The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














John's Tool Crib
byJohn Cupp

Three New Ryobi Cordless Drills
- and -
The Shocking Results Of The Testing

14.4 Volt, 18 volt and 18 volt Hammer Drill

What an exciting time for cordless tools and Ryobi has reengineered three drills for the tool buying public. You’ll be able to tell these new drills at a glance just by looking at their all metal chucks ( they were once partially made from plastic ). The batteries have been remade also with longer lasting power and the life of the batteries have been extended by a great deal also. I have owned an 18 volt Ryobi drill for a few years now and the newer drills have much more power even if I use the new batteries in the older 18 volt drill. In fact the new Ryobi 14.4 volt drill drives more 1 ½” drywall screws into a Douglas Fir 4” X 4” than the older Ryobi 18 volt drill can with both of them fully charged.

I was very surprised by this and I went to a local tool store and one of the guys there told me that his brand new 14.4 Makita 6228 DWLE could drill more screws than the 18 volt Ryobi and many more than the 14.4 Ryobi. Well I just happened to have the 14.4 drill in the pickup and he had his Makita so we went out back with some fresh screws and low and behold the Ryobi drove 37 more screws into the old 2X4 lumber we had out back and it lasted longer drilling.

He claimed his battery must have been drained so I still had a fresh battery and he used a charger at the tool store to charge his battery up for a second run. Well his Makita drill did a lot better this time around and the Ryobi only beat his Makita by 23 more screws! Ye Haw! He only paid about a hundred more dollars and I think he got a metal box instead of the plastic shock proof case the Ryobi drill came in. The store owner didn’t want to take another new Makita drill out back from the shelf so the testing ended there. The old science class axiom should be stated here and that is one test is statistically worthless but I didn’t have another Makita drill around and Makita will not send tools for testing to Duckworks Magazine because in their words the market is not large enough.

Every other tool manufacturer will and especially Ryobi. I can see now why they would not want me testing their 14.4 drill against a mere Ryobi drill but that is for another day. You get a fast electronic battery testing charger, two new style batteries and a great powerful spot light with the Ryobi 14.4 volt drill combo plus a nice shock proof carrying case. The fast charger only takes an hour to charge and I found with continues use it takes about 40 minutes of hard drill driving to run down a battery on the Ryobi. It would be handy to buy one more battery if you had an all day job but I could not get passed two batteries myself before it was painful for myself to drive home. That was just the 14.4 volt drill!

Now we have the new improved more powerful 18 volt to speed drill. It looks much like the 14.4 volt drill but on steroids. It has the same type electronic charger and spot light with the two batteries and the same style plastic case as the smaller version but boy can it drill! Looking at my older 18 volt drill the differences are very clear. It also has the new metal chuck and new style batteries but the most clear difference between the old and new is the power curve. The power of the new tool stays strong until nearly the last screw driven instead of growing progressively weaker the last half of the battery. It also continued running much longer than my older drill, even when I used a new style charged battery in the older drill so they must have some type of new circuitry in the newer drills that makes more power and makes it last longer. What more can I say than the newest 18 volt two speed drill is like the 14.4 drill but a lot more long lasting and mor powerful. It dove many more screws than the 14.4 drill and a huge amount more than the older 18 volt drill but it just seemed to be more attractive with the al metal drill chuck and the new design of the batteries. All of the drills have a magnetic tray so you do not have to hold steel screws in your moth but it does not work with silicon bronze or brass so that feature won’t be as important to a boat builder. The slide off level on all the drills is useful and the level also holds two double bit screw tips and the level is accurate. All the drills also have a bubble level for drilling straight down to keep the drill as vertical as possible and it is also set perfectly. I would trade in my older drill in an instant for the newer style drills. But I have not come to the good part. Yet.

Ryobi’s newest 18 volt drill is a powerful 3 speed hammer drill complete with a stronger chuck, depth gauge and an even more powerful motor. Although from the outside of the package the drills look similar the difference ends there. The 3 speed 18 volt drill has all the same paraphernalia such as charger, spotlight, two batteries and the shock proof case but it is so much more. It also lists for exactly one hundred dollars more. It is a super hammer drill with a half inch chuck that can drill into concrete like butter. Anybody building or owning a Ferro Cement boat should have one of these bad boys. It has a range from 5200 beats per minute to 18000 beats per minute and I even used t to break stuck nuts and bolts that were 5/16” with another Ryobi accessory pack that had socket head bits. That was another purchase and does not come with the drill but it really compliments the drills abilities..

If you have ever set lead lag bolt holders in cured cement you know what a tough job it is to drill the holes. You may not know this but many older wooden keel boats have cement poured in as ballast and sometimes you may find it necessary to add a mount into the ballast for some new floor support that has rotted away in another spot. It is tough work but this drill can do that work and do it miles away from an extension cord.

I plan on debunking the bad myths about Ferro-Cement boat building in an upcoming article where I will build a 12 foot Ferro-Cement sail boat, yes only twelve feet in length. Its side are a mere 1/8th “ thick but it is as fast a twelve foot boat as has ever been built in any material. Ferro-Cement boats sail the world every day of the year and people can’t tell them from wood or GRP boats because they have been built properly. Jay Benford actually built Ferro-Cement boats in a boat yard near Seattle and he designed boat in lengths from 12’ to over 60’ and they are not built with chicken wire. But any Ferro-Cement boat builder should own a hammer drill and Ryobi has the least expensive of the best hammer drills made. I have used my friends DeWalt cordless hammer drill that costs almost double the price of the Ryobi and he also used the Ryobi and now he wishes he had saved two hundred dollars on the Ryobi model.

The Ryobi hammer drill can be used as a regular drill but it ha capabilities that far exceed it’s 18 volt standard brother. I have been testing these drills for about eight months and Ryobi has come out with new designed handles and cases for the 14.4 and the 18 volt standard drills while I tested these drills. They are said to have even more power. Ryobi has picked up some technology from it owners other companies like Ridgid and Milwaukee and ha again beat me to the punch on these reviews. I ave been sick but time waits for no one. Ryobi was once a laughed at name when power tools were discussed. The bottom of the tool food chain is what other companies called Ryobi! Now in prestigious national magazines tool tests are showing that Ryobi is priced lower but its tools in some cases beat the performance of professional tool company builders. They last longer and work harder than tools that cost double and triple their price. Now that is a very valid selling point. When other tool companies gave Duckworks the cold shoulder and myself for wantng to do reviews of their tools Ryobi was the first company to allow me to review their tools for the boat building market. I now see several other magazines that are for boat builders running tool columns but folks I was the first, maybe not the best but I saw that it was a much needed hole in boat building coverage.

A quick note, all the drills look like the 18 volt hammer drill pictured at the top of the page except that the 14.4 and standard 18 volt drill do not have the handle or the depth gauge. They are about equal I size also. They look less sleek than the new drills that I have not tested yet since my extended recovery from accidents from last year didn’t allow any tool testing. Please forgive the time laps but I am praying for a much better year in 2005.

These Ryobi drills are still on the shelves for now and at reduced prices since their new drills are just coming out. They are very good deals and also extremely high quality tools. So please before you spend double the money on a new cordless big name brand tool remember the great Ryobi drills and other tools they make. If you don’t have a lot of cash you can still get real quality tools at very generous price from Ryobi. I know I say bu the best possible tools you can so that they will last but a great quality tool does not need to be the most expensive either. When all is said and done you are the final judge of what you are willing to spend if you’re a married man then your wife is probably that judge. I can only tell you what my experience is with these tools and I find them a very significant value.

Sitting in my tool crib while the judge runs the house, John