I’ll admit, I’m not yet a subscriber to woodworking monthly but I can be a bit of a spotter when checking out potential purchases. Which is why, when we are talking tools, I love scouring blogs and forums because you can bet two things; 1) Someone will have reviewed what you are looking at, and 2) someone will have reviewed it in very great, very specific, depth… My all-time favorite being a 30plus minute youtube clip of a guy unpacking his new bobbin sander. I kid you not!
Yet this review will sway away from the fine detail, although part of me is tempted to post a tribute clip about packaging, because I know from the emails I get and indeed guys who come and ask me on the beach about what tools I use, that there are many people who care less about tiny detail but more how things work in the real world. And certainly since I started using Makita tools I have had a lot more emails asking me how I get on with the kit. So this is my take based on using the 18v LXT Jigsaw on a daily basis .
Actually, I can cut to the chase for the scan readers, its a revelation. Now go buy one. You’ll find you nearest dealer here!
As a board builder I work almost exclusively in solid and sheet wood and because of this of all the tools the jig saw rules my workshop, which is why its also the most important one to get right and over the years I have owned and tried many.
But somehow in my quest for cutting perfection Makita, and for that matter
cordless technology, had somehow not found their way into my hands.
Cordless especially I found intriguing. I mean to be free from the cord made sense, but would the balance be thrown by the battery, and what about run time, and indeed pure power? Lets face it a tool like this is not something you can take off the shelf at your local dealer and run through a few sheets. So when the opportunity arose to give the Makitas a trial I jumped at the opportunity.
As soon as the saw arrived two things immediately jumped out; The ‘feel’, the way it felt, the textures, its weight, the very look of it, the branding, it all combined into an immediate experience of a package that oozed quality. Like when you order a T-Bone and as soon as its set before you sizzling on a plate side loaded with fries, rings and a frosty brew you just know its all going to be great.
Secondly, balance. What a tool. The ergonomics are like no other saw I have used, weight distribution perfect and the control from the trigger sublime. All my worries about weight and balance were dismissed the instant I had the Makita LXT in my hand. I literally ran to the workshop in order to start making boards and really see how the tool worked. And it was a revelation.
My other concern, power and run-time also were instantly dismissed. This saw has power, plenty of it. It runs on Li-ion battery technology, this means a more powerful (18v) battery for the same weight as a much less powerful ni-mh (12v) battery. Plus Li-ion batteries have a greater life span, run longer and charge in a mere 22mins with the air-cooled Makstar charger. Rapid.
As a test I set to at a pile of 9mm blanks and with continuous one after the other cutting easily got a run time of 30mins before I had to start thinking about swapping over batteries…. and as all the Makita kit uses the same battery, its not a hardship to swap about.
Reading the Makita tech spec the saw will go to a max of 135mm in wood and 10mm in steel. My stock varies from 25mm solid wood to 3mm, with occasional 1.5mm veneer, and of these ply is notorious for splinter yet with the correct Makita blades (foot note here, tool-less blade change) and the supplied splinter guard fitted it delivers the cleanest cuts I’ve ever had even going across grain with tight curves. It also comes with a dust extraction attachment which is really useful if you are working in an enclosed space.
Main thing though is the control, and the freedom. Boards for surfing are a series of continuous curves that need to flow together, and yes the stunning trigger action and balanced weight of the tool does no question make it a very accurate saw indeed, but its more the cordless nature that really sets it apart. Its like surfing without a leash, which is perhaps an obvious analogy but it really is the best way to describe it. With no cord to hold you back you feel faster, more free, more connected, more creative. Its the same with this saw.
The saw also has a great pendulum feature, crank it up and for ripping stock it powers down the line, and the LEDs it features really are no gimmick they offer serious light. One of those ‘how did I manage without it’ things, I even carried on working in a powercut one night when I had a rush order on.
I also find it so liberating that I can just grab the saw and go cut, anywhere. It comes with me on wood collects to trim stock so I don’t have to transport big pieces on the roof. I’ve done board making demos with it in halls, I’ve made a board on the beach and surfed it there and then, and when Mrs TradSurf hassled me that the curtain pole was too long it was a super quick 2sec DIY job for an easy life that evening.
At the end of the day its easy to say ‘this thing has changed the way I work’ but
actually, it has. And the very best way to summize is this, I can do my work, with greater accuracy, in less time… or perhaps better more work, with greater accuracy, in the same time. Either way its a tool I truly love using, look forward to working with infact because its easy to use, feels great and allows me to be more creative with my boards, and I don’t think you can say better than that.
For more information and technical specification of the Makita BJV180RFWX 40th Anniversary Edition , plus details of your local stockist, please visit the Makita UK website here.