Thanks to my tool-loving son, I received this little guy for Christmas this year from my wife. Although I own a couple of other circular saws including a traditional 7 1/4″ worm-drive Skillsaw and a Bosch panel saw, I really like these little 6 1/2″, 18V saws. They’re simple to use, require no cord, are lightweight and easy on the hands and wrist. Prior to receiving this one, which I’m very thankful for (Women of the world, you can never go wrong buying your guy a power tool for his birthday or the holidays), I had owned the cheaper version of this saw, I believe it was the XSS02Z. Unfortunately, or fortunately for me, this tool was stolen from my truck with a bunch of other tools. I can tell you the build quality between the cheaper 6 1/2″ saws that Makita produces and this XSH03Z are night and day, and I think the extra $70, or whatever it is, is entirely worth it.
Rather than make this a long review, as there are several good ones out there on this and similar 6 1/2 circular saws, I’ll simply tell you why I like this particular Makita model and how I’m able to use it.
- Makita vs Other Brands – For one, I’ve bought into Makita’s 18V cordless line-up a long time ago. They make several other 18V tools I really like including their impact driver, jigsaw, multi-tool, and angle grinder. I also feel that the design of their tools fit my hand better than others, have excellent weighting/balance, and have solid build quality. I’m also impressed my Makita’s battery system, when fully charged, these 18V Li batteries last a long time, and they don’t seem to lose much of their capacity over time.
- 18V VS 36V – I don’t have a lot of experience with 36V hand tools, but from the little I have, they’re extremely heavy, bulky and honestly, I’d just rather plug in at this point.
- Cordless vs corded – For small jobs where you’re not going to be cutting all day, like framing a house or cutting rafters for an outbuilding, these cordless saws work great, honestly.
- 6 1/2″ vs 7 1/4″ or other large circular saws – With the 6 1/2″ Makita, you get about a 2-1/4″ cut depth (at 90 degrees), 1-5/8″ (at 45 degrees). A 7 1/4″ saw provides 3/4″ more depth at 90 degrees and slightly less at 45. Bottom line, you still need to cut both sides of a 4×4 with the 7 1/4″ saw. So why not use the lighter, cordless tool?
- XSH03Z vs other cheaper saws – Upon taking the XSH03Z out of the box, you’ll immediately notice that this saw is built well. It’s put together solidly with the intention that it will be used 7 days a week by a professional, not a weekend warrior. Most importantly, I am able to use this tool with as much confidence and accuracy as I have with my trusted 7 1/4″ Skillsaw and although it’s significantly lighter, it’s still solid enough that I can let it bang around in my truck and not worry about it being damaged.
How and when I use this saw:
- Top of my toolbox – I leave this saw at the top of my toolbox in my truck and I find it very useful to grab it to quickly make a straight cut on most any material when there’s not a power cord set up or I’m not cutting in bulk.
- Cutting reclaimed wood – At one of the ongoing jobs I have, we use a lot of recycled wood that we store in a corp yard. In general most of this wood is rotten on the ends but good in the middle, so, when I need wood for a project or repair, I’ll grab my cordless 6 1/2″ saw and cut out the rotten sections before hauling it to where I need it. Works great.
- No power / No generator – Where I work and live, I often find myself trying to fix something or make something where there is no power available. These little cordless saws are great for these situations.
Here are a few more decent reviews that provide a more in-depth look at this saw: