This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.
My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not an expert… anything really. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to working on cars, construction, framing, electrical and renovation, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.
Ever since I first used this tool in a Makita booth at a show last year, I knew I had to have it. I actually really don’t use routers very often in my woodshop, something that I didn’t think was weird until I started hanging out with other woodworkers who do. I’ve always been annoyed by their high pitched squeal and the huge mess they make. But the release of a battery powered tool I can use outside? Game changer. First of all, I’ve had the majority of my tools on the Makita platform for most of the past seven years. While I have recently been wooed by some of the new releases from Milwaukee, Makita has been making tools that are a solid investment for far longer than I’ve been using tools.
This cordless router is no exception. It is compact and lightweight. The blade housing/fence mechanism is easy to adjust and remove for quick blade changes. It’s not going to have the same battery life as, say, a drill, even the 4ah batteries, but that is not really a surprise, especially considering what kind of power it takes to actually cut wood. The saving grace is the fact that this tool runs on brushless motor, which is electrically controlled from within to meet changing demands with regard to torque and speed. Run time will depend on the type of wood, the type of bit, and the depth of cut. Makita’s new batteries also have juice gauges on the actual battery, so you can monitor your battery useage easily. A quick aside on the batteries- that life-indicator is amazing. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve carried a handful of batteries out to the jobsite only to stick them in my tool and realize they were dead. It’s a long, frustrating walk back from the forest or the pasture when I do that, so I really, really dig the new indicator feature.
There are only a couple buttons on this tool. There’s a dial to control the speed and a lock/unlock safety switch to turn it on. It has been a little tricky getting used to the button placement, especially since they are so small, but I’m sure that will come in time.
If there was one design feature I would love, it would be to have a spot on the tool that the wrenches could tuck into. On my corded routers, I always attach the wrenches to the end of the cord and then I never lose them. On a cordless router, no such luck.
This tool retails for $130. Would I buy it?
Though a few other companies have made cordless routers, Makita was the first company making tools for the professional to come out with a true knockout tool. At $130, I’d say it’s a reasonably priced router, and I would definitely buy it. That said, if you were new to the Makita platform, the addition of the battery and charger at $149 would make this a much tougher pill to swallow- I might actually think twice about dragging out the extension cords and waiting for a brushless, cordless tool on your battery platform.
Batteries always seem to be the major killer when it comes to tool pricing, which is the main argument for picking one tool company and sticking with it. Not to mention, it’s a pain juggling 10 different chargers and their cords. I don’t take it lightly that this tool testing gig affords me the opportunity to use so many different tools and brand platforms, because it’s taught me so much about how tools actually work and it’s taught me to become a far more discerning customer. It also allows me to really use and abuse the tools and pick my favorites. I can only hope that that translates well into honest, helpful reviews for readers. This Makita router is definitely one of my favorite tools I’ve used this year. The fact that Makita has such a diverse product line is also a big argument to love the company- their battery operated chainsaw and lightweight circular saw get used on the daily around the farm.