I still use a Makita power planer that was as old as dirt when it was handed down to me 20 years ago. And I’ve been using the same 12-inch Makita chop saw for more years than I care to admit. Both tools still work great today, so when I started testing the Makita 10-inch cordless compound miter saw, I hoped to find another well-designed, durable tool. I was not disappointed.
My editor asked if I would be interested in testing out a new 10-inch saw from Makita (model XSL06PT). Although my 12-inch chop saw was in fine working condition, I was looking for a slide-saw with versatile cut capacity, so the timing was perfect. This saw works off two 18V batteries for a total of 36V. As a start, I like the fact that this saw can be put flush against the wall without losing any slide range. And I was curious to test out the cordless aspect—being, I admit, skeptical of a cordless miter saw with this level of cut capacity.
EASY TO ADJUST AND ACCURATE
The first thing that jumped out at me on this saw was the upfront bevel control, located just to the left of the blade housing at the end of the slides. It was so obvious, I managed to whack my head on it a few times when I went in to take a closer look while making a cut (I’m not always a quick study). Like me, most of the guys I polled on the jobsite who tried it out appreciated not having to grope around behind the saw for the old familiar levers. The head isn’t counterweighted as on a Kapex, so you do have to manually move the bevel to your desired angle. A few light twists of the knob and it holds fast, though, and if you leave it a little loose, you can get a nice ratcheting resistance, allowing you to easily dial in your angle.
Out of the box, the bevel angle was about 2 degrees off but was easily corrected; the miter angle was not quite as far off and was easily corrected as well. The bevel release button to bevel right as well as the “releasing levers” that allow you to go beyond 45 degrees are also conveniently located and easy to reach at the base of the carriage. There is a latch lever on the right that allows you to lock in standard bevel stops of 22.5 degrees and 33.9 degrees—convenient if you remember it’s there. If you don’t, and the little lever gets flipped down by accident, the bevel will inexplicably lock, causing you to call customer service and sound like an idiot. (That said, I found Makita’s customer service easy to get through to and excellent at figuring out my issue—and they didn’t treat me like I was, well, an idiot.)
Aside from the guide rail placement, the big innovation for this saw is, of course, its lack of a cord, which I have to admit is an important feature lost on me. But I’m old-school: I still have a tote of extension cords that stays in my trailer for every job I go to. My attitude is that although this saw is free from the leash, the double battery charger isn’t, so no matter what, you need to plug something in somewhere.
I used the saw mostly in the field on the fly, and without the cord, I wasn’t able to use my switch-activated vac to set up for automatic dust collection in finished areas. That was not a big deal—I can manually switch on a vac or use the dust bag. However, I recently learned that there is a Bluetooth-enabled model just like this one (XSL04ZU) that works with a Bluetooth-enabled cordless vac. If I still worked regularly in finished houses, I might consider it. I found dust collection to be adequate when the saw was hooked up to a dust extractor or vacuum; the dust bag clogged a lot and was less useful.
CORDED POWER, IMPRESSIVE RUNTIME
The dual 18V batteries have impressive power and longevity; the saw performed in power and cut quality no differently than corded saws I’ve used in the past. A co-worker and I used the saw constantly for nearly two days trimming a house, and the batteries almost made it through the second day without a charge. I did annoy myself once by not charging the batteries the night before. I had not looked at the fuel gauge on the saw, so I take full blame.
After using the saw for about six months, I found the 5Ah batteries would recharge to full in about an hour but were sufficiently charged to use in about 45 minutes. If you have multiple Makita tools going so you can swap batteries, you are all set. However, the batteries add a good bit of weight, which you can feel if you move the saw with them installed. I found this 10-inch saw to be as heavy as my older 12-inch corded one, which also has the added weight of the attached stand-mounting brackets.
This brings me to a related problem: It is awkward to carry. All the miter saws, including Makitas, I have owned in the past allow you to lock the blade carriage towards the front or back of the slides as desired. Even before reaching a certain age, when the lower back came into play, I would always lock the carriage forward and lock the miter all the way to the right to bring the saw’s center of gravity as close to me as possible so I could comfortably pick the saw up. This saw only locks to the back of the slides; I find myself scooting around behind it or spinning the saw around, and even then I find it awkward to get my arms around the body of the saw. Perhaps I haven’t yet found the sweet spot for grabbing it, but if the idea of a cordless miter saw is to make it more portable, I would recommend buying a good rolling stand for this one.
The saw settles in nicely in a crowded shop or tight jobsite with its compact footprint—thanks to the combined 10-inch blade and double slides—while still giving you a long cut of 12 inches. I appreciate the big work deck, the easy-to-use controls, and the laser precision (which you can dial into either side of the kerf). It has an elaborate dust-collection setup, with various boots and hoses to channel the dust, that easily ties into a shop dust collector or portable dust extractor. Of note: This tool is free of some of the manufacturing defects I have seen on past Makita saws—specifically, cast-aluminum fences not lining up.
Kitted with two batteries and a charger, the XSL06PT sells for $650 (the Bluetooth-enabled XSL04ZU is $550 bare-tool only). You may ask: Do I need a battery-powered saw in the shop? Probably not. Do I need a battery-powered saw in the field? It would be nice at times. If your answer is no to both questions, though, there is a corded version of this saw (LS1019L) that I would recommend instead; it sells for $550. I wish the cordless version came with a power cord adapter, as the DeWalt saw does, because I’d have a hard time coughing up $650 without having a plug-in option. Still, if you are looking for a cordless 10-inch slider, this is an excellent saw; just save up for that stand and don’t forget to charge your batteries the night before!
Features and Specs:
- Runs on two LXT 18V batteries
- Electronically controlled motor delivers 4400 RPM
- Direct drive brushless motor automatically adjusts speed and torque based on load of cut
- According to the manufacturer, can cut up to 334 2x4 SPF and 192 2x12 SPF on fully charged 5Ah batteries
- 2-steel railing guide rails are stationary and face the front of the saw, so it can be pushed tight to the wall
- Bevel lock and all adjustments are in front of saw
- Miters 0-60 degrees left and right; bevels 0-48 degrees left and right
- Positive miter stops at: 0°, 15°, 22.5°, 31.6°, 45°, and 60° left or right
- Built-in laser alights to left or right of blade
- Metal extension wings
- Cut capacity at 90 degrees: 2-13/16-in. x 12-in.
- Cut capacity at 45 degrees (L/R): 2-13/16-in. x 8-1/2-in.
- Net weight with batteries: 60 lbs.
- Shipping weight: 80 lbs.