Ryobi 18V ONE+ Power Tools Review

by Kelly R. Smith

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A selection of Ryobi 18V ONE+HP power tools
A selection of Ryobi 18V ONE+HP power tools

There are many tool companies that offer a selection of battery-operated power tools. You can choose between Ryobi, Milwaukee, Porter Cable, Makita, and many others. Now that the battery technology has improved so much (lithium), these tools are more practical. Let’s look at some of the Ryobi 18V ONE+ power tools in their lineup. Their site tells us they offer over 175 different tools in this family. I’ve been using 10 on a regular basis so I’ll focus on them. As an aside, I also use their 40V lawnmower. I also have one of their AM/FM radios that uses the same battery, but that’s not technically a tool, is it?

Ryobi 18V Power Tools

Note that some of these tools come with batteries and chargers and with some it’s just the tool, so the prices reflect that fact.

  • The AirStrike brad nailer. I use this nailer for various woodworking projects and trim installation. Reliable and easy to adjust.
  • 1/2″ drill/driver Kit. Lightweight and features a two-speed gearbox and a 24-position clutch for maximum control. No chuck key required.
  • Reciprocating saw. Their version of the famous Sawzall. For larger jobs I drag out my Makita corded version but this one is ideal for things like tree limbs up to 3″ in diameter.
  • 1/4″ impact driver or 3/8″ impact wrench. It’s handy for those tight jobs. The wrench has an auto mode to prevent over-tightening.
  • Compact brushless cut-off tool. Cuts metal, plastic, drywall, tile, and wire shelving. The base fits flat to the work surface for inhanced cutting accuracy. That’s a nice engineering touch. Cuts at up to 19,500 RPM.
  • 3/8” right angle drill. Ryobi claims this is the industry’s most compact model. It’s also good for those tight situations.
  • Hand-held belt sander. The front pommel handle adjusts to 5 different positions for individual comfort. The tool-free belt-tracking feature makes adjustment on the fly easy.
  • Variable speed jig saw. Very lightweight and portable.
  • Circular saw. Another reason for battery operation. When I was installing baseboards not long ago, I took rough measurements before going to Home Depot. I took my saw with me and dealt with those super long pieces right there in the parking lot (the Tacoma bed doesn’t like 15′ floppy stock.
  • Hand-held router. While I love my router table in the shop, it’s not very convenient to lug around.

Those are the Ryobi 18V ONE+ power tools that I have personal experience with. Overall I’m extremely satisfied. I’ve found them dependable, price-competitive, and offering some innovative features. I like the fact that they have brushless motors. The battery chargers run at a reasonable rate. The batteries are non-fade, meaning that they don’t begin to lag when they are running out of juice.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Top 10 Table Saw Safety Tips

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Craftsman woodworking table saw
Craftsman woodworking table saw

By its very nature, woodworking is a dangerous hobby and profession. There are 720,000 injuries each year associated with woodworking projects and about 42% of these occur on the table saw. No surprise here; almost every project needs stock ripped or crosscut. How can we do better? Let’s look at these top 10 table saw safety tips.

  • Using your blade guard. Yes, they come from the factory installed and recommended but who actually uses them? Ahem, yeah, I thought so. I use a push stick or another woodworking jig to get the job done. Should I use the guard? Yeah, but usually… no. Still, I recommend it.
  • Table saw blade selection. It is tempting to use the same blade for every job, but should you? No. You need a separate blade for cross-cutting and one for ripping Why? A crosscut blade makes the rip cut much more difficult. It will burn and bind.
  • Use a zero-clearance insert. Yes, there are two schools of thought on this one. Safety says a supported piece is a safer piece.
  • Woodworking dust collection. If your table saw offers a port, use it. You will guard your health, keep your wood shop clean, and lower fire risks. Wood dust not only irritates your throat and nose, but some species can be poisonous.
  • Use your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Yeah this stuff is front and center because of the Covidid-19 Pandemic but truth be told, it was always a big deal. Use safety glasses and ear protection. Gloves? Personal decision.
  • Keep your hands out of harm’s way. Use push sticks, push blocks and other safety devices to help guide and control work pieces.
  • Don’t stand directly in front of or in back of the blade. Always stand to one side or the other. Even with the guard in place, the odd chunk of wood might kick back.
  • Make adjustments before powering up. Make all adjustments with your blade stopped, with the single exception of changing the speed. Never try to change the configuration of the table or the power plant before the machine has stopped.
  • Keep your hands safe. Do not reach under the table to make adjustments, remove scrap, or make adjustments while the blade is turning.
  • Use your accessories. Make use of your miter gauge or rip fence to guide your work. Free-hand cuts are very dangerous, inaccurate and not recommended. For larger pieces, such as plywood, use table saw extensions or rollers. Ideally, you should have a helper, but realistically that’s not always going to happen.

Keep these 10 table saw safety tips in mind each and every time you enter your shop. It is easy to become complacent with this and other tools. None of us came with spare body parts.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Make a Round and Cylindrical Object Drilling Jig

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Woodworking jig to secure round, cylindrical while drilling
Woodworking jig to secure round, cylindrical while drilling

Holding round objects stable while drilling or otherwise working with them can be a sticky wicket. Holding them with your hand can lead to losing some skin and clamping them can mar the surface. One solution is to make this round and cylindrical object drilling jig. And who couldn’t use yet another woodworking jig?

Using the Jig

Once built, using the jig is straightforward. The adjustable fences slide in from the long sides and the stop blocks slide in the other direction. All movement and clamping of these components is done with the t-tracks, fence knobs, and t-slot bolts. The drilling plate serves to drill through, preventing splintering of the bottom of the object as the drill bit exits. You’ll find yourself using this woodworking jig over and over, with your drill press or independently.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Checklist of Must-Have Tools for Living Off the Grid

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An urban homestead with vegetable garden.
An urban homestead with vegetable garden

Homesteading has become a buzzword du juor and an increasingly-popular lifestyle. But what is it exactly? Dictionary.com gives this somewhat legal definition, “a dwelling with its land and buildings, occupied by the owner as a home and exempted by a homestead law from seizure or sale for debt.”

More popular usage means living in a self-sufficient manner as much as possible. This means growing your own food, keeping livestock and fowl, and living off-the-grid in as many ways as you can. This includes generating your own electricity with wind turbines or solar panels, etc. This also means acquiring some must-have tools and supplies for living off the grid. Here are some essentials.

General Repair Tools

  • Duct tape. You already know — a million different uses. My Grandpappy swore by Scotch tape but I prefer to go industrial-grade.
  • Heavy-duty scissor car jack. Not just for changing flats anymore. This all-around tool will be a willing helper that won’t talk back or complain.
  • Belt sander. When building or repairing/refinishing furniture this is an invaluable tool.
  • An assortment of rope and tie-down straps. These will find a use on a day-to-day basis on your homestead.
  • Cordless drill, sawzall, circular saw, etc. Cordless is the way to go because you won’t always be working where an outlet is available. Just be sure to buy all your cordless tools from the same family (manufacturer) of tools so the batteries are interchangeable and you only have to keep up with one charger. I use and recommend Ryobi but Milwaukee and Makita are good as well.
  • Chainsaw. Useful for clearing brush, cutting up firewood, and heck, your artistic endeavors, if you are into that kind of thing.

Gardening/Farming Tools

  • A set of gardening tools. This comprehensive set should ideally be kept in a container that can be transported to to the garden/field as one unit so you won’t be making multiple trips. It should contain at least a kneeling mat if you use one, a shovel, gloves, limb trimmer, a basket to carry your daily harvest, and pruning shears.
  • Rotary tiller. If you have a good sized plot of land to work, this tool is essential for good root growth. You can rent one but it will be more cost-effective to buy your own in the long run.
  • A bucket or two. This is a multiple use tool, as simple as it is. I usually use one for mixing soil and amendments when planting.
  • Rain barrels. While a rain harvesting system might not technically thought of as a “tool,” it is essential for irrigating your crops close to the house. In general, plants prefer the pH (a figure expressing the acidity or alkalinity) of rainwater to tap water. And what would happen if your public water supply is cut off or contaminated?

Health-Related Tools and Supplies

  • Tweezers. Handy for close work and removing splinters. Keep one in your medicine cabinet and another in the glove box of your truck.
  • Antiseptics. You will need to apply this lickety-split, quick, and in a hurry when you get any cut or abrasion.
  • Bandaids. Keep an assortment of sizes and shapes on hand.
  • Moleskin. Take care of those inevitable blisters on your feet.
  • Safety glasses. This is one that many people ignore but do yourself a favor. The good Lord only gave you two eyes; replacements not currently available.
  • Soap. Yes, we’ve all got some but do we use it often enough? It should be a habit with the onset of COVID-19 pandemic or the Coronavirus as it is also called, but you can also pick up undesirable things in your soil and mulch in your vegetable garden.
  • Hearing protection. Save your hearing! The ones I use are headphones with a built-in AM/FM radio.
  • Fire extinguishers. Keep one in the kitchen, one in your pantry, one in your wood shop (next to your wood shop dust collector is a good spot), and one in your truck. They are cheap; there’s no excuse.

This is not an exhaustive list of must-have tools for living off the grid in the homesteading mode but it’s a good start. When the SHTF you will be glad that you prepared in advance. And you don’t have to live out in the country; we have a modest 1,200 square foot home but over the years I’ve surrounded us with fruit trees and my vegetable garden and my herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes. My latest addition is a Don Juan Avocado tree.

References:

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

5 Benefits of a Wood Shop Dust Collector

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A Shopsmith wood shop dust collector
A Shopsmith wood shop dust collector

When most beginning woodworkers are setting up shop or experienced ones are upgrading, what first comes to mind? Tools, benches, and fixtures. But here’s a woodworking tip for you; it pays to first consider an investment in a wood shop dust collector system. Here are 10 of the most important reasons.

  • Sawdust is a royal pain. Shavings, dust, and chips accumulate very quickly. Fine dust fills the air until it settles somewhere, such as the surface of your current project that you are putting a finish coat on, applying putty to, or gluing up. And it goes without saying that you won’t make any points with your spouse when you inevitably track it into the house.
  • Sawdust is a definite fire hazard. It only takes one spark from your grinder to get things going. And if you are not storing your flammables properly you are compounding the problem. Even fine dust that sifts on top of lighting fixtures and electrical boxes has the potential to light up your day — and not in a good way!
  • Sawdust is a great candidate for recycling. Having the dust collector consolidate it while you work on your table saw, band saw, or other piece of equipment takes half the effort out of the process. It can be used to make sweeping compound (which you can use or barter). Hardwood is a great soil amendment for your garden because as it breaks down it feeds the soil with beneficial nutrients.
  • Fine sawdust is a health hazard without a dust collector. It can hover in the air for hours where it enters your sinuses and lungs. You can end up with allergy issues and congestion. The effects accumulate over time meaning that they can build up over the course of years even if you don’t notice a problem for a while. Exotic woods can be outright toxic. I had an x-ray several years ago and they picked up a spot in one lung. Turns out it was a “calcified nodule” which results when you breath something in and your lung isolates it by coating it, much as an oyster creates a pearl from a grain of sand over time. Was it from woodworking? Quite possible after 20 years as a carpenter.
  • Dust collection extends the life of your power tools. If chips or even dust is removed immediately, friction on moving parts is reduced greatly. When sanding, your paper will take longer to clog, saving time and money. It figures that sawdust from any wood containing moisture or sap will gum up a heated machine fairly quickly.

These are just 5 important benefits of a wood shop dust collection system. Yes, it is an expense but in the long run it will save you time, money, and your health.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Top 10 Woodworking Tips

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Various woodworking tools
Various woodworking tools

Whether you’re a professional carpenter or a hobbyist woodworker in the evenings or on the weekends, one thing is certain. You can’t have too many woodworking tips. They might make completion of your project easier, or more precise, or just save time. In this sense, tips are a lot like woodworking jigs. Let’s take a look at some of these tips.

  1. Make your own wood putty. Using wood putty is often inevitable. The problem with store-bought products is that it is difficult to get a good color match. The manufacturers can only replicate so many shades and the store can only dedicate so much shelf space. The solution for a perfect match at almost zero cost is surprisingly simple. Check out how to make homemade wood putty.
  2. Keep your work bench clean with wax paper. We’ve all done it — glued up and begin clamping all or part of a project only to see glue oozing out and dripping on your work surface. Clean-up will not be fun. The solution? Put wax paper under your project before you start. It’s cheap and disposable.
  3. Invest in a pneumatic nailer or two. There will be times when these tools come in handy. Say, if you are doing a repetitive task that requires fastening with nails, either 2″ ones or very small 23 – gauge pins this is much easier than the hammer-and-nail set approach. In fact, driving the smallest with a hammer is impractical. They bend; you curse. The solution is a battery-operated pin nailer.
  4. Know your lumber grades. Every project is somewhat unique. Most people go shopping for lumber and base their selection on straightness, no warping, no checking, no knots, etc. They don’t also evaluate by National Hardwood Lumber Association lumber grades and so sometimes overbuy. For example, if only one side of the project is going to be visible, your best choice might be FAS 1F or F1F.
  5. Select the right finish. Varnish or “polyurethane varnish” is only for interior use. It will not stand up to outdoor elements. Spar varnish on the other hand is excellent for for outdoor furniture, boats and exterior doors. It dries slowly and so it stays more supple. Because of this it accommodates the movement of the wood so it is not likely to crack and fail. Tung oil is also suitable for exterior use.
  6. Draw a line on a long board with your combination square. Drill a 1/16″ hole in the middle of your combination square at the 1″ mark. Now you can set your square so that the hole lines up with where you want the line to be. Insert a sharpened pencil tip into the hole and draw down the length of the board.
  7. Use the 3-4-5 method for squaring. There will be times when laying out large projects and it is not practical or accurate to use small tools. In this case you can use the 3-4-5 method for squaring. It’s quite simple and accurate as it’s based on the Pythagorean Theorem. Remember that from math class?
  8. Hassle-free screw insertion. In many cases it is a good idea to pre-drill screw holes to minimize the chance of splitting the wood. However, the further the screw has to penetrate, the higher the possibility that the screw will stall or the slot (standard or Phillips) will strip out. My favorite solution is to rub the screw threads on a bar of soap first. This lubrication minimizes insertion issues.
  9. Remove the plug from a holesaw with ease. The holesaw is a great invention. The drawback is getting that darn plug out after you cut the hole. Here’s a workaround. First, drill a pilot hole completely through the work piece with a twist bit the same size as the diameter of your holesaw’s drill bit. Next, insert your holesaw’s bit into that hole and cut more than halfway through the work piece. Next, pull out your holesaw, flip over your work piece, and saw the hole from this side, using the pilot hole to guide your second cut. After completing the cut and pulling out your holesaw, the plug will be sticking halfway out of the saw, giving you something to hold onto, making it a snap to remove.
  10. Cutting small pieces on your tablesaw. This can be a major hassle at a minimum. Altogether too often the piece either flies away or splinters up. Save yourself the hassle. Set you blade just shy of the thickness of the wood so you don’t saw all the way through. Now just finish the cut using your chisel.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Choosing Trim Nailers and Finish Nailers

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Ryobi 18-gauge brad nailer
Ryobi 18-gauge brad nailer

Whether you call them finish nailers or trim nailers, the end result is the same. These guns deliver nails of various sizes (tool-dependent) with the help of an air compressor or an airless system. The Ryobi AirStrike brad nailer pictured above is battery-powered. I use it for projects like door trim and baseboard.

Why use a nailer vs the old hammer and nail set method? For me the answer is two-fold. First, It is just faster and easier with less chance of marring the wood surface. Secondly, you get to a point as your nail size diminishes where you just can’t hammer it without it bending.

Which Pneumatic-Trim-Nailer is Right for You?

Ideally, you would own the entire spectrum of nail-size guns. But in reality, unless you make a living as a trim carpenter or cabinet-maker, you’ll have to compromise and pick one or two. First, choose whether you want to drag a compressor hose or periodically re-charge batteries. For my purposes, being highly mobile is key so I do batteries. So what about sizes? Actually, I’ve stuck to all rechargeable Ryobi battery tools, even the electric mower.

  • Brad Nailers. These 18-gauge nails are up to 2 inches long. Since the nails are thinner in the cross section, they leave a smaller hole and are so they are less likely to split narrow trim and molding. This could be your choice for stop and cove moldings or baseboard shoe molding.
  • Pin Nailers. These 23-gauge nails come in both the headless and the slight-headed models; they are just what the doctor ordered for attaching delicate trim pieces. The hole they leave are almost small enough to disregard under a coat of paint, or blend with the grain of a piece of wood. However, they don’t offer a lot of shear or withdrawal strength so these fasteners are best used for wood-to-wood connections and it’s really advisable to strengthen your connection with glue.
  • 15- and 16-Gauge Nailers. These two tools fire nails up to 2-1/2 inches long, and they are considered as the most versatile for interior carpentry applications. They also have a lot of overlap in terms of application which makes them good go-to tools for the DIY folks. Both are widely used for installing baseboard, chair rail, door and window casing, crown molding, as well as door frames.

This overview of trim nailers and finish nailers should help you to decide where to invest your money, depending on your goals.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


How to Make Homemade Wood Putty

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Homemade Wood Putty
How to make homemade wood putty

In a perfect world our woodworking projects wouldn’t require wood putty, filler, or grain filler. But wood is a natural product so some defects are inherent and as woodworkers we are prone to small mistakes. That’s where this homemade wood putty (and wood filler) comes in.

And if you are concerned, this is a small way to build green since you already have the sawdust and you are not paying for the production and shipping of little metal putty cans.

What You Need to Make Wood Putty

This is a simple procedure and the results are more accurate and less expensive than commercial putty and filler products. Here is what you will need.

  • Sawdust from your woodworking project
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Popsicle stick or something similar to mix with
  • A piece of scrap cardboard

The Process

This short video demonstrates the process; it’s not complicated and you just have to work the mixture until you achieve the desired consistency.

I hope this woodworking tip on homemade wood putty has helped you. Feel free to leave any comments that improve the process or just prove helpful.


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