Track saws (aka "plunge saws") have been around for a while now and are most often used as an alternative to a table saw for cutting sheet goods. I've been using the Makita X2 LXT track saw now for several months. In full disclosure, I have not used a wide variety of track saws, but I have in fact used way too many circular saws with makeshift guides. After spending some time with the Makita 18-volt X2 LXT Lithium-Ion (36 volt) Brushless Cordless 6-½” Plunge Circular Saw, I am now convinced I could have saved myself a lot of time and frustration by using a track saw instead of trying to make perfectly straight cuts with a standard circular saw and guide. With that said, if those cuts are far and few between, then perhaps it would be a little hard to justify the $575 price tag for the complete Makita package (tool, batteries/charger, track).

If you are a tradesperson who can put one to use regularly, as I am, then the price will be a little easier to justify. It becomes even easier once you examine the features provided on the Makita saw, starting with the cordless 18-volt system. I have never used a corded track saw before, so I can’t say I know the struggle of dealing with the cord. What I can say, though, is this: After using a cordless track saw, why would I ever want to use a corded one? The Makita runs off two 18-volt batteries, providing more than enough power and runtime for almost anything I could throw at it, including 1-1/4-inch reclaimed oak planks, 3/4-inch cabinet-grade plywood, and even 3/4-inch oak flooring with a layer of 3/4-inch Advantec subfloor beneath it. Which takes me to my next point about track saws in general: their versatility. This saw allows you to control speeds ranging from 2,500 rpm all the way up to 6,300 rpm,s with plunge depths up to 2-3/16 inches at 90 degrees and 1-9/16 inches at 45 degrees.

There are lots of other features that I found to be positive, including the ergonomic plunge control mechanism and electric braking system. But if I had to nitpick, I do have a few minor gripes about the saw. For starters, the saw does not include a dust collection bag. While this is a non-issue if you hook the saw up to a vacuum, which does actually work quite well, or for cuts done outside, you would think that at this price, a little dust bag would be nice. Another minor gripe is the track is only directional one way.

Other than that, Makita has made a really functional product that will be worth its weight in gold if fully utilized. The ability to make laser-straight, crisp cuts at any jobsite, on a wide variety of materials has made this one of my new favorite tools. And with so many 18-volt tools in the company's lineup, why not just go cordless and have the ability to untether yourself and make your life that much easier?

SPECS:

  • Blade Diameter : 6-1/2 inches
  • Arbor (mm) : 20mm
  • Max. Cutting Capacity (at 90°) : 2-3/16 inches
  • Max. Cutting Capacity (at 45°) : 1-9/16 inches
  • No Load Speed (variable speed) : 2,500 - 6,300 rpm
  • Battery : 2X 18V LXT Lithium-Ion
  • Overall Length : 13-5/8 inches
  • Net Weight (with battery) : 11.2 pounds
  • Automatic-start Wireless System (AWS) : No

Cost
Kitted: $499 (Kitted: two 18V LXT 5.0-Ah batteries, dual port rapid charger, 55T carbide-tipped blade, wrench, two cases);
55" track: $75
118" track: $290
* this saw works with Festool TS tracks as well.

This article originally appeared in Tools of the Trade.