Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Makita Cordless Track Saw

Makita XPS01 saw on MFT/3 with Mafell dust bag attached
I love track saws. Festool makes excellent track saws that dominate the market for good reason. But Makita has turned my head with their new cordless track saw -- the XPS01.

I recently acquired the Makita XPS01PT Kit (includes the XPS01, a 5.5" 55T carbide tip ultra-thin-kerf (0.63"/1.6mm) blade, two 5Ah 18V batteries and a high-speed charger in two blue-green systainer-like containers for $499), and it came with the 55" rail and 2 more 5Ah batteries for free. I figure that's roughly half the cost of Festool's cordless TSC-55 saw and comparable supporting gear. (The XPS01PT kit is missing any dust bag.)

Makita XPS01PT (promotion)
Makita XPS01PT
Festool TSC-55 REB SET XL-FS
Saw
XPS01
XPS01
TSC-55
Batteries
2@ 5Ahx18V
2@ 5Ahx18V
2@ 5.4Ahx18V
2 battery rapid charger
included
included
included
Cost
$499
$499
$885
2 Extra Batteries
Free bonus
$159
$160
55" Guide rail
Free bonus
$86
Included
Dust bag
Mafell: $54
Mafell: $54
Included
Total
$553
$798
$1045

I have a 7.5" blade Festool TS-75. It's a great saw, but it's big and heavy, and it has a cord. (Festool swapped the TS-75 for my TS-55 REQ that was recalled in 2013.) The Festool TS-75 is 13.6 pounds. The Makita XPS01 is 11.2 pounds with battery.

TS-75 on break down table (with apple press)

The Makita's dust collection ability when connected to my Festool CT/Mini is adequate, but it's a bit more messy than the TS-75. (A bit of duct tape over the arbor access hole helps reduce the dust from the XP01. It's an easy fix if this turns out to be a problem.) The dust port on the Makita is directly compatible with the CT/Mini's hose without any need for an adapter. The other issue with dust collection is that since the Makita is battery operated, the dust collector needs to be manually operated. (The Makita XPS01 doesn't have a wireless dust control feature. A brand new model (XPS02) does have Bluetooth dust collector control.)

The Makita XPS01 doesn't include a dust bag, but it is compatible with the Mafell dust bag (Mafell 206921 $54). The Festool TSC dust bag can also be used, but it requires some modifications and it doesn't work on a 45 bevel. I got the Mafell dust bag from Timberwolf Tools.

The Makita rail is almost the same as the Festool. I have 55" and 75" Festool rails and an MFT/3. The two brands of rails are functionally cross-compatible -- the Festool saws will work on the Makita rails, and the Makita saws will work on the Festool rails. The Makita rails have an additional locking edge that works with the Makita saw's slide lever.

(Note: the Festool Parallel Guides do not work with the Makita rails. The lip for the locking slide lever on the slot of the Makita rail obstructs the clamps on the Parallel Guides.)

As delivered the Makita's blade was set to cut about 1/16th inch closer than my TS-75. Unaltered the Makita would trim all my three existing Festool rails too close for the TS-75. So I needed to adjust the Makita to match the cut location of my TS-75. (Alternatively, I could have adjusted the TS-75 to match the Makita blade distance.) This required adjusting the four hinge block mounting screws on the Makita to set its blade to match my guide rails (which are trimmed to my TS-75). (The Makita has these screws on the underside of the saw base.) This took a little trial and error.

The Makita has no riving knife. So kickback potential is greater. But the Makita does have a locking slide lever which can be used only on a Makita rail, and it is designed to hold the saw on the track and prevent it from falling over when doing bevel cuts. The slide lever may also reduce the chance of kickback.

The Makita also lacks the splinter guard on the waste side of the cut that the Festool saws have for 0-degree cuts.

The Makita XPS01 comes with a 165mm blade compared to the TS-55's 160mm blade. They both have the same 20mm arbor. This gives the Makita a little bit more cut depth. Those few silly little mm's make all the difference when cutting 2-by lumber. The TS-55 can't quite cut through a 2x4 when making a bevel cut.

blade
Makita B-57071
Festool W48
Freud
Tenryu
Makita B-07353
Teeth
55
48
48
52
48
Size
165mm
160mm
160mm
160mm
165
Kerf
Ultra thin
Thin
Thin
Ultra thin
Thin
Cut depth  
w/o guide rail
(0 degrees)
58mm
55mm (2.2")

Cut depth  
w/o guide rail
(45 degrees)
43mm (1.7")

Cut depth
w/ guide rail
(45 degrees)

Cost
unavailable
$80
$48
$52
$42


Thin kerf
0.87"
2.2mm
Ultra thin kerf
0.67"
1.6mm

I have not located a source for replacement blades that match the one supplied with the cordless Makita XPS01. (Makita B-57071 55T ultra-thin-kerf.) The wider thin-kerf blade that comes with the corded Makita SP6000K (Makita B-07353) is readily available. Makita has numerous other 165mm blades that fit this saw, just not the original 55T ultra-thin kerf. I suspect Makita will eventually offer replacement blades.

Freud, Tenryu, Oshlun, Festool and others sell 160mm blades that will work in the TS-55 or the XPS01. I have a 48T thin-kerf (0.87"/2.2mm) Freud blade that I bought when I had the TS-55 REQ, but I have not tried it in the XPS01.

The XPS01 is part of Makita's 36V LXT2 line of cordless power tools. It requires two of their 18V LXT batteries to operate at 36V. Motors can produce more torque at 36V than at 18V -- important in a saw. It's easy to check battery level with a button and indicator on the saw. (Plus each battery pack has a level indicator.) So the extra pair of batteries included with the promo bundle is, effectively, just one backup. The system came with a rapid charger that charges two batteries at a time. The charger is fairly large and came in it's own high quality systainer.

The Makita XPS01 is nicely made and seems to perform well. The XPS01 is made in China.

In all the Makita XPS01 bundle is quite a deal.

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