Review By Dean Bielanowski  Makita Website - http://www.makita.com


Makita BTD142HW 18-Volt Lithium-Ion
Cordless Impact Driver

 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

Since my review of the Makita BDF452HW 18v Cordless Drill hit the site, I have had numerous requests to also review Makita's 18v Lithium Ion Impact Driver from the same product line, so here it is... Well, I will admit that your requests for a review was not the only motivating factor to purchase this impact driver. I had a bathroom renovation to do requiring a lot of new stud work which had been eaten out by those dreaded and troublesome termites, so I thought, what better excuse to grab an impact drill for securing those new wall studs. And it is worth mentioning that the BDF452HW drill I reviewed previously is still going very strong and is now my favorite drill for cordless drill work. In fact, I have since purchased a second one, and a couple 3Ah batteries to go with it.

Since the BTD142HW Impact Driver here is from the same product line, I immediately chose that over other models based on my prior experience with the BDF452HW.

The Makita BTD142HW 18v Cordless Impact Driver
First things first... You will notice this tool is called a "driver". This is basically because it is a tool dedicated to driving fasteners. While it can be used to drill as well, assuming you have hex-shank drill bits of the right size, it is not the ideal tool for this task... This little driver design is king when it comes to installing fasteners in many applications thanks to its particular driving action.

Let's take a look at the listed specs first:

Capacity:  Hex Shank  1/4" 
No Load RPM:    0-2,300 
Impacts/Min (IPM):    0-3,200 
Torque (in.-lbs.):    1,280  
Battery 18V DC:    1.5Ah & 3.0Ah 
Length:    5-3/4" 
Net Weight:    2.8 lbs.

Starting from the top we have a hex shank chuck. Unlike a regular drill or drill/driver, this 1/4" capacity hex chuck can only accept one type of driver bit, and you guessed it, it is those with a 1/4" hex shank. This drill cannot use regular round shank drill bits or other sized driver bits (although most common driver bits do have a 1/4" shank anyway) and cannot be adjusted to accept other sized hex shank bits. In practice this in no real problem as most driver bits come standard with a 1/4" hex shank. There is no chuck key or manual hand tightening required to secure a driver bit. You simply slide the outer metal sleeve forward and hold it there while inserting the hex shank driver bit into the chuck, then release the sleeve and the bit is now secured in the chuck ready for action. To remove the driver bit, again just slide the sleeve forward and hold it there as you remove the bit. Simple and easy. It is worth noting, however, that the driver secures those hex shank bits that have the rounded collar in their design (sometimes called "Quick Connect" hex shanks) so the spring-loaded ball retainer in the chuck can lock into that collar to prevent the bit from falling out. With the bit locked in pace you can start driving fasteners.

Power Tool Tips...

NOTE: It is possible to use regular round-shank bits with the impact driver, however, you will require a 1/4" hex shank drill chuck (3/8" ones work the best) to make the conversion possible. These are available widely from Makita or power tool dealers. This model here is actually a DeWalt accessory, but since it has the 1/4" universal hex shank, it will fit the Makita Driver with no trouble at all. Makita also retail a similar hex shank 3/8" drill chuck.

Using these accessories can make the impact driver a little unwieldy however, so consider it a compromise to a separate non-impact drill/driver.

Just behind the chuck, where you might normally find a clutch setting ring, there is a light-sensitive Phosphorescence ring. If you take the drill into darker areas, after being in lighter areas, the band will "glow". Likewise if the drill is used in dark areas, the light emitted from the onboard LED light during use will also make the band glow. While the glow from the band itself is not really sufficient enough to be practical in terms of an area light, it does make finding the drill and working out its angle and position relative to the surrounding area a little easier. It's not a terribly functional addition in terms of practicality, but it is much better having it there than just a plain piece of non-glowing housing or rubber at least.

Moving on to the motor, the BTD142HW features a high torque 4-pole motor which delivers a no-load variable speed between 0 - 2300 RPM and a maximum torque of 1280 in-lbs. Now, that is no figure to sneeze at. Especially considering the small size of the tool itself. This little driver packs a very powerful punch, and punch it does. Being an impact driver, it works a little differently to a regular drill/driver. It is essentially a rotary hammer drill in its action. As you drive a fastener, it drives it in the normal rotational matter, however, once it meets a certain resistance, the driver starts "hammering" as it rotates to increase effective torque and drive the fastener all the way in as needed. So you have a hammering and rotational driving force working together to overcome resistance. The plus side of this is that instead of having the fastener head strip because the resistance force is too great, the hammering action actually helps to keep the driver head engaged and greatly reduces the chance of the bit slipping in the fastener head, particularly with Philips head style screws. The BTD142HW can deliver up to 3200 impacts per minute to complete the fastening task. The "hammer and anvil" mechanism used in the drill are constructed from very high quality steel and heat hardened for extra durability.

It may sound odd to have a hammering and rotating fastening action working together, especially if you haven't used an impact driver before but it really does work exceptionally well and the torque generated will easily handle most fastening requirements. It is generally no trouble driving 10 gauge, 3" screws into timber without hesitation. You can even drive fasteners into some hardwoods without pre-drilling, if there is no or little risk of the material splitting. For my framing task there was no problem at all driving the screws in on an angle to secure studs to top and bottom plates, and to secure noggins to studs etc. Sure, you could use a frame nailer and it may be quicker, but in my opinion, the impact driver is MUCH safer to use, and the screws hold a lot more firmly than nails as well, plus they are easier to remove should you need to later on or during a build to make changes etc.

Of course, with most hammer action tools, they do make a bit of a racket. This driver is not different. Once the impact action kicks in when driving a fastener, you are almost guaranteed to get people's attention... good and bad. This is just the nature of the beast and it is no worse than any other impact driver I have used before. It does seem a little quieter overall than my Ryobi 18v cordless impact driver, but that is just an estimate. I don't have the measuring tools to give you an exact decibel readout of the noise emission levels. All I will say is don't go using it during the night or if the kids are asleep. It is sure to wake someone up! there are no clutch settings or other mechanical adjustments to complicate things like those found on regular drill/drivers. It doesn't need them!

What I do find very appealing with this model is its small size and light weight. For the torque it delivers, you could easily expect it to be much larger and heavier, but it isn't. It weighs in at just 2.8 lbs and is only 5-3/4" long, making it an easy fit to get in between studs to drive noggins, or to remove them. It will get in between structures that regular drill/drivers will not. Quite the pocket sized dynamo.

Apart from the chuck, there are only two other operational parts you need to be concerned with. This is the variable speed trigger, and the forward/reverse slide switch. The trigger is just that... Pushing it in further makes the chuck rotate faster... variable speed control etc. The driver does have an electric brake which will stop the chuck rotating pretty much instantly when you release the trigger. The slide switch is also straight forward. Push it one way to engage forward (fastening) rotation, slide it back the other way for reverse (fastener removal) rotation. Like the BDF452HW drill, the BTD142HW impact driver has a LED light just above the trigger. When the trigger is pulled the LED light illuminates to help light up the immediate work area (where you are driving or removing a fastener). It is bright enough to be practical in dark places and works well. It will stay on for about 10 seconds after the trigger is released. Given that it is an LED type light, it uses miniscule power so it wont have much effect on battery life.

And speaking of batteries, the BTD142HW uses Makita's slide-style 18v Lithium Ion batteries as its power source. these simply slide onto the tool at the bottom of the handle and lock into place. To remove them, just push on the battery latch to release and slide off. The tool comes packaged with 2 x 1.5Ah BL1815 Makita Lithium Ion batteries plus a rapid charger. 3.0Ah batteries (BL1830) are also available from Makita and will fit this driver if you require more runtime per battery. However, the rapid charger that is supplied will charge the BL1815 battery in around 15 minutes, so if you have power supply for the charger available, you can happily work all day using the two batteries supplied. If one is depleted, put it on charge while you use the other. I doubt you would deplete a full battery before the other one is again fully charged. In fact I know you wont! The batteries will last quite a while and for most driving tasks should see you out for a whole day with two battery packs on hand. If you are doing house framing for a living, you might go through both packs in a day, but I dare say that if you have 2 x 3.0Ah batteries you will likely get through with no problem, and hence saving you having to charge up on the job site.

Since the charger for this impact driver is the same as for the BDF452HW reviewed on this site, I will just copy and paste the same information from that review here regarding the charger...

"When it comes time to charge the batteries, simply hook one up to the battery charger supplied in the kit. It is a smart charger, it can charge both NiMH and Li Ion batteries from 7.2v to 18v, and with its inbuilt processing chip it communicates with the battery's onboard circuit to deliver consistent charge as well as safe current, thermal and voltage control to maximize battery life. It is also claimed the charger can recognize a battery's history, analyze its current condition, and then choose the best charging method for the pack based on these factors. I don't know how true that is, or how it is supposed to work, but if indeed it is true, then hey, I won't complain! If it delivers longer battery life then I'll take whatever technology Makita want to throw at me to achieve this.

Three lights on the charger show charge status. When charging, the red light is illuminated. When battery capacity reaches more than 80%, the green light starts to show concurrently with the red light, and when fully charged, the green light alone is illuminated. A third amber light is designed to illuminate if it detects a problem with the battery pack, or so I believe. The instruction manual doesn't really say much about the battery charger at all, in fact, it says nothing really, but the icons on the battery charger itself seem to indicate this is a problem indicator light. The charger's graphical overlay also seems to indicate that the charger should sing a tune to me (or something of that nature) when the battery charge is 100% complete? Again, no info in the manual on the battery charger so I am left guessing. If anyone knows, please send me an email! An internal fan helps to keep the battery cool while rapid charging the battery. Heat is a battery cell's enemy so anything to keep it cooler will no doubt help preserve or extend its working life."

For a more in depth look at the advantages of Lithium Ion batteries over NiCad and NiMH, take a look at the BDF452HW Review.

For comfort and control, there are rubber overmolds located on the handle and upper rear part of the motor housing (for bump protection). These make the drill more comfortable to hold, probably slightly reduce vibration in use (hard to measure), but definitely help minimize slippage, especially in hot and humid conditions. The main handle is also ergonomically shaped to provide a comfortable fit in the hand and the driver overall seems well balanced over the axis of the handle for less user fatigue, particularly at the wrists.

In terms of durability it is probably too early to comment accurately on that yet. I have had the driver now for roughly 5 months and it has seen quite a bit of action. So far so good... The driver is working as expected with no hiccups. Batteries are charging well and no signs of battery failure or drop in charge capacity as far as I can tell.

As mentioned, the BTD142HW has seen most action in my home renovations on stud work, but I have also used it for general driving work in workshop projects where it too excels. It does suffer from the inability to set a clutch setting in the workshop environment so care must be taken not to overdrive screws and bury them well below the surface, and there is no doubt this little dynamo has the strength to do that, even in many hardwoods... so for workshop use I do prefer a slip-clutch enabled cordless driver for most tasks, but the impact driver will certainly suffice if a little care is taken not to go full afterburner on the trigger!

Overall Thoughts
Well, plain and simple, I cannot really fault this driver. It has done everything I have asked of it and more. I really like its small size and light weight, and its delivered torque is amazing for its size. There is no problem driving long screws designed for softwood into dense red river gum hardwood as the video shows. I much prefer it over a framing nailer for framing tasks now, and I am sure it is going to see much more use in the near future for a variety of fastener driving tasks. It seems to be reasonably priced too for a powerful impact driver with Lithium Ion battery technology. It is probably a no-brainer purchase if you already have some Makita Li-Ion or LXT tools. This one makes a great addition to the range. Makita do make several other impact drivers, some of which are even more powerful than this one, but unless you are in the trades and using it all day, almost every day of the year, this less expensive model will certainly do the job, and put a smile on your face. Just make sure you have the ear protection in place though!
 

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Makita BTD142HW Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The compact Makita BTD142HW Impact Driver.
 


No fuss 1/4" hex shank chuck. Note the phosphorescence ring band behind the chuck.
 


Basic trigger and directional controls. LED light above trigger illuminated.
 


The compact size of this tool allows it to get into tight spaces easily to drive fasteners.
 


Tool-less driver bit installation. Just pull chuck sleeve forward, insert bit, then release sleeve.
 


The BTD142HW uses Makita's slide style lithium ion 18v batteries.
 

OTR Videos
Watch a short video of the BTD142HW
driving coarse thread screws into hardwood!

(1.1Mb - WMV format)


 

 

 

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