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My favorite drill: The Makita 18v Li-ion Cordless Driver

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Makita drill
I should start with full disclosure: I willingly chose to live in my garage for a year while building a house in my spare time, so I'm not at the top of the "Most Sane People Ever" list. I’m such a tool junkie that given the chance, I would totally replace one of my limbs with a prosthetic power tool. That’s how I expect my drill to perform: as if it were physically attached to my body and able to respond to my very thoughts.

In stark contrast, one of my "starter drills" required me to use both hands and a toe to depress both release buttons and remove the battery from the drill. Not an exaggeration. As you can imagine, when it was time to buy a replacement, my one and only requirement was that I didn't have to do yoga to work the thing.
This might not be a problem for some of you big guys who can palm a basketball, but I am neither big nor a guy. That doesn’t mean I don’t want a powerful tool, but I want it to work for me, not the other way around. I tested out compact drills from all the big names (DeWalt, Milwaukee, Craftsman, Skill, etc.), and the Makita was the only one on which I could reach the trigger and the forward/backward button without changing my grip.

The Makita 18v Compact Li-ion Cordless Driver is smaller and 2 lbs. lighter than the full-size Makita drill, but it delivers almost the same power. It’s also $110 cheaper. For you spec-heads, it’s got 480 in./lbs of torque, weighs 3.3 lbs. and has two variable speeds, an LED light and a 15-minute charger. It sells for about $185, and the combo pack with an impact driver and the obligatory flashlight is a deal at $240.

Here's what I love about this Makita drill:
- Have you ever been wedged between the corner of a ceiling joist and roof rafter and needed to attach blocking or a support in a space too small for a hammer? Or even a full-size cordless drill? This drill fits there.
- It's light and it's comfortable, but I haven't found a project yet that this drill wasn't powerful enough to handle. This includes almost anything you would run into while building a house: installing subfloor, sheathing, drywall and cabinets, and building the occasional piece of furniture.
- It charges in 15 minutes. There might be people out there who are so together that their drill batteries are always charged. I live in a garage. I am not that person.
- I dropped it from the top of an 8-ft. ladder onto a concrete floor and nothing broke, which means this drill is infinitely more durable than I am.


Some might say that I am excessively fond of this drill, but I only slept with it under my pillow once. Sure, I wish it had a level, and I would never say no to more power in the same package. But this is the first drill I would recommend to anyone looking for a perfect combination of comfort and power.

— Kit Stansley

Kit Stansley writes about serious DIY and her love of tools, the remodeler’s life and miniature donkeys at DIYDiva.net.

More information on using cordless drills:
- Impact Drivers Make Great Drills
- How to Drive Screws Perfectly

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