easier to use than some spindle lock buttons which you need to depress below the surrounding surface of the body.

The ERT1250VN has a plunge depth capacity of 55mm, which is about average for many routers, give or take 10%. Plunge action is relatively smooth. Not the best I have ever come across, but certainly not the worst either. It gets smoother the more you use the tool and learn how to handle and plunge it for best effect. The columns are protected by flexible rubber, compressible/expandable covers designed to prevent dirt and debris getting onto the posts and affecting plunge travel later on. They seem to work fine so far. Regular maintenance of your tools is the key to keeping them all in good working order of course. A standard fare plunge lock lever is located near the power controls in easy reach of the user, unless you have very small hands. In addition to the standard plunge function and locking lever, the model is also capable of fine height adjustment. By using the fine height adjustment rod and inserting it into the router via the quick release button and locking anchor (an all tool-less process) you can turn the knob on the fine adjustment rod to raise or lower router depth in smaller, more controlled amounts. Nothing revolutionary about this feature, many routers offer this feature in a similarly implemented way, but few routers under $100 offer it, and the ERT1250VN retailing for AUD$99 is one such router. Again, the value for money options seems to be flowing nicely in the "LiveTool" range of tools. In addition to the range of depth adjustment options, the router has a stock standard depth stop bar/ multi-depth turret and scale system. This allows you, in free plunge mode, to plunge to a pre-determined depth set up by the user each time to router is plunged downward. This is great for plunge routing tasks where multiple cuts need to be made at the same depth, say for mortice routing. Or, you can implement the multi-depth turret to make deep trenches in multiple passes, which is safe to cut and places less load on your tool and router bits, keeping them sharper.


Left: The fine adjustment rod installed.
Middle: Depth stop turret and rubber sleeves protecting plunge columns.
Right: The accessories included in the kit.

The ERT1250VN weighs in at 4.5kg. It's a solid router, fairly large in physical dimension, but not unwieldy at the same time. It is certainly much easier to use for handheld tasks than my Triton 3HP router, which is a big beast of a thing, and now permanently resides under my router table.

Included accessories range from a parallel routing fence, for making cuts parallel to a workpiece edge, to a router template guide insert (one size only) to a set of 8 common 6.35mm shank router bits including two straight cutting bits, a wider straight bit for rabbeting or dadoes, a small cove cutting bit, a dovetail bit, two sizes of roundover bits, and a small roman ogee bit. Quality wise, they rate amongst your average inexpensive set bits from the hardware store, but again, they will handle quite a few cuts before going dull, but they are best used on softwoods as opposed to harder timbers.

In use, I was quite happy with the performance of the router, especially given its price tag. It has many nice features and runs smoothly for a tool of its retail value. The fence is basic in design but fairly solid, and attaches easily to the router via two twist knobs on the base. Again, it's not the best router in the world, but you cannot expect it to be for the money you pay. Apart from the undersized dust collection port, which had trouble keeping the cutting area free of chips on occasion, all other features seem to gel well together to give an overall ease of use for the operator. The router is quite comfortable to grip and hold and fairly easy to maneuver around. I would have liked to have seen a few extra template guide inserts thrown in, but again, the low price tag probably discourages this. It is difficult to find aftermarket template guide kits to fit Ryobi routers too, so this might be a consideration if this is going to be your one and only router in the workshop, but if not, the ERT1250VN offers an inexpensive alternative as a second router, or a primary router for basic routing tasks. As always, if you can get your hands on one from a retail outlet and look it over before you purchase, I always recommend to do this where possible. The ERT1250VN will get ongoing use in my workshop. 


Ryobi "LiveTool" Heavy Impact Drills
Models EID1000RE and EID1150RE

I call these drills "heavy" impact drills only to differentiate them from the two impact drills reviewed above. These models reviewed here are simply more powerful, larger in physical size and designed slightly differently. Again, I will review them together as they are quite similar to each other, bar a couple small physical differences and spec ratings. Let's take a look.

  EID1000RE EID1150RE
Motor 900W 1150W
Chuck Capacity 13mm 13mm
No Load Speed 0 - 1,000 RPM (low setting)
0 - 3,000 RPM (high setting)
0 - 1,300 RPM (low setting)
0 - 2.880 RPM (high setting)
Blows Per Minute 0 - 16,000 (low setting)
0 - 48,000 (high setting)
0 - 20,800 (low setting)
0 - 46,080 (high setting)
Drilling Capacity 30mm (wood)
13mm (steel)
16mm (masonry)
40mm (wood)
13mm (steel)
16mm (masonry)
Net Weight 3.0kg 3.2kg

Both drills are roughly of the same physical size and shape, a noticeable difference being the forward metal casing at the front of the EID1150RE as opposed to the plastic forward body casing on the EID1000RE. This metal casing probably contributes to the EID1150RE being slightly heavier in net weight. Both drills feature the "LiveTool" indicator of course, located at the lower end of the operating handle (see included photos for the illuminated indicator). 

Motor capacity on both models is more than adequate for most types of bits that will fit into the chuck. 900+ watts should be plenty for all your basic drilling needs. If you are bogging down a 900W+ drill during a drilling operation, either you are forcing your drill too hard, using bits that are way too big for this sized/rated drill, or your bits aren't as sharp as they should be. Check all those factors first before you go blaming the drill itself! Speed settings on these models are in the average ranges for a corded hand drill (0 - 3,000 RPM seems to be the normal range). Both drills feature a 2-speed gear box and have the option to set up for low speed or high speed drilling via the turn knob on the side of the drill body. Position "1" will deliver speeds in the low speed range (as shown in table above) whereas setting to position "2" enables the higher speed range (again, as shown in above table). For smaller diameter bits, drilling speed generally needs to be faster. For metal drilling or very dense hardwood drilling, speeds are usually set slower, while higher speeds can be used for softer woods. As a side note, the marketing blurb claims that the EID1150RE model features a "heavy duty" 2 speed gearbox, whereas this is not mentioned on the EID1000RE.


Left: The EID1000RE.
Middle: Bubble level, black gear box setting and yellow impact switch.
Right: 13mm metal chuck!

Regular drilling mode or impact drilling mode can be selected via the switch on top of each unit. In impact mode, the drill chuck "hammers" rapidly as it rotates. This is often why these drills are referred to as "hammer drills". This rapid impact mode is designed for drilling into masonry materials, and its effectiveness cannot be denied. Whenever you are drilling masonry, switch to this mode and chuck up a masonry drilling bit. Masonry drilling is generally a bit louder than regular drilling because of the hammer action, but it shouldn't be overly difficult, as long as you regularly clear out your drill hole of dust as you go. Both drills performed well in my masonry drilling tasks, which involved a lot of picture hanging to a brick wall, and concrete drilling to fix Dynabolts to hold down a small garden shed I recently added to the house.

Each drill features a 13mm heavy duty keyless metal chuck. A spindle lock button located on the underside of the body will lock the spindle to allow you to tighten or release the chuck jaws to hold/release a drilling bit. The chuck itself seems to be of good quality, and no drill bit slippage was evident. This should be the case with a new/near new chuck of course. I visually observed for any drill runout on the chuck with each drill. There is little noticeable runout visually, both drills running quite true (which means more accurate sized and cleaner drill holes).

There is a standard plastic auxiliary handle on both tools, coupled with a depth rod adjustment feature which is fairly standard in design. Twisting the handle releases it and allows you to rotate it to a position that is comfortable for each particular drilling job and tighten it back down again. And, as with the EID750REN model reviewed above, both drills here feature onboard drill bit storage incorporated into the auxiliary handle, however, only smaller sized drill bits can fit in the holder (up to 6mm diameter).


Left: The EID1150RE with metal forward casing.
Middle: Regular and impact mode switch and gear speed selector.
Right: Rubber overmold grips, trigger and LiveTool indicator shown.

Power controls are relatively straight forward. You will find a forward/reverse switch just above the trigger. The trigger itself offers variable speed function depending on how much you squeeze it. And onboard the trigger itself is a speed dial wheel. However, on these dial wheels, there are five regulated speed settings, labeled A through to E. The combination of dial speed selection, trigger squeeze and gearbox speed setting options makes it relatively easy to set a speed required for each different drilling task. It's all very straight forward, as it should be.

The standard rubber "Gripzone" overmolds cover most of the handle and rear of the tool, encasing a dual directional bubble level to allow accurate horizontal and vertical drilling to be achieved. The rear of the drill body is also ergonomically designed to allow a comfortable grip when applying force to the drill (don't apply too much of course). It is handy when hammer drilling, as the drill tends to vibrate and jump around a little more than with regular drilling.


No need to go hunting for drill bits...

Price-wise, the EID1000RE lists at AUD$99 while the EID1150RE kit retails for AUD$129. Both kits come shipped in a plastic molded case with an assortment of drill bits. Their are 13 bits in the EID1000RE kit and 15 in the EID1150RE kit - a mix of brad-point drill bits, masonry drill bits and regular twist drill bits. The brad point bits are not too bad in fact, quite sharp and very useful. The masonry bits also are useable. The twist bits however are a little dull for my liking, and they didn't retain their edge too well. Grab some Sutton or P&N bits and you will notice the difference. Nonetheless, the twist bits can be sharpened if you have a good sharpening jig for a grinder or small diamond files, and after being touched up, they can cut quite well indeed.

Overall, both drills again performed adequately for their given price tags. The EID1150RE feels a little more solid in the hand though and is probably a little better built internally as well given its higher price tag. It would get my recommendation between the two. I think a corded drill is one area where you can get lucky and find a good tool at a budget price. I mean, I have had a $12 corded drill for years and it has given me great service. Another "cheap" drill blew up a few months after purchase. You can get lucky sometimes. Regardless, the Ryobi tools come with a 2-year replacement warranty and 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee, so you are afforded good protection with your purchase.

The Ryobi Australia website can be found at www.ryobi.com.au
 

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