Makita BLS713 Cordless Slide Compound Mitre
Wednesday 04 April 2012
Derek Jones pits his strength and stamina against the Makita BLS713 Cordless Slide Compound Mitre, and loses
Back in F&C 163 I tested the Makita BSS611 cordless circular saw. Apart from a few niggles that were more to do with the concept rather than its execution I was quite happy with the way it performed. It's not a huge leap forward to have come up with this variant, but I believe it's worthy of consideration nonetheless.
The BLS713 comes with all the features you would expect to find on a corded machine. Trenching facility, bevel and mitre cut, preset common angles and dust collection are now standard fare. The fundamental problem with cordless tools of any description has got to be the power supply, so I was anxious to find out just how long, in real terms, the 18v 3Ah batteries would last.
Good to go
At 12.7kg it's certainly a portable tool but minus the carry-case. Obviously such a case would have to be fairly large but it would protect it from the rough and tumble associated with going on site and make it unique.
Straight from the box the two batteries were showing less than 80% charge. After just 15 minutes the first was ready to be clicked into place on the machine. With a piece of 30mm thick sycamore 60mm across I started to make a few test cuts to establish whether the machine was set up square from the factory.
My engineer's square showed that it was for 90° x 90° cuts. The presets on the rotating table at 0° and 15° were also spot on. 22.5°, 30° and 45° were all within 0.1° across a 200mm wide board of 12mm thick birch-faced ply. The acid test however was if a series of 45° cuts would produce a square frame. Alternating the cuts from one side to the other and using a length of 25mm x 45mm oak I was able to get very close.
To give you an idea of just how close, all that was required to correct the last joint was to fold a piece of paper in half and place it between the back fence and frame section and trim one edge. The instruction manual lists the machine's intended use as, "for accurate, straight and mitre cutting in wood" and to this end I would have to agree.
Unfortunately by now I had lost track of the number of cuts the fresh battery had made. Impressed by its performance in other areas I had become somewhat distracted, so I loaded up a length of 22mm x 45mm white beech and set to reducing it at around 10mm increments until the battery ran out. One hundred cuts later and the Makita was still going strong. I however was not. The BLS713 had proved its point. By now enough time had elapsed for a fully spent battery to be re-charged, eliminating any risk at this rate anyway of being bereft of power.
The slide mechanism on this machine comprises of two pairs of 25mm dia steel bars. The new bearings sounded a little gritty but the motion back and forth was perfectly smooth. Both sets of bars can be locked off independently for transport or for economy of use. The body of the machine features a built-in handle to make carrying it around nice and easy. The castings are all well-finished, with no rough edges and the rotating aluminium table and back fence faces are both machined for accuracy.
Stability is good, the extension bars increase the overall support, each side of the blade to 440mm with a maximum width of cut of 300mm. Below the main adjusting lever there is a stabilising foot that can be raised or lowered to prevent the machine from rocking. A single clamp is provided to hold work in place and can be located either side of the blade.
The manual states that the maximum depth of cut is 52mm.
It was in fact a little more than that but interestingly there was still life in the original battery after the previous one hundred cuts.
The new range of batteries from Makita, supplied with this machine, feature cell protection technology. Intended to prevent overloading and working outside the capabilities of the machine, this is designed to prolong the life of the cells as well as the machine.
I've never come across a blade guard retraction mechanism on any mitre saw that didn't have a look of Heath Robinson about it, the BLS713 is no different but works all the same. The motor is quiet, a most attractive feature, and stops near enough dead when the trigger is released. Extraction into the bag is minimal and this does foul the vertical clamp when bevelling left at a full 45°. This is by no means unique to this machine and avoidable by attaching a workshop vac and clamping the workpiece on the right.