Makita has come out with a new 18V StarLock-compatible cordless oscillating multi-tool (XMT04ZB) as part of their SubCompact line.
Bosch and Fein’s StarLock oscillating multi-tool interface has been around for more than 5 years now, with more cordless power tool manufacturers building their tools with compatible interfaces. Metabo came out with a Starlock multi-tool earlier this year, and now Makita has joined the party.
The thing about StarLock blades and accessories is that most if not all of them are compatible with many other brands’ universal or Bosch OIS-compatible interfaces. However, StarLock tools are not backwards-compatible with other styles of blades.
Bosch, Fein, and other brands have been making StarLock-compatible blades and accessories for a couple of years now, and the last I checked they’re no more expensive than comparable universal-interface style accessories.
If you are in the market for a universal-style oscillating multi-tool, corded or cordless, you have two main choices to make today – you can go with Bosch and Fein’s StarLock interface, or universal-style open-ring blades.
StarLock tools usually feature very quick and easy to use tool-free blade change mechanisms.
Bosch, Fein, Metabo, and now Makita have Starlock-compatible tools, while Dewalt, Milwaukee, and other makers have non-proprietary universal-style interfaces. There are pros and cons to both.
There are 3 types of Starlock accessories – StarLock, StarLock Plus, and StarLock Max, with each tier corresponding to different power and performance requirements. With this being a StarLock Max tool, it should would with any StarLock style of accessory.
Makita StarLock Brushless Oscillating Multi-Tool Specs (XMT04ZB)
- 10K-20K OPM
- 3.6° oscillating angle
- 276mm (~10-7/8″)*
- Weighs 4.4 lbs with battery
- Soft start motor
- LED worklight
* The similar international model, DTM52, is said to measure ~10-7/8″ without battery (add maybe another inch for the battery). Makita USA’s press materials list a 17-1/8″ overall length, which cannot be accurate.
The similar Makita DTM52, which launched internationally several months ago, features anti-vibration technology with no more than 2.5 m/2^2 of vibration.
Price: $229 for the bare tool
Buy Now via Amazon
Compare: Bosch 18V via Amazon
The StarLock Max interface is worth paying special attention to, as there are few options compared to StarLock Plus, at least with respect to cordless powered tools.
Fein has a cordless SuperCut, which is StarLock Max compatible, as well as StarLock and StarLock Plus, as each next-higher level of the interface is backwards-compatible with the lower accessory tiers as well.
Since power draw depends on the task, this should mean that the Makita SubCompact oscillating multi-tool is capable of being used with more demanding SuperCut-type of accessories, and hopefully without any compromise to runtime when used with popular StarLock or StarLock Plus accessories.
Most users will likely use StarLock accessories exclusively, but it’s good to be able to use StarLock Plus and even Max accessories if needed.
Makita seems to have a couple of different StarLock blade options (via Amazon), but I have never seen them in stores, where Bosch, Fein, and Diablo tend to dominate. The online pricing for Makita-branded accessories seem fair. When looking at their plunge-cutting blade, images of the packaging show that it’s made in Switzerland, presumably by Bosch.
This would make sense – Makita is likely licensing the StarLock interface tech from Bosch and Fein, and it’d be far less expensive for them to contract with Bosch for accessory manufacturing than to set up their own factory. If Bosch is indeed Makita’s accessory OEM, shop according to price – Bosch’s blades are excellent regardless of the brand name that’s etched into them.
Makita USA doesn’t show this in their press images for the XMT04ZB, but the identical-in-appearance DTM52 features a removable stud type of tool-free blade change mechanism. All of the cordless StarLock Plus tools I’ve tried from other brands don’t have this – their clamping designs do not feature any removable parts.
This is important because it will slow you down compared to blade changes with other brands’ StarLock-compatible tools.
I thought that perhaps this type of blade change mechanism was necessary for the StarLock Max interface, as I have only used StarLock Plus tools with the tool-free and stud-free blade change mechanisms. However, Festool’s 18V Vecturo cordless StarLock Max oscillating multi-tool also does not have a stud.
Is Makita’s stud-based tool-free blade change mechanism a deal-breaker? Absolutely not. But, this little detail is disappointing.
There are two things I like about Bosch’s StarLock multi-tools. First, it’s so much faster to change blades, especially when you don’t have to worry about a clamping stud. Second, it allows me to change out blades without burning my fingers or having to wait for a blade to cool down first.
The Makita XMT04 seems like more of a StarLock-compatible tool, rather than one with a StarLock-style of blade clamp.
I use non-StarLock tools fairly regularly, and there’s hardly a difference unless I’m changing blades out frequently. Meaning, if you want a Makita cordless oscillating multi-tool that works with StarLock blades, go for it, as long as you understand what you’re getting.
What confuses me is that you can use StarLock blades with most brands’ universal-style tool interfaces, except for StarLock Max. So couldn’t Makita have stayed with a universal-style interface and still be fully compatible with StarLock and StarLock Plus blades and accessories?
I suppose that the StarLock Max interface opens up compatibility to those larger SuperCut-type of accessories. But you can have StarLock Max tools with spring-action clamp.
With a stud-based blade clamp design, you don’t have the ease of blade changes as with other StarLock tools, and you also don’t have the accessory compatibility of a universal-style interface.
So with this tool, you have a proprietary interface, but with what benefits?
The tool itself seems to be fairly compact – going by international specs for the Makita DTM52 – and vibration-reducing tech is always a plus.
Looking at a video of Metabo’s StarLock Plus, they also have a removable stud, and so Makita isn’t alone in this.
Here’s what Bosch StarLock blade changes look like.
Since Makita’s tool has a stud-based clamping design, blade changes aren’t going to be any faster than with many universal-style tools using the same StarLock and StarLock Plus accessories, although you do gain StarLock Max compatibility. As mentioned, it’s probably not a deal breaker in my opinion – especially if you’re a Makita 18V user who has been waiting for an upgraded brushless OMT – this is just different than what I had expected to see.
Why did Makita launch their 18V brushless SubCompact multi-tool with a slower stud-based clamping design instead of the spring-loaded clamping mechanisms similar to the ones featured in Bosch, Fein, and Festool StarLock tools? Am I missing something? Maybe this was a condition of their licensing arrangement? Might Makita be planning to launch a 40V Max (36V) XGT version of this tool with a faster stud-free StarLock blade clamping mechanism?
“Finally”? Certainly a good move on their part IMO.
It seemed inevitable, after they launched grinders compatible with Bosch’s proprietary interface. https://toolguyd.com/makita-x-lock-angle-grinders/
I’m trying to understand the reasoning behind the clamp design.
Bosch, Fein, Festool StarLock: spring-action clamping jaws.
Makita, Metabo StarLock: removable clamping stud.
With small changes to the shape of the blade mount, they could have made this tool compatible with universal-style AND StarLock blades, since StarLock is backwards-compatible, although they wouldn’t have been able to call it a StarLock tool. But, that would have locked out StarLock Max accessories.
I’d rather have faster StarLock blade changes (and don’t understand why they couldn’t do this here) or a universal-style interface (which are usually also StarLock and StarLock Plus-compatible) if it meant giving up StarLock Max compatibility.
Licensing costs? Stubbornness? I’d not had time originally to read deep enough to notice the stud doohickey. How annoying. Especially with no apparent explanation.
Those options make so much more sense. I would choose the universal style myself. Must be some users who really feel the need for “Max” compatibility though.
Starlock’s autolocking connection is a royal pain in tight quarters. Trying to set the blade at the right angle means the user has to remove the whole tool, remove the blade, re-attach the blade, try again, repeat until set in the best position.
With the previous Fein model, you’d just unlock and move the blade around until you find the best location and then clamp it.
The new Makita OMT provides the best of both worlds. The power transmission benefit of Starlock and the no fuss of Fein’s previous locking pin system.
I really doubt it’s a cost thing and as far as patents and trademarks are concerned, it says Starlock right on it. Bosch is in the business of selling consumables. I don’t see Makita coming to Bosch asking to pay royalties. I do see Bosch coming to everyone and begging them to use their design royalty free.
That is a good point. I have the current version, and it’s easy to release the pin, move the blade over a tooth, and then lock it back in. Easy to fine tune the angle. It would be annoying to completely remove and reinstall the blade in that situation.
With the COVID shortages, I’ve had to re-appropriate fixtures from one store to another. Custom cash registers meant for the opposing wall with different electrical layouts. Everything is last minute, of course (if I’m there, that means the “professionals” weren’t professionals after all) and to save the electricians time, I carved out all of the conduit paths. Talking areas where I have room for the tool and mayhbe my hand in there, and nothing else. I was cursing to the moon because I brought the cordless Festool Vecturo (Fein Supercut in disguise) with the Starlock connection instead of the previous generation Multimaster. I think when Bosch was selling this concept to Fein, they both remembered that it’s a multi-position tool but they also forgot why it’s a multi-position tool and in what scenarios that multi positioning is implemented.
I don’t know if anyone follows Scott Brown Carpentry (from New Zealand) but he did a really good video on YouTube of this.
Here is a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuCPw2sCnLc
I did watch that “exciting episode”. Scott was very positive on the tool, overall. The pin was enigmatic to him as well – what if you lose it?!
Off-topic, I stumbled across: “toolcrate.co” today. Feel free to edit out that site URL Stuart if you want to avoid sending people there (because I am not endorsing it, nor do I know anything about them).
I’ve heard of this business model in a bunch of other product categories but never for tools. Since this is a Canadian site, I bet there actually are several USA versions.
I was just curious if you had any thoughts or knowledge of these types of subscription services.
Seems odd to me. $250 is a lot of money to give someone without knowing whether I would actually like any of the tools.
I think they are trying to market it based on having “curated” the tool selection – but also based on the idea that you’re getting a deal. Hard for me to imagine someone buying me tools without knowing what I have and ending up with $250 worth I could actually use though.
I discussed a now-defunct program a few years ago: https://toolguyd.com/tool-subscription-box/
$250 CAD (nearly $200 USD) is a lot of money for a blind box of tools.
Some of the selections might be sponsored, but others – going by what I’ve seen in the past on social media – look like they could be sourced from aggressive retail promotions (such as a Black Friday spade drill bit set).
It just doesn’t seem worth it to me, and these companies never seem to last more than a few years.
Of course you’ve already tackled this subject! I should learn to do a better check first.
That defunct program almost sounds better (with it’s tiers).
When I first found this website and saw the main page image I thought: “All that for $250? Maybe there is something to this!”
After poking around awhile I saw images of the actual “crates” you receive. Turns out that main page image is like the contents of six crates. 😄
The pictures of previous crates do at least demonstrate some decent tool selection – but I can’t help feeling if I just spent $250 on random tools I liked, I could do just as well.
I took at a look at this and a couple of other current and recent programs.
It might be for some people, but I really don’t see the appeal, at least as far as buying something like that for myself.
From my limited understanding, the difference between a starlock plus and Starlock Max has to do with the degrees of movement, not the connector. If you look at the Fein tools, the Plus tools have 2×1.7 (3.4 total) degrees while the Max tools have 2x 2.0 (4 total) degrees.
In his review of the Makita, Scott Brown Carpentry claims that the Starlock max requires a total movement of 3.6 degrees or higher. The Bosch 18v is only 2.8 degrees while the Festool is 4.0 degrees.
That doesn’t explain why Makita went with the pin. I would suspect that is to avoid a certain royalty payment. But that was just an uneducated guess from when I first saw it. Objectivly speaking, an part that can be lost makes the tool inferior to competitors. Its not much better than a tool that requires a wrench to change blades. I’m also highly concerned that it will be next to impossible to get replacement pins from Makita.
Is that a rule or just an observation? I have never seen any official details that tie the StarLock interface type to a tool’s oscillation angle.
The oscillation angle can also reflect power and performance. The higher the number, the greater the stroke length and also the higher the vibration.
StarLock Max accessories are typically longer or larger that standard or Plus accessories, and this means greater material engagement and higher load on the tool.
If you have an OMT with a 4° oscillation angle, that doesn’t mean it can handle StarLock Max accessories, as the ability to handle larger accessories is going to depend on the motor.
StarLock/Plus/Max is simply a way to ensure that larger or more demanding accessories are used with sufficiently capable tools. Maybe the oscillation angle ties into this in a way I have not yet seen, but I don’t think it’s directly required. A StarLock Max tool will usually have a higher oscillation angle to deliver the performance and application speed expected from a more powerful and premium tool.
It’s both. The motor is condition numero uno. However, the increased power allows for a wider arc and so they are kind of tied together when desiging accessories. Fein’s MultiTalent, Multimaster, and Supercut iterations served as the prototypical template for Starlock, Starlock Plus, and Starlock Max.
I still like the Dewalt paddle but everybody has their preferences.
Maybe I missed it in the article but, what is the availability of this tool?
Makita USA doesn’t say. Tool Nut listing says mid-September.
I could live with the pin if it were the only option, but even my old corded Bosch that predated Starlock doesn’t use a pin.
Related question — I’ve been using cheap Milwaukee blades from last year’s holiday sales. I’m satisfied with them. I realize Starlock blades will fit my non-Starlock tool. But am I missing out by not upgrading to a Starlock tool? The cost would be steep (new tool and expensive blades). Is it worth it?
I have used starlock tools belonging to others, I found the performance and durability of the blades no different to the generic lock. It’s just a different interface. Beta vs. VHS all over again it seems.
I’ve been using a Bosch corded Starlock Plus OMT (NZ product code GOP 40-30 ) for a couple of years, along with a Milwaukee cordless one. Both are tool-less blade changes, but the Starlock wins hands down for speed of attachment and removal. I love this speed change; makes things so much easier.
I haven’t noticed any difference in blade life between Starlock and other types, although I think the Bosch Starlock blades last longer than generic ones available in NZ. Unfortunately in NZ the Starlock blade are considerably more expensive than non-Starlock, but international internet ordering drops the price by about 1/3 to 1/2.
Y’all will find that, in general, the Bosch blades fail before Fein blades. Particularly where they are either brazed or welded. That said, some of the carbide blades from Bosch murder everything from Fein has to offer. If only I could remember which ones. :0
When I first tried Imperial, I thought they were garbage. I’ve gotten some starlock scraper blades from them recently and they are now my go to for that.
Who’d have thought Makita could make a cordless multi-tool MORE un-ergonomic than their initial version? Obviously, I’ve not held this one, but from the looks of it, no one would want to. Currently I use both the Dewalt 20v multi-tool and occasionally the Milwaukee M12. I picked up the M12 cheap as it’s one of the few modern tools out there that can use all my $$$ old Fein blades and tile accessories, as well as the newer Dewalt style.
The Dewalt’s ergonomics are unparalleled, though the spring blade release tension is very high.
As primarily a Makita cordless pro user for the last ten years or so, their string of fails is really stacking up. The horribly designed LXT sander, LXT multi-tool, LXT brad nailer, the X-mount grinder, the new 40V system…. I own at least 20 tools in the LXT system I’d guess and there’s not been a single new tool they’ve released in the last few years that has had much appeal.
I’m pretty sure everyone holds their cordless multitool all the way back by the battery so that they can still have feeling in their fingers when they’re retired. Po Tate To Po Tat Oh. The new Makita has been the only post patent expiration “OMT” to catch my attention. I saw the under the hood drawings and the effort in tackling anti-vibration impressed me very much. I haven’t had one in use, but, on paper, it looks like it would outperform Fein…which nobody else has bothered with. Their nailers suck. But new stuff… LXT? The new bandsaws are way better. The new lights are better than nothing. I use the inflator more than I ever imagined I would. That’s about 5 new skus.
40v? They’re awesome tools. I got rid of my LXT doubles. I have hitachi nailers, too. I would have to buy a new battery to get their 36v tools as well. Boo hoo.
Makita’s new inflator that you literally have to babysit while it’s running? No thanks. At least with the Dewalt you can set a psi and leave it and it’ll auto shutoff. This morning I used it all four tires ion my truck – handy to push the button and go about my business while it tops each off. And the setting stays so you can do ea h tire at the same setting without requiring further input.
Makita’s inflator certainly fills a hole, but aims pretty low in doing so. I say all that as a diehard Makita fan.
Auto/trigger lock functionality was a huge oversight. I’m with you there.
Check this out
It’s a hundred bucks more than the last model…. Ouch.
Yeah, but it at least it’s 100x better.
This would be an instant buy if it wasn’t for that stupid pin. I wanted Makita’s old model, but it was just too cumbersome to use in a regular basis. And the vibration was seriously bad… Happy they’ve taken that aspect seriously with this new tool.
I found a brand new Fein 12v Multimaster set at a pawn shop a few years ago for $150, and I’ve been using it hard ever since. It’s just the entry level brushed model, but the anti-vibe, ergonomics, and light weight honestly make it a pleasure to use. The Starlock with the quick release clamp makes it so fast and easy to change the angle of the blade, I can do it by feel without even looking. Once you get used to swapping the blade around constantly with Starlock, it’s pretty much impossible to go back. The only downside is the short run time from the 2.6ah batteries… But they charge in like 15min, so unless you’re seriously running the thing into the ground, there’s always another pack ready to go. Despite the modest power, and old motor/battery tech, it’s going to take a lot to tempt me away.
Still, I’m happy to see some mainstream manufacturers finally taking OMTs seriously. The M12 Fuel model also looks great. Lose the pin, and this Makita would be a home run.
The pin allows the tool to work with all Starlock options, including the Starlock Max. My understanding is that currently, the other cordless options available are not cross compatible in this way. Also the pin probably makes angle changes a little easier, with the downside it being slightly slower for initial blade attachment.
Also, reviews seem to say this is a great performing tool with best in class vibration control
If only I could see a blade change video. That would make up my mind for sure.
People are whining about the attachment. The last of my concerns. How smooth is it? How is the vibration? How powerful is it?
Just picked on up. It is unbelievably smooth. I couldn’t even believe how smooth.
I get mine tomorrow! Sold my previous Gen on CL yesterday.
If you were to buy a cordless multitool today, regardless of battery ecosystem, which model would it be?
I really like Milwaukee’s new models, but Dewalt’s are very aggressively priced during the holiday season.
Bosch hasn’t really cared about leading the space anymore. Fein vibration dampening tends to be more than a notch or two above other models. Festool’s has some neat accessories.
I’d get… Fein corded and maybe Milwaukee Fuel for cordless. I bought a Fein a few years ago and it’s still going strong. I wouldn’t necessarily get their cordless because it’s not convenient having single tools that require different battery and charger considerations.
There’s also Metabo HPT, which works with other batteries I keep charged to support my triple hammer impact.
The true Starlock interface is amazing though. So maybe Bosch, Fein, or Festool if money isn’t a factor.
I’ll make it simple. If you can swing it, go with Fein. They have been the best in this category and with their cordless multi tool model they are still the best, period!
So many queries around why a pin on a Makita DMT52Zx3 Starlock system.
Then one person answered way down at the end of the comments. Way to go for those needing relevant info in good time. This one was well buried. The answer needs to be pinned to the top so people like me can get the answer sooner rather than wade through every Joes idea on what is a good OMT. Geez!
The “so it can work with StarLock Max” accessories is wrong. Bosch and Fein StarLock Max tools have tool-free blade clamps without resorting to removable pins or parts. It’s possible this was a condition of the licensing or interface use. If the pin were a strength or benefit, Makita would discuss it in marketing materials, but they don’t.
There is one benefit I have found. While you are cutting, if you want to change the blade angle, the blade doesn’t come all the way off.
You unlock the pin, but it stays in the tool. There is enough wiggle room to move the blade to the new position. Then you can lock it down.
It still has the overall downside of a slower blade change. So if you do a lot of blade swaps it might not be worth it. I personally prefer not having blades go flying when I unlock the tool.