Before Milwaukee introduced reciprocating saws, people had to manually go back and forth with traditional saws and use their power and pressure to cut through the hardest materials. Thank God motorized saws have now made the job easier for everyone.
There are many types of saws, but reciprocating saws are one of the most versatile, helpful and accessible versions. They can especially be used for demolition, construction, and remodeling.
We believe that having the best reciprocating saws at hand is essential and awesome at the same time. Imagine having a motorized knife that can trim and cut through everything you want it to — great fun!
- Variable speed control
- Heavy-duty projects
- Easy blade change
- Speed control
- High voltage
- Variable speed setting
- Ideal for confined areas
- Compact and easy to use
- Refined crank mechanism
- Powerful and durable
- Includes a carry case
- Long-lasting battery life
- Easy & fast blade change
- Lengthy Warranty
- Our Top Picks
- What Is a Reciprocating Saw?
- What Are Reciprocating Saws Used For?
- Cordless vs. Corded Reciprocating Saws
- How to Choose the Best Reciprocating Saw
- The Best Reciprocating Saws of 2022
- Reciprocating Saw Comparison Chart
- How to Use a Reciprocating Saw
- Reciprocating Saws FAQs
- Saws That Reciprocate the Love
What Is a Reciprocating Saw?
Saws are used to cut through materials to achieve certain shapes or measurements. Using a saw manually requires the person to keep moving the saw back and forth with their arms until they cut the material.
Reciprocating saws are like the machine-powered version. The back-and-forth motion of the blade results in the cutting of the desired material.
A reciprocating saw is a strong and versatile tool that can cut through many materials:
What Are Reciprocating Saws Used For?
Reciprocating saws are considered a very important tool for many professionals and DIY lovers. They’re used mainly to demolish, cut, rip and tear materials with ease.
Because of their comfortable grip, exposed blade, and simple design, reciprocating saws are used in a wide variety of projects:
Plumbing and HVAC
It’s highly unlikely to find a plumber or HVAC worker who doesn’t have a reciprocating saw.
The main reason reciprocating saws were produced is to facilitate working in tight spaces. Plumbing work — for example, working on bathroom pipes — can be a hassle since the pipes can’t easily be moved. Plus, the surrounding space is limited. Big tools have no place here!
Instead, reciprocating saws can operate perfectly by simply guiding the blade onto the pipe and cutting it off.
The same goes for HVAC — heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Space is always limited since they’re mostly located inside walls and ceilings. Reciprocating saws can reach inside those areas and easily cut the required materials.
Accuracy is key in this situation. Cutting a window opening with exact measurements can be tricky. If the measurements are off by an inch or two, this could mean you need to tear the wall down. The same applies when making window frames.
You can easily trim down according to measurements with a reciprocating saw, instead of starting all over again and wasting materials and time.
Reciprocating saws are involved in construction. Here, dismantling, tearing and cutting are needed.
They also allow you to make accurate cuts into walls and studs, without having to ruin the rest of the wall or the surrounding area. Going at it with a sledgehammer is more fun, though!
Emergency Rescue Services
When we think of tools such as reciprocating saws, we tend to think of building and home improvement. It hardly crosses our minds that they can save lives.
Reciprocating saws are small and have a protruding blade. As a result, they can cut materials in small places like cars and elevators to rescue anyone trapped after an accident.
A reciprocating saw is basically the Robin to your Batman in any required yard work. Its size would be ideal for small tree trimming, cutting branches and any unwanted growth. In this case, we would recommend a cordless reciprocating saw.
Cordless vs. Corded Reciprocating Saws
As with most power tools, reciprocating saws come in two options for power source: corded and cordless.
The battery packs for cordless saws are 9 or 12 volts, and the capacity varies from one model to another. Since cordless reciprocating saws work with batteries, they allow you to move freely. You don’t have to limit your work area to be near the power socket.
Notwithstanding, corded reciprocating saws command more power due to the direct electric power source. As such, these saws tend to be more powerful.
Even though cordless reciprocating saws are the most convenient, you have the extra hassle of the battery running out. To fix this, you can buy extra batteries and choose a high-quality saw. However, you have to spend more money to do this, and it can be frustrating to juggle the recharging of the batteries.
How to Choose the Best Reciprocating Saw
When narrowing down your saw options, be sure to take into account the features below. Just one of these could make or break your final choice:
If you prefer cordless reciprocating saws, go for a brushless motor. They live longer and are more efficient than brushed motors, though they are more expensive.
Reciprocating saw batteries are offered in various voltages — 12, 18, 20, 24, 28 and 36. There’s a vast difference between the power kicking out of a 36-volt battery compared to a 12 volt one. Choose whatever suits your needs and your budget.
Stroke Length and Speed
The stroke length is how far the blade will move back and forth. This is usually between 1 and 1.8 inches.
Stroke speed is how many times per the blade goes back and forth. On average, this is between 2,600 to 3,300 strokes per minute.
An ideal combination would be:
- Length: 1 inch.
- Speed: 3,000 strokes per minute.
Another option is a mini or compact reciprocating saw. These work best in tight areas and in plumbing work because they have shorter stroke lengths and high speeds.
Never choose a reciprocating saw that requires a tool for blade changing. Most of the modern reciprocating saws enable you to simply remove the blade and attach another one without the need for any tools to do so.
Some saws include a lock to secure the blade after you’ve attached it — this is a positive thing. Others include a tool to eject the blade when it becomes hot because of friction. Both options are handy!
The shoe is the main part of the reciprocating saw that enables stability and reduces vibrations. It also secures the saw in place, and you can alter it to change the blade angle.
We suggest you search for a saw with a shoe that’s adjustable to help you utilize the full features of the blade.
The stroke per speed number that’s written on the product packaging is the maximum speed it can reach. Choose one with a trigger that allows you to modulate the speed to your preference.
The Best Reciprocating Saws of 2022
We enjoyed researching the best reciprocating saws below. It wasn’t easy, and it took us a few days, but after checking out user comments and consulting experts in the industry, we ended up with this hotlist.
1. Dewalt DWE304 10-Amp Reciprocating Saw
Best Reciprocating Saw for Metal
We chose this reciprocating saw to be the best for metal cutting due to how powerful it is. We have its 10-amp motor to thank for that.
It features a four-position blade clamp that enables you to cut from almost all angles. There’s also a fixed shoe for extra accuracy and security and a keyless blade clamp for easy and fast blade changing.
The saw has 2,800 strokes per minute and a variable speed trigger to control the speed according to your preference and the material you’re working with.
We like how versatile this saw is — it can be used on:
- Light to heavy gauge metals.
- Composite material.
Variable Speed Control
It comes with a switch that allows you to change the speed according to preference. This makes it instantly adaptable for different types of jobs and cutting needs.
You can change the saw blade by pulling the lever, without the need for any tools. You can also install the blade in different positions. This adds to the flexibility of cutting different materials at different angles.
Ideal for Heavy-Duty Projects
The 10-amp motor is the main reason this saw is perfect for heavy-duty projects. This enables it to handle stubborn materials while operating for a long period.
Even though this saw has some excellent features, you won’t break the bank. This is a major bonus for a saw that’s suited to heavy-duty projects since they tend to be more on the expensive side.
Tool vibration can sometimes be uncomfortable while working, and it also can obstruct accuracy. There are comments surrounding how this saw had more vibration than expected.
|Product Dimensions||19.2 x 9.4 x 4 inches|
|Warranty||3-year manufacturer’s warranty|
2. Dewalt DWE305 Corded Reciprocating Saw
Best Corded Reciprocating Saw
This 120-volt reciprocating saw is ideally suited to professional work. It has a maximum stroke speed of 2,900 strokes per minute, while it has a stroke length of 1 to 1.8 inches for fast and efficient cutting.
Changing the blades on the Dewalt DWE305 is a cinch as it features a tool-less lever-action blade clamp. Plus, the rubber handle is perfect for comfortable handling.
Finally, you can change the speed with the variable speed trigger to match the strength of your material.
Ideal for Heavy-Duty Projects
The 120-volt motor and 2,900 strokes per minute are the main reasons this saw is perfect for heavy-duty projects. Its motor power enables it to endure stubborn materials and for extended usage.
Easy Blade Change
You don’t need to buy extra tools to change the blade on this saw. It can be easily removed and secured back in place.
The saw comes with a trigger that regulates the stroking speed according to the material you’re working on.
Potential to Overheat
Owners show concern around the saw overheating, as this might shorten the motor’s life and make the saw uncomfortable to hold.
Heavy for Some
Users report that 8-pound weight is too heavy for them for sustained use. We feel that this is subjective to the individual, and depends on personal mobility and strength.
|Product Dimensions||19.2 x 9.4 x 4 inches|
|Warranty||3-year limited warranty|
3. Dewalt DCS387P1 20-Volt Cordless Reciprocating Saw
Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw
Besides being cordless and flexible in tight areas, this reciprocating saw is compact and lightweight — weighs 6.4 pounds. This makes it easy to use in tight areas.
It has a 4-position blade clamp that allows flush cutting with a fast cutting speed up to 2,900 strokes per minute.
If you’re looking for a saw to use in poorly lit environments, this model has LED lighting to assist.
Given its total length is 14.5 inches, the DCS387P1 can fit into tight, confined spaces. It also has a durable 20 lithium-ion battery, which is ideal for constant use over long periods.
Lightweight and Easy to Use
The saw is compact and lightweight, making it very easy to use. Usually, heavy tools make your hands tired and sore after a short time. Not this little firecracker!
Strong Battery With High Voltage
There’s a common perception about machine-powered tools that work with batteries — that they aren’t strong and durable. However, this DeWalt saw proves the opposite by having a high voltage and a durable battery.
Variable Speed Setting for Faster Cutting
Being able to control the speed according to which material you’re working on enables you to cut faster. You can increase or decrease the speed to find the best fit.
Doesn’t Include Anti-Vibration Technology
Users report not getting accurate cuts while working with this vibrating tool. Some also report that the sound is off-putting.
|Product Dimensions||14.8 x 3.5 x 7.5 inches|
4. Black+Decker 20V MAX Reciprocating Saw
Best Budget Reciprocating Saw
Even though this Black+Decker reciprocating saw is affordable, this doesn’t mean it’s cheap in terms of quality or performance. Some projects don’t require the best product on the planet to get the job done.
The cordless power allows you freedom of movement and flexibility, with the battery being 20 volts.
We particularly like the tool-free blade change, so you can change blades quickly without needing any extra tools. The pivoting shoe adds to the ease of use and provides excellent stability.
It has a variable speed trigger switch for you to control the speed, which has a maximum of 3,000 strokes per minute.
The set comes with a blade that has a 7 to 8 inches stroke length and a keyless blade clamp.
Owners reported that this saw, although affordable, is very strong. It trims trees and cuts through metal bolts with ease.
When comparing this saw to others in the same category and with comparable features, we find it very affordable. This makes it perfect if you’re on a budget.
Ideal for Confined Areas
Since it’s compact and lightweight, users find it ideal for home use, especially in tight areas when plumbing.
Batteries Not Included
The battery and charger are sold separately, adding extra cost. This is clearly a frustration when other cordless models have both a battery and charger included.
|Product Dimensions||15.6 x 3.4 x 7.1 inches|
|Warranty||2-year limited warranty|
5. Makita XRJ04Z 18V Lithium-Ion Cordless Recipro Saw
Best Reciprocating Saw for Professionals
The XRJ04Z is definitely worth its price, taking into account the power and durability alone.
It’s perfect for tight, outdoor spaces since it’s cordless. We love that the 18-volt lithium-ion slide-style battery can endure long working hours.
While it is smaller than some of the high-quality models in the market, it generates an astounding amount of power that works smoothly. Plus, it doesn’t heat up after extended use.
The stroking speed goes up to 2,800 SPM, with a variable trigger that allows you to modulate the speed.
It features a tool-less blade change mechanism to remove and install blades easily. The stroke length is between 1 and 1.4 inches for fast and smooth cutting.
Compact and Easy to Use
The saw is compact and very easy to use, according to happy saw owners. Usually, heavy tools make your hands tired and sore after a short time. However, this Makita model seems to be better than other 8-pound products.
Refined Crank Mechanism
The saw features a refined crank mechanism, which is designed to minimize blade deflection and reduce vibration.
The soft rubberized handle provides a strong and comfortable grip while working. This combines well with its compactness and being easy to use well.
Battery & Charger
Unfortunately, you need to buy the saw’s battery and charger separately — they don’t come with the tool.
|Product Dimensions||4.7 x 20.5 x 8.6 inches|
|Warranty||3-year limited warranty|
6. Milwaukee 6519-31 120-Volt Corded Reciprocating Sawzall
Best Reciprocating Saw for Demolition
This saw’s power and huge size make it great for demolition jobs. It features a 120-volt motor and a stroke speed that goes up to 3,000 strokes per minute, enabling you to destroy anything you desire.
With the Quick-Lock system, you can easily change the blade in three easy steps: pulling the latch, replacing the blade, and closing the latch.
The gear-protecting clutch is a unique feature in this saw. This feature protects the inner components, elongating its lifetime. In addition, this allows it to be used constantly for demolition jobs.
Powerful and Durable
The combination of the 120-volt motor and up to 3,000 strokes per minute makes it powerful and durable enough for demolition projects.
Counterweighted to Reduce Vibration
An internal counterweight mechanism reduces vibration resulting from the blades stroking. Furthermore, this provides greater control when cutting.
Users love that this saw has a carry case included with purchase. This is perfect for storage and transportation, with a knock-on reduction in maintenance and increased long-term durability.
Users find that this saw is more expensive than competitors with the same features.
|Product Dimensions||22.3 x 11.1 x by 5.3 inches|
|Warranty||Warranty available on request|
7. Milwaukee 2620-20 M18 18-Volt Sawzall Cordless Reciprocating Saw
Best Reciprocating Saw for Pruning Trees
This cordless reciprocating saw is perfect for pruning trees since it’s powered by an 18-volt high-capacity lithium-ion battery. The cordless feature is essential for tree-pruning due to a reduced chance of a power outlet located near the tree.
The saw also features a gear-protecting clutch, which is excellent at extending tool life. This addition also reduces impact and vibration levels.
For a smooth transition between blades, the included clamp is a prime feature. This combines well with the speed trigger, which makes for using this saw across different applications much easier.
Quick-Charging and Long-Lasting Battery Life
The 18-volt battery is ideal for extended use, which is important when using a cordless model. Users mention that the recharge time is low, which is excellent for a quick charge between jobs.
Easy and Fast Blade Change
Blade-changing is fast and efficient since no extra tools are required. This is important if you need a tool for multiple uses, but not a huge factor if you’re solely tree pruning.
Milwaukee offers a 5-year warranty with this saw. Competitors seem to only offer three years, and so you get extra peace of mind if yours were to break down in its infancy.
Owners report that the large rubber column at the front of the tool obstructed their view when cutting.
|Product Dimensions||18.9 x 6.4 x 3.9 inches|
|Warranty||5-year limited warranty|
|Dewalt DWE304 10-Amp Saw||Metal||19.2 x 9.4 x 4″||Plastic||3-years||7 lbs||Corded|
|Dewalt DWE305 Corded Saw||Corded||19.2 x 9.4 x 4″||ABS||3-year limited||8 lbs||Corded|
|Dewalt DCS387P1 Cordless Saw||Cordless||14.8 x 3.5 x 7.5″||Plastic||3-years||7 lbs||Cordless|
|Black+Decker 20V MAX Reciprocating Saw||Budget||15.6 x 3.4 x 7.1″||Plastic||2-year limited||3.9 lbs||Corded|
|Makita XRJ04Z 18V Lithium-Ion Saw||Professionals||4.7 x 20.5 x 8.6″||ABS||3-year limited||7.9 lbs||Cordless|
|Milwaukee 6519-31 Corded Sawzall||Demolition||22.3 x 11.1 x x 5.3″||Plastic||Available on request||7.1 lbs||Corded|
|Milwaukee 2620-20 M18 Sawzall||Pruning Trees||18.9 x 6.4 x 3.9″||Rubber||5-year limited||1 lb||Cordless|
How to Use a Reciprocating Saw
1. Choose the Blade
There are several types of saw blades, so you need to decide on the material you’ll work on, and then select the right type of reciprocating blade.
Types of Blades
Here are the recommended blades for different materials:
- Metal pipes and nails: Fine-tooth blade; looks like a hacksaw.
- Wood: Coarse blade.
- Plaster or drywall: Very coarse blade.
- Stone, ceramic or cast iron: Toothless blade coated with tungsten carbide abrasive grit.
Keep In Mind
The average size of most blades is 6 inches. You can still find smaller jigsaw-type blades and larger ones up to 12 inches to suit your needs.
2. Insert Blade
To insert the blade correctly:
- Slide it in: Attach the end of the blade all the way into the front part of the saw.
- Clamp: Use the blade clamp to secure the blade in place and make sure it won’t move when you turn the saw on.
3. Adjust the Shoe
This isn’t an essential step, but it’s good to tilt the shoe a bit when cutting hard materials. This gives the blade a sharper angle.
The shoe setting can also be important to control blade depth. This is especially so if you’re cutting any material whose dimensions you can’t see. You’ll need the blade to be shorter, so you don’t ruin the surroundings in the process.
4. Squeeze the Trigger
Now you only need to press the trigger to power the saw. Make sure you ease into it with a low speed first. Then, when you have everything under control, increase the speed bit by bit.
5. Cutting Process
Make sure not to alter the pressure throughout the cutting process. Secure your grip, and everything will be smooth.
6. Blade Maintenance
The universal problem anyone who uses a blade will face is dulling with frequent use. You can simply change the blade as soon as you notice that the cutting isn’t effective.
The blade might also bend. In this case, you can hammer it flat again, or if the dent is in the front part, you can just cut off the faulty piece. A short blade will save the day better than a defective one that ruins material.
Reciprocating Saws FAQs
Is a Reciprocating Saw the Same Thing as a Sawzall?
There are several names for reciprocating saws, including “recipe saw,” “hognose,” and “Sawzall.” Sawzall is the brand name for a product made by the Milwaukee company. It just became synonymous with reciprocating saws, so it’s likely you’ll hear people refer to a reciprocating saw as a Sawzall.
How to Cut Straight With a Reciprocating Saw?
- Mark the area you would like to cut with a marker or with tape.
- If this isn’t applicable in your case, hold the reciprocating saw and secure it with your stomach.
- Try to apply pressure with your whole body, not just your arms.
- Squeeze the trigger gently and build the power as needed.
Do Reciprocating Saw Blades Fit All Saws?
Yes, all reciprocating saw blades are designed in a way to fit all reciprocating saws.
How to Change the Blade on a Reciprocating Saw?
- Make sure you unplug the saw first and put on gloves and other safety equipment.
- Depending on the saw type, you might need a flathead screwdriver. Use it to loosen the screw and slowly remove the blade.
- Add the new blade and secure the screw again until it’s tight.
Can a Reciprocating Saw Cut Trees?
Yes, it can, but you need to use pruning blades to avoid ruining the blade or the saw itself.
How Thick of Wood Can a Reciprocating Blade Cut?
A reciprocating blade can cut through wood up to 5 inches. Anything deeper might need a chainsaw.
Saws That Reciprocate the Love
These best reciprocating saws will surely return the favor if you choose one of them.
If you work in a garage on some DIY projects, a corded reciprocating saw is a great option. The powerful motor and accessibility to an electric power source are hard to beat.
If you need it to maintain your front or back yard and pruning tree branches, a cordless reciprocating saw is your friend. The flexibility to work wirelessly is important while maintaining the same power and quality of a corded model.
When deciding on your purchase, look out for handy extras such as blade clamps, anti-vibration and carrying cases.