Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181 Review

Makita tools are favourites of professionals landscapers because they're so tough. But does this trimmer live up to the reputation?

Verdict

A good engine and sturdy, but the single string and resulting vibration when in use stops the Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181 being a shut up and take my money purchase.

Pros

  • Light and well balanced
  • Adjustable to height of user
  • 5-angle adjustable pivoting head
  • Easy to use in confined spaces
  • 45 mins of run-time on battery

Cons

  • Slight vibration
  • Best used in 10-minute bursts

Key Features

  • Review Price: £169.99
  • 5-angle adjustable pivoting head
  • Bump and feed single cutting line
  • Delivers up to 7800rpm for cutting
  • 250mm cutting diameter
  • Weight with battery 3.1kg
  • 180-degree rotating head for edging
  • 82dB
  • Length variable, 1229mm to 1433mm

What is the Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181?

The Cordless String Trimmer is one of a wide range of tools produced by Makita, all in a distinctive green livery. Makitas are used by most tradesmen because they’re capable of taking much punishment and are super-reliable, and the String Trimmer is typically well designed and easy to use.

It’s nicely balanced, highly adaptable, and easy to use in confined spaces. The Makita DUR181 is sold on some online sites body-only, but it needs a Makita BL1840B 18-volt 4-amp Li-ion battery and a Makita BL 1840B battery charger. The offer above from Amazon includes two batteries and a charger along with the strimmer.

Related: Husqvarna Automower 450X review

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181 – Design and features

The Makita DUR181 arrived in sections but was easily put together using a Phillips screwdriver. It’s robust and feels solid and well made. The angle of the head can be adjusted through nearly 90 degrees to suit either working on a bank or down at ground level, and can be rotated 180 degrees for edging.

Theres a knob with a grip, just beyond the loop handle, which is used to extend and retract the shaft – and rotate it for edging. It can be extended by 200mm to suit different heights of user. A thumb-pushed safety catch and a trigger start up the strimmer. You push the safety catch forward and pull the trigger, and work holding the trigger.

It uses a single nylon cord. Press in two latches on both sides of the spool cover and the whole nylon cord cutting head pops off. You lift the spool out, and wind new cord on – it takes a hefty 8 metres, which is twice the amount that fits into more heavy-duty strimmers.

Next, you feed the cord through the eyehole in the spool cover, align the eyehole with the notch of the cutting head installation port, and snap the whole assembly back in. It’s a good system that means there’s no risk of the cord uncoiling – a common problem. It comes with a useful shoulder strap and a spare line.

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181 handle

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181 – Charging and run-time

The Makita BL 1840B 18-volt 4-amp Li-ion battery was compatible with the Makita DUR181. It’s light and compact, and good for an impressive 45 minutes. This means you can easily strim all around your garden without having to recharge it.

In addition, the 18V battery fits other Makita products, too. So if you like DIY, along with the strimmer, you could stock up on a whole range of other Makita workshop tools such as drills, power hacksaws, the circular saw and jigsaw, with just a couple of batteries required to keep them all continuously usable.

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181 strimmer head

The Makita BL 1840B battery fits into a Makita DC18RC charger. The battery took 36 minutes to charge. It has a fan, so there was a continuous soft hum as it worked. Both charger and battery were easy to use, with the charger featuring a helpful display of indicator lights. They came on in different combinations to show the condition of your battery – fully charged, part-charged, broken. Other lights indicate if your charger is malfunctioning. I was impressed with the efficiency of this system, and the fast charge time.

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181 – Handling and performance

The machine is nicely balanced; the length of the strimmer is height-adjustable from 1.433 metres to 1.229, so it was just as comfortable for me to work with, at 6ft 5, as it was for my girlfriend at 5ft 4.

It’s also light to carry. The Makita DUR181 is excellent if you’re working in a tight space among shrubs and trees, because its shorter reach means is easy to handle. The battery is under the handle, right at the back of the machine, so you can move your hands across the front of your body as you strim and you can swivel the tool. (Some strimmers have the battery pack in the way, making this move impossible.)

The Makita Cordless String Trimmer’s all-round manoeuvrability is pretty amazing. And, of course, it has a five-angle adjustable pivoting head, which makes it superb for trimming and edging.

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181

For edging, the head can be rotated through 180 degrees, giving you a clear view of what you’re doing as you work. It gave a nice result, and impressively even managedto cut through turf.

As an added bonus, if you put the Makita DUR181 head on full tilt then you can cut the top of a bank easily, and the lightness of the machine means it’s comfortable to do so. Keeping it lifted doesn’t put a strain on your back.

Although not particularly powerful at 18V, the Makita DUR181 worked well on lawn grass and young nettles. It struggled a little with older, tougher nettles and orchard grass, but I was impressed with the way it cut through tough Cocksfoot grass without stalling. It’s better to try it on individual nettles rather than wade in on a whole clump at once. It cut a square metre of three-inch long grass in 18 seconds.

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181 head

The makers have designed the Makita String Trimmer for intermittent, rather than continuous use. This meant that after ten minutes strimming round apple trees on a hot day the motor felt pretty warm to the touch, requiring a short rest. (It quickly cooled down again.)

There was some mild vibration, which you’ll always experience with single-string strimmers, but it might prove uncomfortable for a user with a condition such as arthritis. The vibration was low: the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 specify a maximum of 5m/s2 for hand-arm vibration, and the Makita DUR181 only displays 2.5m/s2 or less.

Since the Makita DUR181 has only a single string – more powerful machines have two – it means you can’t cut that fast. Nevertheless, I still managed to strim 20 square metres of orchard grass in ten minutes.

Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181 in use

Why buy the Makita Cordless String Trimmer DUR181?

The Makita DUR 181 has been cleverly designed to be a good all-round tool for the average-sized garden. It’s easily manoeuvrable, and able to manage a wide range of jobs. Its lightness and balance mean that anyone small or not particularly strong could use it. Battery life and power is also impressive for its size.

Verdict

The Makita DUR 181 has a low level of vibration that might not suit some users, and is best worked in ten-minute bursts. Nevertheless, it is a highly adaptable, good-value and lightweight machine for medium-sized gardens. It’s especially useful in confined spaces.

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