Makita Drill Review 18V Cordless Hammer Drill – Driver

 It goes without saying that cordless power tools are the way forward. No cords to trip over and no worries about mains power where the work site is. When it came time to buy a new cordless drill, we asked around amongst our friends and family for their recommendations. Many of our friends are trades people and rely on their cordless power tools for their income so we knew we would get good advice. The Makita name kept coming up.

We found the current generation of 18V LXT Makita cordless tools have the right specs on paper and compared well, if not better than most other brands in the price range. We were assured that upgrading to the current Lithium-Ion (Li-on) powered tools would be a night and day experience compared to the old NI-CD tools of old so we bought a  Makita LXT218 18V Cordless LXT Lithium-Ion 2-Piece Combo Kit to put to work.

Opening the h/d plastic case we found two tools that were nothing like the old units we were replacing. Gone was the bulk of previous heavy duty cordless tools. Both the Cordless hammer drill  and the Impact Driver are light weight at 2.1kg & 1.5kg respectively. Joining the tools in the case are two 18V Li-on batteries and a 22 minute electronic fast charger.

For us the combo pack was the way to go however both the drill and impact driver are also available separately too.

First up we put the hammer drill through its paces. Some masonry drilling to hang a white board was an easy start using a 5mm bit. We were surprised by the power of Makita’s cordless hammer drill, easily drilling through the hard face clay brick to the required depth. Changing to the screwdriver bit was easy with the keyless chuck and then the drill was used as a cordless screw driver to fix the white board in place. Normally a plain old screwdriver would have performed the job, however it was a good chance to test out the driving abilities and individual torque settings that Makita has installed in the drill. Again no problems and the torque settings (adjusted by twisting the torque selector on the gearbox) allowed us to fix the whiteboard in position without over tightening the screws.

Another clever design feature is the twin LED lights that are mounted up ahead of the trigger that illuminate the work area. When drilling or driving in low light the trigger activated LED’s come in very handy, especially when the space is confined and we cannot get a torch or other light in beside the drill. Another brownie point for Makita is the time delay on the LED’s which dims the lights a few seconds after the trigger is released.

Since the initial test, we have found that the new 18V Li-on Makita power tools certainly are a stark contrast to the old 12v Ni-Cd tools we’d replaced. The added power and 4 pole motor has allowed the tools to become, smaller, lighter and more powerful. Getting in to tight places to drill holes is much easier than with previous bulky heavy duty cordless drills and the battery life has meant not having to stop what we’re doing every five to ten minutes to change batteries, even with heavy drilling. We’ve used the Makita cordless hammer drill for all sorts of tasks since we bought it, all of which it has handled with ease. One day we may be using it to drill out large rivets or work on a car, the next we may be using a nibbler attachment to cut holes in corrugated roof sheeting. In between the Makita hammer drill ably handles hole saws up to 150mm (drilling timber & metal) and various masonry drills. At one point we drilled 24 x 10mm x 100mm deep holes in a concrete slab to anchor a shed frame. Changing from normal to hammer drilling is achieved with a simple slide selector on top of the drill, which also has a third position for driving.

Depending on the work we are doing we sometimes use 2 batteries in a day. Compared to the old Ni-Cd drills, the Li-On battery life is much longer and the tool is much lighter. If we do use up a battery, it’s only a short 22 minute charge to bring the battery back to full power. It is worth having an extra battery handy though, particularly if you work away from mains power which we often do.

When working side by side with a friend using his Hitachi 18V Li-on cordless hammer drill recently, the Makita out performed the Hitachi. The Makita seemed to have more power and longer battery life. We also noticed that the Hitachi did not give any warning that the battery was going to run out either. It just cut out, a real pain when you are on a roof or somewhere away from the spare battery.

There doesn’t appear to be many dislikes with our Makita 18V LXT Cordless Hammer Drill. We do have one small complaint with the plastic case and the storage compartment in the lid. The compartments are a good idea, however the lid does not seat perfectly and we often find our neatly sorted screws etc have mixed up, although they do not fall out of the case. The slide selector which changes from hammer to rotary to driver is also fairly tight when new. It does free up a bit once the drill has been used a few times.  Another minor caution is using the battery charger on a generator. Whilst we have not experienced it ourselves, we had heard of other brand chargers having problems with fluctuating power causing the electronics failures. To be on the safe side, we charge ours from mains power before heading to a remote site.