Makita Hypoid Saw Review


John's Tool Crib
by John Cupp


As boat builders, we seem to be an eclectic lot when it comes to tool buying. Duckworkers also have many ideas with one boat builder saying "always use hand saws and arm power" and another who cuts all of his patterns full size on a plotter and then cutting them out with power tools. For the most part I am guilty of using my large power saws and many direct drive hand held circular saws. That was until I built my home and laid out the cash for a worm gear drive saw in the early 80's. They are heavier but they just don't wear out like a direct drive saw does. Two years ago I had to scrap my worm gear drive Skill saw and I thought I could live without one but of course now I realize I just can't. I decided to turn to the internet and read up on all the worm gear drive 7¼” saws so I could pick a winner.

As luck would have it I found what others call the best saw on sale with a $80.00 tool belt thrown in for good measure. The saw is the newest Makita Hypoid drive with a 15 amp motor. A motor powerful enough to be used on some table saws. The hypoid saw has specially heat treated beveled steel gears unlike the bronze alloy gears of the worm drive models. The Makita is lighter than most of the other candidates and like most of the other gear drives has a left hand side cutter making following a chalk line much easier than a right hand side cutter.

I was soon busy gathering all the hardwood from my scrap lumber pile to check out the saw. I was tired before the saw even warmed up (because of my bad back) so my friends came to the rescue. My small work shop needed new flooring and thanks to those same friends and my new Makita 5277NB saw, the job was no problem. I have to tell you the Blue Maks 2 blade that came with the saw worked well but is designed for treated lumber, not smooth cuts in plywood and expensive trim wood. In my opinion, it ‘s a good blade but not nearly the blade the 1/16” kerf Matsushita 7¼” 36-tooth combo blade is for fine finish.

My local saw sharpener sells any blade that hasn’t been picked for more than a year. I’ve managed to pick up some very good 12" blades that way. When I asked if he had any of the Matsushita blades he laughed at me. He said the owners of those blades come in as soon as they are sharpened and ready for pickup. With the stacks of leftover sharpened blades at his establishment, I wondered if the Matsushita blades protect woodworkers from alien abduction or could the other brands work a man so hard he expires, leaving his blades at the sharpeners shop?

I know that the combination of the Makita saw and a Matsushita thin kerf blade gives a great cut in the ¾” plywood that was used as my sub floor and other materials that I will explain in coming reviews. I can say without prejudice that the new Makita 5277NB Hypoid Gear Drive with the 15 amp motor is the best hand held saw I have ever used. Makita still has a supply of the 5277B hypoid drive saws that are rated at 14 amps but I didn't want to spend the $119.00 price tag to compare them, but Makita advertisements claim the new motor runs quieter and has more torque than the older model. The promotional package with the tool belt is first class and I wandered around a few tool stores to look for comparable belts. All candidates were in the $80.00 to $110.00 range. I paid $149.00 for the new improved saw and tool belt and feel it’s a bargain if someone is looking for a saw with longevity to build many boats.

Old timers always told me to check the saw’s accuracy with it's bevel degrees and depth of cut to make sure that the stamped metal mark was really the measurement of what the saw cuts. With a rafter gauge and a new-fangled plastic degree ruler, right from the box the saw was dead on. I then checked the depth of cut and noticed when I changed blades that it had a .095” difference between the two blades. The Blue Maks 2 blade was slightly larger. I attributed that to the shiny paint job the manufacturers paint on the blade. I have no desire to build anything that needs that type of tolerance. Makita claims the Maks 2 blade is the best in cutting treated lumber, however I don't plan on building boats with treated lumber, but who knows, never say never.

So lets recap now and see what remains. By my boat building standards, it’s an expensive saw that should last the rest of my life. It is a little heavier than most direct drive hand power saws but the saw is ergonomically designed to give the user a comfortable grip for better control and stays on track easier than most other saws. If you broke your budget buying the saw you can use the standard blade with good results. You can find the saw on sale for $149.00 or lower with the belt making the purchase a good one. If you are in need of a saw that won't bind up or slow down when making deep cuts in most hardwoods, then the Makita could be the saw for you. I spoke with a manager in Makita's Marketing Division who told me they have a new blade out that will rival the Matsushitas. They are sending me a sample of the new blade to tryout. In a few weeks I'll update this review with the results from the new MFORCE Makita blade.

So get ready my fellow Duckworkers and build those boats even if you have to use an adz and hand plane. My next installment will be about a very nice table saw for under $400.00. The table saw is the quintessential woodworking power tool in almost any shop. Stand by and read about the product I feel gives you the most for you're money.