Makita LXT Lithium Ion Cordless Tools

Posted by on December 6, 2005

Makita has introduced their LXT line of power tools recently. I already own their largest 18V cordless kit, so it hasn’t been a temptation until I learned a whole lot more about them.

First, these aren’t simply 18V cordless tools with Lithium Ion batteries. These are completely redesigned for usability and durability. Makita’s goal was to reduce weight while keeping the same or better performance, and I’d say they were pretty successful.

More Power
Wanting more power isn’t new. This is how Americans buy power tools. Unlike the European market, we want larger numbers. More amps must be a good thing on that recip saw. More Amp Hours must be great on that battery. More torque is the way to buy an impact driver.

Well, in the European market, fewer amps is a sign of efficiency. Work done is the measure of a battery. Torque is a consideration, but there is a limit. Most of the impacts and drills on the market today could break your wrist if you’re careless, so why would you need more power?

So, in keeping with the American tradition of more power (insert Tim the Tool Man laugh here), Makita changed their motors to give more power, but also more control and durability. For those who aren’t familiar with the history of DC motors, allow me to relate that to you.

In the beginning (meaning until the mid 90′s), there were can motors. These were simple, self contained motors that you just replaced as a unit when they failed. They were fine (some manufacturers, especially homeowner grade, still use these), but an entire motor is costly to replace when you’re using it regularly. They do all eventually wear out, you know.

The next step was to give that can motor external brushes and add in a ball bearing instead of a sleeve. This wasn’t until the mid 90′s, but it was a huge improvement. Now, users could replace the brushes without the entire motor needing replaced.

The next step was around 2002 when the 2 piece motor was introduced. This made an armature and a housing that could be replaced individually as well as having ball bearings on each end, although some manufacturers only use a single bearing. Now we’re getting much cheaper to repair.

Finally, the LXT line is Makita’s first line with what is known as a 4 pole motor. On a standard motor, there is a North and a South magnetic pole, so power is generated ever 180 degrees of turn. With a 4 pole, there are 2 North and 2 South, so power can be generated every 90 degrees of turn. This means a motor can be lighter, but you’ll still end up with more power.

Lower Weight
Why would big, mean tool toting construction workers care about a couple of pounds of weight? Simple. If you’re driving screws above your head all day, a 4 lb. tool is much more comfortable than a 6 lb. tool. This was a real goal of moving to Lithium for most of the manufacturers, as the Lithium cells were much lighter than Nickel Cadmium or even Nickel Metal Hydride batteries. Add the 4 pole motors I already discussed above and there was a significant weight difference between the LXT and previous 18V offerings from Makita.

More Work
Nobody wants to do more work, right? Well, that means you should let the tool do more work for you. But that’s not quite what this means.

How much work can you do in one charge? Well, these new LXT tools do more per chage than a Ni-CD or Ni-MH tool. Now, add to that the fact that they can charge up to 1400 times and you’ve got a battery that does 280% more work than your previous batteries at only a slightly higher cost. Very cool. Very cool indeed.

Better Engineering
Makita wasn’t the first to come out with a line of Lithium Ion tools. Milwaukee beat them to the punch, at least in the US. However, Makita took their time to do what they felt was right in creating these tools.

Milwaukee wanted the ultimate in power – rivaling most of their corded tools. That’s why they went with a 28V system. They felt that keeping the weight the same and increasing the power would be the way to best fit the American market. As I said above, we tend to buy based on bigger numbers and not based upon what we really need.

Makita, on the other hand, wanted to make something more on the pracital side and not so much on the ego side. Their 18V system is much ligher and tends to have the power to do most anything that a cordless needs to do.

Milwaukee isn’t alone in this quest for more power. DeWALT has announced that they’re going to be launching a 36V Lithium Ion system. Bosch is going to launch a 32V system. Hitachi and Panasonic both appear to be doing 18V systems. Makita is also going to be bringing out 12V and 14.4V Lithium down the road. It’ll be interesting to see which catches on.

The other note that I made on the engineering side (along with the 4 pole motors and common sense approach) was the charging system. This is what’s really tough with Lithium Ion and, to a lesser extent, Ni-MH (Makita was the only one I know of to do Ni-MH for most of their line world-wide).

Milwaukee has sealed their batteries completely to keep dirt and particles out, which is great for keeping clean contacts. However, to get the best possible charge an even temperature within a set range is required. If the batteries are too hot, they simply wait a bit, then try charging until it gets too hot again, pause, then charge more. This can be rough on the batteries. Cold is equally as hard to charge in, so they normally draw some juice from the battery until it heats up enough that it’ll accept a charge.

Makita, wanting to do things how they saw right, added most of the technology to the charger instead of the battery. Their batteries have an air-channel all the way around, but the ends are sealed to keep contaminants out. This creates for a more even temperature across all batteries, allows them to blow cool or warm air around the batteries for charging, and in general makes for a more common sense approach to batteries. The batteries are what will need replaced, not the chargers, so putting the technology in the charger saves expense when you have to replace the batteries.

The other thing they did was to make the drill / driver a 3 speed. Most tools just have a high / low setting, but this one has a middle speed as well. DeWALT uses a 3 speed on a few of their cordless models, but 2 of the speeds are pretty quick. Makita realized that most of the time you need a different speed to get more torque, so they have a 0 – 300, 0 – 600 , and a 0-1750 setting. That means you can really control the low RPM speeds, but the fast “Drill this little hole” or “Drive this screw” which doesn’t need the control has a setting as well. I thought this was very well planned and implemented.

Improved Ergonomics
Makita realized that by lowering the weight, the balance of the tool has changed. They also realized that by not having a “Pod” style battery (where part sticks into the handle of the tool), they could make the grip shape and size change. The result was actually rather nice. I was impressed by the feel of the handle. It seemed very natural and very well balanced. Even when drilling with a 12″ long, 1/2″ bit into the end of a 4×4, it was manageable with one hand. That was a nice change. Using two hands, it worked remarkably fast.

Conclusion
If I didn’t already own the biggest, baddest 18V Makita cordless kit run with 18V Ni-MH batteries and the 18V sliding compound miter that they used to make, I’d be seriously tempted to buy an LXT kit. Even owning that, I still find it tempting. Makita has done a great job of creating these tools, and I’ve got to give them credit on doing it with a very, very good common-sense approach. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if people want the bigger numbers (Voltage) or if they took the right approach for marketing to the US population.

If you’d like to learn more about battery technologies, Matt has written a great article titled “Cordless Tool Batteries – A Primer” that I’d recommend.

* The opinions expressed here are mine based upon product training I have recieved from our vendors. I am, after all, just a geek.

76 Comments:

Blogger Craig said…
Brian, My question is how much power does the LXT circ saw have? Is it just a trim saw or can it handle 2x and plywood floor sheathing on a regular basis?
CraigWednesday, 28 December, 2005

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Craig,No cordless is going to match the runtime of an electric. That said, the 18V NiMH model that I have gets used for 2x, plywood and MDF more often than anything else and I’ve never had a problem cutting through any of it. With a 6-1/2″ blade, the LXT circular saw has a maximum cutting depth of 2-1/8″.

As long as there is juice left in the battery, it’ll cut through 2x’s and plywood just fine. Being Lithium-Ion, the runtime is around 70% longer with double the charge cycles, and the charge time is just 45 minutes – so you shouldn’t be able to drain one battery before the next one is ready to go. If you need to do it continually, add some batteries or go electric.

Makita offers a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, so if it doesn’t do what you need in that first month, you can always send it back to us without any problems.

Wednesday, 28 December, 2005

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I’m looking to buy my first set of power hand tools. It’s come down between the Makita LXT kit or a comparable kit from Hitachi as the Hitachi tools seem to be highly regarded for quality and longevity(not willing to shell out the cash for Panasonics). How would you say this new line looks comparatively? Should one such as myself go with an established product (Hitachi) or try these guys out.Friday, 27 January, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
I’m not quite sure why you think Makita isn’t established. They’ve been in the power tool business since 1958. Before that, they manufactured motors (an essential part of any tool.)Personally, I’d choose the Makita products over the Hitachi. Lithium Ion is an amazing change for tools that’s going to treat you better in the long run. Hitachi still uses Ni-Cad, not even having moved up to Ni-MH. Their Li-Ion is due out here soon, but they won’t have the 4 pole motors and their charging system hasn’t sounded as well thought out.

Comparing apples to apples, Hitachi’s 18V Ni-Cad to my Makita 18V Ni-MH (they haven’t done Ni-Cad for a couple years), the Makita seems to hold up a bit better and have a bit more juice as well as a more comfortable balance. Hitachi has the sneaker styling and a more recognized “electronics” name.

There’s not anything really wrong either way. When it comes down to it, for TV’s I’d choose Hitachi. Tools, I chose Makita.

Friday, 27 January, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
Brian:Do you know if Makita is planning on offering any other tools in this line? Jig saw, etc.?

Wednesday, 08 February, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
There will be more down the road. Many more are planned as the supply of batteries ramps up and as people adopt the Li-Ion batteries for their drills, impacts and recips.The faster people adpot this technology, the quicker new tools will be rolled out. But that will also mean that they’ll have to scale battery production up more yet.

Jig saw, blower, miter saw, chainsaw, concrete vibrator, auto-feed screwgun, rebar bender and possibly a grinder would all be good candidates. They make them with the older batteries already, so it shouldn’t be all that difficult to come up with newer models.

Most of those haven’t been confirmed yet, but the jig saw and concrete vibrator have been discussed as probably coming out next.

By the looks of things, this is where their entire line is moving. With some of the newer environmental regulations (especially in the EU market), Ni-Cad and Ni-MH won’t be options in the not-too-distant future. I’d be amazed if they didn’t have a ton more tool options launching or preparing to launch by the end of the year.

I’d also be shocked if they didn’t have an option like Milwaukee is releasing to power older tools with Lithium Ion batteries.

Wednesday, 08 February, 2006

Blogger Ken_Free_Me said…
i agree. i work at a power tool retail outlet right now. the new makita lithium ion on gear is by far the most ergonomic equipment currently available. and so far the end user response has been very postive.
unconfirmed reports of a cordless jigsaw and angle grinder this year.
btw, the new makita radio should be avaible very soon.Saturday, 04 March, 2006

Blogger Mezza said…
Hi, I am writing from the UK an I note that you recommend the new Makita range. However, the model I want (BHP451SFE 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Combi Drill) is 300ukp (approx 450-500usd). I travel to the states on occasion and would like to purchase over there. Could I use the US charger in the UK? Where is the best place (cheapest and easiest to find) to buy Makita over the counter in the US? Can you recommend anyone that will send to the UK at a reasonable price?I also thought about the Bosch GSR 24 VE2 Combi Drill 24v — any thoughts on this make/model?

Sunday, 05 March, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Mezza,Yes, the Makita LXT is pricey, regardless where you purchase it. The US models run $329, but the chargers will not work on 220v. You’ll be buying a new charger, which will most likely cost you close to the difference between US and UK pricing.

Buying from a US retailer will get you a lower price, but if they ship it to you the tarriffs and duties will add up in a huge hurry. Shipping is also going to be somewhat pricey. It’s also going to be tougher to get service – if needed – from an overseas distributor. The parts are slightly different in some cases due to local laws and regulations, so you’d most likely have to send it across seas to get servicing done.

As for the Bosch model, Bosch makes a good product as well. Their 24v stuff is a bit heavy for my taste. That’s what really attracts me to the LXT products. With the Makita LXT drill being 4.6 lbs. (2.08 kilograms) and the Bosch 24v being 7.8 lbs. (3.53 kilograms), that’s quite a difference. Power is comparable between the two (Makita is a little higher) and the Makita actually runs longer per charge, but the weight is such a huge factor that I wouldn’t enjoy the Bosch nearly as much myself.

If you really want to buy the Makita in the US, then of course the best place is our front counter. We always stock them and have good pricing. I don’t know much about markets outside of the Omaha area, but most of the big box stores around here push the consumer grade stuff and don’t have a good supply of decent stuff. Most contractor supply stores should have these in stock, but I only know the ones in the Omaha area.

Monday, 06 March, 2006

Anonymous bob harvey said…
prior to seeing the new makita Li-ion kit I was poised to buy panasonic. any comments on the comparison? [in the uk the panasonic is $100 cheaper]the 8444DWFE MXT is also $100 cheaper – is it the same mechanicals, just heavier power cells?

Tuesday, 07 March, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Bob,Panasonic is still using Nickel Metal batteries, so you’re comparing apples to oranges when trying to do a price comparison. The Panasonic drills we have here (I’m sure they’re about the same where you’re at) are 425 in. lbs. of torque (I’m not sure how that converts to metric, sorry). The Makita LXT is 560, so the power is quite different. Even without doing a conversion, you should be able to see that this is about 32% more power.

As for comparing the LXT to their older models, it’s quite a bit different again. The 4 pole motors in the LXT drills offer more precise control at lower speeds. Again, this is Lithium vs. Nickel Metal, so the runtimes are considerably less (Lithium is supposed to be 70% longer runtime and twice as many charges before going bad), so it’s more than just heavier power cells. Actually, the Lithium cells are lighter, so the overall drill – even with 3.0 Ah instead of 2.6 Ah batteries – is 24% lighter.

They also added in the LED lights, which don’t get mentioned very often. They’re actually quite bright and are very functional. Unlike competitor’s lights that just go on and off with the switch, the Makita lights turn on without running the motor and stay on for a bit after you stop it.

There are other changes as well, but I don’t have time to list everything in a comment. While the Panasonic and older Makita models are less expensive up front, the longer battery life of the Lithium-Ion and the increased power and control, along with ergonomics and new features makes it far more than just a battery change. In my opinion, it is well worth the higher price.

Tuesday, 07 March, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I’m about to buy a set of tools in the next week or two, and I’ve got my heart set on the new Makita LXT combo kit (great review by the way). The only thing that bothers me is that I’ve heard that these new Li-Ion batteries have a shelf life that is determined by their production date, not by how much they are used. As in, after X years from the day they are produced (I’ve heard 2 and 3 years), they will go dead no matter how much they have been used. I know this is true with other Li-Ion batteries like in certain PDA’s and IPod’s. Is this true about the Makita LXT batteries too?Wednesday, 15 March, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
anonymous,That’s a good question about the shelf life issue. Since we’ve had them less than a year, I have no way of knowing from experience. We probably won’t know for absolute certainty for a few years yet. Our Makita reps of course say that it isn’t the case that age is a factor.

I’m not sure what else the Sony Li-Ion batteries are used in, but some research along those lines would probably be the best way to get some actual indication if this is the case – if you can find a very high drain application that is close to what a power tool will draw.

The point made about laptop batteries over here isn’t entirely true either. I’ve had a laptop for over 6 years that still has a functioning battery, and laptops are still a much lower drain than a power tool.

For that matter, I’ve heard the same said about Ni-Cad and Ni-MH batteries as well. I think we can all agree that this isn’t true. I’ve had my Makita Ni-MH kit for over 5 years now and haven’t had a battery go bad yet. Most of the problems arise from storage conditions (drained vs. charged as well as environmental conditions) and the number of charge cycles, not the age of the battery.

Also, Li-Ion is priced for professional use right now and isn’t what an average “I’ll use it once every 6 months” user is going to spend their money on. There are much less expensive tools for occasional use.

Wednesday, 15 March, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I am an author of articles for many home magazines. I have had the Makita LXT product in house for about 22 months. Long before the US intro. I can say the battery life is exceptional. Milwaukee (now a division of TTI — read Ryobi) is nowhere near the battery life on their respective 28V Lithium system. Makita uses their own motor technology and buys an exclusive Lithium cell from Samsung. Makita is one of the few who have R&D and actually manufacture. The LXT is revolutionary not evolutionary. With that said history is the best predictor in tools — here we have very limited data.Friday, 17 March, 2006

Blogger Ron said…
Nice web site. I am wanting to buy the LXT401. However, I also want to add the jig saw (without the battery). Can you recommend a source for the Jigsaw and/or the 401?Thanks

Saturday, 25 March, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I wonder if Makita will offer Lithium Ion versions of their regular pod batteries so older tools could be simply updated with smaller lighter Lithium Ion batteries. Offer kits with 2 lithium Ion batteries and a compatable charger.Sunday, 09 April, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Anonymous,I haven’t heard of Makita planning to offer this. Rumor has it that Milwaukee will be offering batteries with adapters this summer, though. If / when it becomes official, I’ll make sure to say something here, so watch for it.

Monday, 10 April, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
One thing lithium power tool makers would like to keep quiet is that rechargeable lithium-ion batteries permanently lose capacity over time as a function of storage temperature and the state of charge. For example at room temperature, a fully charged Li-on battery permanantely loses 20% of its rechargeable capacity in just one year jutt by sitting there! That’s a permanent loss! At higher temperatures, the loss is even greater. I guess that’s why Makita warrants these batteries for 1 year only. The best way to store a Li-on battery is to store it at a 40% state of charge. At 40% at 25 deg. Celsius(i.e. room temperature), it loses only 4% capacity after one year, but at 40% at 40 deg Celsius, it loses 15%. Heat is detrimental, even at a mere 40-degree Celsius.If you take into account the capacity loss, after one year a 3-Amp-hr. lithium-ion battery will probably be no better than an 18v 2.6-Amp-hr. nicad, and perhaps even worse.

The biggest advantage of lithium is just the slightly lower weight. It’s a slight improvement over nicad, but not a quantum leap.

Tuesday, 11 April, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Anonymous,First off, we don’t recommend you leave any cordless tool (regardless of battery technology) inside of a locked vehicle during the summer for extended periods.

40 degrees celcius (mere?) is 104 degrees fahrenheit for those of us on this side of the watery divide. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen any area that has been 104 degrees for 12 consecutive months.

Your points also forget to take into account a few other obvious items.

1) No battery does well in that heat. A mere heat stroke inducing weather condition isn’t ideal for any tool, cordless or electric. Your Ni-Cad isn’t going to have it’s new life in a year to compare to the Li-Ion if you do find a water heater to store it in.

2) The weight difference is more than you’re stating. Marginal when comparing 6 lbs vs 4.9 (almost 20%) for a lower Ah rated hammerdrill (2.6 vs. 3.0) is inaccurate. That’s also comparing Ni-MH to Li-Ion, and Ni-MH was already lighter than Ni-Cad. Substantial is a better description.

3) This is intended for contractors, not the homeowner that is going to store a tool for a year without being used. The pricepoint isn’t right for occasional use.

No battery technology is ideal for every purpose, which is why most manufacturers are offering Li-Ion in addition to Ni-Cad or Ni-MH, with price being one of the main factors at this point.

For those that will be using a tool quite often, Li-Ion is much more of an option. For those that won’t, they still make the older technologies.

Tuesday, 11 April, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
Hi Brian, great blog. I’m looking to invest in my very first set of power tools. A complete cordless set to keep for the long haul. As you have a relationship with Makita, I was wondering if you could suggest a similar site or tool blog like yours, but that reviews tools subjectively without a financial interest rendering the review, and your time, useless to others. Thank you very much.Allen Thomas

Tuesday, 02 May, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
It’s very tough to find anything totally subjective. Nearly every magazine on the planet now sells review slots.That said, we are in a position to be very subjective since we carry many, many brands of power tools and we make similar money off all of them. Our relationship with Makita has been in spite of several bouts of bad reps and no reps. The fact that we endorse their tools is really a testament to the quality of the tools.

I would also add that since we sell more tool repair parts than any other single location retailer through our website (#1 parts distributor for several brands now), we can see what tools break down the most and I don’t recommend them. I want to see people happy with their purchase for a long time.

I wish you luck in your quest, but subjective isn’t something easy to find. Even someone who purchased a set of tools is going to be biased.

Tuesday, 02 May, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
hey brianthats pretty interesting thing you said about the bad makita reps,about them being generally bad. in my location (west canada) the makita reps are by far the best we have in any other the major power tool brands, to the point of personally delivering special orders to my store on a days notice….

new LXT tools? we have the new cordless grinders order alreadys, i havent seen one myself, but our company product tester is VERY impressed with them.

coming soon are the SDS hammer drill, the 14.4v stuff. (Impacts,drills etc)

if you wanna see something wild, do a google search on a Makita TP130DRFX. currently only avaible in Japan this amazing tool has 4 modes, Impact Gun, High/Low Speed drill, torque clutch and a hammer drill! That right, you heard me, go check it out.

Wednesday, 10 May, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
Im in UK and i purchased the US version of the lxt400 and it comes with the 110v charger but thats no big deal because you can get a step down transformer for a little as £9.99 if you look around and if ya in a trade you more than like use a 110v transformer on site so if anything the US version is a better setup to use on uk sites. Over here the kit would cost in excess of £1000-£1200 but we cant get this kit here yet but from you guys over there i got the kit for £300 includeing postage now thats a bargain and my review on the tools well so far they have been awesome to use and so much better than my 18v dewalt combo kit.Sunday, 28 May, 2006

Anonymous Johan said…
Thanks for nice information, your opinions sounds honest. I am a proud owner of a Makita LXT kit. It is powerful but yet light and well balanced. So here is my question for you. With a powerful tool one need good bits. Are there any bits you can recommend? I am tired of cheap bits that give in under pressure. Thank you!Friday, 09 June, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Johan,Matt would know more on the bits, so I’m going to have to defer to him for an answer on that.

Friday, 09 June, 2006

Blogger Sparky0007 said…
Hi Guys,
Bad News…I bought it. I also have the Dewalt set so I can do a side by side comparison. As far as wrist breaking power that is required to drill large holes or cut through heavy metal objects with the sawzall the Li-Ion batteries just don’t seem to have the UMPH needed to get through. I hate to say it but the Dewalt Ni-Cad battery does far better with the heavy torque jobs.

The Li-Ion does great for light drilling, screws, light cutting etc and the batteries last a long time on light jobs. I put in 500 2inch screws on one charge with the impact driver and probably could have done another few hundred more before it needed a charge. But impact gun takes very little power with drywall screws.

I was also dissapointed with the Makita sawzall. It is hugely heavy, heavy, and overbuilt. It is great to have a strongly built tool but the battery on it just can’t put out the power to put even half of that well built tool to work. The dewalt 18v sawzall is much better ballanced in regard to engine size vs availible battery power.

I wish Makita would have made their tools so that you could slap 2 Li-Ion batteries on one tool so you could get enough torque in times that you needed it.

Over all I like the Li-ion batteries because they don’t go dead after you leave them for a week; Dewalt batteries do go dead or so close to dead after a week that they might as well be completely dead.

The Makita drill & impact gun are a pleasure to carry around because of their low weight. But when it comes to drilling those 2 inch holes in the 2 x 10 boards or the big house demo jobs I reach for the old, crappy, heavy Dewalt and throw the all the heavy Ni-Cad batteries on the charger.

Li-ion batteries are like marathon runners. Ni-Cad batteries are your power sprinters.

Thats what I think after using both sets of tools for 2 months.
John the electrician….

Friday, 09 June, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
John the electrician,Thanks for your comments. If you really want power, the DeWALT 36 Volt stuff is the way to go right now… but I wouldn’t use them too much. After playing with them at our tent event the past couple of days, I hate to think about carrying them anywhere.

The Makita stuff was really built for average jobs (drywall screws is an excellent example) and occasional heavy use where the newer 36V tools have been built for power, but the bulk and weight (I really mean it on the bulk part, too) are just too much for me to take. I’d rather have shorter life myself than lug a huge tool around.

Friday, 09 June, 2006

Blogger CraigT said…
BrianI have just bought the U.S version of the 450 lxt drill. As you know it has the 110v charger, would it be possible for me to use a uk to u.s transformer to take the 240v down to 110v and have no problems in the future.

Regards

Craig

Friday, 16 June, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Craig,As long as the transformer works consistently and gives enough amperage for the charger, that shouldn’t be a problem. You might also check into a 220v charger (if they’re available seperate – I don’t know much on the availability of 220v stuff), as chargers usually aren’t much more than the transformers and will plug in directly. I’ve seen the transformers fail on occasion from normal use, but the chargers are usually pretty rock solid.

Friday, 16 June, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I’d like to know a side by side power comparrison of the makita MXT 8444dwde vs makita LXT bhp451 hammer drill. I’m sure that the new litium LXT would last longer than the NiMH batteries on the MXT when it comes to average applications.
They both have the same torque specification of 560 inch-pounds in-lbs.
If performing a side by side comparrison of brute force which one would be the stronger/more durable drill. For example drilling 3 inch holes in hard wood and half inch holes in concrete.
Which one (if either) would overheat first. (the new technology or old technology) I’m curious if the new battery and 4 pole motor technology combination would actulally be more powerfull than the old.
I hope someone would perform this test or similar and respond. thanks.
Tomasz Haba electrician from NJWednesday, 28 June, 2006

Blogger Andrew Halstead said…
Brian,
did you know that Milwaukee is launching a new line of 18V Lithium Ion tools this summer?
Even better news is that the battery and charger system is backwards compatible with Milwaukee’s existing 18V NiCd platform. That mean you can put Li-Ion batteries on a Ni-Cd tool, and you can charge your NiCd battery on the new Li-Ion charger.For anyone that recently spend a couple hundred bucks on a cordless combo kit, its nice to know that at least one company was thinking about us and don’t require us to buy a whole new set of tools just to take advantage of Lithium Ion.

Wednesday, 05 July, 2006

Anonymous David Boylan said…
Hi just found this Blog a bit too late maybe as i have just bought a Makita LXT Lithium-Ion BHP-451 drill from USA . i havent actualy recieved it yet but have to buy a transformer to reduce voltage and i cant find out what the input Wattage is of the charger so i can choose the correct transformer can you help
regards DaveTuesday, 01 August, 2006

Blogger Brian Mark said…
David,I went and looked at a charger for our demo kit. Input is 135 Watts. Doesn’t seem like it should be too hard to get a transformer rated at least that high, but it will take one of the larger units. I remember selling lots of the 50W variety years ago.

If you end up with 150 watts, that should be plenty good and be rated enough above the load for the charger to last a while.

Tuesday, 01 August, 2006

Anonymous Metric Drill Bits said…
Who would have though splitting up the poles would make that much difference? Well, I guess the guys at Makita did..Thursday, 05 October, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I have an LXT package. The system is great. The batteries charge fast. They store a charge for months. One big surprise is how good the impact driver is for screws. I have put in hundreds of screws before having to recharge the battery. It is a great package.Friday, 06 October, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I’m in Canada and we just had the 14.4V LXT drill/impact kit (LXT200X1) go in the flyer at Home Hardware stores with a xenon worklight and bag for CA$399. I couldn’t resist being one of the first kids on the block with these tools, they appeared to be exactly what I was looking for. I wanted compact, lightweight, yet high quality and not 18V (too heavy, overkill for my uses). I haven’t had the chance yet to put them through any significant amount of work but my first impression is that on the good side- if compact and lightweight is what you want, without sacrificing a lot of other things like power, features, battery runtime etc, then this new generation of 14.4V lithium power tools are for you!!! The impact driver is only 3.1 lbs and the drill not much more. I notice I can’t find them on makita.com but they are on the canadian site makita.ca if you want to look them up. The down side- these things are sooo compact and lightweight that it’s almost hard not to think of them as toys- not sure how they’ll hold up in tougher environments. There’s a world of difference between the LXT 18V drill and this little 14.4V. And if you ever showed up at a construction jobsite with these tools the boys’d all be calling the Makita bag your purse. I’m sure they’d be asking if that’s a tool or a travel size hair dryer. You’d get razzed bigtime. But I think this new line will score with other trades like commercial tele-comm installers and that kind of thing. guys who need good quality but don’t generally punish their tools day in, day out, and who don’t want to schlepp around all the extra weight. I’m not sure how successful the new line will be for Makita, still too expensive for most homeowners like me. I splurged because I never owned high quality brands and I wanted something from a reputable mfg that felt good in my hands. I managed to squeeze about 8 yrs out of my $80 Ryobi 12V, so it was time to treat myself to an early xmas present and get daddy a tool he doesn’t have to be embarassed about pulling out in front of the neighbors- oops that sounded bad, you know what I mean. I just have to convince myself that not everything that’s compact is “girly”.Wednesday, 15 November, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said…
hi brian
i live in austria and am planning to invest in the mxt600 set. then i saw this and it made me unsure, can you explain to me what he means with runoff? does this mean the chuck doesn’t stop turning on releasing the trigger?thx
rip

“A major shortcoming with the Makita’s Jacobs chuck is the large amount of runout it has. Runout is a measure of eccentricity. When I have time I will measure the runout precisely using a dial indicator, but for now I will state that the Makita’s Jacobs chuck on this model has roughly twice the runout as that found on my Bosch’s chuck. The effect of this large runout is a very pronouced gyration of the drill body when drilling at low to medium speeds, such as when drilling metal or drilling with a hole saw or spade bit. The large gyration is a safety hazard as it can cause the operator to lose balance while standing high on a ladder, for example. It can sometimes be corrected by rechucking the bit after rotating the bit 90 to 180 degrees relative to the chuck. Sometimes this fix works, but sometimes not. I checked this runout on another brand-new Makita lithium hammerdrill and the result was identical. This is a troubling”

Tuesday, 02 January, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
Hi Brian,
I live in Mississaga Ontario and am the proud owner of the 18 volt LXT Lithium Ion hammer drill. Paid $399.99ca at The Home Depot last february. A couple of months back I was at The Home Depot and I saw my drill…same price. Great! However, I then stumbled upon a LXT 18 volt Lithium Ion hammer drill and 18 volt impact driver kit for $459.99ca!!! I was beside myself. I thought how could this be so cheap? I asked the attendant but he was an idiot and didn’t know anything. So I opened the combo kit and I opened the 18 volt impact kit ($389.99ca). Everything was identical till I looked at the labels. $459 combo kit tools “made in China”, $389 impact driver “made in Japan”!!! Can you please explain this blasphemy? Thanx, Brian K from Mississaga.Thursday, 18 January, 2007

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Brian K,I haven’t heard anything about the China vs. Japan deal. When I have some information on this, I’ll create a new post. It certainly sounds interesting to get to the bottom of.

To be honest, I’m in an office programming most of the time, so I only hear about things when we have on-site training that we do in multiple shifts. It may be a while before I get any information on this.

Thursday, 18 January, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I am ready to buy the Makita LXT kit, but have a concern regarding fire or explosion potential during rapid charging of the battery. Does this tool really use a Sony lithium ion battery? Are these the same Sony batteries (cells) that were recalled by Apple and Dell because of laptop computer fires? One post says Sony, another say Samsung batteries are used. Do some tools use Samsung, and others Sony? If so, how do I get my hands on a tool using a Samsung battery?Friday, 19 January, 2007

Blogger Brian Mark said…
These aren’t the same batteries recalled by Dell and Apple. These are a much different formula because of the high load. Laptop batteries would have exploded long ago if they were used in power tools.Last word I heard is Sony on all Makita batteries, and we’ve not had problems with any of them yet.

Friday, 19 January, 2007

Blogger JC said…
Do these tools run in the cold weather? I recently purchased a Bosch PS20. I haven’t used it a ton, but what I have used it I like it. There is one problem though, it doesn’t work worth crap in the cold. I am going to purchase a combo kit in the future so lithium running in the cold is a concern of mine.It has been about 14 to 37 degrees for the past couple of days and this thing will not run at all. You pull the trigger and it runs for about half a second. If you pull the trigger in lightly it will run but immediately stops if you try to put any load on it.

I read somewhere (I think a Ridgid forum) that you have to “reset” the batteries in cold weather by placing them in the charger for like 3 seconds, this doesn’t work. I am used to using a Panasonic 15.6 NIMH drill and this thing will run no matter what the conditions. Is this a lithium problem, a bosch problem, or does it sound like an isolated problem with my drill? Any help or direction would be appreciated. (Or warmer weather)

Thursday, 25 January, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I like Makita lxt tools but the 36V Hammer ( not rotary) bosch drill which costs more is used alot more when i use hole saws or drill masonry to make big holes around 300mm. I cut 25mm holes in switchboards, steel ( 5mm depth) of all kinds and it does it alot faster then the makita 18V lxt. I use 18V lxt for light masonry drilling at heights though and putting self taping screws steel frames for power cable runs. Its light weight is a real big plus. Each tool has its own niche.I also love the dewalt angle drill and the dewalt work light is the best. Mikita needs to put leds on there batteries to show how much charge is left in the battery.Sunday, 15 April, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
This drill does come across as a nice drill but ask anyone who works with it all the time and you might think again. The gear box is weak and can not stand. My drill is in the shop again (2nd time) in less than 1 year. It’s not worth buying this drill to loose it for 1 to 2 weeks at a time so it can be fixed. I had to buy another drill to keep working while I was with out. The other drill was not a Makita. And so you know I have seen other comments just like this oneTuesday, 05 June, 2007

Blogger Brian Mark said…
The comment about the gearbox would have more weight if you weren’t anonymous.We’ve sold quite a few of these and have had minimal problems, and most of our local customers are contractors who abuse their drills every day.

Tuesday, 05 June, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
Brian Mark,back in March 2006, you discussed The Makita LXT’s 18V battery life with a user, who said “shelf life that is determined by their production date, not by how much they are used. As in, after X years from the day they are produced (I’ve heard 2 and 3 years), they will go dead no matter how much they have been used.”

You mentioned the following:

“Also, Li-Ion is priced for professional use right now and isn’t what an average “I’ll use it once every 6 months” user is going to spend their money on. There are much less expensive tools for occasional use.”

Now that time has passed, has anyone determined if this is true?

I can get the LXT for $190, but I’m not a commercial user, but am one of those guys who will use my drill only occasionally. Maybe once every several weeks.

Although it is a wonderful drill, maybe this is not the drill for me?

Sunday, 17 June, 2007

Anonymous Towdad said…
I recently bought 2 LXT hammer drill/impact driver kits. We are looking to replace the Dewalt 18v drills in our race shop. The guys walk right by the remaining Dewalt stuff to get the LXT’s. We use the impact drivers with 3/8″ drive socket adapters as nutrunners. This morning their was a sale at our local outlet and I bought 2 Compact LXT drill kits and 2 compact impact driver kits with free bare tool for each-4 drills and 4 impact drivers. I’m disappointed that the 1.5 AH batteries don’t fit in our 3.0AH tools, but the 3.0′s fit in the 1.5 tools. Oh well, so much for across the board shop compatibility. These tools are the bomb! I am waiting (im)patiently for a 300+ lb/ft 1/2″ impact wrench in this line. Factory rep told me in May, there would be one this summer.Monday, 16 July, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I have a cordless 14v Makita hammer drill made in USA bought online thinking that it was made in Japan. Honestly, I find the chuch runout, fit and finish quality to be noticably inferior to those that are made in Japan.NOw I heard that many of the Makita tools are produced in China. Does anyone know which models (and battery voltage) are mostly made in Japan?

Also, someone has mentioned that the LXT hammer drill, the impact drill and the saw are made in Japan. What other LXT tools are from Japan and or China? I’m thinking about buying the LXT 6 piece tools. But I’m little upset that most of the LXT would be made not in Japan.

I’d rather buy the Makita tools made in Japan than buying the newest models only if the newer battery system won’t give me the vast improvement over the older ones. By the way, I’m a hobbyst. I won’t bew using them everyday like the pros do.

Friday, 27 July, 2007

Blogger William said…
Hi Brian, do you happen to know if the Lithium Ion Battery (3.0 amp) tools can use their compact (1.5 amp) as well? I currently have with 18v 1,5 amp impact driver, and want to buy thier cordless saw. But I notice the cordless saw requires their regular 3.0 amp battery. Any idea if this will work?Tuesday, 04 September, 2007

Blogger Brian Mark said…
William,I checked with Shawn in my office. He had this exact question and went ahead and bought it.

What he found was this:

The larger batteries (3.0Ah) work just fine on the tools that come with the smaller (1.5Ah) batteries.

The 3.0Ah tools have a knob to prevent the smaller batteries from working on them.

If you were to pop that knob off (it might have been done by someone I know), the batteries will work fine, but the runtime is very short. Those tools are really designed for the higher amperage to get a decent time between charges.

Wednesday, 05 September, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
i hear that the LXT battery drills have 2 LED lights
do they always come on when the trigger is pulled or can u switch it off when you don’t need the light
if the light is always on wouldn’t that use up the battery quickerMonday, 10 September, 2007

Blogger Brian Mark said…
The LED’s are indeed always on when the drill is in use. But, being LED lights, they could run for days off of a AA battery, so the 18V 3Ah batteries aren’t really affected by running a couple of lights.Either way, the Li-Ion LXT tools have a longer batter life than their Ni-Cad and Ni-MH predecessors.

Monday, 10 September, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I recently puchased a Makita 18V Cordless LXT Lithium-Ion 1/2″ Driver Drill Kit. Since April I have gone through 3 different brand new batteries and one charger. It seems that if you forget to take the battery out of the charger it screws up the battery. I went through 2 batteries when Home Depot gave me a new charger thinking that the charger was defective, well now the thrid battery is now dead. Any ideas anyone. I really love this drill and would like a solution. Thanks.Monday, 15 October, 2007

Blogger Brian Mark said…
We haven’t heard of any issues with Makita batteries or chargers as you’re describing, and we’ve sold a ton of them. The only exception would be if you’re leaving it plugged in without a surge suppressor in an area that gets lots of surges.I’d suggest calling Makita directly and seeing what they come up with. The number is 1-800-4MAKITA.

Monday, 15 October, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I’ve had a similar problem. I love the drill, but now have two dead batteries. The drill came with two 15a Li-Ion batteries. One went dead about 6 months after I bought it, and the other about 9 months. Granted, they are the 15 amp batteries, but I thought they would last longer than that. Any luck with Makita identifying a problem with the charging system?Monday, 29 October, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I’m wondering if there is a difference in quality of the Makita product I buy from Home Depot and the makita product I buy from a lumber yard. I have been told by many people that the Home Depot version is cheaper quality. I am looking at the LXT kit 18v (white guns) at Home Depot but I am nervous about this cheaper quality comment. Can you elaborate on this please. GlennSunday, 18 November, 2007

Anonymous Jeff said…
I recently took a look at the Makita BHP451 at my local Home Depot. I’ve read alot of reviews and I’m satisfied that Makita is building a good quality tool. I did notice that the display unit was “Made in Japan”. Thinking that all of the BHP451 models were “Made in Japan”, I purchased a LXT202 Combo which includes the BHP451 and the impact driver. After getting the combo home, I see that my tools are “Made in China”. What’s the deal?? Thanks, JeffTuesday, 18 December, 2007

Anonymous bill C said…
So far, I’m not that impressed with the li batteries. I bought the full set from Fasteners Inc, a great vendor, on their advice. One battery charges but shows bad, the grinders is useless, and life under heavy load seen short. I like the ergonomics, the circ saw is very good. So far I haven’t put the impact driver to the test but I have about 10k 3″ screws to drive soon.
Bill Coyle, Spokane WATuesday, 18 December, 2007

Anonymous Makita fan said…
As Jeff said I want to get the models that are made in Japan whenver possible. I saw five combo kits at Costco and they were all made in China. Are the combo models all made in China?Sunday, 27 January, 2008

Blogger david said…
Makita tools made in Japan are not materially different than tools made in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany or China. Makita _owns_ their factories, supplies the parts and trains the employees who only assemble Makita tools. Labor is the largest controllable expense any company has, so the choice to control costs that way seems more acceptable than cutting quality.
Lithium Ion batteries from Makita have a 1 year guarantee, so any problem for 12 months from date-of-purchase are covered.
DeWalt vs. Makita
I will take my Makita BHP451 drill over any DeWalt 18v drill, in any application, including 3″ self-feed bits. I will drill more holes per-charge and re-charge faster than anything on the market.
I know a guy with 3 6-piece LXT kits he bought in December 2005 who has his original 6 batteries (with a couple spares), and his guys have contests to see who charges their LXT batteries the LEAST during the week!Saturday, 16 February, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I have a feeling that Japan is sending all 18v to China except the impact wrenches. Also it seems that all the combo tool kits are made in China. I wonder if the tools that comes with a case are made in Japan. Any info folks?Wednesday, 20 February, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said…
As someone with first hand knowledge of how the Makita Corporation operates, I can tell all of you that Makita has 9 global manufacturing facilities all of which specialize in manufacturing specific models and tool lines. For example, Germany and Australia manufacture most of Makita’s outdoor power equipment. The USA was assembling Makita’s Miter Saws at one point. Every Makita tool is made from scratch by a Makita employee in a Makita owned factory. There are two parts of Makita’s cordless drills that Makita hands are not manufacturing and those are the batteries and chucks. Makita is not a battery expert so they get their Lithium batteries from Sony, nor can they violate the many patents the Jacobs Corporation has on their chucks so they get their chucks from Jacobs. If a Makita impact driver is stamped made in China, but the drill is stamped made in Japan, the reason is; the manufacturing machines and assembly lines for those tools are set up in those countries. Makita is one of two companies worldwide that makes their own tools from scratch. The other tool company only makes a handful of tools from scratch. Most of Makita’s competitors outsource their tool manufacturing to a third party company. For example, when Milwaukee got bought out by Tech Tronic Industries a Chinese company that also manufactures Ridgid, Ryobi and Masterforce (sold in Menards), they shut down the milwaukee factories and moved production to Czech Republic, Israel and China. However those tools now are being manufactured by the same company that is manufacturing Ridgid, Ryobi, Masterforcce. A thrid outside company. DeWalt does not manufacture their own tools either they have a third party manufacturing their tools. Since bought out by Black and Decker it is probably the same company making their toasters. Hope I was able to clarify.Friday, 22 February, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said…
i am looking to buy a 18v lithium ion drill. i was looking at reveiws and reports i need a drill that can stand up to constant use and maby a few slight falls what brand do u suggest is best? price is not an optionFriday, 29 February, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said…
Hey Brian, I stopped by and saw you were a fan of these tools, and I wanted to say they deserve it! I’ve used my set now for 2 years and no problems. In fact I feel naked without it – if I use someone else’s drill for driving screws etc I get frustrated with it quickly. I’ve seen they snuck a jigsaw into their lineup, which I plan on pouncing on, and I was wondering, do you know when (if) there’s a router on the way? Are you aware of any other coming tools? I saw a flashlight modded with a custom LED bulb and that was swweet, (no burnouts!), next time I’ll try to drop by with the link!Saturday, 12 April, 2008

Blogger Brian Mark said…
I’m not currently aware of if / when a router will be coming out. I usually hear when we add something to our website, and then usually only via RSS. I’m not in the sales cycle much… I’m the geek (programmer) that does a lot of the coding for the site, so I try to keep up on things a bit but don’t get to keep up as well as I’d like.Monday, 14 April, 2008

Blogger bpr08 said…
Couple questions regarding Bosch cordless tools. I recently acquired an 18 volt bosch cordless kit from my employer. He gave them to me because he had had problems with the batteries. I’ve tried charging the battery and found that it won’t take a charge. I also picked up the charger and heard a disconcerting rattle as if something was floating loose in the case. I’ve done some footwork on the battery and found that there is an after market option called a blue core. My questions are have you heard about any issues with the 18 volt cordless kit and wether this blue core battery pack is indeed a fix? Also, I’d like your opinion on bosch cordless tools. I own several bosch corded tools and i’ve found they’re performance to be impecable. Any comments or information would be appreciated.Wednesday, 04 June, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I bought the LXT combo kit about one year ago and most of it works great.
But after about 8-9 months my drill (BHP 451) started having problems in the 3rd gear. I’m concidering changing to BHP 452 (two gear version) and would like to hear if anyone has some experience with this model, good or bad, especially compared to the 3gear drill.
My tool supplier is aware of the situation with the weak 3rd gear never the less i would like to hear some more oppinions.
Kind regards from DenmarkWednesday, 13 August, 2008

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Anonymous,Your tool would still be under warranty after 8/9 months, so I’d suggest having it fixed. No reason to buy something new if you can get the current one fixed for free IMO.

Wednesday, 13 August, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said…
Thanks for your reply but my tools were stolen recently and thats why i’m concidering trying another drill.
The only difference (as far as i can see) is the max rpms but i havent tried out the 2 gear drill so i’m trying to gather some more information before i decide to buy the same as last or trying out the “smaller” one if it turns out to be stronger??Wednesday, 13 August, 2008

Blogger Coop said…
I went to get a new 18v DeWALT drill today and ended up with 18v Makita LXT drill & impact combo for $199.00 from Home Depot. From what I have read here, sounds like a good deal.
I have also read that Makita had some battery problems, but it looks like the L-ion batteries fix that.Friday, 28 November, 2008

Anonymous Kevin said…
I own a DeWalt and Makita.I needed work on both tools Makita will look and tell you for free. DeWalt charges $20.00 just to look at your too. ByeBye Dewalt.
The Makita is a better tool anywaySaturday, 24 October, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said…
Hi every one. I’m getting real headeick from BHP 451 18v combi drill(hope get the number right, typibg on my Iphone and can’t check it back). I’d really love to buy this mashine but quite often hear problems with the gear. It looks like a weak point on this drill. I’ve had 18v Dewalt for last 5years and very happy. I just need a tool i can count on because i use power drill every single day and gets work pretty hard. So have any one experience such as this?
Many thanks RayTuesday, 03 November, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said…
hi i was just wondering if i buy the makita lxt range cordless power tools for my boyfiend online from the usa or other countries will he be able to use them here in australia ….Monday, 16 November, 2009

Anonymous Jameson said…
Hi, I just found your blog and am finding it very helpful. I just got a job in a custom cabinetry shop and need to get a set of power drills. I’m interested in the Makita LXT series, for the reasons that you described them, especially them being lightweight and ergonomic.I see that you wrote this a few years ago. I’m wondering if your opinions have changed since then, or if you would recommend this for a person seeking to invest in high quality tools that will last and be a joy to use.

Also, I live in Omaha. I assume that you’d recommend the tool barn as the place to purchase these tools?

Saturday, 02 January, 2010

Anonymous Jameson said…
Also, how does the LXT series compare to the Makita LCT300W drill set?Saturday, 02 January, 2010

Blogger Brian Mark said…
Jameson,The main store is Tighton Tools & Fastenes (78th & L). Come on in and try them for yourself. You won’t be disappointed with the selection.

The Milwaukee M12 might be a suitable option for you as well. Very versatile line with great ergonomics, plenty of power, lightweight and there are a ton of options for additional tools down the road. Just look at the M12 Build-a-kit to see for yourself.

Saturday, 02 January, 2010

One Response to Makita LXT Lithium Ion Cordless Tools

  1. bob

    i purchased the makita combo set, two actually, after working with dewalt for 15 years, give or take, and the makita batteries are having a tough time after 2 years this winter. i don’t remember having alot of trouble with the dewalt in the winters. i am hard on tools , leaving in my truck all winter but have ever since first cordless tools. my last purchase two months ago, combo kit just for a sawzall, the retailer told me to charge the batteries when new for 7 nights before using. is this true and if is do you just leave them on all night after they are charged.