This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. Circular saws are incredibly useful tools; so are table saws. Unfortunately, each has limitations. But what if you could combine both in an easily portable package that gives you the best of both worlds? And what if it was cordless, had great dust collection and was dolled up in a familiar teal hue? Well, we received Makita’s XPS01PTJ cordless plunge cut circular saw with optional track (“guide rail”) to run through the mill. It offers the best of both worlds, and we really like what we “saw”.
Makita XPS01PTJ Cordless Plunge Cut Saw Kit
Makita sent us the Makita XPS01PTJ kit for this Home Depot-sponsored review. The kit includes the XPS01 36V (18V x 2) cordless plunge cut circular saw, the DC18RD dual battery charger, a pair of 5.0Ah 18V battery packs and two interconnecting hard shell carrying cases.
They also sent a 55” guide rail, an accessory that – in my opinion – is what transforms this already-great saw into a must-have tool: a “track saw”.
Really though, the XPS01 amply holds its own as is, as a free standing circular saw. It cuts 2-by stock and sheet goods as well as you’d hope from any other workshop or jobsite circular saw.
I’ve been in love with the idea of track saws for years now, but let’s discuss the saw and its suite of features first. Then we’ll circle back around and see what makes the guide rail so appealing.
Spec(tacular) Plunge Cut Saw
Some specs from HomeDepot.com:
* Powered by 2 LXT batteries; X2 LXT technology delivers more power, speed and run time without the hassles of a cord
* Makita built electronically controlled BL brushless motor delivers 6,300 RPM for maximum performance and 50% longer run time per charge
* Automatic speed change technology adjusts cutting speed and torque during cut for optimum performance
* Large cutting capacity (2-3/16 in. at 90; and 1-9/16 in. at 45)
* Bevel capability (-1 to 48) with positive stops at 22.5 and 45
* Electric brake for maximum productivity
* Ideal for cutting large wood panels and other wood materials in confined areas
* Compact and ergonomic design at 13-5/8 in. length; weighs only 11.2 lbs. with batteries for reduced operator fatigue
* 1-7/16 in. dust exhaust port (1-1/2 in. OD) directs material away from the operator; allows connection to a vacuum for improved dust collection
* Close to the wall cutting (11/16 in.) for expanded cutting applications
Makita Brushless Motor
The motor used in the XPS01 plunge circular saw allows for longer battery life and eliminates the need to ever replace worn brushes. The saw is equipped with soft start and electric braking. That is, the motor starts more gently, with less lunge, and the blade comes to a halt almost immediately upon releasing the trigger. Two nice touches that increase user safety.
The motor speed is variable from 2,500 – 6,300 RPM. And – for when the work load requires more power to muscle through – there’s current sensing technology that automatically switches to higher torque mode to prevent bogging down. The saw also features overload, overheat and over-discharge protection.
Take The Plunge With Makita’s XPS01PTJ Plunge Circular Saw Kit
One thing that always makes me a little nervous about standard circular saws is the exposed blade. Sometimes the retractable guard doesn’t “un-retract”, uhm… return to its closed position; whatever the heck you’d call it. Set one down while the blade is spinning and the guard hasn’t fully closed and you’d better be wearing disposable underwear, ’cause they’re going in the trash.
With the Makita XPS01, this is never a concern. There is no moving guard to snag on the workpiece when trimming close to an edge – which I’ve had happen more than a few times over the years (it’s annoying and sometimes spoils the cut) – and no exposed blade to put the proverbial “dung” in your “dungarees”.
Since the blade is quickly covered and stopped, you can set the saw down immediately after making a cut, potentially saving a lot of time over the course of a job.
Pretty much any circular saw is capable of making a plunge cut. But the XPS01’s plunge action gives you a safer way to go about it. The base of the tool is resting firmly on the workpiece before the blade even starts turning.
Sink Your Teeth To A Depth Of 56mm – What?
Maximum cut depth (slightly less when using the track):
* at 0°: 2-3/16” (56mm)
* at 45° bevel: 1-9/16” (40mm)
* at 48° bevel: 1-1/2” (38mm)
Perhaps Makita is doing their part to nudge us towards the metric system. Or maybe they just forgot that we’re in the United States: the land of fast food, slow drivers and illogical measurement conventions. Whatever the rhyme or reason, they labeled the depth gauge in mm rather than inches.
Personally, I’ve never set the depth of a circular saw using the gauge. I – and most others, I’d image – do so by placing the blade alongside the material to be cut and setting the stop so it extends just past the material. So it’s likely a non-issue. Alien measurements and linear Smoots aside, the depth adjustment is quick and easy to set and stays put. And that’s what’s important. Right?
In My Best (Albeit Terrible) Tattoo Voice, Pointing Skyward: “Da Blade! Da Blade!”
Even the best saw is worthless without a good blade. Luckily, Makita sees fit to include a high quality 6-1/2”, 55-tooth, vibration-dampened slicer/dicer that produces a very smooth cut when ripping or crosscutting.
The included blade’s ultra thin design makes a hairline 1/16” kerf that wastes less material, creates less dust and extends battery life.
Blade replacement is quite simple. There’s a lock to hold the plunge mechanism in a partially lowered position and another to keep the arbor from rotating.
Makita XPS01 Dust Collection – This One’s A Biggie!
Another downer associated with most circular saws is that they throw dust absolutely everywhere. In a neck to neck tie with the optional guide rail, my and my lungs’ favorite aspect of the Makita XPS01 is how little mess it makes. This, for me, is huge. The two factors that contribute to its cleanliness are the shroud – which corrals the dust remarkably well – and the thin kerf blade (which produces less dust to begin with).
I cleaned the filter in my shop vac then proceeded to see just how well the XPS01 dust port works. First of all, if you don’t use a vac, you can just aim the port away from you. This alone is a huge improvement over traditional circular saws, who’s unstated mission is to cover us from head to toe in as much dust as possible.
With a vac, however, stray dust is virtually eliminated. The photo below illustrates the dramatic improvement made by attaching a shop vac to the collection port. The cup on the left contains dust swept up from a previously-cleaned floor after only 67 linear feet of 3/4” plywood.
On the right, and in stark contrast, we have the minuscule amount of debris from 321 linear feet of 3/4” plywood. That’s over 4-1/2 times as much cutting with much, much less dust! And, honestly, some of that is courser material that might not even be from the cuts. If that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will.
He Cuts, He Scores, The Crowd Goes Wild! – Makita XPS01 scoring feature
Another welcomed feature of note is the scoring stop. This is used along with the optional track accessory to make a 2-3mm deep cut. “But why?”, you might ask. It actually serves a very useful purpose.
If you’ve ever tried cutting melamine or cabinet grade plywood with a circular saw, you’ve likely experienced the heart-sinking anger of expensive material ruined in an instant by irreparable chipping and tearout.
The XPS01’s ultra thin kerf blade is already great at keeping tearout to a minimum. A little more so with the guide rail’s zero clearance chip guard. But this is the cherry on top.
Make one pass for scoring. Leaving the track in place, disengage the scoring stop and make a final cutting pass for chip-free results sure to make your wallet and blood pressure very happy.
Makita LXT Lithium-Ion Battery Packs & Charger
The kit comes with a pair of 5.0Ah, 18V lithium-ion batteries and a dual charger. This is part of Makita’s massive LXT lithium-ion line-up, so the batteries are compatible with over 175 different tools, and counting.
The charger has forced air fans that cool hot battery packs for efficient 45 minute charging (except in rare cases when a special conditioning charge cycle is required).
And when charging is complete, the unit serenades you with one of six user-selectable notifications: two different tones and four melodies. Für Elise, anyone? No seriously, it’ll play that.
The Peculiar Case Of The Protected Makitas
In a sea of insufficient power tool storage solutions, I was pleasantly surprised to receive both the plunge cut saw and batteries/charger in nice hard shell cases! I wonder if Makita has been taking notes from the big “F-tool” (you know, the company whose tools come in vaguely similar hard cases and is well known for having a track saw that everyone likes to complain about being “way overpriced”). You’ve done well, Makita! You’ve done well.
Both cases have handles. So no matter how you stack them, they’re easy to carry around.
Right On Track – The Makita XPS01 Track Saw
If you’re like me, you dread manhandling large, unwieldy sheet goods to and across the table saw. I usually bring a handheld power saw to the workpiece and break it down that way, then clean up as needed at the table saw. It’s just easier and safer, especially when you work alone and lack decent outfeed support.
Breaking down sheet goods with a circular saw or jigsaw involves clamping a straightedge to the work piece – if you want straight cuts, that is. But it doesn’t always work as well as you’d think; long straightedges can bow when you apply the necessary sideways pressure.
Sometimes my regular circular saws want to veer off course, away from the straightedge. Even worse are jigsaws, whose blades all too easily flex to follow the grain rather than my intended cut line.
The straight-line struggle is real. But not with a track guided saw! The Makita XPS01 plunge circular saw makes perfectly straight cuts every time when riding the rails. No flexing, no veering and no secondary cleanup required. The track also makes diagonal cuts – something that, depending on the specifics, may not even be possible on a table saw – a cool breeze.
There are optional guide rail clamps that will come in very handy in a lot of cases. But for most larger sheet goods cuts, the track can be used just fine simply set in place.
Making Beveled Cuts With The Makita XPS01 Plunge Cut Track Saw
The Makita XPS01 plunge cut saw is easy to adjust for bevel cuts: loosen the two locking knobs, tilt the base and cinch the knobs again. No tools required. There is an easy-to-read protractor. But the best part about the process is the positive stops that allow for quick, accurate setup of common angles. The base automatically stops at 90° (0° on the scale) and 45° on the other end of the scale. But you can override the stops to extend the range from -1° up to +48°.
When I received the saw, I had to fine tune a set screw to bring the 45° stop into perfect alignment. But that’s a simple one-time set-up procedure that you may or may not have to deal with.
Accessories – Pimp Out Your Makita XPS01 Track Saw
We’ve already covered the optional guide rail track, the main attraction, as far as I’m concerned. The rail comes in 55” lengths (or 118”, but it will cost you a lot more than a pair of 55s plus the connector). For track cuts longer than 4′, you’ll need a second guide rail and the connectors that mate them together.
You can also purchase guide rail clamps that anchor the rail to your workpiece. I didn’t need them for any of my cuts, but there will likely be times when they’re a must. There’s also an available sub base edge rule for cutting parallel to an edge and a protective storage/carrying bag for your guide rails.
Cutting Straight To The Chase With The Makita XPS01 Track Saw
In addition to a bunch of test cuts, I’ve also used the saw for a couple of actual projects so far. Nothing major (though it will surely see its fair share of larger projects), but I did want nice straight cuts. And that’s exactly what I got.
This a great saw with features that brightly outshine the three or four other circular saws squirreled away in my shop. It will be the one I grab from now on; both in the shop and on the go. You just can’t beat the convenience and freedom of cordless.
The Final Cut – Makita XPS01 Plunge Cut Track Saw
Home Depot sent only one 55” guide rail, which is long enough to cut an 8×4 sheet of plywood in the short direction. But I love this so much I will be purchasing a second track and the connectors (so I can make up to 8′ cuts) and a pair of guide rail clamps. This saw will be used on a regular basis. It’s exactly what I’ve needed for a very long time.
I do recommend the Makita XPS01. Not because of The Home Depot’s sponsorship of this review, but because it opens up a whole new line of possibilities. It will make woodworkers’, carpenters’ and many homeowners’ and DIYers’ lives a heck of a lot easier. For years now I’ve been teetering on the track saw fence. I’m late to the game, yes, but I’ve finally seen the light. And it’s beautiful.
In addition to everything already mentioned: the XPS01 is relatively quiet (compared to traditional circular saws) and the saw, batteries and charger are all backed by Makita’s 3-year limited warranty.
If you’ve ever considered stepping up to a track saw, now is the perfect time to do so. The Makita XPS01PTJ plunge circular saw kit with two batteries, charger and the saw: all for only $499!
55” guide rail:
The connectors to join two guide rails:
The bare XPS01 saw:
The corded version of this saw kit:
I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with Home Fixated in sponsored content. As a part of the sponsorship, Home Fixated is receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are our own words. This post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
3 thoughts on “Makita 36V Brushless Plunge Track Saw – The Best Thing Since Sliced Wood”
Very informative review. Thank you-
I’m glad you and I have joined the party. It really is a game changer. Thanks for reading!
I’ve been a late adopter too, but this is really nice! Thanks for such an in-depth review.