Power Tool

The Reciprocating Saw: A Hardworking Tool

Usually associated with demolition and remodeling jobs, the reciprocating saw can do lots of things. It is a powerful and hardworking tool which can cut anything from tree branches, to PVC pipes, to cast iron. Being a tough power tool that it is, you should need to be aware of what you will be cutting and how exactly are you going to handle it.

The reciprocating saw gets its name from the back-and-forth cutting motion of its blade. It shouldn’t be used as a tool for fine crafting projects, but this cutting workhouse is quite versatile and can be used in most situations. Its blade is exposed, making it easy to cut directly to any areas, including tight spaces.

Compared to a circular saw, the reciprocating saw is much easier to maneuver when cutting from the ladder or above your head (such as cutting wooden beams or slicing through pipes in the ceiling). Be aware though when using this tool for cutting above your head, as dust and debris can really fly into your eyes and the rest of your face, so make sure you're wearing a pair of goggles or safety glasses, and a dust mask. A reciprocating saw can also create a lot of noise, so also wear a protective gear for your ears.

The ability of the reciprocating saw to cut many different kinds of materials lies on the blade that it uses. When changing the blade, make sure that the reciprocating saw is unplugged and the switch is in "off" position to prevent accidents. The replaceable (and disposable) blades can be installed with the teeth up or down depending on the angle you want to cut. Most reciprocating saws have a "quick change" mechanism which allows you to easily lock the blade in the machine's chuck in place.

The "shoe" refers to the front part of the reciprocating saw which positions the machine against wood, metal or any other material you're about to cut. The shoe can be adjusted depending on how deep a cut you'll be making.

The reciprocating saw's trigger produces variable speed, so the speed of the saw's movement depends on how deep you press the trigger. Usually, the deeper you press it, the faster the blade goes.

As implied before, the ability of the reciprocating saw to cut various materials depends on the kind of blades used. As a general rule of thumb: the fewer the teeth per inch a blade has, the faster and rougher the cut it makes. A blade with smaller, finer teeth produces smoother cuts. Depending on the blade you use, you can do clean cuts of wood, steel and PVC pipes.

You can also use the reciprocating saw in creating plunge cuts on drywalls – but before you do that particular job, first make sure that the electrical wiring and plumbing are exactly located so that you can avoid in cutting right through them.

  • High-carbon steel blade – Ideal for cutting clean wood
  • Bi-metal blade – This is possibly the most expensive type of blade. The back of the blade is made of spring steel while the teeth are made of high-speed steel. This type of blade is the fail-safe choice for cutting nail-embedded wood, steel pipes, channels and plates.
  • Diamond-grit blade – It is ideal for cutting cast iron
  • Carbide-tip blade – It is ideal for cutting cast aluminum, most kinds of masonry, clay sewer pipes and roof tiles.