What is a Reciprocating Saw?

A reciprocating saw (also known as a ‘sabre’ saw) is a hand-held saw that is used for demolition work, particularly when crowbars and hammers fail.  Reciprocating saws are basically used to rip and cut out materials surrounding windows and doors, and when cutting through plasterboards or joints.

One of the most complex and time-consuming tasks in replacing a window or a door is ripping the old fittings out. Since you can attach a wide variety of blades to a reciprocating saw, you can use these saws to easily cut through plasterboard, metals, or wood.

As a result, slicing through any fixings, walls, or frames becomes much less complicated.

How Does a Reciprocating Saw Work?

A reciprocating saw contains a motor which is responsible for moving the blade in a forward and backward motion, quite similar to a jigsaw.  In fact, this, along with the fact that the fitting mechanism in a reciprocating saw is quite similar to that of a jigsaw, is the reason that a lot of jigsaw blades can also be fitted into a reciprocating saw.

If you work in dark areas, you can always buy a reciprocating saw that contains an LED light. The location of the LED light in a jigsaw and a reciprocating saw is also quite similar.

Which Reciprocating Saw Blade Is the Best for Me?

A reciprocating saw is handled quite differently to other types of saws in your woodworking kit. For one, since the base of a reciprocating saw is not flat, it can be used in awkward or unconventional positions.

Usually, you will find an adjustable foot that you can slide downwards or upwards – this will depend upon the length of the saw blade that you are using. By sliding the foot down or up, you will have greater control over the cut.

Secondly, the reciprocating saw will have a rubberized boot that you can grip while working. Once again, this will not only help control the cut, but also help minimize the extent of arm/hand vibration usually experienced while cutting.

Corded v/s Cordless Reciprocating Saws

Whether you should choose a corded reciprocating saw or go for a cordless one, will depend upon where you will work and the kind of job you will perform. If you want to spend long periods of time cutting through sturdy materials, you are obviously better off with a corded reciprocating saw.

This type of reciprocating saw contains beefier and stronger motors, which means that they are compatible with longer blades that can make bigger cuts. However, what you gain in terms of unfettered power, you lose in ergonomics and weight.

Cordless reciprocating saws, meanwhile, are the better choice for when you want to work on scaffoldings or up ladders, and do not have access to power take-offs. Although there are numerous cordless reciprocating saw options that you can choose from, you should pick one that is compatible with the lithium-ion battery brand that you have already purchased.

Tips for Enhancing the Effectiveness of a Reciprocating Saw

In this section, we will discuss a few techniques that will help you make the most of your reciprocating saw.

  • Apply the right pressure when using the saw, and this is a skill that can only be attained through practice and repetition. It is about determining when you need to keep a strong grip on the saw boot, and when you need to bear down on your tool.
  • Make sure that the shoe of the saw is adhered tightly to the surface of the cutting material. By ensuring tightness, you can lower the amount of vibration while improving the cutting speed.
  • If you use the reciprocating saw in an up-and-down, rocking motion, you can get the job done considerably quicker.

Using a Reciprocating Saw – Safety Tips

Even though a reciprocating saw is fairly secure, it is better to be safe than sorry. The below tips will help you enhance safety when working with reciprocating saws:

  • Anticipate problems while cutting into floors or walls that contain electrical wires, plumbing pipes, or heating vents. Be particularly careful around finished floors and walls, and make sure to not cut through any pipes or wires.
  • When changing accessories or blades, make sure to unplug the reciprocating saw.
  • Do not work with a reciprocating saw without a pair of safety glasses. You should also use hearing protection using the saw to cut metals.
  • Sometimes, reciprocating saws can ‘kick back’. For instance, if the blade is pulled out of a cut and the tip of the blade bangs into the cutting material, the saw might buck violently. This is usually a very abrupt occurrence, and can therefore throw you off balance. Keep this in mind when you are using ladders.
  • When you cut through wood or a pipe, the saw blade might bind, causing the reciprocating saw to, once again, buck. When this happens with a regular saw, the saw will abruptly stop working. However, with a reciprocating saw, even though the blade might stop working, the saw itself (and therefore, the user) will continue to jerk in a back-and-forth motion.
  • Saw blades can generate quite a bit of heat – if you grab a blade immediately after making a cut, you can get a fairly nasty burn. Keep this in mind when changing the blades.

Our Final Thoughts

To sum up, if you are performing a job that requires replacing door or window frames, or cutting through plasterboards, a reciprocating saw can prove to be invaluable.

Similarly, if you need to cut through box frames or pipe-works, a reciprocating saw –as long as you are using the right blade – is the perfect tool to get the job done quickly and effectively. All in all, a reciprocating saw is an excellent tool to have for any demolition or renovation jobs.

To learn more about the best woodworking tools, please feel free to check out some of the other blogs on our website.

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