John's Tool Crib
by John Cupp

RYOBI Rebuttal

Before I became disabled, I was a prolific builder and would tackle any project no matter how big or small. Before I moved to Oregon, I had a California contractor’s license. I am a journeyman machinist; I am also a certified welder. I worked as shop supervisor in many large businesses. I acquired tools for building steel boats, wooden boats, Ferro-Cement boats and just plain fiberglass boats. I built barns, houses, decks, 100 foot long steel Algae harvesters, work boats and also all the plumbing and wiring for their electrical systems no matter the power source.

I started writing to keep my sanity from coming from such an active life to being disabled with injuries that require me to slow down drastically. Instead of committing suicide, I decided I would pass on some of my experience by writing and testing tools that my fellow boat builders could use to make good decisions for their shops. Since I am not dead yet I can still make myself useful by passing on knowledge from years of working, fabricating and designing. I even started playing my guitar again, something I did not think I would ever do.

Since I moved back to my small cabin on the lake, most of my big tools are still in storage but I will build a shop for them when I finally am done wrangling with the county ordinances and the authorities. Now I work out of my smaller shop testing the tools I write about and building small boats and other projects.

Now I will get back to the Ryobi tool Question. Are they just trash or treasure? I have a long list of Ryobi tools that I have tested. I even have Ryobi tool reviews that are waiting to be printed and published on this site. Do I think Ryobi tools are rubbish, of course I do not or I would not take this step of putting my reputation on the line now. When I want to review a new Ryobi tool, I pick it up at Home Depot. I get all of my other tools shipped to me directly from the manufacturer.

That is a good way of seeing that Ryobi is not sending me an extra special product that someone else cannot get at Home Depot. I can honestly say I have had one problem with a tool I tested from Ryobi. When I tested the 12”, Compound Miter saws the Ryobi saw had a blade problem. The stock blade that came with this saw did not turn true. I could only verify that with my dial indicator mounted to check the blade run-out. I saw it when I turned the blade by hand but I checked every tool the same way before I use power on it.

I dismounted the blade drove back to Home Depot and they took one off another saw for me and that was it. The exchange took about an hour including my travel time to pick up a few extra groceries for my wife. My wife Nan does not go to Home Depot with me anymore. Even with me being disabled and walking with a cane she cannot keep up with my department hopping. It was even worse right after a recent operation when I used their electric carts!

This is Important! Do I consider Ryobi a premium tool? No, Ryobi tools are made for the armature builder who cannot afford a Fein sander or a Delta planer but they need a quality tool with a less expensive price tag. How do I test Ryobi Tools? I test them side by side with the most expensive tools like Bosch, Makita, Porter-Cable or Fein. I put them through rigorous exams and strenuous testing. I have friends that are eager to help me test these tools. So some of the more rigorous testing I can watch and get the comments from my professional friends on their likes and dislikes.

From the article I have made a few observations, these tools were not bought in the US. In the US Home Depot carries the Ryobi line and they have a no questions asked 30-day money back return policy with Ryobi tools. I have one of the American Ryobi hand planers that I have been testing. I have used it on Walnut, Rock Maple, White Oak and Manzanita a very hard western USA scrub tree that has rich red, purple and white grain.

I have also laminated oak and mahogany with epoxy as glue and used the Ryobi hand planer on it. In my humble opinion, it worked as well as the 3 ¼” Makita hand planer I used before I received the Ryobi planer for testing. It had enough power to plane every bit as deep as the Makita planer had. I do know that if you push any power planer too hard they will get very hot Power planers do not need muscle to push them they cut very nicely by themselves. You do need power to control their movement and they are some of the more dangerous power tools in any shop.

So if you’re a professional craftsman who is being paid for your services I would recommend a very high quality tool like Ridgid, Porter-Cable, Fein, Invicta, Cantek, Bosch or a thousand other tools built for strenuous professional use. If you are an amateur boat builder and you do want a quality tool with a super warranty, I have no qualms about recommending the Ryobi line. I do know that in Europe, Australia, New Zealand Southeast Asia and Japan different companies are licensed to produce tools under the Ryobi name that are not the Ryobi tools we have in the US and Canada. They are not made in the same factories and they don’t even look like the Ryobi tools we have here.

I have been trying to get Ryobi of Europe to send me a few of their 220 volt powered tools that run low amps but have more power. The shipping of these tools is far too expensive but they make professional quality tools for Ryobi of Europe. Their marketing companies in Europe are entirely different from in the US. Just like the rest of the world. Different companies are licensed to use the Ryobi name in different parts of the world.

This makes calling Ryobi a good tool here in the US very different in Australia. They do not have the same warranty or even the same tool. I have been using my trusty Ryobi 18 volt drill/driver for two years without any problems. Ryobi just came out with new drill models that have new high performance batteries. Some people found that the battery life of the drills was not as good as they wanted so Ryobi now has a new class battery that works much better than the older style.

Therefore, I can say this, if those two blokes had been in America or Canada the Home Depot would have taken the tools back and replaced their monies instantly. However, I doubt that if they were in America or Canada they would have received bad tools. I know that there will always be a bad apple anywhere so I cannot say that someone in America or Canada will not get a bad tool. I can and will say they would not be treated in the same manner.

So I say to my boat building brothers in other parts of the world that I believe your story. I would hope that with my reporting your story to my Ryobi representative who is making sure that the other Ryobi licensed company that will hear this might effect some change. I do know that in the USA and Canada Ryobi tools have the best warranty around. So look at your bankbook and see if that Makita planer is going to bring the total number closer to zero than your wife would like to fight about. Now go over and look at the Ryobi planer. They are not made in the same factory but the Ryobi planer has a better warranty and if your not going to plane a 500 foot keel it should do as good a job as the Makita in the US and Canada for sure. The bottom line is many small time boat builders don’t need professional tools, that is where Ryobi has the market. Try one and you will be surprised both in the cost and performance. Try them in the USA and Canada. If the shipping were not so expensive, I would send those down under folks some real Ryobi well made tools to try.

From my tool crib,

John Cupp