Guide written by:
Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield
A reciprocating saw can be electric, battery operated or pneumatic and is in the same family of electric saws as the jigsaw. Used to cut wood, steel or plastic, the reciprocating saw allows for tough cutting. Its stroke, its depth of cut and its power are its main characteristics.
- Pressurized air
What is a reciprocating saw?
The reciprocating saw, basically nothing more than a motorized power saw, is the versatile electric machine by it's nature. The manual saw, whose invention long predates civilization, has been the subject of counltess versions with the addition of teeth adapted to all types of cutting. It is only in recent decades that a motorized version has appeared on the market.
The reciprocating saw has largely put a stop to the unbearable long manual timber chore, synonymous with inaccessibility, lack of convenience or dangerousness. It offers an exceptional comfort of use which simplifies the life of whatever craftsmen involved - carpenter, jointer etc. It complements the range of existing portable saws such as the circular saw or jigsaw.
What can a reciprocating saw cut?
Deconstruction experts can only speak positively of this machine without which many of the materials they work with would make their life very hard.The reciprocating saw can be used in places that are normally impossibleto access and delicate positions. It is possible to tackle any material, no matter what they are, provided the correct blade is used.
Green wood, boards, plastic, PVC, PE, copper, steel, red bricks, cellular concrete, plaster and many other materials are no match in front of this highly effective tool. Its versatility is recognized and appreciated throughout many industries.
Motorization: electric or pneumatic?
Corded electric reciprocating saw
As always with corded power tools, the resulting performance of the tools is superior to their battery-operated counterpart. Wired reciprocating saws have different features:
- Ergonomic handle (swiveling on some models) with lockable on/off switch;
- Electronic speed variator - potentiometer;
- Main body with motor ranging from 450 to 1300 W;
- Oscillation of 2300 rounds/min, for an optional pendulum system;
- Anti-vibration system for high comfort during long-term work;
- Soft front gripc - non-slip rubber;
- Fast blade changing system without tools;
- A tiltingand depth adjustableshoe for moving the cutting area over a portion of the unused blade;
- Blades of various shapes and lengths, stroke from 25 to 30 mm depending on the model;
- Pendular system - faster but less accurate cuts;
- Cutting capacity 100 to 200 mm in wood for high performance and 100 mm in steel - lubrication;
- Some machines offer a removable hook very useful when working on the scale - possibility of hanging on a bar for example;
- A useful LED lamp.
Cordless electric reciprocating saw
The cordless reciprocating saw is slightly heavier due to its battery. Its performance is also limited by its technology. However, it is a compact, autonomous and a handy tool for difficult and restricted access cuts and on sites where no power supply is available and where dragging along a compressor would be tedious. Their features are quite similar to wired electrical models:
- Voltage 12 V to 18 V with battery charge indicator;
- Lithium-ion battery most often;
- Intensity from 3 to 4 Ah - ampere hour;
- Stroke of the order of 20 mm;
- Cutting capacity 100 to 200 mm in wood for high performance and 100 mm in steel;
- Frequency of about 3000 strokes/minute (cps/min);
- LED lights;
- Anti-vibration system;
- Blade change without tool - optional;
- Adjustable pad for better cutting quality;
- Ergonomic handle.
Pneumatic saber saw
In the pneumatic range, you have very interesting compact models ideal for cutting small parts, alongside larger models whose performance can easily match that of the electric saws. Due to its technology that is directly linked a high-volume air compressor, the pneumatic saw is popular with some professionals. Its features makes it an essential tool for high risk or poorly ventilated sites. Very light and compact, various industries became a fan of this tool mainly because of the precision it bringts to their work. It has several important features:
- Speed of 1000 rpm (rotations per minute);
- Presence of blade cover - depth of cut control;
- Usable for steel, aluminum and plastic;
- Rubberized handle for better grip and protection from cold - the relaxed air generates cold on the grinder, saws and so on. ;
- Because of the small size one can work with one hand;
- The required air flow is about 200 l/min (liters/minute) and the minimum pressure is 3 B (bar).
How to choose a saw blade?
Choice of materials
Just as the jigsaw has a wide variety of blades, the same is available for the reciprocating saw. Gathering a collection of blades, covering all materials and cutting lengths avoids a last minute panic to find the right blade for the appropriate material.
Choice according to cutting type
Be careful to select only the specific blades designed for scroll cuts. Ignoring this rule can put you at risk if the blade breaks. If it becomes necessary to cut near a wall or ground (shaving), flexible blades are also available. Cutting steel is also possible, but requires the use of a specific lubricant, a small detail that should never be overlooked.
Having powerful hand-held power tools at your fingertips is a guaranteeof absolute success, provided you protect yourself with the appropriate equipment.
No saw use should be without protective glasses or anti-clog gloves. If you're involved in demolition work, the whole outfit is required:
- Work clothing;
- Safety shoes;
- Helmet and hearing protection are highly recommended.
From the amateur hobbyist to the experienced professional or anyone that is simply curious, follow the links below for related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:
- How to choose your jigsaw?
- How to choose your circular saw?
- How to choose your wood saw?
- How to choose your bell saw or trestle?
- How to choose your battery for portable tools?
- How to choose your battery charger for power tools?
- How to choose your carpentry and joinery tools?
- How to choose your pneumatic tools?
- How to choose your compressor?
- How to choose your lubricant, grease or oil?
And to work safely:
Guide written by:
Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield, 71 guides
I was trained as a pipe worker and a pipe-welder and after having traveled for 35 years working around the UK, I became the head a metal shop and then a designer and in the end the head engineer. I have designed and built a workshop where I make metal sculptures: I managed to find a piece of paradise where I can to let my imagination run wild. Auctions and garage sales are no secret to me. I find unusual objects and old tools there that I collect or transform into works of art. I also like decoration, painting on canvas, and gardening. I am developing new technologies concerning tools. To share my passion and humbly advise you in your choice of materials is a real pleasure.