Makita-DHS680Z-18V-Brushless-Circular-Saw-Review

Makita DHS680Z 18V Brushless Circular Saw Review

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One of the best and most trusted tool brands in the world, Japan’s Makita are favoured by professionals and knowledgeable DIYers everywhere. Doing away with snaking cables and making use of their excellent 18 Volt LXT battery technology, this is a super portable and lightweight saw for the chippy on the go.

Makita DHS680Z Circular Saw At A Glance

Makita DHS680Z Circular SawMakita DHS680Z Circular Saw
Design
4.5
Performance
4
Power
3.5
Noise
4
Safety
5
Value for Money
3
Overall
4
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  • Power
    Battery - 18V
  • No-Load Speed
    3700 rpm
  • Blade Diameter
    184mm
  • Blades Supplied
    1 X 24 TCT
  • Cutting Depth @ 90°
    57mm
  • Cutting Depth @ 45°
    41mm
  • Bevel Capacity
    50°
  • Weight
    3.3kg

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How I Tested The Makita DHS680Z Circular Saw

To make a decent side by side comparison of all the circular saws I’ve tested out, I started with the simplest test and then worked up to something a bit more challenging.

The first task was the most common one. Cross cutting through nice and dry CLS timber. In this case it was 37 mm deep and 135 mm wide. The first cuts were straight across at 0° bevel, then the same at 45°.

I then moved on to something quite literally a bit harder. Some dry English oak I milled up a couple of years ago. I made several of the same 0° cross cuts to test the saw This and motor a bit more.

Then it was on to something that not all the saw blades I have are designed for. Rip cuts along the grain of the wood are much harder, so I made use of the saw guide to see if it kept things straight.

Another final test of how well the saw was calibrated was to make a series of cuts with the depth gauge set to 40 mm. I cut these into a piece of oak, then carefully measured the depth of the cuts with my trusted steel rule. This would hopefully give an indication as to how well accurate the moving parts of the saw are, straight from the box.

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The Results

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Design

4.5

Makita-DHS680Z-18V-Brushless-Circular-Saw-design

First off, the Makita DHS680Z Circular Saw has the blade on the left hand side of the motor. This means, for right handers anyway, that you don’t need to peer over the motor to see the cut line. It’s a matter of great debate, but I much prefer this set up, even if it chucks the sawdust straight at your shoes.

And seeing as the motor is on the right, you can use a roofing square or other set square to chop a parallel crosscut in no time at all. If you’re ganging up work, it saves a noticeable amount of time.

The handles are as comfortable as to be expected from Makita. I’ve always liked that they print the material type on the parts. I know for a fact that the lovely grip shape and feel comes from thermoplastic elastomer, a mixture of plastic and rubber that is ideal for these sorts of parts.

What makes this saw so easy to handle must be partially down the marvellously thin blade it’s supplied with. The Efficut TCT Saw Blade is a 165 mm diameter beauty with a thickness of just 1 mm and a higher tooth count of 25. It means there’s less friction when sawing through timbers, and seeing as it’s specialised for cordless saws, it’s the ideal blade for this tool.

The maximum cut depth at is 57 mm. Seeing as this is a lightweight saw, it’s quite impressive that you can deal with timbers this size. Talking about light weight, this saw weighs just 3.3 kg. Once you’ve added a battery it’s a little heavier, but you really notice the difference when you pick up a true heavyweight like the Evolution R185 CCS. It’s so easy to handle you could use it up a ladder without fearing for your balance.

There are a few more plastic elements on this saw than you might expect from a Makita tool. It’s not heavy duty compared with the Makita HS7061J, but Makita have compromised on rugged durability to keep the weight right down. It’s metal where it counts though- the blade cover is aluminium, a much more durable choice than the plastic chosen by Ryobi.

Setting the bevel to 45° is a piece of cake. The action on the cam lever is smooth, and it’s nice that they’ve marked off 22.5° for quick reference. The DHS680Z also has a neat trick up its sleeve. In line with the blade on the near side of the foot is a little turret stop. Slowly twist this out of the way and you can then increase the bevel to 50°. It’s such a useful little feature because nothing is ever a perfect 45° angle in the real world. Sometimes you need that extra 5° to make a joint fit together.

The saw actually feels a bit too light when you’re making 45° bevel cuts. Doing them freehand takes a bit more practice as it doesn’t sit quite as firmly as the heavier saws I’ve tested out. This is where having a saw guide really helps. You’re also quite limited for depth as the blade only drops down to 41 mm at 45°.

The plastic cut guide at the front of the saw is easy to read and has an accurate feel. You simply line up the straight edge of the little notch, and that’s your cut line. It’s much more intuitive compared with some of the competition. It takes out the guesswork of where the blade will precisely hit the timber.

To make things easier if you’re working in low light conditions, the saw comes with a pair of bright LED lights. They switch on when you’ve pressed in the safety switch and lightly touch the trigger. It’s handy that you can switch the lights on without running the saw blade, it should make lining up cuts a bit easier.

The other handy little feature that this saw has is a dust blower. Essentially, it’s a small open port on the front of the blade cover that makes sure dust doesn’t stay on your cut line. I’m always a fan of these little elements that make the job just that little bit more convenient.

Top things off and remind you that this is a light and portable saw, you get a rafter hook. Also known as a skyhook, it’s a fold out piece of metal that allows you to hang it when you need both hands free.

Performance

4

Makita-DHS680Z-18V-Brushless-Circular-Saw-performance

Wow! It’s probably thanks to the fantastic Efficut blade and the tiny 1.4 mm kerf that means this saw leaves the most wonderfully clean cuts I’ve ever seen from a circular saw. So long as you let the blade over run the timber slightly, the finish is superb with just the tiniest tufts of wood fibre left on the end of the timber.

The CLS timber at was cut incredibly clean, but what really wowed me was how it performed in the English oak. I expected good things, but this cordless saw left a finish to rival the corded Makita saw. It was superbly tidy with fine edges that you could slap some wax on, and call finished!

You could happily use this saw for fine or second fix work. Thanks to the light weight and accurate cutting guide, I was able to follow pencil marks without any problems at all. At first, I was disappointed that the guide was made of plastic. However, unless you’re using this saw for really heavy work or you drop it off a ladder, it should last for years.

Making a rip cut into some softwood board wasn’t difficult, but it lacked the smoothness of the DeWalt saw. It could be down to the saw’s lack of weight. I’ve generally found that heavier saws are better for stable rip cuts.

What works in this saw’s favour is the rip fence receiver. You can attach a fence at both the front and back of the bed. The included rip fence is basic to say the least, but you could upgrade it easily. Makita stock a much more solid fence with guides at the front and back, which would make things much more solid.

You can also get hold of a guide rail adapter, meaning you can upgrade this to a rail saw quite easily. If you’re planning on making lots of straight cuts, a rail is an incredibly useful tool. It will transform this handheld saw into a precision cutting instrument that’s especially good at cutting big sheet materials.

The final test of this saw’s depth gauge accuracy was close, but not quite 40 mm. The saw cut down to 40.5 mm. On the plus side, the kerf is extraordinarily thin and straight.

Power

3.5

Makita-DHS680Z-18V-Brushless-Circular-Saw-power

Making use of Makita’s tried and tested 18 Volt LXT Lithium-Ion battery system, this is a saw that’s best suited for making quick cuts when portability and speed is a priority. It’s not going to replace a large diameter corded workshop saw, but then it’s not designed for that anyway.

A handy feature on this saw is the battery level indicator, something I think should feature on all cordless power tools. It’s too easy to work away on a job and forget you’re getting low on juice.

I used my collection of 3.0 Ah batteries for the tests I performed, and I was pleased with how relatively economical the saw’s performance was. You need to bear in mind that all circular saws are power hungry beasts though. They’re not going to last for hours and hours of continuous work, even with a beefy 5.0 Ah battery installed.

Noise

4

When this saw is running at full rpm, it’s rated to 94 dB. That’s equivalent to a lawn mower, but thanks to the electric brake, as soon as you release the trigger it’s immediately quiet. There’s no wind down time, so as soon as you need quiet you’ve got it!

There’s no such thing as a quiet circular saw. Where the teeth meet the timber, you’re always going to need proper ear defenders. I personally wouldn’t run any type power tool without them on, so make sure you’re making use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

Safety

5

Makita-DHS680Z-18V-Brushless-Circular-Saw-safety

One of the most obvious safety features of the Makita DHS680Z Circular Saw is that it does away with the power cable. When you’re not trailing a thick rubberised cord behind you, there’s much less to think about. You don’t need to plan where to put your feet during a long rip cut, or how you’re going to stretch the power cord to the far corner of the room.

You can concentrate completely on making a safe and accurate cut, and not change your focus to think about whether you’re going to trip over trailing leads. And as a bonus for left handed users, the safety switch can be operated with either hand. You’re not forced to perform tricky hand manoeuvres just to get the saw running.

One of my favourite safety features of this circular saw is also one of the simplest. It solves the age old problem: what to do with your saw when you’re up a ladder and need both hands. It’s basically a bit of bent metal called a rafter hook. All you do is fold out the rafter hook when you need somewhere to hang your saw, and you’re free to concentrate on the task at hand.

The electric brake makes this saw safe to use as well. I really like that when you take your finger off the trigger, the blade stops dead. If you’re halfway through making a cut and something starts to go wrong, you know you can release the trigger without worrying about the dreaded over run. It fills me full of confidence in this saw. I have complete control over it, even when it’s running at top speed.

Value for Money

3

This isn’t a budget level saw by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, for the average DIYer it’s probably a bit too expensive. You need to ask yourself if you really need to spend the extra cash on getting such a lightweight and portable battery powered circular saw.

If you’re only ever going to be chopping up timber in the comfort of your workshop or own home, you could save yourself a few quid and get the excellent Makita HS7601J instead. However, if you are going to be climbing up ladders or you’re simply tired of chasing cables all over the place, this is probably the best cordless circular saw on the market today.

You do need to remember that this saw is sold as a “bare” tool. That means it comes without a charger or any batteries. If you’ve already bought into the Makita stable of 18 Volt tools, it won’t be a problem, but if not you need to factor this into the overall price.

Overall

4

Sometimes you pick up a power tool and wonder how something so lightweight could possibly be capable enough. For a long time, the heavier the tool usually meant the better the performance. I’m happy to have been proven wrong here, as the Makita DHS680Z Circular Saw is one of the best cordless circular saws I’ve ever picked up.

The handles are comfortable, the shoe is large and it’s easy to set the depth and the bevel. The Efficut blade is incredibly thin and wickedly sharp, so the cuts you make have a narrow and accurate kerf. This saw sings through crosscuts and would be unbeatable attached to a rail.

For the professional tradesperson, this saw might not be quite strong enough to cope with hard use on building sites. For the pro, this saw would be an ideal accompaniment to a larger corded saw. But for you and me, it’s more than enough.

If I was going to buy a cordless saw for working away from the national grid or up a ladder, this would be it.

Makita DHS680Z Circular SawMakita DHS680Z Circular Saw
Design
4.5
Performance
4
Power
3.5
Noise
4
Safety
5
Value for Money
3
Overall
4
CHECK PRICE →

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