With a drawer full of OLFA utility knives and blades, I never really thought of designing a tool to replace them. On the other side of the country, Makita has been working on a cordless solution. Enter stage left the new Makita 12V Max Multi-Cutter. As part of the CXT line of 12V Max tools, it uses the slide pack design batteries. On the surface, it might just be one of the most-wanted new tools on Makita’s list. At least that’s how our team feels about it. So let’s unpack this thing and get to cutting!
You might expect a tool like this to use a circular blade. However, a quick inspection reveals that it’s actually a 1-5/8″ decagon. While Makita doesn’t tell what the steel blend is, the design of the tool ensures that it self-sharpens. That’s a pretty big deal to keep blade changes to a minimum for both convenience and cost savings.
When it comes time to swap it out, you’ll need to insert the lock pin in one of the blade holes and use a slotted screwdriver to release the blade. Not to worry if you lose that lock pin (David C. Smith and his Safety Third crew are still looking for ours that they lost), the new blade comes with one. The new blade will run you $6.99.
Line of Sight
If you’re right-handed, you’re going to enjoy the left-side line of sight. If you’re a lefty, you’re probably going to cut right-handed with the Makita 12V Max Multi-Cutter. The blade orientation is so clear on the left side of the tool that the body blocks your view on the right significantly.
There are always going to be trade-offs when you move from a hand tool to a power tool. Moving from a utility knife to the Makita 12V Max Multi-Cutter means an increase in weight and size. It’s relative, though. With a 2.0 Ah battery, our tool weighs in at 1.6 pounds.
The handle design is comfortable. There’s a curve at the top that encourages a very natural grip with thumb access to the trigger lock. That grip places two fingers on the trigger, though it’s easy enough to use just one.
The ergonomic trade-off is more than just a straight-up comparison, though. With a utility knife, hand placement is everything as you make a cut or score. But the Makita 12V Max Multi-Cutter is doing the work, so the responsibility shifts to simply making a design that gives you the best control and sight line.
At this early stage of the tool’s development, I’d say that Makita nails it. The only initial area I’d like to see a change is to extend the thumb overmold forward some. I like a more forward grip and the extra material here will secure my thumb pad’s grip.
You can tell by the number of hands-on reviews we write that Pro Tool Reviews has a lot of packages coming and going. All that cardboard has to go somewhere and without an intern to pass it off to, we share the responsibility of reducing its size. I dread my turn in the rotation a lot less and even enjoy it to a certain degree with the Makita Multi-Cutter. It’s crazy-easy to use compared to a pocket or utility knife.
The guide helps move the cut along and the 300 RPM blade speed more than keeps up with my cutting pace. Not that I recommend it for artwork, but you can cut some reasonable right-hand curves. Left curves are more challenging, but whether or not it’s helpful is up for debate.
I haven’t tested runtime and don’t really intend to. Several boxes and carpet with well over 100 linear feet of cutting haven’t dropped the LED indicator off of 4 bars with the 2.0 Ah battery, so I’m pretty confident it’s going to be in good shape.
Cardboard and carpet aren’t all this tool cuts – leather, rubber, and vinyl are also on the menu. Really, most soft, flexible materials less than 1/4″ in thickness are fair game. I didn’t have the opportunity to work through the whole list of materials. However, carpet cutting is much easier than using a utility knife for the same job.
There are some limitations to be aware of. This isn’t a perfect cordless utility knife. You won’t be able to tackle your scoring duties with it since the blade guard isn’t removable. So while that might be a bummer for drywallers, there’s still a ton of great uses for the Multi-Cutter.
The longer I used the cutter, the more I really wanted a belt hook. For the occasional user, it might not be a big deal. Even carpet installers are likely to be satisfied by setting it on the floor. For those repetitive, stand up and cut tasks, it’s nice to hook it somewhere in reach while you toss boxes in a recycling bin. While that’s hardly a deal-breaker, tradesmen will be glad to know it does fit in a deeper tool pouch.
I noticed that some of the carpet material got in around the blade center. While I’m not sure if that will be a detriment over time, it just takes a quick blow to send it on its way. You can also use a cloth to wipe it down if you like.
As a bare tool, the Makita Multi-Cutter runs $59.29 or you can go for the kit with a 2.0 Ah battery for $114.99. If you’re already on the Makita 12V Max CXT line, this is a no-brainer – go buy it today. Pros new to the line might be hesitant to spend $140 on a cordless utility knife, but once you get your hands on it, you won’t go back.
The Bottom Line
While the lack of scoring ability keeps the Makita 12V Max Multi-Cutter from being a perfect utility knife replacement, it’s a must-have tool for carpet installers, warehouse receiving departments, and other jobs where you’re cutting a lot of thin, flexible material. Just don’t let anyone borrow it – you might not get it back!
Makita 12V Max Multi-Cutter Specifications
- Model: Makita PC01R3
- Power Source: Makita 12V Max CXT battery
- No Load Speed: 300 RPM
- Blade: 1-5/8″ decagonal blade
- Length: 10-3/4″
- Weight: 1.6 lbs.
- Price: $68.15 (bare), $114.74 (kit)
- Replacement Blade: $6.99
- Warranty: 1 year