Makita 7-1/4” circular saw 18Volt XSR01

Tool Box Buzz rating:

The Makita 7-1/4” circular saw 18Volt XSR01

Makita 7-1/4” rear handle circular saw 18Volt XSR01

Manufacturer: Makita
Model number: XSR01
Price: 199 Bare / 359 Kit
Power source: 18Volt
Motor size: Brushless 51 rpm
Weight: 12.4
One of the most argued tool topics in modern construction is the sidewinder vs the worm drive circular saw. The truth is that one saw isn’t better than the other, it just depends on how you prefer to work. Like many of you I have one of each.

Side-winders and Worm-Drives

I’ve always wondered why, in years past, the East Coast uses sidewinders and the West Coast uses the worm-drive saw.

One reason I’ve heard that makes sense, is that it was based on manufacturer location. The Skilsaw worm-drive saw was manufactured in the Midwest and then brought to the West Coast and that saw market was established. The sidewinder was developed on the East Coast and a distributor who was handling one line of products also bought the sidewinder because it was being made by the same company they were buying from.

Whatever the reasoning, today there’s a lot of cordless circular saws out there but none of them come close to the worm drive in design or power, until now.


Makita has a new cordless cutting solution for framers, form contractors and carpenters. They developed a rear handled 7-1/4” saw and powered it with two 18-volt batteries.

The Makita 7-1/4” rear-handled 18-volt circular saw is designed to cut the cord on a framing jobsite and offer a real cordless solution for worm drive users.

Contrary to popular belief, this saw, was not designed to target the legion of blade-left-rear-handle-saw users, although it does give them an option to go cordless.  Their goal was to give you maximum cutting power [36 volts] without leaving the 18-volt platform.

Specifically, this saw was designed for several reasons:

  • Blade-left, rear handle cordless tool option similar to a worm drive
  • Advantages of no cord
  • No purchase or replacement costs for new/damaged/stolen cords
  • No trip hazard
  • Power of a corded saw

We got a change to try this saw out at the World of Concrete trade show and was impressed enough with the power of the saw, that we requested one for testing.

We primarily do a lot of remodeling, small additions, and decks. This week we were framing a short 4’x16’ deck platform with 12 stringers so we decided that this would be as good a job site as any to test out the new rear handled saw.


The saw weighs 12.4 lbs. and measures 17-1/2″ long. It is built from durable materials. The levers, pivot points and housing all seem to be made from durable materials. The blade guard, motor housing and adjustable shoe plate is magnesium to keep weight down.

Makita Power

The Makita soft-start motor delivers 5,100 RPM for fast cutting and ripping. We’ve found that the saw kept up with our cutting speed and did not bog down.

Timing cuts in a 2×10, on average, results in approximately 1.5 seconds per cut.

Zero Start Up Torque

The saws trigger is protected by an ambidextrous safety switch that is conveniently located for the user’s thumb.

Cut Capacity

This saw has an excellent cutting capacity with the following settings:

  • Max cut 2-9/16”at 90°
  • Max cut at 45° is 1-1-3/4”
  • Max cut at 53° is 1-1/2”

Adjusting the depth of cut is easy and the scale is conveniently labeled for quick reference, listed below:

  • ¼
  • ½
  • ¾
  • 1
  • 1-1/2
  • 2
  • 2-1/2

Makita 7-1/4” circular saw 18Volt XSR01 –  Run Time

Like most of the new tools that show up on the site, our Foreman Brian called dibs on first use. Brains first impression was that the Makita 7-1/4” circular saw 18V XSR01 was lighter than his corded worm drive and has zero torque on start up. In fact, the soft start motor and electric brake are really noticeable. He also noticed that the saw was powerful, and to use his words; “it cuts like crazy!”

stair stringer deck

Brian used the saw to cut 12 pressure treated deck stringers with 6-steps and 7-risers on one charge, stringers can be tough on cordless saw.  The saw lasted two days with off and on cutting. When the time came to charge the batteries we were all very surprised that the Makita battery charger can do it in 30-minutes.

Because we only had the two batteries with us for testing we resorted to using the M18 6-1/2” circular saw with a 9.0 Ah battery and there was a noticeable difference` in power. In fact the crew felt that the Makita was as powerful if not more powerful cutting than the Flexvolt sidewinder that we normally use.

Runtime Testing

We wanted to get a good handle on what this saw could do for work.

Makita publishes performance testing of the saw as follows:

  • 558 cuts in 2×4 lumber with two 5.0Ah batteries
  • 291 cuts in 2×10 stock.

We performed our own runtime test with 2×10 Spruce framing stock and were able to get 220 cuts. I want to be upfront and say that our testing criteria was extremely aggressive which is why we probably achieved less cuts than Makita.

Runtime Testing Criteria

For our testing, we used the same blade that we framed the deck with. We performed a series of 10 cuts and then rested the saw for 2-minutes. We repeated this procedure over and over until the saw blade stopped in the wood and required more than one recycle of the trigger to finish the cut.

Note: Joe Canning, Canadian Framer and tool tester performed a similar test without letting the tool rest and achieved 221 buts.

Like any cordless saw one key ingredient to getting good performance and runtime from cordless saws is to make sure your using sharp blades. With a sharp blade this saw is an absolute no-brainer solution for “worm-drivers” switching to cordless.

We were really impressed with the power and runtime on this saw. One thing to note, if you’re going to use the Makita saw on a framing project, you’ll probably want 4 batteries to ensure there is no down-time on the saw.

Makita 7-1/4” circular saw 18Volt XSR01 – Specification

  • Mac cut at 90°is 2-9/16
  • Max cut at 45° is 1-1-3/4”
  • Max cut at 53° is 1-1/2”
  • 5,100 RPMS
  • 30-minute charge time
  • 4 lbs. with batteries
  • Overall length 17-1/2
  • 12.4 lbs weight

Overload Alert

If the tool is overworked there is a LED indicator, next to battery gauge, that will blink green. this feature helps you protect your investment.

It’s important to note that we pushed this saw and never saw this alert light go on during normal usage or during our runtime testing.

Automatic Speed Change Function

Tool has a “high speed mode,” and “High torque mode.”  The saw changes operation depending on the work load when the work load is low the tool will run in high speed mode for faster cutting operation. When the work load is high, the saw will run in High torque mode for more powerful cutting operations.

We first noticed this when cutting the stringers for the deck project. The tool’s motor sounded as if it was gearing down, but the cutting power or speed was not affected.

Bevel Cutting and the “Positive Stopper”

Adjusting the bevel is simple and the scale easy enough to read, but would be better if the engraved bevel readings were painted black.

The positive stopper is useful for setting a desired angle quickly. There are three positive stops; 22.5°, 45° and 53°

We found the Positive Stopper easy to operate:

  • Turn of the positive stopper so the arrow is pointing to the desired bevel angle
  • Loosen the bevel lever
  • Tilt the saw base until the base stops at that pre-selected angle


We liked the line of sight that this saw offers, in fact it’s easy to see your line of cut on either side of the blade. There are two typical cut outs at 0° and 45° degrees and the front base plate has a 1-inch mark to the left of the 0° and 1 and 2-inch marks to the right.

Electric Brake

The saw is equipped with an electric brake that stops the blade instantly. We liked this safety feature a lot.

We did notice that as the saw was running out of battery runtime the electric brake does not work as well and it’s a good sign to change the batteries.

Hanging Hook

The Makita 7-1/4” circular saw 18Volt XSR01 hook is awesome. It folds down on to the motor, and out of the way when not in use. We liked its extra wide 3-1/4” depth, which allowed us to hang the saw anywhere along the decks double rim joist or a saw horse.

The hook has two positions that it positively indexes into. [90° and 180°-degrees]

Dust Ejection

The saw ejects dust as well as any saw we’ve used. We did notice that when the blade is buried [close to the wood] the sawdust tended to build up on the saw. When we raised the blade slightly, the saw discharged it well.

Battery Gauge and Charger

Makita batteries all have built in fuel gauges on the battery. When the battery is inserted into the saw, you can’t see the gauges. This saw has two onboard fuel gauges at the top of the saw, so you can monitor the battery charge.

The Makita DC18RD charger that comes with the kit is a two-port, fast charger which charges both 18V batteries at the same time and achieves a full charge in 30-minutes. That’s one of the fastest chargers I’m aware of.

The charger also has a USB output port and protective rubber boot. The USB port is rated at 5volts and 1.5 Amp.


The Makita 7-1/4” circular saw 18Volt XSR01 sells as a bare tool and also comes in a kit.

  • $199 bare tool with a blade and wrench
  • $359 kit includes tool, a blade, wrench, charger, two 5.0 Ah batteries, and a tool bag.
Makita 7-1/4” rear handle circular saw 18Volt XSR01
199 Bare / 359 Kit

Overall Impression

The Makita 7-1/4” circular saw 18Volt XSR01 is a powerful and smooth cutting saw. It has the performance numbers required for framing, formwork, and carpentry. This saw uses the same batteries as 150+ other Makita tools, eliminating the need to invest in a separate battery platform, or a bigger, slower charging battery with limited compatibility.

Regardless of whether you’re an East coast or West coast carpenter, if you’re a serious circular saw user, you need to check out this new rear-handled saw!

Makita 7-1/4” circular saw 18Volt XSR01 Video Review



About the author

Rob Robillard

Robert Robillard is a remodeler, general contractor, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business located in Concord, Massachusetts, and serves as the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and founding editor of A Concord Carpenter . Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review - Tool and Product Review - Video Channel, , where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the remodeling industry. The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob Robillard

All posts by Robert »


  1. John

    I like this saw because it is made by the
    best manufacturer and it has such good
    Run time

  2. Oh Sanders

    First let me say that I love ur show… the most detailed I’ve seen. I also love the worm drive saw, it has its place. I’m in this business 47 years and I grew up using my father’s “ Porter-Cable Speedmatic 508, with its swing guard. I don’t use the swing guards however I have many “528, 168, 315, 146 and 7 that I use everyday. For me these Are the best ever made. I would like to hear what you have to say about them. Bob Sanders thanks

  3. […] and built by Makita delivers more power and torque than I expected. Using it reminded me of my Makita XSR01 circular saw with the lack of felt vibration. The power of the Makita top handle cordless chainsaw […]

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Product reviews on this site contain our opinion of a product or service. We will always strive for objectivity and transparency in our reviews. Our goal is to provide readers with honest, objective information based on our own experiences. We never have and never will accept payment in exchange for a positive review. Many of the products that we review are provided to us for free by a manufacturer or retailer. In some cases, we also have advertising or affiliate relationships with manufacturers and retailers of products and services we review. For additional information please visit our additional disclosure policies.