Home Home & Patio Makita XSS02Z [Review]: Best Compact Circular Saw

Makita XSS02Z [Review]: Best Compact Circular Saw

by Jonathan Logtenberg

This Makita XSS02Z circular saw has a motor that runs using ”brushes” not by using a ball-bearing drive. It is also powered not by AC power, but by an 18 volt battery. This battery and charger is not included, but must be purchased seperately. These statements are not necessarily negative. There’s honestly nothing wrong with any of that information. Though, as we will show you in this guide, these are also the reasons why this Makita saw is not higher up on the list. Veiled product put-downs aside, this Makita is a decent handsaw. And we’ll also explain that to you; it’s because the thing is durable.

The ”little things” about the Makita XSS02Z seem to really impress users. The battery seems to work for a long time; the saw sems to have enought power to cut through pretty tuff lumber. There are specialized devices that do specialized stuff better than this saw does them. Basically, everything you think you can do with a Makita, you’ll probably be able to actually get done. Let’s go in a bit more detail.


  • High build quality and reliability. Basically, this is what you pay for with a Makita XSS02Z. They have a very strong warranty and after sales product policy. If anything happens to any of their stuff in the first 30 days, they’ll repair or replace for free. Their basic warranty is a year, and their battery warranty is something like 3 years. It’s nice to see a company back their products so strongly.
  • Motor is rated as fairly powerful for a cordless unit. There are a bunch of stories and reviews online about how people decided to use this cordless Makita to cut a bunch of really big and or really thick stuff. This contrasts fairly sharply with a lot of the other reviews of other products online which tell stories about how they tried to cut tiny thing ”x” or soft thing ”y” and the cordless drill was too weak for the job.
  • Makes accurate cuts. This is another thing that can be gleaned from online reviews. What’s funny is that a lot of people that seem to review Makita gear own lots of other tools. I’t not strange to read a review about a Makita product where the owner mentions that they own 2 or 3 other circular saws. If you own 3 other saws, and you’re still buying or using this circular saw (and singing it’s praises!) then that’s a really good thing.
  • Makes clean and aesthetically pleasing cuts. This also goes along with what’s written above. It’s also a testament to the quality of the blade that comes stock on the Makita saw. Multiple people mention it as a unit that cuts not just quickly but cleanly.
  • Ergonomics and overall workflow are reported as very good. We have talked a lot about power supplies, and volts, and what kind of featureas a tool has vs others. But there’s also obviously a lot to be said about how a tool feels in your hand, whether it gives you blisters or makes you sore or whether you forget it’s even there. This Makita XSS02Z seems to be way more like the second example. It is hard to quantify this kind of stuff in reviews, so we’re writing it here.


  • Battery and charger are not included with the unit. Yup, sadly this is the case, they must be purchased extra. There are at least two positive spins on this rather negative attribute; one, if you own any other Makita power tools, you probably already have batteries that will work with the saw. This way you don’t have to waste money buying something that is basically a duplicate of something else you already have at your house.
  • Motor is a brush motor, not a ball-bearing-and-axle-style motor. Recently, a lot of manufacturers have started switching over to a ball-bearing-and-axle style of motor drive. It’s pretty much been proven now that this style lasts longer, is quieter, and is just a better design than the old style. So you’re kind of paying for last-generation technology here.
  • Batteries run on 18v, not 20v like many other tools. Like with the motor discrepancy, a lot of the power tool brands run on 20v batteries now, and honestly have more power than the Makita. I guess the counterpoint to that is that no one’es really eveer complained about either the lack of power on this device or the lack of battery life. But, just so you know as a customer, these factors do exist and it does seem to be that there are better options elsewhere.

Key Pros

  • High build quality and reliability.
  • Motor is rated as fairly powerful for a cordless unit.
  • Makes accurate cuts.
  • Makes clean and aesthetically pleasing cuts.
  • Ergonomics and overall workflow are reported as very good.

Key Cons

  • Battery and charger are not included with the unit.
  • Motor is a brush motor, not a ball-bearing-and-axle-style motor.
  • Batteries run on 18v, not 20v like many other tools.

Final Verdict:

This unit, not unlike the more spartan Skilsaws, isn’t built or marketed as something that can wow you with a spec sheet.
It’s just not that type of product. It’s a product that is simply built to be elegant, to do it’s job well, and to last a heckuva long time. And honestly, you can’t fault a product like that one bit. Just know that in a lot of ways, you can get a lot more for your money than with this Makita XSS02Z. But many market leaders and successful companies also operate in this manner.

Take cars for an example; a Mercedes costs more and has significantly less options and features than say, an Infiniti or an Acura. In a lot of ways this makes no sense. Why would a ”better” product (and I say better in the consumer-perception sense of the word here) have less features and quite possibly a higher cost? It makes no sense, right? Goes against all principles of economics, right? Well, right and wrong. Features aren’t everything, and a lot of people might call Mercedes the best kind of car you can buy. Nike shoes might be another example. Rolex watches. Whatever. The Makita XSS02Z strives to be that kind of company, and that’s why it’s products sit in the market the way they do. It is up to you to decide if you want them.

You may also like