If you want to cut through wood quickly without needing a top-quality accuracy and precision, having a reciprocating saw is just what you need. With such a tool, the whole process is about smaking a cut as quickly as you can through the material, whatever that is.
In the past, people used handsaws to make such types of cut, pulling and pushing the handsaw backwards and forwards by hand. This is extremely labor intensive as well as being time consuming. Milwaukee introduced reciprocating saws and changed everything. Their first was called the Sawzall (‘saws all’!) and is rather like a handsaw or hacksaw that’s motorized.
These saws make cuts quickly with a reciprocating action (hence the name), cutting through the wood or other material effortless thanks to a motor. This means that craftspeople can save their strength and energy for other tasks.
Reciprocating saws are versatile too, especially if you fit them with different sorts of blades. With the right blade, it can cut through wood, metal and plastic, to mention a few materials. However, it is worth remembering the saw is only as good as its blade. Use the wrong blade and it could all go wrong.
With all of that said, this versatile tool makes a great addition to anyone’s tool shed or workshop. In our reviews, we are going to present you with the best reciprocating saw we could along with our top ten recommended models.
The DeWalt DWE305 is one of the highest rated saws on the market today. The fact it’s cordless means it is one of the most powerful saws that we tested. It has a whopping 4.8/5 stars on Amazon and is not a bad price too!
The DeWalt Bare-Tool DC385B might be a cordless machine but its output goes in parallel with that of its most powerful peers. It houses a powerful motor reaching up to 3,000 strokes per minute, and an extended three-year warranty with one year’s servicing included.
For $40, you can pick up the BLACK+DECKER BDCR20B. This is a fantastic price for what you get. The saw is compatible with other Black & Decker products meaning you can share chargers and batteries too.
It may be more expensive, but the Milwaukee 2720-21 M18 Fuel Sawzall really has it all. It has a longer battery life and a longer tool-life than its rivals too. Milwaukee designed the original Sawzall and it’s true, it saws all kinds of things. As far as reciprocating saws go, this is a great Sawzall option out there for advanced use today.
Why Do You Need Reciprocating Saws?
If you’re wondering if a reciprocating saw is your thing, then read on! This type of sawing tool is useful for all fields of manual labor and craftsmanship. But, whether or not you need one depends on what type of work you are intending to carry out. If you’re looking for precision and accuracy, the recip saw isn’t for you – you would be better to choose a circular model and a jigsaw, for example.
However, if you need to cut quickly and through different materials, a reciprocating saw is ideal. They are particularly useful for demolition work if you are working on a house, for example, and need to rip out some old door or window frames. In essence, it is your “gateway tool” to carry you through heavy duty tasks. With the right blades, it can cut through metal piping, nails, and virtually any type of material you might need to rip through. It’s the tough guy in your tool box, that’s for sure.
Our Testing and Selection Process
For each of the products we tested, we looked at all of their features before deciding which features we deemed of utmost important. We considered the design of the reciprocating saw, its usability, how much it weighs, how portable it is, how easy it was to set up as well as how it performed on various tasks. Each product was tested systematically and practically, with all of the important features examined and recorded. We came to the conclusion that there are certain top features to look for.
Top Factors to Look for in a Reciprocating Saw
- Corded or Cordless – this will depend on how you want to use your saw.
- Power – the higher the amp, the more powerful the tool is, meaning it can do tougher jobs.
- Variable speed settings – this is important if you want versatility in your tool to cut through different materials.
- Blade changing – if you are likely to use your saw on many different materials in the same sitting, being able to change your blade easily is greatly important.
- Size/length of the tool – smaller and more compact models will be able to fit into spaces that other tools can’t, such as into cupboards or corners.
- Vibration reduction – some tools have vibration control, which means they are much more comfortable to use over long periods of time.
- Stroke speed and length – these factors determine how quickly the saw can cut through your material. The faster the speed and longer the stroke length, the quicker you will be able to cut through materials.
- Battery (for cordless models) – the battery run time is vitally important if you choose to buy a cordless model.
- Ergonomics – it is important to think about how comfortable the saw will be after long-term use.
So, Should We Be Trusted?
Looking at all of our selection and testing processes, we can assure you that we know what we’re talking about. We have reviewed all of our recommended products and looked at community-based usage too. We have spent over 44 hours carrying out online web research, with customers’ verified reviews taken into consideration, looking at the different available models and their features including their power, durability, motor power and size, weight and versatility. We have also consulted experts for their views before making our definitive top ten reciprocating saws list.
We maintain our effective protocol with a view to finding top quality products coming at a logical price point, as such, we do not focus on any particular brand. Rather, our research is based on facts so that the readers find our review reliable while making a buying decision.
Our Top Ten Product List
About Reciprocating Saw
What is Reciprocating saw?
A reciprocating saw is one of the best types of saws is an electric-powered saw that performs the cutting action in a reciprocating or a push-pull, movement of the blade. It basically takes the place of a regular saw that performs manual push-pull movements. It features a large blade which looks like that on a jigsaw with a handle that is at the foot of the blade’s base. This means that it can be used on vertical surfaces as well.
What Are Reciprocating Saws Used For?
A reciprocating saw is also known as Sawzall. That’s quite literally because it can work on all kinds of things. They can be a lot of fun to use, especially if you carry out demolition work. They can cut through pretty much anything including plastic, metal, wood and ceramic tiles. The purpose of this type of saw is to get the job done quickly. It’s not about precision, so don’t expect neat lines from this beast of a saw. It’s about power and speed, not accuracy. A reciprocating saw is known as the “gateway” tool, taking you from a regular DIYer to a serious craftsman.
How Reciprocating Saws are different from Other Type of Saw?
Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw
The difference between a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw is relatively straightforward. Jigsaws are designed for accurate, neat cuts regardless of the material. They can even make circular cuts. They can also do bevel and compound cuts. The blade is small, so they are suited to fine and tight cuts. Recip saws also cut a variety of material, but their purpose is one of brute force to cut through the material. It’s a good choice for cutting pipes or framing windows due to the blade position.
- reciprocating saw vs Chainsaw
Reciprocating saws and chainsaws are useful tools, but they do have distinct capabilities. The former is usually much more versatile and portable with an easy to use system. They’re lightweight and have variable speed controls. On the other hand, chainsaws are more powerful and suitable for bigger jobs such as chopping down a tree. But, they are more cumbersome to operate and are heavier too. If it’s heavy duty tree-felling you’re wanting, a chainsaw is perfect.
- reciprocating saw vs circular saw
Circular saws are handheld power saws that use circular blades that rotate. They plunge easily into wood and other materials. They are usually electric powered but there are gas-powered models too. Circular saws are popular in carpentry and furniture making. They even have beveling blades for intricate tasks. It produces straight cuts, unlike a recip saw. Reciprocating saws aren’t ideal for carpentry because of their brute force method of chopping materials.
When buying a recip saw, you’re going to be looking at certain characteristics and features. Let’s break them down and have a look at what it is you should be looking for in a good model.
i) Power of Saw
This is an essential point to consider before buying. Recip saws are either corded or cordless electric tools. Their power capacity is usually 18-20Volts, but the corded variety are usually more powerful than the uncorded, battery-powered tools.
ii) Weight and Size
The size and weight are important factors. This handheld tool is used to get into the smallest of spaces. As a result, having a saw that you can easily hold one-handed for longer periods of time is ideal. Some of the models that we reviewed weighed as little as 4 pounds whereas others can be in access of 11 pounds.
Most recip saw blades are changed easily without keys, depending on the tool. They often can sit in more than one position too. The blade of this saw should be changed to suit the material it is cutting.
The TPI is important. This stands for ‘teeth per inch’. The width, depth, gullet size and teeth size is what determines the materials that are suitable to be cut with the blade. The number of TPI usually varies between 3 and 24. To reduce snagging, a minimum of three teeth should be in contact with the material at all times.
Blades with lower TPI cut faster but with rougher edges. They are great for cutting wood.
High TPI produces slower, smooth cuts which are perfect when cutting metal.
There are three different dimensions that you need to be aware of when looking at reciprocating saw blades--- the length, thickness and width. The blades usually range in length from 3 to 12 inches. The longer the blade is, the deeper it cuts through the material. If a blade is wider, it reduces wobbling and bending. The heaviest duty blades are usually 7/8” wide with 0.062” thickness. Standard cuts are better done by blades that are 0.035” thick and there’s enhanced stability with blades that are 0.05” thick. If you’re doing a plunge-cut, get blades that are short with tapered backs.
Blades can be made from high-speed steel, carbon steel, carbide grit or bi-metal. The carbon steel blades are the most flexible and allow you to bend the blade without breaking it. This is why they’re suited to wood or plastic. Blades made from high-speed steel are more durable but can break. They last five times longer than carbon steel blades (if you don’t break them!). Bi-metal ones combine high-speed with heat-resistance and longevity. These last a really long time. Carbide grit blades are suitable for fiberglass, cement board and ceramic tile.
iv) Power Source (Corded vs Cordless)
We’ve mentioned corded vs. cordless before. This really is personal preference. Most of our picks were cordless models with interchangeable batteries and chargers. Corded models do offer more power but they’re not as flexible given that you always need to be near a power supply. Let’s face it, if you’re doing demolition work (as many people with recip saws do!), you’re not necessarily going to be anywhere near a power outlet.
v) Orbital or Straight
Some recip saws have an orbital action. The orbital action means that the blade moves in a circular fashion, allowing for faster cuts in materials that are softer. It also means that the chips from the blade’s path are removed more quickly. It is mainly recommended for wood and should not be used when cutting metal.
vi) Multiple Speed Settings
Our reviewed products show that the vast majority of reciprocating saws have a variable speed trigger. This is important because it allows the user much more control over the saw when going through different materials.
vii) Stroke Speed and Stroke Length
The stroke speed is also known as the SPM (strokes per minute). The bigger the number, the more strokes in a minute which means that the saw is faster at cutting. The stroke length also has an impact on how quickly it can cut through materials. The longer the stroke, the more cutting that’s happening and therefore the quicker it will do your job.
viii) Battery life (For cordless)
Battery lives vary per model and make of reciprocating saw. Some last an hour, others just half an hour of use. However, if you have got other tools in the same family then the batteries are usually compatible. This means that if you own more than one battery, you can be charging one while using the other.
ix) Vibration Control
Vibration control is there to help you have a steadier hand when carrying out your work. It also reduces fatigue and over-use of your hand when operating it. It is especially important to have an anti-vibration model if you use your reciprocating saw a lot.
Ergonomics are all to do with comfort with use. The more ergonomic the design of your saw is, the more comfortable it will be to use over long periods. This is especially important if you are using your reciprocating saw for long-term use such as with your job.
xi) Shoe Adjustment
The shoe adjustment feature on a reciprocating saw is there to allow access to different parts of the blade or to get it into different positions when cutting. You can get more control when cutting and extend the life of the blade if you use the adjustment feature.
xii) Warranty and Accessories
As with any big purchase, especially electronics, it’s essential to ensure that you have a manufacturer’s warranty. Some of our featured products have warranties of up to three years limited with the first year’s maintenance included. Accessories are available for most recip saw models. Aside from the battery and charger options, many companies make storage bags for reciprocating saws. Of course, the blades are essential, and they should be carefully chosen, depending on the material you are wanting to cut.
xiii) Value for the Money
Of course, everyone wants a bargain. But are those inexpensive models really the good value for money? You need to think of what you need your saw for and what you want to be able to do with it. In that case our reviews can help you out.
Usage, Maintenance and Safety Guide
How to Use Reciprocating Saw?
Reciprocating saws are not difficult tools to use if you follow some simple steps.
1. Blade Choice
You really need to opt for the right blade. The saw won’t be up to all that much if you’ve chosen the wrong kind of blade. It effectively makes it the wrong tool for the job. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s guidelines on types of blade and get the one that matches your job.
2. Put the blade into the chuck
Before you unplug the tool or put the battery in, you insert the blade into the tool’s chuck. Most reciprocating saws today have key-free insertion and a simple turn of the blade can release it. You need to make sure that the chuck is returned to the right position to secure the blade. Give it a little tug to ensure it’s loaded properly. Remember to use gloves if you’re removing a blade that you’ve just been using – it will be hot.
3. Know what you’re cutting
You need to take care with your cut and what material you are cutting. Always check behind anything fixed as to what lays behind to ensure you don’t cut through anything unexpected such as wires in a dry wall.
4. Variable Controls
Having the right speed will soon become natural to you. Initial cuts are often made slowly followed by more rapid cuts once you’ve gained control. You should also slow your blade down as you approach the end of the cut you’re making.
5. Use the shoe
Using the shoe is really important. The flat surface mans that it is stable to use. It also limits vibrations.
6. See-sawing in thicker materials
When sawing in a thicker material, you should see-saw the blade. The load on the blade is then reduced and you can cut through it quicker.
Reciprocating saws can be dangerous tools if they’re not used correctly. You need to follow some guidelines to keep yourself (and those around you) safe.
1. Buy a tool that’s right for you
Before you buy any saw, you should make sure it is up to the jobs that you want it to do. Make sure you are comfortable using it and operating it. You should also read the manual before you begin.
2. Keep your working area tidy
Make sure that you are working in as safe an environment as possible. It needs to be well lit and you need to be aware of any hazards close by, including the locations of pets and children. You should also only work on surfaces that are stable.
3. Wear safety gear
Make sure that you have a dust mask, gloves, goggles, ear defenders and slip-resistant shoes. Any jewelry, clothing or hair should be kept out of the way.
4. Keep your balance
You should make sure that you have a steady stance when using the tool. Keep it clean and free from dirt so that it doesn’t slip from your fingers and make sure that the blades are as sharp as possible. If the blades are dulled, it will cause you to put extra pressure on the saw which may make you slip. Always check what is behind where you are sawing.
5. Take care with electricity
If it’s wet outside, it’s not safe to use your reciprocating saw. You should also make sure that you don’t plug it in to a socket that is switched on or yank on the cord to unplug it. Make sure you carry it in a safe way. If you’re going to use an extension cable or an outdoor socket, it needs to go through a GFCI (a ground fault circuit interrupter) in case there’s a surge in power.
6. Turn it off
If you’re going to perform any maintenance on the saw or change the blades, turn it off first. Never leave it where you can’t see it or where others could touch it or pick it up.
7. Save your work for another day if unwell
If you’re feeling under the weather, you should not be using your saw. It requires your utmost attention.
If you care for your reciprocating saw well, it could last you for years. I know people that are using their dad’s 20-year-old one! Different recip saws will require different care and maintenance but, essentially, there are a lot of similarities to bear in mind.
Firstly, always follow the care and maintenance tips that are specified in your model’s manufacturer’s handbook. They will be specific for your tool and are best followed to the letter.
In terms of blades, you should change your blades for different tasks but also change them regularly. Sharper blades mean better cutting and fewer problems. Most chucks these days are tool-less. You should make sure that the mechanisms in the chuck are well lubricated so that they work properly.
Because reciprocating saws are often used for demolition work, there will no doubt be a lot of dust around. If using it outside, it may get a little wet. You should make sure that the conditions are suitable for using the saw outside (check our safety tips above) but if it does get a little wet it needs to be dried and the power needs to be off when you do it. If you do need to clean the tool itself, avoid strong chemical cleaners as these could degrade the components such as the rubber and plastic.
You could also try a blower or vacuum cleaner to clean out the vents. Make sure you are wearing your eye protection as there will be dust in the air. This is especially important if you have been cutting metal or ceramic as there may be sand or sharp shards flying around.
Please remember, before you carry out any maintenance work, it should be switched off with the battery removed or unplugged from the wall socket.
It’s Time to Wrap Up
There we have it. Nine of the best reciprocating saws out there on the market today to suit every budget, skill level and need. If you’re still not sure which one to go for, you need to weigh up the reasons why you’re wanting one in the first place. Do you carry out a lot of professional demolition work? Is it to take out your old kitchen? General DIY? A reciprocating saw is certainly a step-up in comparison to regular DIY tools and so careful consideration should be taken before you buy yours. Work out what you want it for and then follow our advice. If you have budget constraints, our budget Black & Decker pick is certainly a good buy. If it’s an advanced model you need, then you won’t go far wrong with the Milwaukee M18 Sawzall.
Overall, our handy guide should have given you all the information you need about which saw might suit you, your needs and you budget. Once you’ve decided on these factors, deciding on the saw should be a little easier. If you’re still weighing up your options, then our top picks for corded or cordless are both excellent DeWalt tools. Happy sawing!