Makita 36V Brushless Plunge Track Saw – The Best Thing Since Sliced Wood

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Makita XPS01 plunge cut track saw

What's This?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 XPS01PTJ
Makita XPS01PTJ Cordless Plunge Cut Saw Kit. Photo –

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”.

As a "regular" circular saw.
The saw can be used without the track, just like any other circular 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.

55" guide rail
The optional (but highly recommended) guide rail takes things to a whole new level.

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

Makita XPS01 plunge cut saw
Relatively light in weight (but not a “lightweight”), weighing only a little over 11 lbs. with both batteries in place.

Some specs from

* 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

2 x 18V LXT lithium-ion power
36V of lithium-ion power drive the 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.

Variable speed motor drive
The speed control dial – Makita XPS01.

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

Shrouded blade
When not in use, the blade is fully retracted into the shroud.

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.

Trigger/plunge lock
Before squeezing the trigger, press the lock release with your thumb.

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”.

A nice toothy smile
The blade pivots downward from within the shroud.

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.

Lock release
The thumb-operated lock release button on the grip disengages this locking pin, freeing the trigger and allowing the tool to plunge.

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?

Metric depth gauge
The depth adjustment is marked in millimeters.

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.

Makita XPS01
The blade does not normally protrude like this. It’s in blade change mode for illustrative purposes only.

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!”

Ultra thin kerf blade
The XPS01 comes with a quality carbide toothed blade. The squiggly bits eliminate vibration for a cleaner cut.

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.

Blade change mode
This position puts the tool into blade change mode.
Arbor lock
This lock keeps the arbor from turning while wrenching on the bolt.

The included blade’s ultra thin design makes a hairline 1/16” kerf that wastes less material, creates less dust and extends battery life.

Loosening the blade
Lefty loosey, righty tighty.
Onboard hex wrench storage
The wrench snaps firmly into the on-board holder.

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!

Awesome dust collection
Makita makes a perfectly fine dust collector unit. In my case, however, I’m using a Ridgid shop vac.

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).

Dust port
Depending on your hose, you may need an adapter. I cut one from a spare tapered nozzle I had laying around.

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.

Makita XPS01 cuts the dust
Floor sweepings after cutting 3/4” plywood. Left: 67 linear feet with no dust collection. Right: 321 feet with a shop vac. What a difference!

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

Scoring cut depth stop
Use the track and engage this stop for scoring cuts.

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.

Scoring pass in melamine
From “mela-mean” to “mela-NICE”!

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.

Top surface scored
The scoring cut virtually eliminates costly, foul language-inducing 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.

Perfectly cut melamine
The cut on the left was made with a lesser circular saw. The middle and right are the result of a scoring pass. And the bottom side is just as clean as the 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

Dual battery charger
DC18RD two port multi fast charger. Works with Makita Li-Ion and Ni-MH batteries.

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.

Charge indicators
Indicator lights keep you informed of charge and conditioning status.

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).

USB port
The charger includes a USB port for your phone and other devices.

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.

Charge meter
Onboard battery charge meter.
Power meters on the saw as well
There are also battery gauges on the saw itself.

The Peculiar Case Of The Protected Makitas

Protective cases
Now that’s a storage case!

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.

Sliding latches
The latches slide so that the hard shell cases can be stacked and attached together in any order.

Both cases have handles. So no matter how you stack them, they’re easy to carry around.

Room for more batteries
There’s even enough room for a second pair of batteries.

Right On Track – The Makita XPS01 Track Saw

Right on track
The optional track (“guide rail”) accessory makes cutting straight lines as easy as pushing the saw forward.

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.

Adjustments remove play
There are two of these round black knobs. Adjust them as needed to remove any lateral play.

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.

No access!
And let’s face it, a lot of times my table saw – like every other horizontal surface in the shop – is cluttered with the various stages of other projects.

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.

Works left-handed too
I’m a lefty, but have no problem using the saw, and feeling safe in the process.

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.

Grippy strips
Two foam pads and one rubber strip keep the track in place while making your cuts. The rubber strip on the right is a zero clearance splinter guard that you trim before making your first real cut.

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

Angle gauge
Easy-to-read protractor scale.

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°.

45° stop bypass
The “48/45” lever is a positive stop for 45°. When flipped up, it allows for angles up to 48°.
0° stop bypass
There are two of these levers that let you to adjust for a -1° back cut. For example, when you need to eliminate visible gaps on the top side of an installation.
22.5° stop
There’s also a 22.5° stop you can engage if you need to precisely split the 45°.
Track lock
Extend this washer-like part to secure the saw to the guide rail when making beveled cuts.
Lock lever engaged
With the lever lock, the saw is prevented from tipping.

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.

Accurate bevels
Not bad at all. This bevel cut was free-handed without the guide track.

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

Cut hardboard shelf liners
I lined the shelves of this retired cosmetics retail display with hardboard. The track saw made it incredibly easy to get perfect cuts with minimal setup.

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.

Scrap bin frame
This shipping crate once held flooring tile. But it’s a great way to throw together a quick scrap wood/offcut bin.
Scrap bin
I used the Makita XPS01 track saw to line the crate with scrap OSB and plywood. Finished off with casters on the bottom, it became a perfect scrap bin solution in very little time and at almost no cost.

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

When wishes come true!
This right here is the answer to so many woodworkers’ wishes.

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!

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

55” guide rail:

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

The connectors to join two guide rails:

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

The bare XPS01 saw:

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

The corded version of this saw kit:

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

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.

Photo of author

About Steve

Steve made his first woodworking project at age 9 (in 1982) and whittled his first wooden chain at 18. He was also a consumer electronics repair tech and shop owner for a little over 20 years, until his impending obsolescence became impossible to ignore. Since then, Steve has focused passionately on manipulating his wood... in his workshop. Don't judge him.

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