Makita XSS02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Circular Saw
There are specialized devices that do specialized stuff better than this saw does them. But for basic tasks? For 99% of what you want a circular saw to do...this thing gets the job done.
PROS
High build quality and reliability
Motor is rated as fairly powerful for a cordless unit
Makes accurate cuts
Makes clean and aesthetically pleasing cuts
Ergonomics and overall workflow are reported as very good
CONS
Battery and charger are not included with the unit
Motor is a brush motor, not a ball-bearing-and-axle-style motor
Batteries run on 18v, not 20v like many other tools
8.7

This Makita XSS02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion circular saw has a motor that runs using ”brushes” not by using a ball-bearing drive. It is also powered not by AC power, but by an 18 volt battery. This battery and charger is not included, but must be purchased separately.

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These statements are not necessarily negative. There’s honestly nothing wrong with any of that information. Though, as we will show you in this guide, these are also the reasons why this Makita saw is not higher up on the list. Veiled product put-downs aside, this Makita is a decent handsaw.  And we’ll also explain that to you; it’s because the thing is durable. Basically, with the Makita, you’re trading features for build quality, as it’s almost impossible to find a negative review for this device. Most of the five star reviews even say, ”Well, at first I had my doubts, but…” and end up praising the unit. The ”little things” about the Makita seem to really impress users. One guy said that the surface finish left by using his Makita looked and felt nicer than his other three circular saws that have better blades in them. The battery seems to work for a long time; the saw seams to have enough power to cut through pretty ruff lumber. Basically, everything you think you can do with a Makita, you’ll probably be able to actually get done.

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Brand and Model History

Makita is a Japanese power tool company founded in 1915, and they do a lot of business. They have factories and operations in at least a half-dozen countries. They do a couple billion dollars worth of business every year, and it is worth mentioning that most of their products sold in North America are built and tested in Buford, Georgia, USA. They along with the brand Milwaukee Tools are sort of known as the most reliable tool companies around; they’re similar in that way to a Honda is with cars. They are also fairly unique in that they only make power tools. They’re not a ”legacy” brand that was purchased by a large conglomerate or anything. Makita makes power tools, and nothing else. Honestly though, all of these things are positives for purposes of our reviews. Makita tools have a very good reputation online…as we said earlier, it’s almost impossible to find a negative review of this saw!

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Product Features

Pros

  • High build quality and reliability. Basically, this is what you pay for with a Makita. They have a very strong warranty and after sales product policy. If anything happens to any of their stuff in the first 30 days, they’ll repair or replace for free. Their basic warranty is a year, and their battery warranty is something like 3 years. It’s nice to see a company back their products so strongly.
  • Motor is rated as fairly powerful for a cordless unit. There are a bunch of stories and reviews online about how people decided to use this cordless Makita to cut a bunch of really big and or really thick stuff. This contrasts fairly sharply with a lot of the other reviews of other products online…which tell stories about how they tried to cut tiny thing ”x” or soft thing ”y” and the cordless drill was too weak for the job.
  • Makes accurate cuts. This is another thing that can be gleaned from online reviews.
    What’s funny is that a lot of people that seem to review Makita gear own lots of other tools. I’t not strange to read a review about a Makita product where the owner mentions that they own 2 or 3 other circular saws. If you own 3 other saws, and you’re still buying or using this Makita (and singing it’s praises!) then that’s a really good thing.
  • Makes clean and aesthetically pleasing cuts. This also goes along with what’s written above. It’s also a testament to the quality of the blade that comes stock on the Makita saw. Multiple people mention it as a unit that cuts not just quickly but cleanly.
  • Ergonomics and overall workflow are reported as very good. We have talked a lot about power supplies, and volts, and what kind of features a tool has vs others. But there’s also obviously a lot to be said about how a tool feels in your hand, whether it gives you blisters or makes you sore or whether you forget it’s even there. This Makita seems to be way more like the second example. It is hard to quantify this kind of stuff in reviews, so we’re writing it here.

Cons

  • Battery and charger are not included with the unit. Yup, sadly this is the case, they must be purchased extra. There are at least two positive spins on this rather negative attribute; one, if you own any other Makita power tools, you probably already have batteries that will work with the saw. This way you don’t have to waste money buying something that is basically a duplicate of something else you already have at your house.
  • Motor is a brush motor, not a ball-bearing-and-axle-style motor. Recently, a lot of manufacturers have started switching over to a ball-bearing-and-axle style of motor drive. It’s pretty much been proven now that this style lasts longer, is quieter, and is just a better design than the old style. So you’re kind of paying for last-generation technology here.
  • Batteries run on 18v, not 20v like many other tools. Like with the motor discrepancy, a lot of the power tool brands run on 20v batteries now, and honestly have more power than the Makita. I guess the counterpoint to that is that no one’es really ever complained about either the lack of power on this device or the lack of battery life. But, just so you know as a customer, these factors do exist and it does seem to be that there are better options elsewhere.

 

Final Verdict

There are specialized devices that do specialized stuff better than this saw does them. But for basic tasks? For 99% of what you want a circular saw to do…this thing gets the job done. 

This unit, not unlike the more spartan Skilsaws, isn’t built or marketed as something that can wow you with a spec sheet. It’s just not that type of product. It’s a product that is simply built to be elegant, to do it’s job well, and to last a heckuva long time. And honestly, you can’t fault a product like that one bit.  Just know that in a lot of ways, you can get a lot more for your money than with this Makita. But many market leaders and successful companies also operate in this manner. Take cars for an example; a Mercedes costs more and has significantly less options and features than say, an Infinity or an Acura. In a lot of ways this makes no sense. Why would a ”better” product (and I say better in the consumer-perception sense of the word here) have less features and quite possibly a higher cost? It makes no sense, right? Goes against all principles of economics, right? Well, right and wrong. Features aren’t everything, and a lot of people might call Mercedes the best kind of car you can buy. Nike shoes might be another example. Rolex watches. Whatever. Makita strives to be that kind of company, and that’s why it’s products sit in the market the way they do. It is up to you to decide if you want them.