A reciprocating saw is one of the handiest tools a homeowner can have. It is versatile – able to cut metal or wood with the swap of a blade and can also be used to cut plaster, drywall, plastic. A reciprocating saw is great for pocket cutting (cutting a hole in a finished walls) or cutting flush or in limited clearance areas. I most recently used my reciprocating saw while building railing around my porch.
Tips for Using a Reciprocating Saw: Basics
Also called a sawzall, a reciprocating saw’s blade is long and thin and moves forward and back instead of rotating like a circular saw.
A variable speed reciprocating saw usually has a range of two speeds – a minimum speed and a maximum speed. The speed is controlled by how hard you squeeze the trigger: As you squeeze the trigger harder, the blade moves faster.
When using a variable speed reciprocating saw, you should squeeze the trigger and allow the blade to reach its fastest speed before cutting. Basically, I have found that it works best for me if I squeeze the trigger, wait a few seconds for the blade to get going and attain maximum speed, then begin to cut. I allow the weight of the saw to help make the cut if I am making a downward cut.
Do not rest the blade on the item you plan to cut with the saw’s full weight adding pressure, THEN squeeze the trigger. This can cause the saw to kick and is potentially dangerous. In addition, trying to cut while the saw is not running at full speed could damage your reciprocating saw.
The saw needs to be in full motion and maximum speed before coming into contact with what you are cutting.
Tips for Using a Reciprocating Saw: Blades
There are specific reciprocating saw blades used for cutting wood or metal.
There are fine blades and coarse blades for reciprocating saws. A fine blade is most often used to make cleaner cuts while a coarse blade might be used most often for rough cuts such as for demolition projects.
As a general rule, most metals are cut using a fine tooth blade while coarse blades are used for rough-cut woods. When making cleaner and smoother cuts on wood, a fine tooth blade is the best choice.
Blades that are specifically for use on wood don’t work well on metals and vice versa. Using the wrong blade can make a mangled mess of your project and can also leave unsightly marks.
Tips for Using a Reciprocating Saw: Safety
As with any power tool – a reciprocating saw has great potential for harm when used improperly. Make sure to read your owner’s manual and follow all safety precautions when using a reciprocating saw or any other tool. A home improvement project can come to a grinding halt if there’s an accident and a need to make an emergency room visit – so play it safe.