Easy caulking
October 14, 2009 | 7:00 pm CDT

There are lots of little tasks in building a kitchen that seldom get mentioned when cabinetmakers are trading methods or arguing about how best to do something. They talk until they are blue in the face about different joinery methods, but bring up something like scribing a cabinet to the wall or caulking a back-splash, and you'll likely get blank stares.

Yet these are the routine kinds of chores that just beg for a better way. Ryobi's new 18-volt cordless caulk gun offers just such a solution in the case of caulking. Struggling to get an even bead with the typical manual ratcheting caulk guns is often an exercise in frustration and always takes too long. The new Ryobi gun brings power to the equation, which also means speed and consistency.

How it works

The Ryobi caulk gun looks like a cross between a drill driver and a conventional caulk gun. It takes conventional caulk tubes and has a long ratchet bar similar to manual guns. But the ratchet bar plunge rod on this unit is driven by a motor.

You load the caulk tube much like a manual caulking gun. There's even a puncture tool on the front of the gun to pierce an inner seal or reopen a partially used tube.

Once the tube is loaded, just depress the trigger to drive the plunger into the tube and press out the caulk in a smooth, even bead. There's a variable speed selector on the side that lets you precisely control the flow, whether you're laying down a bead of caulk, adhesive or any other standard tube-dispensed product.

The end result from my tests is a more even bead laid down faster and easier than I could ever do with a manual caulking gun.

Charging up

The gun is designed to fit into Ryobi's 18-volt One+ System, so it runs off the same batteries used in other Ryobi cordless tools. The gun alone retails for less than $40 without battery or charger. If you don't already have the batteries and charger from another tool, batteries are about $20 each, and the one-hour charger is also about $20. All are available at Home Depot stores.

So, is it worth $40 to $80 just for caulking? Just the time savings alone would justify this unit to me. For more information, circle 251 on the Reader Service Card in this issue or visit  www.ryobi.com.

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.