how to use a reciprocating saw

How to Use a Reciprocating Saw: Common and Innovative Uses

There are countless tools that a keen DIYer or boatbuilder will have in their collection. Some will obviously be used much more than others.

Still, it is useful to know just how versatile each and every tool is to ensure you are maxing out its potential.

Below, we are going to take a look at how to use a reciprocating saw to help you get the most out of this incredible power tool.

What Is a Reciprocating Saw?

Reciprocating saws have been a favorite handyman’s tool since 1951, which was when they were first introduced.

Let’s take a quick look at how they work before looking at their many uses.

The name of the saw comes from the way the blade moves back and forth, which is similar to the action of a jigsaw.

It is a relatively small handheld tool that is almost guaranteed to be in every woodworker and metalworker’s tool collection.

The motor powers the back-and-forth motion of the blade at high speed, which eventually cuts through surfaces.

How It Works

The speed at which a reciprocating saw is able to cut through surfaces will depend on a variety of factors.

The TPI (teeth per inch) of the blade, the material you are cutting, and the speed of the motor will all have an impact on the speed of the cut.

1. TPI

The greater amount of teeth on a blade (higher TPI), the slower but more precise and smoother the cut will be.

In that case, you will need a higher TPI if you are cutting through dense wood or metal or want a smoother and straighter end-result with less sanding.

2. The Material You’re Cutting

Obvious to some (but we’ll say it anyway), softer materials will cut much faster than harder materials.

3. Motor Speed

The more powerful the motor is, the faster the cut. This is because a more powerful motor will make the blade move faster.

You will find some high-end models reaching speeds of 2,700 SPM (strokes per minute).

How to Use a Reciprocating Saw

When it comes to using your reciprocating saw, there are some applications that are hugely commonplace.

In fact, many of the common uses for the Sawzall are almost the sole reason people buy one in the first place.

After we have run through the three most common uses for this particular power tool, we will also present you with some more innovative solutions on how to use it.

We recommend that you use your power tool as often as possible to ensure you get your money’s worth and, well, make your life easier!

Three Common Uses for a Reciprocating Saw

Here are the three most common uses for a reciprocating saw:

1. Curved and Straight Cuts

Like many other types of saw, the reciprocating saw is capable of making curved and straight cuts.

If you are looking for the best saw to make a straight cut, then you may be better off with a circular or miter saw.

The best saw for a curved cut would be a jigsaw.

While it will perform well in both areas, it would need a little more practice and skill to guide it.

The reason why many people turn to the reciprocating saw over the circular saw and jigsaw is its dexterity.

The compact size and exposed blade mean that the recip saw can get in places that other options just wouldn’t be able to reach.

The reciprocating saw also has a massive potential arsenal of blades at your disposal, which means that it is hugely versatile and can cut through almost anything.

2. Pruning Jobs

For heavier tree work, people often turn to the chainsaw for help, but reciprocating saws are also fantastic for most of your pruning needs.

A cordless reciprocating saw, in particular, is more lightweight and portable in comparison to a chainsaw.

Regardless of its rather compact build, it will still make light work of pruning and trimming different-sized branches.

The long and exposed blade on this saw also helps to get closer and more accurate cuts in difficult-to-reach places.

3. Demolition Work

The long, exposed blade also helps when it comes to destroying things, as is needed in demolition work.

You can change the blades to best suit the material you’re working with.

In this way, you would be able to cut through nails, wood, metal, and plasterboard—places where a sledgehammer nor a crowbar will not be able to do the trick.

how to use a reciprocating saw

Innovative Uses for a Reciprocating Saw

Here are eight more ways you can use your Sawzall that you may not have thought of!

Hopefully, this list will help make sure you get the best use out of your tool, getting you the best bang for your buck.

1. Salvaging Materials

A reciprocating saw allows you to cut into and salvage beautiful (or just useful) pieces of wood that would otherwise be trashed during demolition.

For example, you could smash through that wall or cut it away and reuse the wood somewhere else.

2. Making Frames

This type of saw will also help you make some of the best frames possible.

The blades available allow you to make straight or curved cuts with accuracy and precision. Best of all, there would be no chipping on any piece.

3. Repairing Shingles

Using the right blade, you would be able to trim broken roof tiles into beautiful pieces once again, making your roof look more aesthetically pleasing.

4. Sanding Holes

Being totally devoid of splinters, dust, and saw dirt, you can use your reciprocating saw to sand holes that you’ve already drilled.

5. Plumbing

Most plumbers will have a reciprocating saw in their toolkit in order to cut through pipes. They also use it to cut holes and notches.

A reciprocating saw will cut through all different types of piping materials, too, whether they be plastic or metal, and help you get into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.

6. Scraping and Surface Prep

As mentioned, the reciprocating saw is one of the most versatile saws available, and that’s largely thanks to the number of different attachments that it comes with.

The scraper attachment will help you scrape up old ceramic tiles and vinyl and linoleum flooring to help prep for the new surface.

Other kinds of surface prep that this attachment can handle include removing thinset, stubborn glue, drywall mud, and paint.

You will save yourself so much time, and not to mention, avoid having severely aching arms in the morning.

7. Rust and Stubborn Dirt Removal

Another handy attachment you can use with your reciprocating saw will allow you to remove rust and stubborn dirt from surfaces.

The brush attachment can also help in renovation, when exposing old brick surfaces that are heavy with cement residue.

8. Sanding

If you don’t have a power tool that handles sanding specifically, then worry not, as you can also purchase a sanding attachment for your reciprocating saw.


Now that you know how to use a reciprocating saw, you can see that there aren’t many jobs that it won’t do!

It’s a must-have tool for anyone about to tackle some serious demolition, repair work, or remodeling.

Thanks to the variety of blades and attachments that are available for it, it will also come in handy in a multitude of other tasks.

If you don’t have the money, space, or inclination to own a lot of different tools, the reciprocating saw will prove to be a great stand-in for many of them.

From cutting and sanding to scraping and cleaning, the Sawzall will save you a lot of time and effort in many DIY jobs around the home, including building your own kayak.

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