February 22, 2011

Makita LCT208W 12-Volt Combo Kit (Driver and Circ Saw) - Review

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UPDATE: The mini circ saw is now available as a stand alone, with two batteries and a charger. Makita's page is here and it's available at Amazon.com here.

Anyone who was on a jobsite in the 90s is probably familiar with the 9.6 volt circ saw that Makita used to manufacture. You know, the one with the long, skinny handle. Yeah, that one. Well, it's taken a while, but they've finally updated it for their new 12-volt platform (they've bundled it with one of their 12-volt drivers). They shipped us a kit to test out and for the past month, we've been driving it like a stolen car and here are our conclusions.

First, let's get the drill out of the way, so we can concentrate on the saw. We used the little tool as our primary 12-volt on quite a few projects and it worked out great. It's got the fat handled ergonomics like the Bosch (as opposed to the superior thin handled feel of the DeWalt), but you get used to it no problem. The tool didn't seem to mind driving the occasional 3 inch screw and we didn't notice anything negative about the run time. It's a nice tool.

One big oversight with it though is that it's missing the low battery indicator lights that you'll find on the Bosch and Milwaukee. We've come to see these as an essential part of the lithium-ion world and, for some reason, Makita doesn't include it here (or on the saw). Bummer.

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So onto the saw. It's really light and has a cutting depth of about an inch. It's got a fantastic feel in the hands and it makes a nice clean cut. We used it on everything from plywood to some some chunks of oak and as long as you're going slow enough, it makes the cut. It actually went through the oak a lot faster than we expected, but it's impractical for anything but the smallest cuts in hardwoods.

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Our one problem with the saw is that it looks and feels...well...like it's a toy. As in, a toy that can easily take a finger off. Because it's so small, it's easy to drop some safety habits, so we had to keep reminding ourselves that even though this thing is small enough to be part of our kid's Home Depot tool set, it's got plenty of kickback power behind it.

But we loved it. And we used it a lot and it saved us a considerable amount of time. Quick trips out to the shop for a cut, back in three minutes. No cord, and no over-powered heavy duty saw. Just a grab and cut and go. Obviously it has some limitations due to its size, but it's not trying to take over the word, it's just trying to cut small things. And it's great at it.


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For the working carpenter, this tool might even veer into the 'essential' category. Having a mini-circ saw that's as maneuverable and powerful as this, will be a plus to any one on a jobsite. It certainly won't be the only saw you own, but it makes a perfect second saw for trim work and those times when pulling out an extension cord just isn't practical.

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The kit comes in a bag that looks like it should be filled with cosmetics. It's nice and weather resistant but the color and the raincoat look are very un-construction. But whatever, that's the bag that the tools come in and the bottom line on the tools is that they're really nice.

As we said earlier, the saw is only available as a kit, so if you want it, you've got to shell out the $149 for the whole deal. It's actually a really great price for two tools, two batteries, a charger, and a slightly embarrassing carrying case (worth noting that when we first started writing this review, the price was closer to $200, so if you're interested, it might be worth acting now).

At Amazon.com

Read More in: All Reviews | Cordless | Lithium-Ion | Power Tools

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at February 22, 2011 5:06 AM

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Recent Comments

I just picked up one at HD, and so far so good! It's great for quick cuts in plywood.


Posted by: Flatthead at March 1, 2011 2:34 PM

thanks for the info Doug,good to know. I often do small scale panel projects that require 2 cuts per sheet, nothing crazy maybe on avg 10-12 passes mostly on the MDF/cardboard like beadboard, but on occasion use 1/4 ply-bead in high traffic areas.
I will have to pop in to HD this week to check it out.


Posted by: Kevin at February 23, 2011 1:30 PM

Hey Kevin, good eye....I didn't even notice the guide slot. I just went and double checked and the kit does not come with a guide or the little wingnut to secure it.

If you're talking the 1/4" stuff, it would definitely cut though it, but I don't think I'd recommend making a full day of it. I had no problem slicing up 1/4" luan (and little problem with 1/2" homosote), but the blade does bog down though from time to time. It's (obviously) much slower that a full-sized circ saw.

Also, I was at Home Depot the other day and they were practically giving these kits away. It was a display over in the corner, by the lawn and garden area with a ton of (what I assume is) xmas overstock. I think these were going for $119 or something.


Posted by: Tool Snob at February 22, 2011 8:04 PM

excellent review Doug, looks like a nice kit for finish guys, installers,etc. Does the saw come with a guide? From the photo it seems like the foot would accept one. In your opinion you think it would crank through something like ply-bead?


Posted by: Kevin at February 22, 2011 6:42 PM
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