New Makita drill is powerful, lightweight
I never thought I'd want an 18-volt drill driver. Until yesterday.
That's when Makita's new BDF452 cordless drill landed on my desk, and as soon as I opened the case I knew right away that this was not your ordinary bulky high-voltage drill driver. For one thing, the tool is so compact it looks more like a 12-volt model. Second, the slim-body lithium-ion battery pack, shown in Photo 1, adds only about an inch to the bottom of the handle, eliminating the typically heavy, clunky battery packs. As I walked around the WOOD magazine offices, I handed it to various staffers and their reaction was universal when I told them it was an 18-volt drill: "Wow!" It just looks too small and feels too lightweight to pack that kind of power.
Next, I headed straight for the shop, where I took a freshly charged battery pack and started drilling through 1-1/4"-thick hard maple using a 1-3/4" Forstner bit. I completed five holes in less than 4 minutes, shown in Photo 2, before draining the battery. Both the drill and battery pack got pretty warm during this torturous test, but the drill didn't bog at all until the very end, which is typical of lithium-ion technology. The diagnostic charger that comes with the BDF452 normally tops off the packs in about 15 minutes, according to the manufacturer, but its built-in fan had to cool the battery before it could charge it. That put the total recharge time in this case at 33 minutes. (The charger beeps, or plays a little tune of your choice, when the battery is ready to go back to work, which is a nice-touch: I didn't have to keep checking the status lights on the charger.) The slim battery pack is rated at 1.5 amp hours, but you can also get the BDF452 with 3.0 amp-hour packs that double its run time.
The slim pack makes this tool so well balanced (its center of gravity is right at the trigger), I'd probably stay with the 1.5 amp-hour packs. At only 13.3 oz. (Photo 3), this pack feels almost impossibly light, as if it's actually empty. I rounded up all of the cordless drills I could find in the shop, ranging from 12 volts to 15.6 volts, and weighed them. The heaviest, a 14.4-volt Bosch, weighed 5 lbs, 6 oz; the lightest, a 12-volt Festool, tipped the scales at 4 lbs, 3 oz. But the Makita BDF452 bested them all by a long shot, weighing only 3 lbs, 8 oz. shown in Photo 4. That while still sporting such top-tier features as a one-handed ½" chuck, two speed ranges, and a bright white LED work light.
That's all the time I had for testing in order to make the newsletter deadline, but we'll test it more in-depth and report our findings in a future issue of WOOD magazine.
Oh, and you might have wondered why this drill lacks the familiar teal color you expect on Makita tools. Makita's Brent Withey explained that this is the start of a new line of compact tools targeted to the entry-level professional. The teal tools will remain their top-of-the-line models.
-Tested by Dave Campbell, editorial manager, tools & techniques
Makita 18V Lithium-Ion Compact Driver-Drill
Street price: $200, includes two 1.5 amp-hour packs and charger