The Reciprocating Saw, What Is It?


The reciprocating saw is a powerful, machine-powered tool that uses the push-and-pull motion of the blade to cut through wood, metal, fibreglass and other materials. It is used for demolition and remodelling and is commonly used by professional builders and DIYers. This handheld tool can also be used for trimming or pruning small trims and branches. It uses saw blades that have to be pushed into and out of the material to cut through it.

Reciprocating saws are primarily built to demolish and tear up material, but they can work with other accessories that change its function. There are different types of reciprocating saw ranging from the portable handheld models to the high-power heavy-duty corded models designed for heavy construction and demolition work. It is designed with many features that include an adjustable speed dial.

How Does It Work

The reciprocating saw works like the jigsaw. It has a saw blade that moves back and forth in a reciprocating or push-and-pull motion to cut through wood, metal and other materials. The reciprocating motion of the saw causes the tool to vibrate; this means you need to use both hands to handle the tool. The reciprocating saw works with different saw blades and different accessories that allow it to perform other functions like brushing off paint and rust or scrape vinyl floor. Check out Reciprocating Saw Blade Types? for the different types of saw blades available. To use this tool, you have to ensure that the blade is strong enough to cut through the material, a carbide blade with few teeth is recommended. This blade has to be fixed into the chuck before turning it on.

Types Of Reciprocation Saws

There are several types of reciprocating saws that can be used for your demolition or cutting projects. These types of saws differ in size, power and even value.

Corded Reciprocating Saw

The corded reciprocating saw is also known as the corded Sawzall; it is powered by a cable cord that is connected to a power outlet or extension cord. It operates on uninterrupted electricity supply, and this provides you with unlimited time to do your work. It works with AC or DC motor of about 7- 10 amps for the small scale cutting and 15 amps or more for larger projects. The corded reciprocating saw is known to have a very powerful motor, and it is compatible with longer blades that allow bigger cuts. Just like every other corded tool, the corded reciprocating saw is limited by its cord, but its powerful motor adequately makes up for that.

Cordless Reciprocating Saw

The cordless reciprocating saw runs on a battery, usually a lithium-ion battery, it is also called the battery-powered reciprocating saw. It is so convenient and offers you maximum portability, meaning you don’t have to drag a cord around with you when working. The portability makes it the most preferred choice among most professionals and DIY enthusiasts, especially for outdoor projects. Although the cordless reciprocating saw is not as powerful as the corded, it has enough power to cut through any material. The limited run time and the extra weight of the batteries are the only disadvantages of this power tool. For light work, it uses a 12-volt motor, and an 18-volt motor is best for larger tasks. See Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw in 2020

Compact or One-Handed Reciprocating Saw

This type of reciprocating saw is designed to be handled with one hand. It is built to be compact and small, making it lightweight and easy to handle. Its small size makes it easy for it to work in tight corners and for doing overhead cuts. It can come as corded, cordless or even air-powered. You can use this tool for wall interiors, plumbing closets and crawl spaces. They have very small motors that do not produce as much power as the other types of reciprocating saws, making them not ideal for large cutting projects. The corded compact reciprocating saws work on a 5 amp motor while the cordless runs on a 12 to 18-volt motor.

Pneumatic Reciprocating Saw

The pneumatic reciprocating saw can also be called air-powered reciprocating saw, and this is because they need an air compressor to work. It is not common and is mostly used for industrial projects like chemical plants or refining. They have CFM or cubic feet meter ratings that can be as low as 4 CFM and as high as 46 CFM. The smaller pneumatic saws have about 4 CFM which is strong enough to cut through metal, the larger ones start at 15 CFM and are usually rated as horsepower.

HVAC Reciprocating Saw

The HVAC reciprocating saw is specially built for plumbing projects. It is designed to fit into tight corners and between pipes. As long as you have the right blade, you can use this tool without worry. It is the ideal saw when working inside a wall, crawl space or heater closet.

Safety Tips to Follow When Using the Reciprocating Saw

The reciprocating saw works with a blade that moves back and forth, which means there’s a high chance of accidents when using this tool. Below are safety precautions to follow to reduce the risk of injury

  • Wear safety glasses or impact-resistant glasses when using the saw. This protects your eyes from splinters and debris that may shoot towards your eyes.
  • Choose the appropriate blade for the material and allow it to cut steadily. Keep your hands away from the blade
  • It is much safer to hold the reciprocating saw with both hands to allow you to control the tool with ease. You are at risk of injury when you use this tool with one hand. The one-handed reciprocating saw, however, is very small and can be handled with one hand
  • Do not insert or remove the blade from a cut hole when the blade is not in motion
  • Unplug or disconnect the saw before changing the blades or cleaning


The reciprocating saw is a very efficient power tool. It is one of the essential tools owned by contractors or DIYers. It is easy to use and requires little maintenance; you don’t have to oil it regularly or adjust its settings. It works with a variety of blades and other accessories that allow the tool to be used for different things. When it comes to cutting pipe, drywall, wood or even glass, this handy tool is second to none.