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Makita USA

Makita 5620D 18V
With the blade on the left side, a noticeable forward balance, and plenty of power under load, the 18-volt Makita invites favorable comparison to a wormdrive. More than one carpenter who tried this saw didn't want to give it back. Clearly more than a trim saw, this is an excellent tool for remote locations - and as a friend pointed out, anything past the end of your cord is a remote location. It won't replace your AC circular saw, but it will cut more than 150 2x4s or two dozen 8-foot rips through OSB without a power cord to be seen.

We tested the 18-volt model with both the 2.0Ah NiCad battery and the 2.2Ah NiMH battery. The NiMH battery gave about a 15% increase in crosscut capacity, which is actually more than I would have expected. (NiMH technology is one of the hottest topics in cordless tools these days - see Notebook, 10/99 - and we're all waiting to see how NiMH batteries will work out over the long run.)

Many framers routinely prop dimensional lumber up on one foot and "drop" the saw through the cut. Because of its forward balance, the Makita performs this maneuver easily and comfortably (see photo, at beginning of article). It handles 2-by stock easily and has plenty of power for ripping that last run of sheathing, or installing an access panel or skylight. Take a spare battery with you and you might forget about pulling a cord up onto the roof.

The 18-volt model cut more linear feet of 7/16 OSB than any other saw tested, and with the NiMH battery, it was comparable to the Hitachi on 2x4 crosscuts. Brake action was quick, and overall construction looked sound. External brush holder caps make for fast change-outs, and the shoe could be replaced in minutes if it were to be damaged, both nice features. Two of the shoe-mount screws came loose (one actually fell out), so a little Loctite 222 (the purple low-strength formula - don't use the red or blue) might be helpful here. If you took care of this as soon as you unpacked the saw you'd probably never have a problem. Scales across the front of the shoe and down the left side could be handy.

The 14.4-volt model has predictably less runtime. The unusually fast 2x10 cut times shown in the chart may be the result of a difference in wood density, since this saw was tested on a different 2x10 than the rest. In any case, this was an average taken from five cuts, and very impressive for a 14.4-volt saw. The bevel scale took some getting used to on this model, so it's worth checking with a 45-degree triangle as you set it up for the first time. As with any 6-1/2-inch saw, you're going to need every bit of blade you can get to make a 45-degree cut through 2-by material.

The Makita 18-volt was the hands-down favorite of Mark Hopkins, construction supervisor at Prull & Associates. He pointed out that the left-side blade offers a clear view of the cut line, and the combination of forward balance and overall good performance make it easy to work with for a variety of tasks. Mark also noted that the controls for depth of cut and angle adjustment are well-placed and easy to use, as is the trigger safety button. The smooth table makes this saw an especially good choice for finish work. For those more accustomed to sidewinders, Makita has just introduced the Model 5621DWA, with the blade on the right side.

More New Cordless Saws


Just when you thought 18-volt cordless tools were pushing the limit, there's more. Among the new saws introduced at the National Hardware Show in August was Bosch's 24-volt, 6-1/2-inch blade-left cordless saw, which includes a dust port for vacuum attachment. This saw comes as part of a kit that includes a drill/driver, a flashlight, two 24-volt batteries, and a charger. It should be available in mid-November for about $489.

DeWalt DW007K
DeWalt has also introduced a circular saw as part of its new line of 24-volt tools. The 6-1/2-inch 4,000-rpm DW007K has an electric brake, and will take a 2-1/8-inch cut at 90 degrees or 1-5/8 inch at 45 degrees. The saw is priced around $300. For an additional $150, there is an AC/DC converter available (same size and weight as the battery), so you can plug this saw in if you like. When you hit the end of your cord, you can replace the converter with a battery and keep on going.

Porter-Cable now has a line of 19.2-volt tools, which includes the Model 9845 Saw Boss. The Saw Boss has a left-side blade, a 1-9/16-inch depth of cut at 45 degrees, and a dust port that can direct sawdust away from the line of cut or into an accessory dust collection bag. This could be a real advantage at punc

Porter Cable 9845 Saw Boss
h-list time. The 2,600-rpm 470-watt motor has rare earth magnets, long-life brushes, and steel gearing. The Model 9845 kit includes the Saw Boss, a charger with diagnostics, two 19.2-volt batteries, an 18-tooth carbide blade, and a plastic carrying case. We couldn't get a saw in time to review for this article, but did get to spend a few minutes with it at the show. The balance and overall "feel" was excellent, and we look forward to giving it a workout. The kit should be available now for about $299.

*First number is number of cuts made before noticeable decrease in performance. Second number is total number of cuts.**These cuts were made with a NiMH battery. 133/152 cuts were made with a NiCad battery.  2.6 sec., Rockwell sidewinder, 20T blade

Bosch Power Tools

4300 West Peterson Ave.

Chicago, IL 60646


Makita USA

14930 Northam St.

LaMirada, CA 90638


DeWalt Industrial Tool

626 Hanover Pike

Hampstead, MD 21074


Porter-Cable Corp.

P.O. Box 2468

Jackson, TN 38302


Hitachi Power Tools

3950 Steve Reynolds Blvd.

Norcross, GA 30093


Ryobi America

1424 Pearman Dairy Rd.

Anderson, SC 29625