Track Saws and Circular Saws Collide with the New Makita XSH08 18V X2 Brushless Circular Saw
Makita’s latest cordless circular feels like a collision between the traditional sidewinder saw and a track saw. Specifically, it blends the Makita XSH06 circular saw and the Makita cordless track saw (XPS01). Why, you ask? Possibly to create a truly handy remodeling saw that can tackle lots of tasks previously requiring either a table saw or lots of clamping. For the rest of you who simply wanted a sidewinder that intentionally works with a track—the Makita XSH08 18V X2 Brushless Circular Saw scratches that itch as well.
Using the Makita Circular Saw with Track in the Field
We had a recent condominium remodel that all but gutted the interior of this two-bedroom home with a loft. When I was handed the Makita XSH08 circular saw to test, I balked at the short 39-inch track that accompanied it. I later learned that—while picking up a 55″ guide rail might be nice—I really didn’t need it. The 39-inch track worked perfectly for our renovation.
Cutting Door Slabs & Kick Plates
Our client wanted solid doors to replace his older hollow cores. To accommodate this, we had to cut down 10 new door slabs to fit the existing framing. As you might guess, the largest door was 32-inches wide—well within the range of our 39-inch track. The saw made quick work of the doors, allowing us to cut them quickly and accurately, and with very little tear-out. We started this project using the included Makita 24T blade and swapped back and forth with another 40T model for more delicate work.
The track saw also got some use cutting decorative kick plates for stairs. We used pre-finished 1/4-inch panels for that and needed perfect cuts. You only get one shot to get it to fit in there. Previously we (creatively) used a table saw. As you can imagine, the Makita XSH08 18V X2 brushless circular saw and guide rail simplified the job. Since our kick plates measured around 36-inches, the track worked flawlessly.
An added benefit of the track made itself known at the same time. It gives you the ability to make non-square cuts. That’s a hard cut on a table saw with a fence! With the Makita XSH08 circular saw and 39-inch track, I could measure the side of each tread and cut an accurate kick plate—even when the height varied from one end to the other.
Makita Makes Great Saw Blades
As great as Makita saw blades seem to be, I’m always disappointed that they’re hard to find. We wanted to test the included blade once more trimming a hardwood cabinet door. This decorative piece needed to fit precisely against the wall where a kitchen pass-through emerged. Since the measurements showed a 1/4-inch difference between the top and bottom, we once again grabbed the Makita circular saw and 39-inch guide rail.
Flipping the piece over, we made the cut so as to avoid any tear-out. Looking at the edge, you’d think we used a 40-tooth blade!
Handling and General Use
As a circular saw, the Makita XSH08 has a really solid feel to it. I much prefer the cast metal shoe over stamped steel. It has a very rigid feel to it, providing a nice wide surface to plant your cut. The presence of onboard tool storage also sets it apart. We change blades enough to make it a pain when the tool doesn’t store the wrench. It’s remarkable how many companies miss this.
The weight of this Makita cordless circular saw feels balanced. It doesn’t feel like it weighs more than a typical corded saw. The batteries are out of the way, and the design seems really well thought out. If the goal was to make this feel like a conventional saw—mission accomplished.
You definitely get a solid feeling on adjustments. There are no detents for beveling, so you have to really check that to be sure of your angle. Blade depth has a built-in scale, but it’s actually difficult to see the tiny red mark. Something with more contrast might be nicer, but in practice, I mostly set the depth by eye. On or off the guide rail, this Makita 18V X2 cordless circular saw makes that simple.
On the rear of the magnesium shoe lies a second bevel lock. That creates a super rigid bevel where the blade stays really square to the cut during use. This is a very nice feature.
Makita also puts the battery level meter right on the tool. This makes perfect sense, particularly since the on-battery LEDs are mostly hidden once inserted. No one wants to have to stop in the middle of a cut to change a battery.
Using the Track and Rails
We first checked the grip strips on the bottom of the guide rail before making our first cut. The foam and rubber underside rails on the track stick really well. We had the guide rail on both finished and primed material. Provided you keep it clean, it should last a good long time. Expect to replace it eventually, however. The 39-inch rail is a $46.95 item, leading us to consider it a consumable product. We then ripped our first sacrificial cut on the guide rail to trim the plastic edge perfectly to the blade.
While the bottom of the rail sticks securely, the top of the rail lets the saw glide smoothly during a cut. The twin teal nylon (our guess) strips do well to dramatically reduce the friction of the base plate as it slides.
The thumb switch lock for the track is a nice feature that keeps the saw from popping off accidentally. You can also use the two black thumb screws to dial in the track slide tension. This should help compensate for when the saw or track wears in over time. There’s also zero wobble on the track when you’re properly engaged. The saw sits in the track and slides across smoothly without fighting it. That means you can line up your cuts and not worry about the tool. Just push, and it will do its job.
If you want a different size guide rail, or a replacement, Makita makes three sizes. They also have a connector kit to merge more than one rail together as well as a jig saw adapter:
- 39″ Guide Rail (199140-0) – $46.95
- 55″ Guide Rail (194368-5) – $74.99
- 118″ Guide Rail (194367-7) – $299.99
- Guide Rail Connector Kit (P-45777) – $27.95
- Jigsaw Guide Rail Adapter (193517-1)
Why Make a Circular Saw Track Compatible?
You may wonder why Makita made a circular saw compatible with its guide rail system? After all, they already have a track saw. Near as we can tell, the answer lies with how you use these tools. The Makita XSH08 circular saw works really well for the remodeler who wants to ditch the table saw entirely on the job site.
And with this tool—you truly can.
If needed, you can even connect the included dust port attachment and create a cleaner workspace. For me, this tool simply presents a solution to the myriad of under-40-inch cuts I have to make each and every day when I’m renovating homes and condos. From cabinets to kick plates to doors, there are so many projects for which a track-ready circular saw eliminates a table saw and gives me a quicker way to accomplish a task.
Blade changes are quick, too. As a result, I can swap from a 24T blade to a 40T or 60T 7-1/4″ blade in no time flat. The Makita XSH08 is all the more appealing since you can still use your 24T Max Efficiency blades and use it trackless just like the XSH06 circular saw. Then, slide down a 39-inch or larger track when you need more precision.
How Much is the Makita XSH08 Really Like the XSH06?
There are a few changes from the XSH06 to the XSH08, but not many. Both saws are blade-right sidewinder styles. Both spin the blade at 6000 RPM with electronic controls and a quick blade brake.
You lose a little bit of cutting depth with this tool due to the track support. The XSH08 drops 1/4-inch of depth to 2-3/8″ at 90º. It loses just 1/8-inch on 45º bevel cuts, making that capacity to 1-5/8 in.
Even though it uses magnesium for the base, blade guard, and blade cover, the XSH08 is about a pound heavier at 11.3 pounds with both batteries on board. That’s due to the wider, larger shoe design.
The bevel capacity drops from 56º to 48º and there’s only one stop at 45º.
Aside from that, the two saws look very similar to each other. Using either one (minus the track, of course) should feel pretty much the same. So Makita really is taking a standard sidewinder and making it track compatible without the need for modifications or third-party systems.
- Flat motor housing makes changing the blade more convenient
- Dust blower attachment
- Tether notch
- Dual LED lights
This seems like a great tool for the remodeler as opposed to the furniture maker. It makes an ideal installation tool for the in-field cabinetry guy. Most cabinetry will fall under the 39” length limit of this particular rig. Pick up the larger 55″ guide rail, however, if you think you might need to make full cross-cuts on sheet goods.
If you’re in the market for a new 7-1/4″ Makita cordless circular saw, it’s hard not to recommend getting this guide-rail compatible model over the XSH06. The only reason not to would be to save a little bit of weight and, of course, if you absolutely never planned to use a rail. We like options, however. At $329 for the bare tool, existing Makita owners would do well to pick it up.
Makita XSH08 18V X2 Brushless Circular Saw Specifications
- Model: Makita XSH08Z/XSH08PT
- Power Source: 2 x 18V LXT batteries
- No Load Speed: 6000 RPM
- Blade Diameter: 7-1/4″
- 90º Max Cutting Depth: 2-3/8″
- 45º Max Cutting Depth: 1-11/16″
- Length: 13-3/4″
- Weight: 11.3 lbs with batteries
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $329 (tool only)
If only they would offer a left blade track (or track capable), 7-1/4 saw, they could show us right handed people that we’ve been using track saws incorrectly this whole time. And they would have a lot more of my money.
Instead, I’m stick waiting for the Left Blade Strongarm from Bosch coming in 2022
Any idea when Makita will release a 36V table saw?
6000 rpm is pretty stout, looks like I might have to get hands on with this model
I have seen prices so far ranging from $310 to $392 for bare tool only, not including the temporary$20 coupon on some sites on just about any Makita product. Not bad at $290, though I don’t have the money.
Brilliant? Or so obvious that it is a wonder that it hasn’t been done before and why are all of the big players not offering their own version?