Reciprocating Saw Guide

Reciprocating Saw Guide: Introduction

Sawing materials manually can be tiring work. The reciprocating saw offers tradesmen and DIYers a faster, comparatively effortless way to cut materials.

Today’s power tool market offers myriad reciprocating saws from manufacturers like DeWalt and Black and Decker. Reciprocating saws can vary significantly in price between makes and models, and it can be tricky to know whether or not a reciprocating saw is a tool you should own.

In this Reciprocating Saw Guide, you’ll discover the uses of reciprocating saws, how to use a reciprocating saw, and much more.

What Is A Reciprocating Saw?

A reciprocating saw is a handheld power tool used to cut materials ranging from wood to PVC plastics and even some metallic objects such as pins, nails, or screws.

Reciprocating saws come in corded and cordless varieties. The former offers continuous power without the need for battery recharging at the expense of portability, while the cordless versions provide portability via lithium-ion battery technology.

The aptly named reciprocating saw features a blade that moves rapidly back and forth when the saw’s motor receives electrical power. Reciprocating saws offer considerable convenience and ease-of-use compared to their traditional counterparts which demand consistent, forceful motion from one’s arm to cut through materials.

What Is A Reciprocating Saw Used For?

There is a range of applications for a reciprocating saw, including cutting:

• PVC Pipes in plumbing projects
• Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning projects (HVAC) where thick electrical wires may need to cut
• Cutting through old pieces of metalwork protruding from surfaces
• Cutting wood and other hard materials quickly and efficiently

Aside from building and construction jobs, reciprocating saws can also be put to use in gardens. Their rapid, reciprocating blades and their portability makes them ideal tools for trimming hedgerows and pruning the branches of trees.

Reciprocating saws are very versatile indeed, and this is why they are a favorite of many tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts.

Features Of A Reciprocating Saw

Several reciprocating saw features determine its cost and performance.

Firstly, it is worth considering reciprocating saws with brushless motors. Brushless motors, as the name suggests, do not have brushes to make contact with moving parts within the motor. The absence of these brushes makes brushless saws more efficient and longer-lasting than their counterparts. Another advantage of brushless motor technology is the extended power output.

Stroke length, which is the distance the blade travels during each cycle of the motor, is a factor in determining the speed of the reciprocating saw. When combined with a higher rate of strokes per minute (SPM), the saw can cut through materials with greater speed. It is important to note; however, that speed is not always an advantage as slower speeds (and a shorter stroke length) can offer greater precision and control.

Some reciprocating saws have an adjustable shoe – a mechanism that allows for the easy adjustment of the blade. An adjustable shoe can enable the user to make alterations to the angle of the blade and the depth of the cut, thus giving flexibility to the user.

Other reciprocating saws offer an adjustable handle that can be rotated to different positions. A handle that can be adjusted like this may be a luxury for some but for others needing to get into tight spaces; an adjustable handle is an essential feature of a reciprocating saw.

How To Use A Reciprocating Saw

While highly useful, reciprocating saws are potentially hazardous, and due care and attention should be given during their operation. The mishandling or poor storage of a reciprocating saw could result in injury or even death.

It is strongly advised that one observes the safety measures outlined below whenever operating or storing a reciprocating saw:


  • Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including goggles, ear defenders, and a dust mask when using a reciprocating saw.
  • Sufficient lighting should be sought before operating a reciprocating saw. Do not use a reciprocating saw at night unless floodlighting is available.
  • Strive to keep workspaces free from debris and dust to avoid tripping, slipping, and falling accidents.
  • Always keep electrical wires and cords away from the blade of a reciprocating saw.
  • Cutting through a live wire could cause electrocution or cause fires.
  • Carry out regular maintenance of the device. Faulty devices are potentially hazardous.
  • Check the sharpness of blades and make sure they are correctly aligned.
  • Dull blades are not only inefficient but also a safety hazard.
  • When operating a reciprocating saw, do so only on a sturdy surface that won’t move.
  • Operators with longer hair should tie back their hair to avoid hair getting tangled in the blade or the motor of the saw.
  • Keep fingers and hands away from the moving blade of a reciprocating saw.
  • Pets and children should not be allowed near the saw, especially when it is in use.
  • Under no circumstances should one operate a reciprocating saw under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Using any type of power tool while under the influence of intoxicating substances could be catastrophic.
  • Take care to store reciprocating saws in places where young children can not access them.

Cutting Straight Lines With A Reciprocating Saw

In addition to a reciprocating saw and the materials to be cut, you will need:

  • Masking Tape
  • Marker pen/pencil
  • Mains power supply (if using a mains powered saw)
  • Lighting
  • Measuring tape
  • PPE
  1. Before making any cut, carefully mark the materials to be cut using a measuring tape. Use the pen/pencil or tape to create a guideline on the material.
  2. Put on all PPE.
  3. Power on the saw at the mains. Be careful not to depress the trigger yet.
  4. Hold the saw with both hands in front of you. Avoid holding it too far away from the body. Keep the handle of the saw close to your body as this will offer stability.
  5. Press the shoe of the saw to the material paying close attention to the guidelines you marked earlier.
  6. Depress the saw’s trigger to activate the motor and to set the blade in motion.
  7. Apply pressure and angle the saw downwards. It will begin to cut through the material.
  8. Use your body to make adjustments and apply more pressure.
  9. Take a break if your arms begin to fatigue.
  10. Continue until the cut is complete.
  11. Release the trigger.
  12. Power off the saw at the mains.
  13. Return the saw to its safe storage area.

Reciprocating Saw Guide: Summary

A reciprocating saw is a handy machine that enables one to cut all manner of hard materials from plastics to metals, although it perhaps used most commonly to cut wood.

The reciprocating saw is not for finesse cutting (a jigsaw or scroll saw should be used for intricate detail), but rather it enables one to cut through thick materials in straight lines quickly and efficiently. The reciprocating saw can also serve as a useful tool for gardeners who may wish to use one to cut hedgerows and tree branches.

Anyone needing to cut materials quickly and efficiently, particularly in scenarios where portability is required, should consider a reciprocating saw as an essential purchase. They are versatile and portable, and they will save you a great deal of arm ache if you’re used to using conventional saws.