Makita LS 1040 Compound Miter Saw Review

makita LS1040 miter saw

The Makita LS 1040 compound miter saw is a lightweight, easy-to-use and durable piece of equipment – without a lot of bells and whistles. With a 15 amp motor and a 10 inch blade, it easily cuts through hardwood, softwood, plywood, hardboards, fiberboard and more – easily and effortlessly.

But is it too big or too small for my projects? Does it have the features I need in a miter saw? These questions and more are covered in this article.

Editor Rating 4.5 / 5

In a hurry?    Click here to see today’s price for the Makita LS1040 on Amazon

If you like doing things yourself around the house, or you run a business – whether you’re a contractor or shop owner, a solid miter saw you can count on is a must-have tool. Typically, miter saws are used for a variety of tasks. These might include cutting long, unwieldy pieces of stock into manageable lengths, quickly crosscutting hardwood, softwoods, dowels etc. And, instantly cutting to size trim like baseboards, chair rails, window frames, and door casings.

A Closer Look At The Makita LS 1040 Compound Miter Saw

Makita LS1040 miter sawWith a pivoting arm that features dual post construction, the Makita is consistently stable and reliable when cutting angles and bevels. With a built-in shaft locking mechanism blade changes are quick and easy.

Equipped with a 15 amp motor (the largest household currents can handle) this Makita delivers constant power and smooth start-ups. It’s a direct-drive motor, so there’s no belt to slip or to replace. A built-in electronic speed control ensures that the saw maintains constant speed under load – even when cutting thick material.

An added bonus is the fluorescent light that’s built in to illuminate the cutting area. it operates independent of the blade rotation and clearly lights up the work surface, giving you a better view of the cut in real time.

What’s In The Box?

Included with this 10-inch miter saw is a vertical vice to help hold stock flat on the table, a carbide-tipped saw blade, blade-changing wrench, a triangular rule to check the saw for accuracy, plus and owners manual. The arbor is 5/8 of an inch in diameter – so standard replacement blades fit perfectly. And you’re covered by a one-year warranty.

What’s It Used For, Who Will It Suit?

Although it’s mostly used by do-it-yourself types and home renovators, the Makita LS 1040 is often seen being used in small shops of various kinds, by deck and fence builders – and by framers too.

Some choose to use a chop saw like this to cut other materials including aluminum and steel. But even when the appropriate blade is used, that’s not what this saw was designed for. Nor is it recommended that you try cutting any non-wood material. You’ll get the most value out of the Makita LS 1040 Compound Miter Saw when you use it as it was intended.

Get What You Need – Don’t Pay For What You Don’t

I’m a big believer in buying the best tools you can afford. But in many cases, spending more money doesn’t give you any extra benefit. So if a budget price saw will serve you well – 80 to 90% of the time – it seems logical to take that route. That’s a big reason to consider the Makita LS1040 Miter Saw.

Lightweight Yet Mighty

Makita 1040Makita LS 1040 saw is corded and designed to plug into any standard 120-volt household circuit. Overall dimensions are 21inches  x 18 inches x 15 inches. Weighing only 27.3 pounds, this handy compound miter saw is excellent for moving around from room to room, or from your shop location to the job site.

Pull the trigger and you can feel the powerful torque the second you switch it on.  Although it’s a basic miter saw, it’s solidly built and powerful enough for most applications. It cuts miters of any angle on both sides. But the arm tilts just one way for bevels. But it’s this compounding effect that makes it a versatile tool to have on hand.

While there are many competing saws boasting speeds in the 3800 to 4000 RPM range, the Makita tops most at an impressive maximum speed is 4600 RPM. To the average hobbyist or do-it-yourself type, that probably doesn’t mean much. But to someone who’s experienced a saw bogging down when it’s not up to the task, those extra RPMs on the Makita LS 1040 Compound Miter Saw make a world of difference.

This Makita chop saw has no problem maintaining a constant speed, even under a continuous load. It powers through cuts without any hesitation at all. I’ve cut all kinds of stock on my Makita miter saw, including birch plywood, melamine, southern pine, butternut, red oak, and walnut. And while my saw is not the Makita LS 1040 Compound Saw, it is an earlier iteration of the LS 1040 model, it continues to soldier on relentlessly. I have no doubt that this one performs in a similar fashion.

What Saw Will Work Best For You?

Choosing a miter saw is really a matter of selecting the best tool you can comfortably afford that will work for you 80% to 90% of the time – and make those tasks easier. So unless you tend to work with large pieces of material on a regular basis, this cost-efficient miter saw might be a solution worthy of your consideration.

Squared up at 90° to the fence, the Makita saw can cut stock up to 5 1/8 inches wide with a single down-stroke. But on a bevel, with a single cut, it’s limited to stock that is 3 1/2 inches wide or less. Sure, you can cut 4 x 4s with this saw, but you’ll need to do it in two separate cuts.

Accuracy is both a factor of the equipment and the user. But if your equipment isn’t set up just right, no amount of skill can compensate. For miter cuts, the Makita offers zero to 45° to the left and zero to 52° on the right. Having that extra bit of play beyond the perfect 45° angle comes in handy particularly when you’re cutting trim to fit a room with corners that are not perfect 90° angles.

With A Smaller Footprint – It Fits-More Spaces

At such a small overall size and weight, you can store it or set it up pretty well anywhere. And when it’s time to move it again, you can do so with far less difficulty than a larger, heavier saw would require. It actually makes it more versatile that way.

Because it’s lightweight, it’s quite portable and relatively easy to carry around. On the downside, due to its limited weight, the saw can move around a little bit on a workbench, unless it’s securely fastened down. Older models were so heavy, they often didn’t need to be bolted down. But picking them up and moving them around amounted to a workout in and of itself.

A Standard Design That Has Stood The Test Of Time

While Mikita has been manufacturing miter saws for decades, the basic design has remained the same over the years. The design and the size are time-tested having been around for a long time. It’s worked, so why bother changing? What has changed over time are the materials used in manufacturing and where those saws are actually made.

Instead of a heavy steel base, Makita now uses aluminum. And what used to be manufactured in the United States is now built in China. That’s the reality of the times we live in and I suppose the only way Makita could keep the price affordable. While they still make plenty of junk items, the good news is that the quality of products coming out of China has dramatically improved and quality control is the responsibility of the company that displays its name on the product.

One great feature of the Makita LS 1040 Miter Saw is the locking mechanism that stays put – so you don’t have to worry about slippage ruining your piece. Check your angle, lock it in and make the cut with a single stroke. Your result should be bang on most times.

It Does Have Its Limitations

The maximum cutting width at 90° with a straight cut is 5 1/8 inches. If you routinely cut wider boards, this probably isn’t the best single saw option for you.

For cutting 4x4s and  2x6s and any wider or thicker stock, your best bet is to go with a larger saw like the DeWalt 12 inch model. On the Makita, you could cut a 2 x 6 in a single pass when you roll the board up towards the end the cut. Contractors and carpenters often do this – but it’s not precisely accurate and it’s definitely not safe. So this approach is not something I don’t recommend.

Who Is It Best For?

There are plenty of users worldwide. DIYers, home renovators, and house flippers often opt for the Mikita chop saw to meet their needs. But this very saw is also used by a wide range of trades including remodeling contractors, finish carpenters, woodworkers, finish carpenters, cabinet installers, flooring contractors, deck builders, siding installers, and general contractors. Whether it’s used as a built-in benchtop fixture, or taken from site to site, the Makita is a reliable tool that makes life easier.

Who’s It Not For?

Fine furniture and cabinetmakers, picture frame makers, and custom millwork shops where absolute precision is a daily requirement should probably look elsewhere. This Hitachi miter saw is a solid choice for precision work.

What About The Guarantee?

The LS 1040 compound miter saw comes with a standard one-year warranty direct from Makita. There’s also a 30 day no-hassle guarantee, should there be anything wrong after you take delivery.

A Manual You Can Actually Read

Surprisingly, the manual is comprehensive and well-written. if you’re an experienced chop saw user, you probably won’t need the manual. But if you’re new to using a miter saw it’s a good idea to read it through. Actually, it’s never a bad idea to take a good look through the manual. But for a lot of products, it’s a frustrating – sometimes excruciating – experience. Not here though. Kudos to Makita for getting it right.

What Buyers Like Most About The Makita LS 1040

– It’s affordable
–  lightweight and easily portable
– Relatively easy to use – even for beginners

-It’s powerful – equipped with a15 amp 4600 RPM motor (You’ll find that the motor on the Makita is actually more powerful than on many competing brands)
– It’s a stable saw – since there since there’s no sliding mechanism

– The fence is solid and square to the base, providing decent cuts

– The precision-machined, perfectly flat aluminum base ensures reasonable accuracy and a  smooth transition when making angle adjustments
Good-quality build from an established manufacturer with a positive reputation

What Some Buyers Didn’t Like

– It’s probably not the best saw to use for fine, detailed work

– There’s no Makita stand specifically made for their brand of miter saw
– The dust collection bag is a useless accessory since dust spews out in multiple directions

– It’s not helpful when you need to make wider cuts (no ten-inch, non-sliding miter say is)
– Some see it as a little expensive for do-it-yourself users who might only use a saw like this once in a while

– It could use more mounting holes on the base to secure it to a bench

– A sloppy paint finish has been reported by some buyers

Some new users have had difficulty in making angle adjustments on the saw. But that’s just it’s just a matter of experience. Once you get used to it it’s a breeze.

All In All – Makita Is A Sold Choice

There’s no question that this is a capable miter saw. I like the Makita LS 1040.  Choose the right blade for the job (nice and sharp) you’ll get a good clean cut every time. 

Used in the shop and on the job, you’ll find the Makita performs adequately and consistently as any good tool should. It’s a reliable workhorse and its accuracy is reasonably good. For safety, there’s a transparent blade guard provided that slowly slides up and over the stock as the blade cuts through it.

Since it’s a non-sliding 10 inch miter saw there are fewer moving parts and less possibility of wobble affecting your cuts. A stable saw like this tends to cut more accurately the pieces that it can easily handle. so buying a larger one-size handles all types of saw might not be the best option. A large solid base similar to the Hitachi Ch10 tends to deliver greater accuracy over the long haul.

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