It isn’t a sidewinder—the handle’s at the rear and the blade’s on the left—but it’s not exactly a worm drive either, since the gears meet at a 45-degree angle rather than the 90-degree angle of a true worm drive. Officially it’s called the Makita 18V X2 Brushless Rear-Handle Circular Saw, and after spending a few weeks with it, it’s clear it’s in another league than almost every other cordless circular saw available.
Ergonomics. With two 5.0 Ah batteries, the saw weighs 12.67 pounds. That’s more than most cordless circular saws but, thanks to a mix of magnesium (the shoe and bottom half of the blade guard) and aluminum (the motor housing and top half of the blade guard), it’s lighter than a standard worm drive. At the end of the day, you need a circular saw to be heavy enough to be stable when cutting material while still gliding easily. Makita accomplishes this balance well.
Blade and bevel adjustments. Blade height and bevel adjustments are something you notice every time you use a saw, and on this saw they adjust effortlessly and lock tightly. But Makita has added positive stops to the bevel adjustment—the first we’ve encountered . Unlike detents, you can flip a dial to set the positive bevel-angle stop at 22.5 or 45 degrees before you lock it in—a nice feature to have if you do much cutting on a bevel.
Cut capacity. At 2 9/16 inches on a 90-degree cut, this is about as high as we’ve seen. At 45 degrees, you get 1 ¾ inches, and at the maximum 53-degree bevel, you get 1 ½ inches.
Rafter hook. I have a thing for rafter hooks—I just don’t like setting a saw on the ground or keeping one hand on it when I’m working at height. This saw has an extra-wide hook with two stops—one at 90 degrees and one at 180 degrees—which gives you a lot of options for the size of material you can hang it on . One small quirk is that you’ll need to flip the rafter hook out of the way to get the batteries in or out—not a negative from my perspective.