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Should I Buy a Makita XGT Cordless 8-1/2″ Miter Saw?

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I have been debating about whether to purchase a Makita XGT 8-1/2″ cordless miter saw, GSL02, but have been leaning towards “no.” It seemed worthwhile to share my decision process.

I don’t urgently need a cordless miter saw. I thought I wanted a semi-fixed shop setup with superb dust collection. But, I don’t have the space for 8 feet of board support inside. For cutting larger boards, such as 2x construction lumber and similarly sized workpieces, I set up outside with a cordless miter saw.

Dust collection is very important to me, but so is portability.

With the Makita GSL02, I like the idea of its cutting capacity and portability. 8-1/2″ is an odd size, though.

Makita GSL02 XGT Cordless Miter Saw

The Makita XGT GSL02 is a completely foreign design to me. It’s a forward-rail slider with front bevel lock, dual dust collection ports, and it’s an 8-1/2″ sliding miter saw with the cutting capacity of a 10″ sliding miter saw.

Yes – seriously – it just about matches the cutting capacity of Makita’s much larger and heavier XGT GSL03 sliding miter saw.

The 10″ has taller fences, but I wouldn’t need them for the majority of crosscuts.

That it’s a different design has pros and cons. I like exploring new and different tool designs, and so it’s mostly a good thing.

I did some light reading and referred to a couple of YouTube videos, and so I’m familiar with common complaints.

Some people complain about the bevel adjustment being a plastic component that repeatedly broke on them, and others had no problems and suggested it only breaks with rough or abusive use.

Ultimately, one of the biggest detractors – for me – is the blade size.

Freud 8-1-2 Sliding Miter Saw Blades

The Makita 8-1/2″ sliding miter saw has impressive cutting capacity, but 8-1/2″ blade selection is slim.

I found two Freud fine-finish blades on Amazon – one with a silver finish and one with a red coating.

CMT Non-Ferrous 8-1-2 Miter Saw Blade

CMT is the only brand I recognized that has a non-ferrous blade, for cutting aluminum extrusions, plastic, and similar materials. I found the CMT on Amazon and a few other places.

For me, that became the biggest negative, as it means I would need to keep another saw around for cutting plastic and aluminum materials.

This is why I have really enjoyed using Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel cordless 7-1/4″ sliding miter saw – it’s compact, light, and I can always find the blade style I want.

The Milwaukee isn’t short on performance, but I have a couple of projects coming up where I want better dust collection, and I might need a little more power under the hood. This helped increase the appeal of Makita’s 8-1/2″ saw.

The Makita also has a wider miter range, which might come in handy on occasion. I have one project coming up – a small garden trellis – where the 60° miter range would help with shaping ground support stakes.

In theory I could move to a cordless 10″ or 12″ saw as my one-and-only, but they’re all large and heavy. 12″ blades are pricey. The larger the blade, the larger the potential for deflection.

I saw news of Makita launching new smaller cordless miter saws overseas, but there’s no indication if or when they might be released here. Given their designs, I’d say it’s unlikely for them to launch here at all. Objectively speaking, 8-1/2″, 10″, and 12″ cordless miter saw sizes still present enough options for most users.

And so, I’m stuck. I have strong hesitations about going with an 8-1/2″ miter saw. General purpose blades are easy to find, but not specialty blades which I would want to use regularly enough to make this a strong concern.

I find myself still half on the fence, and thought discussion would help settle things, at least for now. A reader put the idea in my head a few months ago when I asked for review suggestions, and it came back now that there’s a promo at Acme (ending 2/21/23) that can knock $75 off the $750 price tag.

There’s also promo pricing on the 10″ sliding miter saw kit – Home Depot has the kit for $100 off plus with a free battery, but I determined that of the two the more portable 8-1/2″ would be better suited – if the blade size can work for me.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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