What is a Reciprocating Saw?


A reciprocating saw, also known as hognose or recip saw, is a handheld power tool designed mainly for demolition work. Unlike other types of saws that are commonly used to make clean and precise cuts, this powerhouse was made to replace hammers and crowbars at the construction site. The recip saw has a large blade powered by a motor that makes it move back-and-forth just like hand-powered tools, but a lot faster.

What makes this tool valuable in any collection is that it can be used comfortably on vertical surfaces and at almost any angle to efficiently cut and rip out many materials.

What is a reciprocating saw used for?

Reciprocating saws are quite popular among construction workers. Window fitters and plumbers find this tool particularly useful for cutting thick pipes or when they struggle to rip out old fittings. This saw allows you to power through materials such as wood, metal, tile, stone, drywall and more, which would usually be a time-consuming task with any other tool. Thanks to its ergonomic design, it can be wielded in almost any angle or position, and you can get into tight spaces that are usually hard to reach. And that’s not all it can do!  You can also use it in your home and in your garden to trim overgrown tree branches, for example.

reciprocating saw

When not to use a reciprocating saw?

Like any other power tool, reciprocating saws can be dangerous if used incorrectly. You shouldn’t use one if you:

  • Do not have protective gear. Gloves, safety goggles, hearing protection, and a dust mask or a full-face shield are essential to protect you against dust, debris and noise.
  • Have a dull blade. A sharp blade will cut your workpiece easily, but a dull one will tear through it, which could send debris in your direction. You would also risk getting kickback.
  • Are working near flammable materials because the sparks could ignite the material.
  • Are working in a cluttered, crowded, or closed space. Keep your workspace clean and set the electrical cord aside to avoid getting it tangled in the tool or around your feet or hands.

How much money does a reciprocating saw cost and where do I buy one?

Depending on the brand and characteristics, a small reciprocating starts at $50 USD, and a big and powerful one suited for demolition work can go up to $300 USD on Amazon. At Walmart, you can get either a corded or a cordless one-handed model for $25 to $40, while heavy-duty ones range from $80 to $170. You can also check your nearest hardware store as they’ll surely have many options to offer.  

What reciprocating saw should I buy?

You’ll find that many types of reciprocating saws vary in power, speed and other features. As with any other tool, which is the best recip saw for you will depend on the material you have to work with and the tasks you want to perform.

If you work in heavy construction or demolition, then the best choice for you is obviously the corded saw that has the most powerful motor you can find. Don’t worry too much about size or mobility, but instead look for power. Another important feature to consider is speed. Faster models are better when working with soft materials such as wood, and slower models are better when cutting hard materials like metal or stone. Saws for lumber demolition have an additional feature called orbital action. With this setting, the blade makes a slight circular movement while maintaining the back and forth motion to make quick cuts on wood.

For plumbing and electrical projects, your best option is a one-handed, medium-sized model because it’s more maneuverable and better for working in tight spaces.

Smaller, cordless models are ideal for the house and garden. When you’re up a ladder, trimming tree branches, and you don’t have a power socket nearby to plug the saw into, the battery-operated option is much more convenient.

Which reciprocating saw blade should I buy?

It’s essential to buy the right blade for the task you want to perform because there’s a wide variety of tooth designs for different materials and uses.

Wood cutting blades are, as their name suggests, intended for cutting most types of wood, tree branches, and other soft materials, but you can also use them to cut nails embedded in the wood.  They’re usually made of high carbon and steel, and they have 5 to 10 teeth per inch (TPI).

Metal cutting blades are meant to be used with harder and thicker materials like aluminum because of their fine teeth that can give you a slower, but cleaner cut. They typically start at 10 TPI and can go as high as 24 TPI.

Carbide-tipped blades are used with even harder metals such as cast iron and stainless steel, and with a low TPI count you can even get through concrete, stone, and brick.

Carbide grit blades are used for masonry and cutting tile because they have an abrasive strip instead of teeth to make cleaner cuts.

Diamond grit blades are the most expensive blades of them all. They’re meant for brittle materials, such as glass, that would be otherwise destroyed by toothed blades, and for harder materials like concrete and cast iron that would destroy other blades.

reciprocating saw

Conclusion

Reciprocating saws are the essential tool in the demolition arsenal because they can tackle any material you place in front of them. They’re perfectly suited for tight and hard-to-reach spaces, and their versatility allows you to cut wood, glass, stone, and even the hardest metals with ease. However, you must buy the right model and the right blade for the job. Keep in mind that if you’re looking for a tool that can be operated easily with one hand you should go for a smaller option. If versatility is what you need, go for a medium-sized model. And for large-scale jobs, heavy-duty saws are the best. And don’t forget to always follow the safety tips!

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

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