The batteries in our kit retained some of their pre-shipping charge, reading just into the orange indicator. We started by charging one, snapping it into the charger with a satisfying click. About thirty minutes later, we were ready to go.
In our experience, the flashlight is a good general-purpose, long-lasting light. While you can’t focus the beam or adjust it in any way, there’s really no need for these features on a general-purpose shop light. We did find the light’s rotating angle adjustment very helpful for situations when you need your hands free. It did the job well and worked just as expected.
We reduced a couple of two-by-fours to a pile of dusty wood with the reciprocating saw, and were very impressed. It’s a solid tool with a comfortable grip for both front and back hands and provides excellent control. It felt quite good in our hands and is quieter than almost any reciprocating saw we’ve used.
It also vibrates less than most recips. We can’t stress how much control the Ryobi offers. With its sensitive variable-speed trigger, we could slow it all the way down to back-scratching speed, and we had no trouble at all cutting carefully through drywall with it.
We put the drill/driver to work a great deal during the kit’s last week of testing, and almost everyone in the Toolmonger shop grabbed it for a task at least once. And almost everyone did a double-take when they picked it up. This drill/driver feels really good during use.
Besides the basics of drilling holes and driving screws into the usual two-by-fours, we built a wall with it. The “Mag Tray” holds a handful of screws and saved several trips back to the bench, essentially eliminating the need (in this small project, anyway) for a carpenter’s apron. All the controls make very positive sounds and feels when you adjust them. You know when you’ve changed them and don’t have to look to make sure.
We did run into one hitch with this otherwise-competent circular saw. When cross-cutting two-by-fours, the blade guard springs back and catches the corner of the 2×4 at the end of the cut.
Just at the point where the saw is almost completely through — and you’re really into the cuttin’ groove — it’s all bump-bump-bump-what-the–? The saw stops all forward motion and you have to pause and mess with the guard to keep working. It’s not a huge issue, but it is a bit annoying.
Anyone who prefers a worm-drive saws will love this saw’s left-handed arrangement, though it may confound some beginners. Regardless, the saw is well-balanced with the battery attached and features large, comfortable grips. It’s also really light — almost three pounds lighter than our old corded 7-1/4″ standby.
The trigger lock is big and easy to push even while wearing gloves. The blade that comes with the set is a standard “I have a blade for my saw” inclusion, and we were splintering a lot on our cuts. With the right blade this would be a much more well-mannered saw.
Read on to page five for our conclusions.