How to use a reciprocating saw 14 steps (with pictures)

How To Use A Reciprocating Saw: 14 Steps (With Pictures)

A reciprocating saw uses a blade that moves in a backwards and forwards motion to cut a variety of different materials.

It can cut through wood, drywall, masonry or metal as long as you have the correct blade fitted. 

If you have never used one before we are going to show you how to use a reciprocating saw in 14 steps, including how to pick the right blade, whether it be a metal cutting blade or a wood cutting blade, as well as how to maximize the effectiveness of your saw blades. 

Choose And Fit A Blade

Perhaps the most important thing to do when using a reciprocating saw is to choose the correct blade for the material that you are cutting.

You also need to choose the right length of blade making sure that it is long enough to make the cut but not so long that it may snap as you slide a material into place. 

Step 1

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First, remove the power source of the saw before attempting to install the blade. For a corded saw disconnect it from the electricity supply.

For a cordless saw remove the battery pack from its housing. 

This is important for your own health and safety, and should be done alongside other safety considerations, such as wearing a dust mask, before you perform things like site work with fully exposed saws.

There will be a release switch close to the battery pack which you can disengage in order to take out the battery. 

Step 2

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Choose the appropriate blade for the material that you want to cut.

A reciprocating saw can cut most materials from plastic to concrete, metal to wood, so you need to choose the correct blade for the job. 

The blade you choose should also be 2-3 inches longer than the material that you are cutting.

Having proper blades when cutting things like wood is important, as it helps you to form clear cutting lines that a reciprocating saw blade is best for making. 

Step 3

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Push down on the button or lever on the chuck of the saw to unlock it.

This is a cylindrical metal part that the saw blade fits into.

Once the chuck is open you can install the blade into position, ensuring it has proper grip, to enhance the cutting efficiency. 

Do not let go of this button or lever until you have successfully fitted the blade into the chuck. 

Step 4

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Insert the end of the blade into the chuck and then release the button or lever. This will hold the blade firmly in place. Check that the blade is securely held by tugging on it. 

Ensure the teeth of the blade are pointing downwards unless you are sawing through floor plates.

For these situations turn the blade around so that the handle is not obstructing you while you are cutting close to the floor.  

Step 5

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Adjust the shoe of the saw to ensure that the blade is stable and at the correct length.

The saw shoe is a metal plate at the bottom of the blade. It allows greater control of the saw while cutting. 

Once you have finished adjusting the saw’s shoe, reconnect it to your power supply or replace the battery. 

Prepare The Material And Work Area

Now that the saw is ready to use you can prepare the material you will be cutting and your work area. 

Step 6

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Mark a cutting line on your material so that it is clearly visible. For curved lines use a template and for straight cuts use a straight edge or square. 

If you are using your saw to trim branches in the garden, try to cut as near to the trunk as possible. 

Step 7

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Secure the material you are cutting with C clamps to a stable surface such as your workbench, if it is possible.

For cutting materials in situ, clear the surrounding area and make sure the material is held firmly in place. 

When cutting pipes use special clamps to hold them securely in place so that they don’t slip or roll as you cut them. 

Step 8

How to use a reciprocating saw 14 steps (with pictures)

You should always consider your own safety and the safety of others when operating power tools. 

Wear safety goggles and ear protection while you are using the reciprocating saw. They can occasionally kick back and send debris flying so protect your eyes.

The saw may also be noisy, so wear ear protection.  

Step 9

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It is vital that you hold the saw securely in both hands while using it. One hand should be supporting the saw body and the other operating the trigger. 

This is a powerful tool and will vibrate as you are using it. Keep your hands on the saw and away from the blade at all times.

As it is heavy it’s important to keep your elbows bent and the saw around six inches away from your body. 

Make The Cuts

Now you are ready to make the cuts in your material. 

Step 10

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For stability, press the shoe of the reciprocating saw firmly against the object that you are cutting. Hold the blade over your cutting line so that the shoe is against the surface. 

If you are cutting pipes or rounded objects it may be harder to press the shoe of the saw flat against them. In this case, ensure the shoe is pressed as firmly as you can so that it does not slip.

Don’t allow the blade to come into contact with the material yet, or it will fail to make a neat cut when you power up the saw. 

Step 11

Gently squeeze the trigger to get the saw blade moving. Increase the pressure on the trigger up to the point where the saw is at full speed.

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This allows you to make the neatest and quickest cut. 

Some materials are softer than others and easier to cut through, and some reciprocating saws have different speeds.

For softer materials use a faster speed and for harder materials go more slowly. This will reduce the chance of the blade breaking. 

 When you want to stop the saw, let go of the trigger. 

Step 12

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Gently maneuver the blade through the material you are cutting. Maintain the pressure of the shoe against what you are cutting for stability.

You don’t need to apply pressure to the saw, it will work its way through the material. 

Remember to follow your cutting line and don’t bend the blade of the saw. 

When you get to the end of the cut, release the trigger to stop the saw. Then withdraw it. 

Step 13

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You can make a plunge cut if you need to cut into a wall or a large sheet of material. Place the base of the shoe up against what you are cutting so that the blade is running parallel to it. 

Turn the saw on and move it up to get the blade cutting the material at a 45-degree angle.

Keep moving the saw until it is at a perpendicular angle to what you are cutting and has gone all the way through. 

Step 14

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When you have finished using your reciprocating saw, disconnect it from its power supply. Unplug a corded saw and remove the battery from a cordless one. 

Store the saw on its side to prevent any bending of the blade. You can remove the blade after each use if you want. 

Final Thoughts

Being able to safely operate a reciprocating saw is a useful skill.

If you work in construction or demolition you will definitely be using one of these saws at some point. 

For those who like getting stuck into handy work or DIY around the house a reciprocating saw is a great tool to have.

We hope you found this guide helpful.


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