Makita USA

Makita’s XDS01Z Cutout Saw is a clever new tool for freehand cutting in ceiling and wall coverings such as drywall, wood, and acoustical tile. If that’s all it did, it would hardly be worth talking about; after all, you can already cut those materials with a recip saw or rotary cutout tool. But these traditional tools have shortcomings. A recip saw has no dust collection and the long stroke of the blade may cause it to hit what’s behind the surface. A rotary cutout tool can be set just deep enough to go through the surface and can be equipped with dust collection, but is hard to control when there is no electrical box or recessed lighting can to guide the bit. The XDS01Z combines the best features of both, providing dust-free cutting with a jigsaw-like tool that can be set to just pierce the materials it cuts.

This 18-volt tool may not see much use in new construction but could be just the thing for retrofit work. I could have used one a few weeks back, when I needed to move some existing water lines for use with a new laundry sink. The sink was a last-minute addition to a nearly finished room and I was not keen on making a mess; I wanted to cut out a section of drywall, do the plumbing work, and put the same piece of drywall back in. I ended up using an OMT, holding the tool with one hand and a vac hose with the other. It was an awkward operation and messier than I would have liked; I would have much rather used a purpose-built tool.

Makita USA

The Cutout Saw takes specialized blades and has an orbital action that allows it to plunge at will. A short 1/4-inch stroke and the ability to mount the blade in multiple positions allows the user to adjust the depth of cut to match the thickness of the material—so the blade will cut through without hitting the pipes, wires, or studs behind it. Blades are clamped in place with a couple of Allen screws and marked (in metric) to show where to position them for various thicknesses. The tool goes 0-6,000 strokes per minute and is said to cut up to 984 feet of 1/2-inch drywall per charge with a 4.0-Ah battery. Features include a built-in battery gauge, non-marring base cover, and a pair of LED lights to illuminate the cutline. The grip is configured for comfortable use on ceilings and walls.

Makita USA

Dust is collected in a clear container (the dust box) that surrounds the blade. It works best when connected to a dust-collecting vac, though when cutting overhead the port can be covered with a supplied cap and gravity relied on to carry dust into the box.

Blades are currently offered for cuts up to 1 3/16” deep in drywall (two layers of 5/8”) and up to 9/16” in wood. According to the manual, the tool will also accept three segments of an 18mm snap-off blade, for cutting 1/2-inch drywall—where it would be enough to simply jab through. It’d be worth a try because the blades for this saw are pricey: $25 for a two-pack of drywall blades and $33 for a two-pack of wood blades.

I’ve heard people complain about the price tag for this tool. If you’re one of those folks who think it’s okay to spew dust all over your customers’ living space, then it probably seems high. But if you are doing work subject to the RRP regulations or prefer not to subject customers or yourself to silica, lead paint dust (from drywall installed before 1978), and the asbestos in some old drywall and joint compound, $200 will seem like a small price to pay—especially if it cuts down on cleanup costs.

XDS01Z Cutout Saw

Battery (not included): 18V LXT
Weight: 4.2 lbs. with full-size battery
Price: $200 (bare)
Available: Fall 2016