Cordless routers are a dream come true for many carpenters and woodworkers. It’s a tool they’ve been dreaming of since the first battery-powered tools came out. There are a handful of models to choose from and we have high expectations for the Makita 18V LXT cordless compact router. But hype and anticipation don’t guarantee a quality tool that performs well and we’re out to see how Makita fares against the competition.
- Power lock button provides an additional safety step
- Excellent power under load
- Very good sightline to the bit
- Nice plunge base included in the kit
- Compact overall size
- Bare tool is less expensive than DeWalt or Milwaukee
- Available combo includes fixed and plunge bases
- Micro-adjustment slides freely
Makita 18V LXT Cordless Router Design
The big deal with the feature set isn’t so much about innovative new features, as much as the fact that the Makita 18V LXT cordless router isn’t really missing anything of consequence compared to our corded trim routers.
As the tool industry cuts the cord on more products, tools like cordless routers really benefit from brushless motors. The Makita 18V LXT cordless router takes advantage of a Makita-built brushless motor. With it, you’ll get better runtime than you do with a brushed motor, which also allows for more power to transfer from the battery to the motor. There are also no carbon brushes to replace and the overall life of the tool should be longer.
The power switch may be hit or miss for you. Makita uses blister buttons rather than mechanical switches and adds an extra safety button you have to engage first. It’s 100% a safety call, helping ensure the router doesn’t accidentally turn if the power button gets bumped.
For our money, we like it. It’s a minor inconvenience for the insurance it provides.
The variable speed dial is right where we expect it to be—around the corner to the right of the power button and in easy view and reach during use.
Makita tends to do a pretty nice job in the ergonomics department and the grip on this model really stands out. A cordless router isn’t a tool that is hurt terribly by a few extra ounces in weight but having a solid, comfortable grip really helps with precision work. Makita does a nice job here with a barrel diameter that’s on the slimmer side for the class and an excellent overmold design.
Bit Changes, Adjustments, and Base Removal
The placement of Makita’s collet lock means you won’t be able to change the bit with the base installed. Every trim router is easier to make that change with the base off, so it’s not a big deal in our book.
That fine adjustment system may take some time to get used to, though. With the clamp unlocked, the base can slide easily. That makes fine adjustments trickier than other designs where the base holds while you adjust. It’s not impossible, and we don’t even think it’s difficult once you get used to it.
We definitely prefer Makita’s etched measurement guide over stickers or paint.
The viewing cutout on Makita’s base is one of the better ones out there. Combined with its dual LED lights, you have an excellent view of the bit and your material from a range of angles.
We’d be remiss if we failed to mention that this is a cordless router. Although, we’ll also question how closely you’re reading the review if you’re just now picking up on that. It’s the constant cord management that happens with a corded router that we don’t miss.
- Electronic speed control
- Soft start
- Aluminum housing and base
- Compatible with industry-standard template guides
Makita 18V LXT Cordless Router Performance
It goes without saying that this isn’t a corded router, but does it have the performance to replace them?
The Makita 18V LXT cordless router is one of three that we rated as having higher power than the rest, and its 30,000 RPM top speed makes edge routing fast. Cutting dadoes or dovetails takes a little more time than a quality corded model, but it hangs with the best cordless routers we’ve tested.
For those times when you want to slow things down a bit, you can drop all the way down to 10,000 RPM. Most cordless routers don’t come anywhere near that, so it leaves you with a more versatile range.
Who Benefits from the Makita 18V LXT Brushless Cordless Router?
Some people might ask who doesn’t need a cordless router? However, it’s not for everyone—or is it?
The obvious winner is the jobsite carpenter. Whether it’s a custom built-in, standard trim work, or just wrapping up a punch list, cordless convenience is hard to beat. As long as it has the power to leave the professional results your clients expect.
But even production level shops can benefit from a cordless router. You’re not going to use it on the big stuff, of course. This is a trim router, after all. Going over the material to put that last finish cut around the workpiece is a lot easier without a cord getting caught up on each corner, though. Since these are lighter-duty tasks that require just a couple of minutes of runtime in most cases, the Makita cordless router is a fantastic tool to supplement your larger models.
Keep in mind that Makita’s Rapid Optimum Chargers get those 5.0Ah batteries back to full charge in just 45 minutes. It’s fair to say most Pros can cycle two batteries and work continuously through the day.
Makita 18V 18V LXT Cordless Router Price
Ready for some more good news? As a bare tool, you can pick up this Makita cordless router for $129. The other premium models currently run at least $50 more. It’s not quite as bare as most bare tools, either.
- 1/4-inch collet
- Spanner wrench
- Straight guide
- Template guide
Step up to the XTR01T8J kit and you add a 5.0Ah battery, single-port Rapid Optimum Charger, and interlocking hard case. That set runs $279.
One more step up adds the plunge base. Look for it under model XTR01T7 for $399.
The Bottom Line
The Makita 18V LXT brushless cordless compact router is one of the best cordless models available. It has excellent performance and ergonomics matched with a price tag that provides a refreshing value. Once you get used to the rack-and-pinion adjustment and power safety button, you might wonder why you didn’t make the switch to cordless sooner.
Makita Cordless Router Specifications
- Model: Makita XTR01
- Power Supply: Makita 18V LXT batteries
- Collet Size: 1/4 inch
- No Load Speed: 10,000-30,000 RPM
- Plunge Capacity: 1-9/16 inches
- Overall Length: 5-1/4 inches
- Net Weight: 4.6 lbs. (with battery)
- Retail Price: $129.00 (bare), $279 (kit), $399 (kit with plunge base)
- Warranty: 3 years