What Are Reciprocating Saws Used For?

Last Updated On October 19, 2021 By Elliot

What Is A Reciprocating Saw Good For Cutting?

Reciprocating saws are used for demolition work. When a hammer or a crowbar is not up to the job you can use a reciprocating saw to cut and rip out material around doors, windows, beams, etc.

Reciprocating saws are also known as recip saws, sawzalls, or sabre saws. They are highly adaptable to the situation and can come with a variety of different blades designed to cut through wood, metal, plasterboard, and several other materials.

When remodeling a house, one of the most time-consuming and arbitrary tasks is removing the old material before you can replace it with the new. A reciprocating saw however makes this easier by slicing through the old material like butter allowing it to crumble to the floor.

Another task that we all dread is removing the old nails from a piece of wood before you can cut through it, however with a reciprocating saw, it is possible just to slice through the whole thing.

A Reciprocating saw is a must-have tool for all renovators.

What's Better: Reciprocating Saw Or Jigsaw?

Comparing a reciprocating saw with a jigsaw is like comparing a slotted screwdriver with a Phillips screwdriver. They both accomplish their purpose but they are designed for two different kinds of applications.

Both have their similarities, however. They can both cut through similar materials and have interchangeable blades for different uses. In fact, sometimes they are so similar that some jigsaw blades can be used for a reciprocating saw. 

Now let's have a look at the differences…


A Jigsaw is a great tool specifically designed for precise and intricate cuts. It is a tool of precision, a carpenter's scalpel. This tool requires a solid surface to work from and would not be suitable or ideal for flush cuts. A jigsaw is not as versatile as a jigsaw and therefore costs slightly less.

Reciprocating Saw

This is principally a demolition tool and great for rough cuts in difficult-to-reach places. As a handheld tool, it is versatile and can be taken anywhere. It is more powerful and more durable than a jigsaw and should be used for more heavy-duty projects. Being slightly lighter than a jigsaw makes its continued use easier long term. A reciprocating saw can be used as a jigsaw, but it lacks the accurate detail that a jigsaw can provide.

Who Makes The Best Reciprocating Saw?

After reviewing multiple review sites for reciprocating saws the brand that always seems to make it to the top is Milwaukee closely followed by DeWalt.

But determining the best saw for you can depend on many factors. Are you looking for the best price? Maybe you want the best cordless version? Or maybe you want the best reciprocating saw for a specific task?

Depending on your definition of “best” the results can vary. However, we want to mention a few key things to consider when thinking about buying a reciprocating saw. Once you review these factors, you will then be able to decide for yourself what is the best reciprocating saw for you.

Type Of Project

Consider what kind of projects you are likely to be using this saw for. If you are going to be doing heavy-duty demolition work, then you are going to need the most powerful option available. 

Alternatively, if you are planning on using this saw for more tricky to reach areas or plumbing cuts etc, you may prefer something that is lighter, smaller, and easier to handle.

Corded Vs Cordless

This goes hand in hand with your project plans. Corded versions often have more power whereas cordless versions have more ability.

Think about the length of time you are likely to be working for and how often you would need to charge the unit. Some people prefer the corded version because there is never a chance of finding yourself without any battery.

It is also important to consider where you might be using this reciprocating saw as you need to make sure that it always has power. If you need something easily portable and usable in any location then a cordless version might be better.

If you do go with a cordless version then a helpful tip is to choose one that is the same brand as some of your other cordless tools as the power pack may be swappable between them. This is handy for when one tool runs out of power because you can just swap it out with the power pack from another tool.

Additional Features

Not all features are necessary but there are some you should consider. Below are a few that can help you to choose the right reciprocating saw for you.

Stroke Length/Speed: These directly affect the cutting speed and how effective or fast you will be at completing your project. If you want to compare cutting speeds between different reciprocating saws, take the inches per minute and multiply by the stroke length and speed. The ideal range is around 1 to ⅛ Inch and 3k strokes per minute.

Orbital Action: This feature can actually nullify the data on stroke length/speed and a unit with orbital action can actually outpace a unit without it even if the numbers don't match up. This is great if you are wanting to cut through wood quickly but it does not work for metal.

Variable Speed: Some saws have a trigger allowing you to adjust the speed of the saw. Sometimes you don't need to go full power all the time. This is especially handy for cutting metal because the general rule is that you should cut slower for metal and faster for wood. 

Anti-Vibration: Your saw will vibrate. This is something that you cannot change. However, some manufacturers have changed the way you hold the saw or added additional features to reduce the vibrational strain on your body. Look for saws with anti-vibe features.

Hands-Free Blade Change: This should be standard. However, if you find a saw that requires you to have a tool to change the blade, avoid it. 

Adjustable Shoe: The shoe is the metal part of the saw that goes around the blade. The best saws have an adjustable shoe that you can elongate and shorten as needed. Using it properly will make your blades last longer.

Final Thoughts

A reciprocating saw is an essential tool for those involved in demolition, renovation, or refurbishment. What is usually a difficult task to remove old material is made easy by this saw. 

This type of saw is usable in the same way as a jigsaw but lacks delicate detail and is more suited for simpler cuts.

When you go to choose the right reciprocating saw for you, please review the brands, think about what kind of uses you will have for it, and then examine our list of additional features so you can select the best reciprocating saw possible.


I'm Elliot Higgins the Founder of multiple hardware stores around the UK. I love wood and wood working. Watching a fine piece of pine or cedar turn into a work of art is extremely satisfying. The one thing I love more than woodworking is the toys that we use! On HandyToolsHome.com; we bring you information and reviews on all kinds of tools.

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Last Updated On October 19, 2021

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