How To Cut Straight With A Reciprocating Saw Easily

How To Cut Straight With A Reciprocating Saw Easily?

One of the most versatile tools that you will ever need is a reciprocating saw. This tool can be used on almost any material as long as you have the appropriate blade.

It can also get into the most awkward places that other saws can’t reach, and allow you to cut in a straight line. Cutting straight can often be difficult, so in order to get the perfect straight cut, you will need the right metal blade. 

Among its many advantages you will want to know how to cut straight with a reciprocating saw easily. We can help you with that, so read on, to find out which sharp blades you need. 

What Can You Cut With A Reciprocating Saw?

The answer to this question is, almost anything. For most materials you will need a specific blade attached to the reciprocating saw but with one of these you can cut wood, metal, drywall, PVC, sheet material and fiberglass, and you can even cut on uneven surfaces. 

Each of these materials can be cut with your reciprocating saw either in situ or prior to being fitted or installed, which can lead to straight cutting that cannot easily be achieved by other tools used for cutting straight lines. 

However it should be noted that this saw is best used as a rough cut or demolition saw and is not going to give the neatest of finishes, especially when it comes to cutting wood. That said, it can be used to cut tiles, fencing, door and window frames among other things. 

Due to its reciprocal action this saw is ideal for use in areas where other types of power or hand saws may be difficult to operate. Tight spaces like attics, basements or underfloor work can all be done easily with a reciprocating saw.

This makes it a truly useful power tool for working at different angles, and performing intricate cuts. However, you should make sure to wear safety glasses when cutting using a reciprocating saw, as dust from DIY projects can easily find its way into your eyes!

Making Straight Cuts In Wood With A Reciprocating Saw

So if you need to make a straight cut in wood with a reciprocating saw there are a few things you need to do before you start cutting, to ensure a clean cutting process. 

Depending on the size of the wood you are cutting and how long the cut is likely to be you may want to clamp the timber to your workbench with a C clamp before cutting.

This is often referred to as a four position blade clamp, and this helps you to achieve horizontal cutting, which is great if you want to cut straight lines with the correct blade.

Use a blade with a 6-10 teeth per inch (TPI) range, as this allows for a cleaner cutting line for straight cutting, to create a precise and straight cut. 

  • First, decide if you are making a horizontal or vertical cut. Then mark the line where you want to cut with a pencil and a straight edge. 
  • Make sure the line is visible by going over it again with your pencil a few times, using your straight edge for every pass. Marking the cutting area helps you to avoid rough cuts, which in turn prevents you from developing a dull blade, as you will have a solid straight cutting line.
  • You are now ready to make your cut. Hold the reciprocating saw about 6 inches from your body at about the level of your navel.
  • As the reciprocating saw will vibrate, keep your arms bent and your feet planted firmly on a stable surface.
  • Cut along the marked line, moving your body rather than your arms. Try to keep your arms as still as the cutting will allow. This is because it is easier to keep your body still rather than your arms, especially when holding a heavy tool. 

Making Straight Cuts In Plywood With A Reciprocating Saw

How To Cut Straight With A Reciprocating Saw Easily?

Cutting plywood with a reciprocating saw is going to be difficult but not impossible as long as you do some preparation first and use the right blade. A general purpose blade will usually work well, although you may have to sand down any rough edges afterwards. 

  • Mark the line for the cut on the face of the plywood. You can use a length of timber clamped to the board to help keep the reciprocating saw on the line.
  • Make sure the line is very visible and that you have fitted the right blade into your saw.
  • Again, hold the saw about 6 inches from your body with your arms bent and your feet on a flat surface.
  • Cut the board by moving your body instead of your arms and if using a length of timber as a guide rail, keep as close as possible to it.
  • Due to the vibration of the reciprocating saw, you will need to keep a close eye on the plywood and make sure it is cutting cleanly and not forming jagged edges. 

Cutting Aluminum With A Reciprocating Saw

A reciprocating saw is so versatile and can be used to cut metals and alloys such as aluminum.

If you want to cut aluminum then you need to choose a blade that is capable of cutting metal and with an 8-10 TPI range. 

  • Fix the aluminum to your work bench with some C clamps for stability. 
  • Measure the aluminum and mark a line with a permanent marker, using a straight edge. 
  • Make sure you have fitted the right blade to your reciprocating saw. 
  • Line the blade up with the marked line and begin cutting. 

Cutting Steel With A Reciprocating Saw

For a project that requires a straight cut in steel you should use a metal cutting blade that has a range of 18-24 TPI. 

  • Clamp the steel to keep it stable during cutting. 
  • Make sure your saw is set to straight rather than orbital action if your reciprocating saw has this feature. 
  • Measure and mark the cut on the piece of steel using a straight edge and some French chalk. Alternatively you could mount a length of timber to use as a guide. 
  • Adjust the length of the blade by setting the shoe at the most appropriate point.
  • Use the shoe as a pivot point and cut through the steel along the marked line. 

Making Straight Cuts In PVC With A Reciprocating Saw

You may need to make cuts in PVC piping at some point, and it is helpful to know how to make a straight cut in this material.

It is best to use a blade in the range of 10 to 14 TPI. A slightly blunt metal cutting blade is best for cutting PVC efficiently. 

  • Hold the PVC down with clamps that will not damage it. 
  • Slide a hose clamp down the pipe, measuring the length you want to cut with a tape. 
  • Mark the pipe and tighten up the hose clamp next to it. 
  • Now slide another hose clamp and tighten it up on the other side of the marked line leaving just enough room for your reciprocating saw blade. 
  • Cut the pipe, using one hand to hold it as you cut. 

Making Straight Cuts In Fiberglass With A Reciprocating Saw

Make sure you are wearing your PPE before cutting through fiberglass, especially gloves, dust mask and safety goggles.

A carbide tipped blade is best for cutting fiberglass. Keep the good side facing downward as the back and forth motion of the reciprocating saw can damage this side of the fiberglass. 

  • Using a tape measure alongside some masking tape, mark the piece to be cut. 
  • With a ruler and marker, draw on the tape to mark the cuts. 
  • Place the blade on the inside of the markings and cut the required pieces. 
  • If needed, the cut edges of the fiberglass can be sanded down afterwards. 

Final Thoughts

The reciprocating saw is a tough and versatile tool with little finesse but lots of power. 

While as we have shown, it is possible to cut a straight line in most materials with a reciprocating saw there are other saws that may be simpler to use for this purpose such as a skill saw or table saw. 

Nevertheless, we hope this guide on how to make straight cuts with a reciprocating saw has been helpful for you. 


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