I use sliding compound miter saws quite a bit for renovating houses and also when I get into the mood to create something new for the yard—like a raised garden bed or similar project. The Makita LS0815F 8-1/2” Miter Saw is the exact type of tool I reach for to combine portability with capability. If you’re installing several houses worth of tall crown, you may appreciate a larger saw with dual bevel capabilities, but Makita’s 8-1/2” beauty is perfect for the job site user who needs a smaller saw with a cut capacity that’s more like a 10- or 12-inch model.
And that’s the beauty of a sliding miter saw like the Makita LS0815F—it gives you most of the capabilities of a larger saw, but without the weight and hassle. Since Makita equipped the LS0815F with a 10.5AMP direct-drive motor that pushes the blade at up to 5000 RPMs, you’re not really lacking in power either.
Makita LS0815F 8.5” Miter Saw Features
You don’t have to do much with the Makita LS0815F except pull it out of the box. It comes with a blade wrench as well as a handy vertical clamp, which I found useful because it stores neatly on the tool and can be secured better than the accessories found on many other models I’ve tested to date. Most 12” miter saws weigh around 45 pounds, so Makita shaving a full 14 pounds off that load and still delivering the cut capacity is a big deal. Couple that with the fact that even when you compare apples-to-apples Makita has one of the lightest 8-1/2” sliders on the market—tying Hitachi’s C8FSHE and C8FSE for the crown.
One of the reasons for the weight reduction is a good, solid design. Makita used a machined aluminum base and coupled it with a 2-1/2” tall fence. Power is supplied via the aforementioned 10.5 amp direct drive motor. That’s more than sufficient power for the materials on which this saw will likely be used—a fact that was backed up by my testing.
Testing the Slide Accuracy and Stability
The saw uses a linear ball-bearing slide system that seems to do a good job of self-cleaning the steel guide bars and also feels good and stable during use. There’s not a lot of play in this saw, so you get consistent cuts that don’t tend to leave a “belly” on your beveled cuts—even when cutting larger crown.
If you’ve ever laid down a nice piece of oak for a mitered, beveled cut and then pieced it together to find that the middle has a gap—well, you know where I’m coming from. Even a little bit of play in the bar on a sliding miter saw can ruin a great piece of wood trim. This is why most guys whip out the coping saw, but with a good miter saw and blade (and an angle finder) I’ve gotten pretty quick.
I like the safety trigger on this saw, which is a pushbutton thumb-actuated style located at the top of the vertically-oriented handle. It’s all quite comfortable to use, though it may take a few times (as it did for me) to get accustomed to the new mechanism. The switch is nice and big, so you don’t have to think about it when you’re ready to cut—just grab the handle and go.
Soft Start, Blade Lock, and Great Visibility
Making a cut is revealing as well. The Makita LS0815F features a soft-start motor, so you don’t feel the saw torque upwards when you engage it. This is something that most users simply tolerate and have gotten used to. However, when that start-up torque is no longer present it really makes a difference. The soft start is also well-done. It’s not so slow as to be frustrating when making a series of repeated cuts. Rather, it just takes the edge off and helps in maintaining accuracy when beginning a cut. Let go of the trigger, and the electric brake kicks in and rapidly stops the blade. It’s a nice feature and one that I prefer on all of my circular saws, be they miter or handheld.
The blade guard on the Makita LS0815 is a translucent Makita blue. This gives you a nice view of your workpiece throughout the cut. The tri-LED lights at the pivoting end of the saw light up the work area nicely in dim lighting conditions. It didn’t, however, do much for us during the day. Makita gives you the option to turn it on or off during use. That can be helpful when setting up the cut—not just when you’re spinning up the blade.
Cutting Wider Stock
When making wider cuts the integrated extension wings pull out to give you an additional 9” of reach on either end of the base. This gives you a total of 36”. Of course, we paired the Makita LS0815F with their WST05 job site miter saw stand. That upped our material support width to a full 9 feet or more. If you have this miter saw and you need it to be somewhat mobile, Makita’s stand is one of the best matches for it. Our saw stayed permanently mounted to it during the entire review.
- Model: LS0815F or LS0815FL
- Blade diameter: 8-1/2” (216mm)
- Arbor: 5/8”
- Max. Miter angle: Left 50º, Right 60º
- Max. Bevel angle: Left 48º, Right 5º
- Cutting capacity
- (0º miter, 0º bevel): 2-9/16″ x 12″
- (45º miter, 0º bevel): 2-9/16” x 8-1/2”
- (60º miter, 0º bevel): 2-9/16″ x 5-7/8”
- (0º miter, 45º bevel): 2″ x 12″
- (45º miter, 45º bevel): 2″ x 8-1/2”
- No load speed: 5000 RPM
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 29-3/4 x 17-3/4 x 19-1/4” (755 x 450 x 488 mm)
- Weight: 31.1 lbs (14.1 kg)
- Warranty: Limited 1-year
- Includes: 8-1/2″ 48T blade, triangle rule, vertical vise, dust bag, and box wrench
- Price: $425 (Amazon) $499 (Acme Tools)
Testing the Makita LS0815F Miter Saw
I got to work measuring and cutting up a bunch of crown moulding for a couple of projects. This included exterior window trim on a 1900s home and some interior trim for a classic take on a brick fireplace. Being a single bevel saw, I had to flip over material to complete some outside corner miters. The convenience of the saw and the 9′ range on the Makita miter saw stand’s extension rollers made that a very manageable compromise.
There’s no laser in this model. There is an LS0815LF, but it doesn’t seem to be available in the US yet. Still, the LED light did a good job when I used the saw under a porch out of direct sunlight. You’ll get some slight splintering on cuts with the default blade on this saw but it cuts quickly. If you’re planning on doing fine finishing work then you will probably want to grab a blade with higher TPI.
Making Miter Cuts
Setting miters on the saw is pretty standardized across saws these days. The movement on this saw is smooth and easy. You get detents at 0°, 15°, 22.5°, 31.6°, 45° and 50° on both sides. You also get one more, a 60° detent, on the right. Beveling comes nearly as easily. A large control knob on the rear of the saw unlocks the saw and lets you position it anywhere from 0º to 48º (left) and from 0º to 5º (right). There is a positive detent at 0 degrees, as you’d expect, along with one at 45 degrees.
Job Site Tip
If you don’t have a miter saw stand, you can set up your saw across a couple of sawhorses. Set it on top of some wood or dimensional lumber and you’ll quickly realize how unhelpful an unstable work surface is. Instead, use deck screws to secure the saw to a piece of plywood using the four holes at the corners of the aluminum base.
For contractors, you can slice through 2x4s with the saw’s slider locked down in the retracted mode. With the slide released, dimensional lumber up to and including 2x12s can easily be cross-cut. We actually measured a 12-1/2” long cut on a board when placed against the back fence. At a 45-degree miter, you can get through a 2×8 with room to spare (we measured just over 8-1/2”). This is a great job site miter saw.
The depth set screw has a quick-release pass-through—handy. It made it easy to fashion precise dado cuts into a 1×12. The slide mechanism works so easily, this might be my new shortcut for making dados in wood. Of course, if I need a large number of them, I’ll switch to the table saw. Some Pros might consider this a higher-risk cut. However, if you take your time and keep your hands away from the blade (use clamps) it shouldn’t present a problem.
What you DON’T want to do is continue making cuts while the blade is spinning. You might tend to slide your hand towards the blade as you move the wood over for the cut. Always start your dado on the close side so that you’re pulling the wood in a direction away from the blade. Also, make sure the blade stops before you move the wood. With the blade brake on the Makita, doing it this way was a quick and easy process.
Lots of tools are going compact. Drills, drivers, saws…it seems like the entire industry is understanding that power can come in small packages. With a tool like the Makita LS0815F, you get lots of power in a small package as well. If you’re still lugging around a 12” miter saw to the job site, you may indeed find that you truly need to. But if you’re not doing high crown cuts against the back fence or cutting through 4x4s, then this lighter, nimbler Makita saw may be just the ticket to save your back.