Ryobi 12V lithium-ion compact drill
Ryobi 12V lithium-ion compact drill. Click image to enlarge

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Ryobi Tools

By Frank Rizzuti

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Ryobi 12V Lithium-Ion Compact Drill

Cordless tools have come a long way since they first appeared in the early 1980’s. These tools have helped trades people and DIY’ers save time and money because they can be used just about anywhere. As well, consumers have found them very useful. However, short battery life and low power sometimes limits their use. Fortunately, advances in battery technology have made rechargeable batteries lighter, more powerful, and with longer run times.

The development of lithium-ion batteries, which are now the standard in this type of tool, offer a reduction in battery weight by as much as 25 to 40 per cent. Additionally, manufacturers can now put more power into a battery pack that is the same size and weight as the previously popular NiCad and NiMH batteries. That old technology had battery packs that would extend up into the tool’s handle, and this made them heavy, awkward to use, and not very well balanced.

Ryobi has addressed all of these issues with its new Compact Drill Model HJP001K. According to Ryobi, it’s 30 per cent more compact, holds a charge four-times longer, and is 33 per cent lighter than conventional drills. Included in the box are two battery packs, charger, drill and a soft carry bag.

Ryobi 12V lithium-ion compact drill
Ryobi 12V lithium-ion compact drill
Ryobi 12V lithium-ion compact drill; photos by Frank Rizzuti. Click image to enlarge

The drill features a 3/8-inch keyless chuck, variable speed switch for controlling drilling and driving, and has an ergonomically-designed grip for comfort and control. The charger features a set of lights that will first test the battery pack and flash diagnostic green and red lights if the pack is defective. It also has provisions to mount the charger to a wall to save valuable work bench real estate. Charge times are approximately 40-50 minutes.

This drill felt right at home in my hand. Light and well balanced, the drill will stand upright on its battery pack when not in use, something most drills won’t do. I could work with it all day and not feel tired. The first test I did was a no load endurance test. I loaded the drill up with a freshly charged battery, taped the trigger on and let it run. It ran for over 45 minutes with no heat buildup on the battery or the drill’s motor. One peculiar thing it did do was shut down abruptly, no sign of the battery slowly dying, it just died. This is what Lithium-Ion batteries do, no warning of their imminent demise.

Next was a drilling and driving test. I managed to bore ten, one-inch holes in a piece of two-by-four on a single charge. Reloading with a fresh battery, I was able to drive 84 number 8×2-inch screws into wood before the battery was exhausted. Around the car I used a power ball to polish my wheels; it had plenty of torque to handle the task and I was able to do all four wheels on a single charge.

The drill’s small size and light weight would make it ideal for automotive DIY’ers. It’s great for working in confined and tight spaces such as under a dash or under a hood drilling out a broken exhaust manifold stud. It can perform Dremel-like tasks, using mini buffing wheels to detail your engine bay, wire brushes for corroded and rusty parts, sanding discs for minor paint flattening, touch ups or body work. With the right attachments it has enough power to do a mild port and polish on a cylinder head. Use it to install trim, light lenses, and it would make quick work if dismantling a car for restoration.

My only peeve was with inserting the battery packs. The pack is not keyed so you have to check and make sure the contacts lined up properly, a minor thing but a little fiddly none the less.

I was impressed with its performance, much better than my old NiCad powered drill, and at a suggested $99 retail it’s cheaper than buying two new battery packs for your old drill. This is great for light to medium work around the house, garage, car, and workshop. The HJP001K is available at most Home Centers. More info can be found here: www.ryobitools.com

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