Lately, Makita has been on a tear in the cordless category with their new AWS system, Rear-Handle Saw, SDS-Max Rotary Hammer, and much more. It’s not all about the 18V LXT battery platform, though. A couple of tools in lower voltages got my attention. Today’s subject is the new Makita 7.2V Drill – the DF012D. Even though it’s only running on a 7.2V battery, make no mistake – it’s a Pro-level tool!
7.2 volts isn’t nearly as common as 12V max (10.8V) and 18V (20V max) systems that are on the market. Batteries in this voltage class use a pair or lithium-ion cells. Each one runs 3.6 volts, so two of them with a series connection gives you 7.2 volt (or 8V max if you want to go that route).
- 1/4″ Hex Chuck: Makes using bits as easy as an impact driver. The only downside is that it has to be a 1/4″ hex bit – there’s no twist clutch to tighten down on a round bit.
- Pivoting Handle: Depending on your preference or the space you’re working in, you can use the Makita 7.2V drill in either a straight or pistol grip style. Both work well, but I like the straight grip most of the time.
- 2-Speed Motor: Runs at either 200 or 650 RPMs to give you more speed when in lighter fastening and up to 71 in-lbs of torque when you need it. Like most drills, the switch is on top of the housing.
- LED Work Light: The LED light is mounted below the chuck and provides effective illumination. A switch on the side of the drill locks the light off if you don’t need or want it on to preserve power.
- Auto-Stop Clutch: One of my favorite features of the Makita DF012D is the auto-top clutch. Set the clutch to your desired level and you’ll hear the clutch click one time before the drill stops. It doesn’t continue running until you remove your finger like most drills.
- Push Button Activation: Forward and reverse are buttons on the side. In the straight position, you can turn the drill just about any way you like to keep them in easy thumb reach. In the pistol grip position, righties will use their thumb and lefties will move to their forefinger. Both are effective. The downside is that there’s no variable speed control.
As I was preparing for our wet-dry shop vacuum buying guide, nearly every unit had some assembly required. This was the perfect setting for the Makita 7.2V Drill work in. It’s lightweight, slim profile makes it easy to set on the workbench as you’re working on a project that doesn’t require a ton of torque. With screws going in horizontally and vertically, I found it a very comfortable drill to work with.
A 12V drill might be a popular choice in similar settings, but the ability to put my hand in a bunch of different grip positions makes it more versatile.
With metal screws going into plastic, over tightening is a problem. Once I set the torque where I wanted it, the auto-clutch made the rest simple. When you hold down the button, you hear just one click from the clutch and the drill shuts off. You can hit the button again to double check the work (and I did), but you’re unlikely to get much more than another 1/8 of a turn if that.
At just 1 pound, 3 ounces on our scale, the Makita 7.2V is about the lightest weight you can hope for. It’s a little forward heavy, which isn’t a big deal in the straight grip position. You’ll notice it some in the pistol grip position. But we’re talking about just over a pound of total weight – it’s not a problem.
Overmold and a curved handle design makes the grip comfortable. You’ll notice the handle curves in a way to encourage your hand higher than it would be on a normal cordless drill. It’s essentially the same grip you use on a drywall screw gun. This ensures that your thumb can easily reach the forward and reverse controls even if your hand is a little smaller.
When you’re working in tighter spaces, like the back of a cabinet, the drill is light and controlled enough to even move to a finger grip instead of a full palm grip.
The Bottom Line
If you’re working with fasteners that don’t require even the torque of a 12V drill, the Makita 7.2V Drill is the way to go. For a low power drill, you don’t expect a ton of features, but the Makita DF012D adds some we didn’t know we were missing – and that we’re now unlikely to give up.
Some of the best uses for this drill are going to be in woodworking and cabinetmaking where you’re setting smaller screws. Any kind of work with plastic like installing switch plates or assembling other tools will also find this to be a big win. Even Prosumers will want to consider this model for the plethora of projects around the home that it can help you with.
The kit comes with two 1.5 Ah battery packs, a charger, a couple of double-ended bits with a small hardware box, and a plastic case for the whole set. The cost is $140.52, which is a little steep for DIYers, but not too far a stretch for Pros that will use it frequently. At the end of the day, this is in my pile of “no, you’re not allowed to borrow this” tools and comes with a high recommendation on my end.
Here’s Another Tool on My “Do Not Loan” List
Makita 7.2V Drill Specifications
- Model: Makita DF012DSE (kit)
- Power Source: Makita 7.2V battery
- Chuck: 1/4″ hex
- No Load Speed: 200/650 RPM
- Maximum Torque: 71 in.-lbs.
- Length: 10-3/4″ (straight), 8-5/8″ (pistol)
- Weight: 1 pound, 3 ounces with battery
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $140.52