Makita XSS02Z Review
Pros: Easy to change blade, reliable cutting power, lever actuated shoe adjustments
Cons: Average battery life, poor sightlines, no positive stops
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
For those users that like saw features aimed at addressing common needs and design problems, the Makita XSS02 will not impress. The Makita is a pared-down machine in the vein of a traditional plug-in circular saw. Its adjustments lack positive stops, there isn't a cutting light, and the sightlines are hard to follow. However, it has plenty of power, levers securing bevel and depth adjustments, and one of the better blade replacements systems that we have tested.
Above all, we like the blade changing system on the Makita. The blade lock is easy to depress while maintaining a good grip on the motor housing. Moreover, the locking points occur every few degrees, so you don't have to rotate the blade around and around searching for one. Also, the Allen key is conveniently located in a flush slot next to the battery.
We also like that the motor has plenty of cutting power, especially for a 6 1/2" saw. The Makita can handle full depth cross cuts of both soft and hardwood. It does a pretty good job ripping planks and sheeting as well.
Aside from the novelty of being cordless, the Makita is more on the traditional side of circular saw designs. What that means is that the saw requires the user to double-check the bevel and depth adjustments with a tape measure and square. Additionally, the saw lacks a cutting light and blade brake. The lack of these features restricted this saws ability to claim a high ranking among its more "modern" peers despite a clear capacity to make tough cuts.
While no reasonable person would say that the Makita is anything less than a reliable saw, it is a bit overpriced in our estimation. The fact is, one can get a saw with longer battery life or greater ease of use for about the same amount of money. While this saw is certainly not a rip-off, we can't say that it's a great value either.
The Makita XSS02 has some laudable design features such as a fantastic blade swapping system, adjustment levers, and ample power. However, the battery life is middle of the road, the shoe adjustments are old school — meaning that they'll require some double-checking — and the sightlines are tough to follow through a cut. For those used to older circular saws, this won't seem like a big deal. As for greenhorns, the lack of these features could lead to cuts of dubious accuracy.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer