What is a reciprocating saw?

How To Use A Reciprocating Saw - Ace Hardware

You probably have been in a situation where you needed a saw, and you most probably used a hacksaw. Now, a reciprocating saw is a more complex version of the hacksaw considering it is a machine that has to be powered. You may have heard your local hardware attendant talk about 'hognose', 'recipe saw' or 'Sawzall' then he was referring to a reciprocating saw. These saws were invented in the 1940s and have been used for many works ever since; especially renovation and demolition work. So, let's delve deeper and learn more about these 'powered saws'.

What Is a Reciprocating Saw?

A reciprocating saw is a saw that cuts through the material by its oscillatory motion. It is made up of several parts which include: the blade, battery, a control system and more obviously a motor and a switch system. Blades can be of different materials and sizes. The lengths range between 6 and 12 inches. Corded reciprocating saws count with a motor whereas the cordless ones count with a battery. The speed and control system enables you to control the speed of the cutting blades just by pulling a trigger.

How it Works

What's the mechanism of a reciprocating saw. After turning on the saw, the battery (for a cordless one) or the motor (for the corded one) produces the up and down movement of a piston. A clamp attached to the piston is in turn pushed. Since the clamp holds the blades in position, it makes the blades oscillate thus cutting through any material. The working of these blades is dependent on the power of the battery or motor of the saw; more power means more speed for the blade.

Cordless or Corded Reciprocating Saw – Which is best? 

When it comes to selecting the right reciprocating saw, you can choose between corded and cordless. Each of these models has its positive side and drawbacks as well. Also, choosing the right one depending on individual preferences.


For you to operate a corded reciprocating saw, it has to be connected to power via cables. A cordless one does not have these cords.


  • They are light and therefore easy to operate. They have no batteries which may cause bulkiness.
  • These saws are versatile- a corded saw will be very handy for any of the tasks you undertake; be it renovations, construction or demolition.
  • They provide you with reliable electrical power- they have enough power to cut through even hard materials as they are powered directly from the source. They also can maneuver through difficult site conditions. You are guaranteed of completion of your task since there is no danger of running short of power.


  • Sources of electrical power must be available at your site of operation.
  • The inconvenience can be created in some instances due to the limited movements of the saw.


If you are planning to handle your projects in different places, a cordless model can be a great purchase. It is easy to carry and provides you with cordless convenience so you can work anywhere.


  • Handling and safety – using a cordless reciprocating saw is safer since it is a single unit without cables scattered all over the site, therefore, increasing threats of electrical shocks.
  • Convenience and portability – you can carry these saws wherever they are required since they are not restricted by cables like the corded ones.


  • Bulkiness- are bulkier than the corded ones thus not easily portable. This makes you get tired more quickly than when using the corded saw.
  • Power restrictions – the saws require a regular recharge during work which causes delays as a lot of time is wasted.

I prefer the corded reciprocating saw since they have more power, they are lighter and you will be sure of finishing your job.

What Styles Are There?

Different saw styles and designs can be used in correlation with what you'll be cutting to achieve the best results: A plain blade without teeth coated with tungsten abrasive grit will be suitable for tasks that involve cutting of ceramic tiles, stone, and cast iron.

A coarse blade will work best when cutting through wood material. A blade with fine teeth is suitable for works where nails and metal pipework needs cutting. A blade that looks similar to a hacksaw will be great.

If you need to cut through a wall, its best to use a saw whose blades are very coarse. This is because cutting walls will not require precision. Consequently, fine blades will be spared for other tasks.

Do I need a Recip Saw in my kit?

People ask this question too many times, and my answer is that the nature of the job at hand always determines whether you require the saw or not. The recipe saw will be very vital for plumbing works where pipes require to be cut, mostly PVC pipes. While renovating your home or other structures, the saw will come in handy when cutting and fitting your door and window frames. You, therefore, require it in your kit for these jobs; in addition to construction and demolition works.


  • Eye and ear protection- always put on safety glasses regardless of what you are cutting. Hearing protection is key when cutting through materials that can be loud.
  • Electrical shock protection- always be careful as your cut near walls so you don't cut through electrical wires or drainage pipes.
  • Changing of blades- The blades can be most perilous when mishandled .ensure you disconnect the saw from the power source when changing them.
  • Heights- if cutting thick wood, it's not a good idea working high up on a ladder. You should be aware of the possibility of the saw coming back at you should it get stuck in the wood or any other material you are working on.
  • Do not touch the blades after cutting. Take at least 5 minutes before touching the blades after they stop cutting since they become very hot.

Final Verdict

We have seen how versatile these reciprocating saws are: from plumbing works, construction, renovation, remodeling, and demolition. These saws are made versatile by the ability of the blades to cut anything, be it wood or metal, hard or soft. We, therefore, ought to be keen on how we handle and store them .this goes especially for the blades which can be a real hazard when mishandled causing serious cuts or burns. Lastly, as before stated, I recommend a corded reciprocating saw to a cordless one for you unless the site of operation is not connected to electricity.

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About the Author James Robert

James Robert is a 27 year old Blogger from the USA. He Started Beasts Tools to provide unbiased reviews in the form of Top 10 Lists.

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