Makita's Cordless Rear-Handle Circular Saw

Martin Verhagen of Oregon, Wis.-based Old World Wood Floors reviewed the Makita 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Rear Handle 71⁄4-inch Circular Saw, model XSR01.

The first time I used this saw, we were cutting out Brazilian walnut boards to lace new flooring into an existing floor. The saw cut well and didn't bog down at all, even though obviously that's a very hard wood.

The next time I used the saw was more than a month later when we were doing a tile tearout and we had to cut out a half-inch of plywood with mortar on top of it. The saw had plenty of power, and I didn't hear any problems with the motor as I ran it. Obviously the blade was dull after that, but that's to be expected. (The saw comes with a 7¼-inch blade.)

I was impressed that we didn't have any problems with the batteries whatsoever; I had thought holding the charge in the batteries would be the biggest concern. The saw is run by two 18-volt batteries, which the company says is designed to deliver corded power while still having lighter weight, 18-volt batteries (you can use a single battery for their 18-volt tools, like drills). Makita says the two batteries together have 180 watt hours. The charging works really well. The batteries go into the saw easily but come out a little harder because the batteries are too close together—you can't wrap your whole hand around one. It isn't the end of the world, but it would be nice when they redesign it if they would add a little space between them.

The saw isn't that heavy—it's 12.4 pounds—and the adjustments moved up and down easily. A minor thing is that it doesn't stand up when you set it down—it falls right over. It does have a little kickstand, which helps a little bit.

For the carrying case, it seems like all the manufacturers have switched to fabric, and I'm not a fan of fabric cases; they tend to rip, and the zippers wear out. I'm sure most of us would prefer the old hard-shell cases. I found this case was a really tight fit when trying to get the saw in there; they should have made the case a little bigger.

Overall, the things I didn't like about this saw were pretty minor—it ran well, and it makes life easier not worrying about a cord. I like it, but the total price, including having to buy two batteries, is more than I would pay for the cord-free convenience.

Retail price: $187 (comes with blade but without batteries; a twin-pack of Makita batteries costs $159)

See Marty running the saw and talking about its features:


Skilsaw's Worm Drive Table Saw

Joshua Crossman of PTL Hardwood Floors in Yelm, Wash., reviewed the new Skilsaw 10-Inch Heavy Duty Worm Drive Table Saw.

The table saw has become a necessity for installing wood flooring, so having a good quality portable unit with plenty of power is pretty important. Skilsaw worm drive saws are well known and popular due to their power and ability to cut through solid pieces of wood. It makes you wonder why it took so long to put that same motor technology into a table saw, but it's here now, so let me give you my initial impressions. After assembly of the saw stand, things I liked were:

• The large wheels. This makes it very easy to wheel around on the job site. They also sit on the ground, so if you need to move the saw after setup, it's easy enough to do. The stand does fold up easily enough, but sometimes you just want to roll it out of the way a little bit.

• The stand also acts as a support if you are cutting sheet goods, and it can hold pieces as you process them.

• The fence is connected to a rack-and-pinion system similar to the one on DeWalt table saws. I've used DeWalt table saws for a long time and love the fence system. It makes slight adjustments a lot easier than the old days of bumping the fence with your hand to get that perfect location. On this saw, the action is not as smooth as it could be. I plan to try some lubrication and see if that will smooth things out.

• It comes with a push stick mounted on the front of the saw, making it handy to grab when you have to push material past the blade.

The model I received is about average size for most contractor saws. I'm used to the popular DeWalt DW745 compact table saw, so this is larger than what I'm used to. But with that larger size comes more cutting width and a more powerful motor. The saw came with a 30-count Diablo blade; I like Diablo blades because they perform well for the price. I first ripped some white oak flooring, and the saw went through it without a hitch.

The saw has a 35⁄8-inch cut height at a 90-degree angle, so I found a piece of 4x6 to run through it. The saw didn't bog down at all, and I could run the material through the blade as fast as I felt safe doing.

I ran the saw for an install and hooked it up to a vac to see how the dust collection was, and it did pretty well. There was only a fraction of the sawdust under the saw compared with other saws I have run. I had to make a custom reducer for a job, so I laminated white oak to be 2½ inches high by 5¼ inches wide—a pretty hefty piece of wood. I ran that at a 15-degree angle, and the saw handled it wonderfully. The motor ran as I would expect a worm drive motor to run and didn't bog down much. I did notice that the motor did slow slightly, and I couldn't run the piece as fast through the saw as I did with the 4x6, but it handled it just fine. Other saws I have run in the past would've bogged down tremendously trying to make the same cut.

Overall I really like the saw. I think it's a great job-site saw for contractors and, most importantly, it has the power to handle the tasks we demand of our tools.

Retail price: $579

See a full review of the table saw by Joshua here:

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See more on this topic: Basic Wood Floor Installation