How to Use a Reciprocating Saw Like a Pro

A saw is a very effective tool for cutting down heavy things. We have mostly seen a variety of manual saws that need more energy to perform a task. But it’s high time for us to use automated tools. So, if we want to cut down heavy things, then we can definitely go for a reciprocating saw.

A reciprocating saw is such kind of saw which is heavily constructed and run by a motor. Reciprocating saw is also popularly known as Sewall or saber saw. A reciprocating saw does much more than cutting a tree. This tool is an ultimate all-rounder that can replace many other tools.

In this article, we are going to discuss this very useful tool and the ways of using this tool like a pro.

What can you cut with a reciprocating saw?

Whenever it’s all about cutting down something, a reciprocating saw can be the most suited tool. Because you can easily cut almost everything with this reciprocating saw. Just not the rocks of course! You can cut drywall, wood, wall, PVC pipes, and so on. There are various kinds of cutting blades according to your needs. You just make sure to use the right blade to cut the right thing. 

Why do I need a reciprocating saw?

There are two basic reasons for which you need a reciprocating saw. Whenever you are performing your task in a congested location, it’s hard to work using a large-sized saw. In that critical situation, you can use these types of saws. Because they are very handy to use in short space and tough-to-reach conditions. This is the first reason to use a reciprocating saw. The second reason is these types of saws are basically operated by electricity. And they also use a push-pull motion for cutting. That makes it to cut very quickly and smoothly. When you will know much more about this saw, you would want to have one for you also. If you want to know how to resaw on a bandsaw then you can read this article.

Top uses of Reciprocating saw 

There are many applications for these types of tool which can be easily done by yourself. I have seen many of my friends performing a variety of tasks using reciprocating saws. You can use a reciprocating saw for the following purposes such as:

  • Fitting a window
  • Changing PVC piping
  • Installing outlets or shops
  • Outdoor works
  • Cutting through nails and screws

Tips and Tricks of Using a Reciprocating Saw


Before you start using this reciprocating saw, each time you need to keep these two things in your mind:

  • Always wear protective gear: Never forget to wear protective gear while using this reciprocating saw. Because you may find some of these saws very jumpy. So, wearing protective gear is very important. Also, make sure your grip is strong enough to hold the saw.

  • Be alert about the power cords: These tools contain power cord. When you will work in a narrow space, these cords can come between and you can cut through the cords. So, make sure to keep them safe.

How to use a Reciprocating Saw like a Pro 

Hold the grip properly

Holding the saw properly is a crucial thing while using a reciprocating saw. Try holding the saw like a shotgun. First of all, hold the bottom front of the saw using your non-dominant hand. And then, hold the grip and trigger using your dominant hand. Press the trigger and let the saw gain full power. Once it gains full power, bring the saw with the contact of the material you want to cut.

The saw will do its job and you only concentrate on controlling the saw. The non-dominant hand will have to play a vital role in making most of the controls. 

Choose the right blade

A saw’s major part is its blade. So, if you do not have a good blade, then you are going to mix-up the whole task. That will also consume more time to cut the object than a nominal time. The type of blade depends on the job you will be performing using the saw. You need quite a strong blade if you are cutting a strong material. Moreover, a lighter one is effective in cutting lighter material. A reciprocating saw can cut almost everything if you have the right blade. You can choose among the huge range of products. They include ‘Diablo carbide-tipped reciprocating blade’, ‘Milwaukee Ax and Torch blades’, and ‘Milwaukee Double Duty Upgrade blades’, etc.

Insert the blade into the chuck

Though inserting the blade into the chuck is an easy thing to do, but still you need to be conscious while doing this. Make sure to unplug the saw and remove the battery before you insert the blade into the chuck. Almost every saw has a tool-free chuck which needs only quarter or half turns to release the blade. Check the blade and give it a tug whether its position is safe inside the chuck. If you finished using the saw and are going to change the blade, do it with gloves because it must be hot after using once.

Know what you are going to cut

You need to be very careful when you are cutting something. You should concentrate on the intersection point of the blade and where they are making the cut. The blade can go a little further as it’s an automated system. Because of its push-pull method of running, if it hits anything it can give a sudden jerk. You must have a clear idea about what you want to cut. Especially you must be careful when you are cutting through a hard wall. Because there may have some electric wire hidden behind the wall. Make sure not to cut any wire behind the wall.

Use a variable speed

Having great control over the speed is a matter of advantage while using a reciprocating saw. You can accurate the variable speed after a little practice. When you will be familiar with the saw, you will know the exact speed. The speed should be a little slower at the beginning of the cut and while you go deeper, the speed increases. Also, make sure to decrease the speed when the cut is coming to an end. This will help to bring up a good finish to your cut.

The shoe is your best buddy

The meeting point of the blade and the machine is the shoe. The shoe can be definitely considered as the noise of the saw. The flat surface of the shoe is useful for various purposes. Some of the shoes are adjustable to move forward and backward to extend the blade life. Shoe stabilizes the saw and the cutting material. If you push the shoe all the way, you will notice the vibration has reduced. Finally, it acts as a fulcrum for plunge cuts. By raising the back end of the saw and using the shoe as a pivot point, you can plunge into the material with control.

Slowly seesaw your blade in thicker material

If the blade is making slow progress through the material and you decided to give up the cut, then don’t do so. Try to find out the reason behind it. Two reasons can be responsible for slow progress. The first thing that can happen is that the blade is getting dull and need to replace. Other things that can cause slow progress is that you are not letting the saw do the heavy lifting. In thicker or denser material, at first, you should go slowly on it. You will find the saw is making faster progress. Because the load is now reduced from it and the teeth of the blade can now focus on the smaller part of the cut material. 

Pro Tips

A reciprocating saw is a powerful tool. I am going to give you some tips given by some of the professionals who use these types of reciprocating saws. Follow these tips to take the highest advantage of your saw and increase the blade life:

Bend longer blades to cut flush

Longer blades are not only used to cut wider stuff but also you can make flash cutting with longer blades. Bend the blade so that most part of the blade stays flat on the surface. And the back part of the blade does the work of cutting.

Cover the shoe to protect the surface

Reciprocating saw is quite delicate and unstable. The saw’s violent vibrations can mar surfaces. And unlike on jigsaws, covering the shoe with tape is not enough to protect the surface. Tie a small piece of rubber with the shoe when you are cutting a hole in a finished floor. That will keep the floor safe from costly repair.

Extend Blade Life with Lubrication

When you are cutting metal with your blade, the blade will get hot soon and a hot blade dulls soon. If you have a lot of metals to cut and have to work for a longer period of time, then it’s better to apply some lubricants between your blade and the cut. Lubricants will help to keep the blades cool and the teeth free from clogs.

Adjust the Shoe to Extend Blade Life

You need to adjust the shoe of your saw to extend the blade life. Reciprocating saws with adjustable shoes are nice. Because you can adjust the shoe so the cutting action occurs at different spots on the blade.

Use Smaller Blades

There are various sizes of blades available. When you use a longer blade to cut a smaller material, the blade vibrates a lot. This can result in a slower cut and the blade can bend. So it will be a wise decision if you choose a blade which is a couple of inches longer than the material you are cutting.

Change Angles for Cutting Faster

When you are cutting thick material, after a certain period, change the angle of the blade. Changing angles periodically will reduce the surface area of the cut. Moreover, it will reduce friction and that will help to cut faster too.

Use Frames as a Blade Guide

When you are going to cut the plywood out of the window openings, use a longer blade. Also, bow it a little so that it can ride along with the framing. In this process every time you will get a nice sharper cut.

Set your Saw to Orbital for Faster Cuts in Wood

Some reciprocating saws will provide you with the facility of orbital cutting. This causes the blade to cut in an orbital way rather than the back and forth straight line cut. If you have this feature in your reciprocating saw and you are cutting a tree, set the orbital to full. Set it half when you are going to cut nail embedded wood. But when you are cutting metal, turn this feature off. Because this feature is not suitable for a metal cut.

Cut Plastic with Dull Blades

You can even reuse your dull blades. When your one blade gets dull, do not throw it away. Keep those blades and use them to cut plastics. Dull blades are very good at cutting plastics.

How to fix the reciprocating saw blades

Kickbacks can happen often when you are working with a reciprocating saw. And kickbacks can cause bent blades. Blades are expensive these days. So don’t through the bent blades. Get a block of wood and put the blade on it and pound on the bent side. Avoid pounding on the blade teeth directly.

Final Verdict

We hope that you will be extremely benefited from our article and tips on “How to use a reciprocating saw”. You will hardly find a tool that is so handy and useful with an all-rounder performance. As you get familiar with your reciprocating saw, you will be highly interested in more advanced features. They include lights, variable speed, electric brakes and so on. The more you use the saw, the more expert you become. Nothing can be more effective for getting used to with a saw than using it and be bold to try different features of it. But always make sure to be safe and maintain safety measures while using a reciprocating saw.

Leave a Comment: