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Makita XSS02Z Review

This 6 1/2" saw is reasonably powerful with minimal ease of use features
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Price:   $119 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Easy to change blade, reliable cutting power, lever actuated shoe adjustments
Cons:  Average battery life, poor sightlines, no positive stops
Manufacturer:   Makita
By Nick Miley and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Dec 19, 2019
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • Ease of Use - 50% 4
  • Cutting - 30% 8
  • Battery - 20% 6

Our Verdict

The Makita XSS02 is a capable 6 1/2" saw with descent cutting power and average battery life. What hurt this saw in the rankings is its lack of both a higher quality battery and user interface features. For instance, while the bevel adjustment is secured with a lever — a definite plus — the lever obstructs the view of the angle marks. It also lacks a blade brake and positive bevel stops. On the upside, the saw has one of the best blade swapping systems that we have evaluated.

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.

Performance Comparison



Likes


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.

The Makita makes demanding cuts with the ease of a plug-in saw.
The Makita makes demanding cuts with the ease of a plug-in saw.

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.


Dislikes


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.


Value


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.

Conclusion


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