Makita 18V Compact Band Saw Review – Model XBP03

Makita 18V compact band saw demo
PTR Review
  • Pro Review 9.5

This Makita Band Saw makes me more productive and efficient with smooth, fast, and safe cuts. In those cases where it can substitute for a recip saw, it's the superior tool. It's easy to work overhead, with one hand, or with two hands and its compactness gives it a host of advantages. For all those cuts within its capacity, it's an overachiever.

Overall Score 9.5 (out of 10)

The Makita 18V Compact Band Saw is an indispensable tool for cutting a variety of all-thread and metal conduit, pipe, and channel, up to 2-1/2 inches in diameter. It makes overhead work easy and works more safely and smoothly than a recip saw in many instances. Here are more details about how I used the Makita XBP03 band saw and how it performed.


  • Makes super smooth, straight cuts
  • Easy, lightweight one-handed operation
  • Wide tool hook hangs from a ladder rung or tool belt
  • Lock-off for safety
  • Quick blade installation, tensioning and tracking
  • Adjustable material stopper plate for more control


  • No significant downsides

Makita 18V Compact Band Saw Performance

Like Buttah

Our organization, Florida Baptist Children’s Home (FBCH) exists on generous donations. Many of them are in-kind donations like furniture, exercise equipment, file cabinets, playground equipment—you name it. Unfortunately, many times these items aren’t in working order. In those cases, we’ll store them until there’s enough to make a run to the dump or, hopefully, to the recycling facility where we can recoup some money for the organization.

Makita XBP03Z band saw cut

I recently tested out the Makita XBP03 band saw while cutting up scrap metal for the recycling facility. The saw runs through material like butter. Before, we used to be able to say “it didn’t feel at all like a cordless tool”. Nowadays, cordless tools are so powerful, my concerns have drifted more to how it feels and how long it can run on the battery.

Makita XBP03T band saw cut

The Makita XBP03T runs small and is light enough to operate with one hand—its chief advantage. A one-handed recip saw makes this kind of work go much more quickly. The two-handed operation of the tool also felt comfortable for larger cuts.

But there’s more: the band saw’s smooth and fast cuts and left few metal shavings behind. That’s superior to even thin-kerf reciprocating saw blades. Also, reciprocating saws can bind if the shoe isn’t pushed up against the cutting surface properly. The teeth on those blades also remove more material than the Makita cordless compact band saw.

Band Saw Pipe Dreams

My team and I maintain the campus’ buildings and cottages where FBCH’s children and families live. There’s no shortage of plumbing and conduit work. In most cases, the Makita 18V compact band saw is the right tool for the job. It slices through PVC without breaking a sweat and also makes quick work of both copper and galvanized steel.

Makita band saw cutting PVC pipe

These applications show where Makita’s one-handed, overhead operation shines. It takes very little strength at all to position the band saw for the cut. Once it rests on the material, I found it easy to control the tool and the cut.

Makita band saw cutting lawnmower blade
The Makita compact cordless band saw made quick work of this lawnmower blade. We didn’t have to cut it—but I wanted to see what kind of steel the tool could handle.

Although the Makita bandsaw completed everything I’d asked of it during the review, I didn’t think I’d pushed its limits at all (that’s a good thing.) As a result, I decided to put it to the test with whatever scrap material I had lying around the shop. Wood? No problem, of course. 3/8- and 1/2-inch threaded rod? Sliced right through. Perhaps the most impressive cut was through an old lawnmower blade. We got the same fast, smooth cut as every other one.

Cuts Like A Knife

There are two caveats about the Makita 18V Compact Band Saw that you must weigh. First is the small cutting capacity. It’s the tradeoff that comes with any compact band saw with the capability for one-handed operation. It’s possible to throttle around material that’s a bit larger but, for most purposes, you have a 2-1/2-inch constraint. This didn’t hold my work back, but it might prevent some of your tasks.

Makita 18V band saw blade

Second is the price of replacement blades. You’ll shell out $49 for a 5-pack of Makita’s 18TPI version. Other brands provide slightly less expensive options. You get a lot of work done on a blade, and I’d encourage you to experiment with what brands last for your particular needs. Also note that you can find 8/11, 14/18, 18, and higher teeth counts to match your work.

Blade installation is simple. Remove the back panel, loosen the tension rod, put the saw blade in, tighten the tension rod, and replace the back panel. It takes only a couple of moments and you can get right back to work. An exterior blade adjustment makes tracking easy as well.

Makita 18V band saw shroud

For finishing touches, the Makita 18V Compact Band Saw boasts an excellent hook that hangs on a ladder’s rung. There’s a material stopper plate for support and accuracy, a work light, and a lock-off for safety.

Makita Cordless Bandsaw Price Comparison

The Makita 18V Compact Band Saw will set you back $249. Here’s a look at the field:

  • Bosch BSH180 – $149.00 bare – 2-1/2 inch cut capacity, around 8.75 pounds with battery
  • DeWalt DCS370B – $574.20 bare – 2-1/2 inch cut capacity, around 9 pounds with battery
  • Milwaukee 2629 – $259.95 bare –  3-1/4 cut capacity, 10.25 pounds with battery
  • Makita 18V Compact Band Saw – $299 bare – 2-1/2-inch cut capacity, 9 pounds with battery ($544 for kit)
  • Metabo HPT CB18DBLP4 – $259.99 bare – 3-1/4-inch cut capacity, 8.8 pounds with battery

Makita XBP03T Band Saw Bottom Line

This Makita XBP03T band saw gives you fast, smooth, safe cuts. It’s light enough for one-handed operation, making overhead work easy. Blade installation/replacement is quick and the feature set makes your work efficient. The tradeoff to the compactness is the 2-1/2-inch cutting capacity, but I’d bet that’s enough for the majority of cuts you’ll need to make. Makita did everything right with this band saw and I’m more productive for it.

Makita 18V Compact Band Saw Specifications

  • Model numbers: XBP03Z (bare tool); XBP03T (kit)
  • Cutting capacity (round workpiece): 2-1/2 in.
  • Cutting capacity (rectangular workpiece) : 2-1/2 x 2-1/2 in.
  • Speed (no load): 630 fpm
  • Blade length: 32-7/8 in.
  • Overall length: 18-3/4 in.
  • Weight (w/battery): 9 lbs.
  • Built-in light
  • Price (XBP03Z bare tool): $299
  • Price (XBP03T kit): $544

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