Most of us are old enough to have been around when the first battery-powered tools came on the market. To classify the early ones as tools may be stretching the imagination a bit, but I digress. The cordless industry has come a lonnnnnnng way since then and I now have quite a few cordless tools in my arsenal. At the moment, I’m considering if the Makita cordless track saw has a place in my shop.
Makita Cordless Plunge Saw Kit
Now in my experience, cordless convenience has always come with a price. Lack of power, short run time, batteries going dead before the others charge. You get the idea. So you can’t blame me for being a little skeptical when asked to review Makita’s 18V X2 LXT Plunge Cut Saw.
I reviewed the Makita SP6000J track saw a few months ago and am fairly impressed with the quality of the build and the straightforward design. Since the Makita XPS01 is built on the same foundation, I’m going to focus in on how the two compare.
Price and Value
On its own, the bare tool is $349 or $465.00 for the kit. The caveat here is that you have to purchase the track separate – something that I consider a must-have to take advantage of the design. That’s another $75 if you don’t have another one at your disposal. On the corded side, you can grab the SP6000J with the rail for $409. If you already have the batteries you need, that’s a $15 premium to go cordless – not bad at all. If you need to purchase the kit, your premium goes up to $165 over the corded kit, which might make you think a little bit.
The good thing is that you’re not trading off less power and short runtime if you go cordless. There’s enough of both for the Makita cordless track saw to be your primary track saw and the batteries recharge fast enough to keep up with demanding days. Job site carpenters will see the biggest benefit, but there’s a lot to be said for the convenience cordless brings to the shop as well.
First Impressions of Makita Cordless Plunge Saw Kit
The Makita XPS01 comes in two varieties. You can get it as a bare tool or kitted with a dual charger and 5.0 Ah batteries. For testing, I got my hands on the kit along with Makita’s 55″ track – the same one you use with their corded track saw.
With the Makita system, you can use your existing 18V batteries to power this saw. In fact, you get to use 2-18V batteries which means it’s a 36V Track Saw.
So, in the end, you get a ton of power and longer run times. While I love this system, I love how Makita is designing tools with more power and run time, but I don’t have to invest into a different battery platform or spend extra money.
At first glance, the Makita cordless track saw seems a clone of the corded version but upon a closer look has a few unique differences. The XPS01 has a slightly lower profile and an expanded lower handle that appears to be a heat sink for the motor. The two large batteries are also prominent atop and below the motor housing.
Both the saws have the same 48° bevel capacity and 55 mm depth of cut. That’s 2.165″ for us old guys.
Both models have a unique scoring feature that all but eliminates veneer chips as well as variable speed controls that allow you to match the blade speed to the material you are cutting. That’s a great help when cutting laminates that will melt with too high a blade speed.
The bases are almost identical in form and function. Rail lock slides for making bevel cuts and friction control are in identical left base positions, and the adjustable dust ports are the same.
Both have on-board wrenches for blade changes, soft start motors, and electronic speed control.
I have grown accustomed to using the corded SP6000J to break down ¾” cabinet plywood instead of the table saw. The simplicity of setup and the ability to make tapered bevel cuts with ease make this tool a standout. So I put the cordless model through the same routine.
Something that stands out to me immediately is that the ergonomics of are a little different with the cordless saw. The weight of the two 18V batteries and the slightly tweaked handle design gives this beast a front heavy disposition. Given that this unit is designed to glide along a rigid track, the weight distribution works to its advantage as the saw seats and maintains its position on the track very well.
Makita has fantastic stock saw blades. That’s important for a tool like this. It allows you to cut well on fine veneer plywoods with virtually no tear out. With some saws, you need to pick up a quality third-party blade to go along with your purchase, but that’s not the case for Makita.
Power and Runtime
The power delivered by the 36V brushless motor is more than adequate for my carpentry tasks. Having enough power to match the corded track saw isn’t a huge surprise. The SP6000J does everything I ask of it on a 12-amp motor. Getting 36V of lithium-ion power to give me the same performance isn’t too tall an order.
What that means is that there’s plenty of stored energy in those battery packs to give you impressive runtime along with the power. A Makita brushless motor helps as well. The Makita cordless track saw powered through more than fifty 48” cuts with plenty more in store.
Makita Cordless Track Saw Review Features
Makita built the 6-1/2″ saw around a brushless motor that delivers a speed of 2,500 – 6,300 rpms. With this saw, you have a depth of cut of 2-3/16″ at 90° and 1-9/16″ at 45°. The saw with the batteries weighs 11.2 lbs.
To adjust the speed, there is a dial you can move from 1 to 5 and set it to your desired speed to match your work.
Right under the speed dial setting is your battery fuel gauge. Each battery has a separate light system so you know the charge of each battery.
To start the saw, just pull the finger trigger. The handle has over-molded rubber to make it more comfortable. The saw uses a soft start feature which is nice, plus I love the electric brake.
Once the saw is up to speed, you can push down on the thumb button and plunge the saw down to make your cut.
The spring is nice and solid which means the saw feels nice when you are plunging.
The saw is already set up to work with a dust management system to keep your area clear and clean. Unfortunately, the saw doesn’t come with a dust bag. Good news, you can adjust the direction where the debris comes out of the saw.
Making adjustments to the depth of cut or bevel is simple and easy to access. I love how easy it is to read the adjustments. The saw has front and rear bevel supports. The bevel capability is -1º to 48º.
The saw has positive stops at 22.5° and 45°.
The saw travels down the track using a one rail system.
Makita Cordless Track Saw Review Performance
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I am building a desktop for my boy’s room. It’s only going to be up for about a year, so didn’t want to do anything fancy especially since they will beat the heck out of it. I used the saw to cut some plywood for the top.
I didn’t have to use clamps on the track. The bottom pads kept it tight against the wood and didn’t have any issues. I love how smooth the saw travels down the track.
I also cut a couple small piece of oak wood for some trim. During these cuts, I could feel and sense how the motor would adjust speed to keep everything running smooth. Each pass the saw did an awesome job at making a clean and accurate cut. The saw didn’t bog down and the only reason I could tell it was battery powered was I wasn’t getting a cord all tangled up. After using this saw, I am not sure if I could go back to a corded Track Saw.
I will be replacing a couple of doors in my house and will be using the Makita system to get the job done.
Makita Cordless Track Saw Review Value
The bare saw retails for about $360 on The Home Depot. If you are going to be making one or two critical cuts per year, you might be better off setting up a jig. Remember you will still need the Track and batteries.
However, if you are a carpenter looking to produce quality cuts and are performing work that requires precision, this is a great saw to own. I love how you can cut the cord and work anywhere you want. The dust management system is awesome when you pair it with the Makita vacuum.
For those who need a Track Saw, this will save time, frustration and produce quality cuts time after time, so for those reasons, it’s a great buy and a great value.
Makita Cordless Track Saw Review Final Thoughts
Bottom line, this saw rocks. Everything on the saw screams quality. I love how smooth this saw is to operate, plus the finish cut looks perfect. While I wish it came with a dust bag, I like how I can redirect the chips away from me. Not being tied to a cord is awesome plus I love how I am not losing power or run time for those jobs that require more work. If you are looking for a Track Saw, the Makita should definitely be one to take a closer look at buying.