Makita 40V 8-1/2″ Dual-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw Review

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Makita 40V 8-1/2″ Dual-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw – Model GSL02Z

Makita 40V XGT Cordless Miter Saw 8 1/2"

Manufacturer: Makita
Model number: GSL02Z
Price: $749.00
Power source: 40v XGT
Weight: 48.5 LBs
Typically the miter saw is the first tool I set up and the last tool I break down. For efficiency and accuracy, the Miter Saw is one of the most important tools for me.

The 40v XGT line of cordless power tools from Makita continues to impress! They provide solutions to totally make your job site cordless with more than 125 tools. The optimum power needed for heavy load applications without compromising run time is accomplished by the XGT technology.

We took this saw through the paces and here is our review!


First Impressions

When I first picked up this saw, I thought, “This saw is a Trim Carpenter’s dream!” It is compact, For all the trimming we do,  I am always looking for ways to be come more efficient and looking to make my daily work easier. This saw helps me achieve this with longer run time and better dust extraction.

Manufacturer’s Specifications

  • 4,800 RPM
  • 2-3/4″ x 12-1/4″ cutting capacity at 90°
  • Miters 0-60° left and right; bevels 0-48° left and right
  • L.E.D. light
  • Dual dust collection ports a
  • Rail-forward design to maximize workspace against a wall and compact storage
  • Auto-start Wireless System
  • Extension wings for cutting longer material
  • Bevel angle lock and release dial at the front of the tool
  • Electric brake for maximum productivity

Size Matters

The majority of the time, I’d say about 85-90%, for me that is, there is no need for a larger miter saw than this 8-1/2″. Lessons have been learned that smaller is better, as long as it can get the job done. Larger miter saws take up a ton of room in my truck bed, which does not have a cap on it. That means in the rain, I can not transport the larger saw. The small compact size of this miter saw allows me to transport it inside the truck and keep it out of the elements.

If we are doing interior trim, building a deck, cutting flooring, or cutting anything under a 2×10, I am going for the smaller saw.  The Makita GSL02Z Miter has a single top carry handle making this saw a breeze to carry and set up. The saw is well-balanced and was super easy to carry one-handed.


The Makita GSL02Z brushless motor spins at 4800 RPMs. For longer tool life, the powerful brushless motor operates cooler and more efficiently. The GSL02Z comes equipped with Automatic Speed Change technology, which adjusts cutting speed and torque under load for optimum performance, as well as a soft start, which reduces start-up reaction for smooth start-ups and increased gear life. This digital communication within XGT actively monitors and protects against overload, over-discharge and overheating. An electric brake safety feature also stops the blade quickly.

Vertical Handle | Controls

In contrast to the typical horizontal handle, the Makita GSL02Z has a vertical operating handle. On top of the handle and the trigger is a push button safety. This handle position, in our opinion, is excellent because it allows for ambidextrous use.

On top of the handle, there are also 2 buttons. One of them is the LED light button and the other is to turn on the AWS-paired dust extractor. The vacuum button allows for the extractor to be started without pulling the trigger. When the trigger is pressed, the extractor will also turn on.

LED Shadow vs Laser

The Makita 8-1/2″ Miter Saw uses an LED light rather than a laser, as we see in an increasing number of saws. Blade diameter may have an impact on lasers and they can frequently wander out of calibration. The work surface is illuminated by the powerful LED light, which also forms a shadow line across and down both sides of the saw blade. This shadow line is bright enough to be seen in most daylight situations.

Cut Capacity | Bevel Settings

The cut capacity for this 8-1/2″ miter saw is similar to the previous 7-1/4″ model.  When cutting at 90° you can cut a depth 2-3/4″ x 12-1/4″. When mitered at a 45° the cut capacity is 2-3/4″ x 8-5/8″. You get 1/4″ more at 90° and 5/8″ at 45° when comparing it to the 7-1/4″, model XSL02Z.

The 1/4″ additional cut capacity is not much of a difference. You can still cut 2×12 at 90° and 2×8 at 45°.

The saw will miter left and right from 0°-60° and will bevel again both left and right from 0°-48°.

Makita |Locks and Levers

There are several locks and levers to discuss on this Makita 8-1/2″ miter saw.

Handle Lock

The handle is locked in the lowered position with the stopper pin. To unlock the handle, pull the stopper pin and rotate it 90° while lowering the handle slightly. The handle will release for use.

Slide Lock

Pull the stopper pin and turn it 90° in an unlocked position to allow free movement on the rails. To lock the sliding movement of the saw, push the carriage toward the arm until it stops, and then return the stopper pin to a locked position.

Miter Releasing Lever

Turn the base to the proper angle while depressing the releasing lever to unlock it. Release the lever, move to the correct angle, and it will automatically lock into place if you are stopping at one of the positive detents. When you reach a point where there isn’t a positive detent, release the lever while still holding it down; at that point, the lever will lock.


Positive Stops Both Left and Right

  • 15°
  • 22.5°
  • 31.6°
  • 45°
  • 60°

The miter angle scale is silver in color with black writing that is really easy to read. Over the course of this review, there have been no imperfections noted and the scale still remains in an “out of the box” condition.

Bevel Grip Dial

Rotate the grip dial counterclockwise, hold the handle, and tilt the saw to either the left or the right. Align the pointer to the desired bevel angle. Once you have achieved that, you tighten the turn knob clockwise to secure the saw.

Makita GSL02Z On the Job

We have had this miter saw on several jobs over the past couple of months. From framing to finish it has produced quality cuts, no matter the materials.

We have used this saw on a deck railing job cutting down white PVC railings. Minus the annoying white PVC shavings that are created this saw cut the materials with ease. It was small enough to set up right on the tailgate of my F150 and used a folding glide top stand as out-feed support.

The Makita GSL02Z lived on-site for the duration of a large addition. From start to finish we trimmed out windows, doors, baseboard, and crown molding.

Due to the constant use while trimming out this big addition, we paired the saw up with the 5.0Ah XGT battery. When we were charging the 5.0Ah we used a 4.0Ah battery. We did not notice any reduction of power but did note the decline in run-time on the smaller amp-hour battery.


Front Slide Design

The rail forward design of the Makita GSL02Z is yet another fantastic feature. When the miter saw is flush against a wall, the rail-forward design maximizes the workspace. This works exceptionally well in small shops where space is constricted. Additionally having the rails forward will allow for better storage inside a van or trailer on a shelf because there are no rear rails to prevent it from sitting further back.

Dust Extraction

When you wish to perform, clean cutting operation, connect a Makita vacuum cleaner or dust extractor to the dust nozzle port located at the top of the saw. Be sure to have an AWS chip to insert into the saw, as it does not come with one.  Check out the review on the Makita XGT Dust Extractor for me information on the Auto-Start Wireless system: Makita 40v XGT cordless dust extractor – Model GCV04PMUX 

There are dual extraction points on the saw. One located at the base and one on the top. These ports are connected to draw the dust from both areas into the extractor.

There are 2 large rubber-flapped ports at the bottom that provide a larger area to collect the dust.


The miter saw also comes with a small dust bag that we noticed fills up rather quickly. The bag has a large slide-style securing clip for easy emptying.


The Makita GSL02Z is the bare tool model. It is also sold as a kit which is model GSL02M1. The kit contains the saw, (1) a 4.0Ah 40v XGT battery, and a single charger. The bare tool sells for $749.00 and the kit goes for $939.00. Both can be found at ACME Tools.

Overall Impression

TBB Member Rob Robillard put it like this to me a couple of years back:

As we age more and the longer we do this, we are starting to realize that we can perform most of our work with lighter, more portable cordless power tools. Work smarter, not harder!

While there is still a need for larger diameter miter saws when cutting 4×6 posts or other bulky materials, the downside is they are so bulky and heavy and do not transport efficiently. This smaller-size saw that still packs a mean punch is totally recommended!

Makita 40V XGT Cordless Miter Saw 8 1/2"

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About the author

Scott Arnold

Contributing Editor Scott Arnold is the owner of Scott Arnold Remodeling LLC out of Waltham MA. Custom decks, fireplace makeovers, kitchens and bathrooms, Scott enjoys the frame to finish concept. Scott will share his perspective on tools as carpenter and remodeler here and on

@scottarnold34Scott Arnold

All posts by Scott »


  1. Marc

    Hello. First off a big thank you for all that you do. You’re my first stop whenever I’m looking into buying a new tool.
    I wanted to ask about the weight of this 8 1/2 inch Makita 40 V mitre saw. You have it at almost 50 pounds as does the Makita website. But if you go to the Makita website and click on specifications, it shows a different weight. 36 pounds. I’ve seen other reviews where they also say it is 36 pounds. not sure if they just took what they read and didn’t actually weigh it or if there is something going on. Any chance you could shed some light on this for me? I want a small cordless saw, but at 50 pounds it’s almost double the weight of the Milwaukee.

    Thanks in advance



    1. Todd Fratzel

      Marc – Thanks for the kind words. It’s the difference between having batteries on it or not.

      1. Marc

        Thanks Todd.
        I didn’t even consider that. I guess the last thing I’m trying to find out is what size crown moulding it will cut. I can t seem to find the specs for that on the 8-1/2”. Hoping you will know.
        Thanks in advance


        1. Todd Fratzel

          Marc – That I don’t know. I suspect not very large crown as most saws this size are very limited on compound miters for crown.

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