Repair.IT – Laser switch on my Makita LS1017L Sliding Compound Saw – at least for the moment

For my deck building project, I bought myself a Makita LS1017L sliding compound saw.  I did some research first, thinking about the size of the timbers that I would be cutting.  Most of the comments I found were that people bought a compound saw, and later wished that they had bought a sliding one.  A non-sliding one is like a chop saw, start the blade spinning, then pull it down to cut the timber.  A sliding saw allows you to pull the saw forward and down, then start the blade, then cut the timber by pushing the saw away from you.

From the use of the saw, I found that there is a bit of difference on the cut – depending on how you use it – like a chop saw, and a sliding saw.  I could get a very nice finish on the cut by using the sliding method.  This particular Makita saw has a laser line that can be adjusted to sit on either the left edge of the blade – or the right edge – or actually at any point in between.  It was set to the left edge and after a few trials with a scrap piece of timber, I could see where the edge of the cut would be.

I had the saw in the front of my garage – because all the timber had been delivered to my driveway and I put all the timber into the garage – leaving no room for my car.  Basically I would cut up the treated pine, in the right dimensions to suit the deck that I was building – or part thereof.  Then I would put the pieces together, then screw them together in the right order to make up a frame that the decking boards would sit onto.

I noticed that occasionally, the laser would not come on – however, click the switch again and it was working.  This went on for some time, and then when I had completed the frame and had started cutting the decking boards – the laser wouldn’t come on.  Maybe the batteries had gone flat – unusual since it hasn’t been in use for that many hours.  I checked the batteries and they were looking good, but tried a new set of batteries – and still no laser.

Could the laser have failed?  I couldn’t very well continue to cut without the laser – well, I could, but it would be more difficult since I would have to make trial cuts, then finishing cuts.

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Laser battery and switch compartment

The laser battery and switch compartment looks very simple, a little black box with a switch on it, and a wire coming out of it.  The two screws looked inviting, so I got my screwdriver and opened it up.

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switched jumpered temporarily

The switch is just a single post single throw switch with two contacts, so i got my jumper wire with crocodile clips and bypassed the switch, and sure enough the laser came on.  Great – except, that I can’t really use it like this – the sawdust would cover the switch in no time at all.  When I fiddled with the switch a little more, I found that the switch would work if I move the bottom contact – so I decided to try a little piece of foam rubber.

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foam rubber pushing the contacts apart

Yes, the foam rubber did the job – I made it slightly too big, so it would push the two contacts apart, and then the switch would operate.

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the laser is working again

Now, I could get on with my sawdust making – eh, deck building, I mean!  Now, this was a temporary fix.  I called up Makita and they referred me to a service agent.  I called the service agent, and they said that I had to bring the saw in to them to look at.  I said it was just a switch, but they still had to look at it.  Anyway, as it was under warranty – I waited until the decking had been done, for the main deck at least – then took the saw to the service agent.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t look at it straight away as they need to book the technician – I would have to leave it there for 10 days – presumably 10 working days – that was their warranty process.

I decided that since I still had to do some more cutting of timber – that I could either replace the switch myself, or just use it as it is.  Which is what I am doing – the foam rubber is doing its job, only missed the beat once – and I know that Jaycar has a replacement switch for $1.95 so that is what I will do if the switch fails completely.

[Note]  Using a compound saw, or any high speed saw generates a fine mist of sawdust – which is hazardous to your health. You should use a dust mask, at least to P1 rating. I wore a dust mask for most of the cutting, and for the one off cuts – chose to hold my breath which is probably not the best idea. I do realize that I should get some more comfortable earmuffs, since they get hard on the ears when wearing them on top of mask, and safety glasses.

It is a good thing that I bought the sliding compound saw, because I also need to cut some sleepers which are 50x200mm in cross section.

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