Over the next two issues, Professional Builder’s Lee Jones looks at the range of tools available under the Makita XGT 40V Max platform.
Selecting the right tool is never about the greatest possible power, but finding what is right for your trade and application. For many kitchen fitters, for instance, a 12V tool will fit into cupboards, is easy to carry, and will deliver all the force they’ll probably ever need. By the same token, there are some tasks for which many 18V units still don’t quite have the muscle, and if you find yourself putting down your cordless and picking up a mains powered machine for just that reason then the Makita XGT 40V Max range is for you.
Take, for example, the new 40V combi drill. With a prodigious capacity of 20mm in steel and masonry and 76mm in wood at your disposal – and 39,000 blows per minute in impact drilling mode – it’s a machine designed for the kind of heavy-duty tasks where an 18V might labour. This combi is 15mm shorter than the 18V version, making it more compact, but it’s in power rather than size where it departs from its 18V sibling – all controlled by some rather clever electronic management. Where the torque settings were previously adjusted by a selector on the front collar – and provided 21 separate settings in each gear – the 40V features 41 in gear one, and 21 in gear two, providing significantly more control. These can be selected with the push of a button and are displayed on a digital read out on the tool.
As any tradesman will know, there’s no predetermined torque setting for a material and application. Instead it is a process of trial and error with experience as your guide, but the reward is consistency, especially in repetitive screwdriving applications. With great power comes comfort and the combi will effortlessly drill into garden sleepers with a 30mm auger bit without complaint, or drive longer fixings that could traditionally only be put in with an impact driver – and it will do it with less drain on the battery.
Of course, with the amount of torque this tool generates, a side handle is required for safety, and that is now supported by Makita’s Active Feedback Sensing Technology (AFT), which will automatically shut the tool down to protect the operator if it binds up in the material. Competitor manufacturers might be able to boast similar systems, but these are often initiated by a gyroscope, which can then be triggered unintentionally if the machine is quickly moved sideways. By contrast, the Makita AFT system is again controlled electronically – by detecting a spike in the current – providing a quicker and more accurate response.
Compact it may be but, like a nimble flyweight, the 220Nm of torque available on the new Makita 40V Impact Driver, will pack a considerable punch. There’s brains as well as brawn at work here with some particularly useful features. There’s a choice of four power modes (Max, Hi, Mid and Lo), selected using a simple one touch control, in addition to six assist modes. The latter will automatically supply the power you need for the task at hand, whilst the memory mode will determine what material the drill is working on. That’s a particularly useful feature, if you are installing TEK screws through metal and then wood, for instance. Where previously a builder working on a roof would have to manually switch from full impact to put the metal in and revert to a lower power for wood, with the right setting that tool will do it for you.
Conveniently, purchasers of most tool, battery and charger models will also receive an adapter to charge their existing 18V batteries on the XGT charging system. It will also charge them quicker – 22 minutes for a 3amp hr, in fact, which is as good as any manufacturer can offer. Improvements in the 40V battery are not just about power. There are larger side rails, better impact resistance, and damage to the chip is avoided by being contained inside the housing, whilst the waterproof triple layer structure offers protection for water and dust resistance.
Makita has been supplying 36V tools, such as reciprocating saws, that can utilise two 18V batteries to get up to the necessary power output but that does significantly increase the weight and size of the machine. You’ll also need to make sure two batteries are sufficiently charged and, of course, there’s the cost of a pair of batteries. The 40V XGT Reciprocating Saw is a more compact unit that accommodates just the one battery but would be equivalent in power to a mains machine. Not only that but it will cut quicker and do much more within the power of a single charge. If you’re in the business of cutting joists on a regular basis, or a are spending all day merrily chopping at pallets, then this is the tool for you to consider.
Recip saws are always higher in vibration, but with a quicker cutting action, exposure times for the end user will be reduced. The 40V is a two-speed machine, within an easy blade removal mechanism that prevents having to touch hot metal after use.
Makita is at pains to point out that the introduction of the 40V does not herald the demise of the 18V LXT platform, but rather the introduction of a much greater range of options. What it delivers for the end user is the convenience of cordless with the heavy-duty performance of a mains powered machine.
If you still aren’t convinced, Makita have an on-line ‘book a demonstration’ form on the website so you can arrange a local COVID safe visit and try any of the XGT tools – see the website for details https://www.makitauk.com/bookyourxgt
Next month, we look at the Makita MAX XGT 40V, circular saw, angle grinders and SDS machines.
For further information on Makita go to https://www.makitauk.com/