How Does a Reciprocating Saw Work

How to Use a Reciprocating Saw

If you like to work with your hands, then you know that having the right tools means that you can do almost anything. While there are plenty of options out there, one of the best tools you can have at your disposal is a reciprocating saw. Whether it’s cutting wood, plastic, or metal

this handy device can make DIY projects much easier, which is why we are going to show you how to operate it effectively and safely. Whenever working with any power tools it’s imperative that you follow the directions, but it’s especially important when dealing with something potentially dangerous like a saw.

What is a Reciprocating Saw?

For those who are not familiar, this device is a hand-held machine that uses a thin saw blade to cut through various materials. The reason that it’s called a reciprocating saw is that the blade moves in a back-to-front motion, which is what enables you to cut so quickly and efficiently. You can find either battery-operated or corded models, which means that they are both reliable and highly versatile.

Best Uses for a Reciprocating Saw

Because of its versatility and ability to cut through almost anything, this device is mainly used for renovation and demolition. If you want to cut a hole in your wall to access pipes or you want to widen your window frame, this is the saw to use.

The reason that it’s so much handier than other machines is that the blade can reach into tight spots and it can cut through wood, metal, or plastic. The only thing you can’t cut through is stone, so that means that you could potentially remodel your whole house with one device.

What You’ll Need for This Tutorial

Now that we know more about how we can use a reciprocating saw, let’s take a look at the steps required to use it properly. Before we get into our step by step instructions, however, we should first look at the tools and equipment we’ll need to get started.

For the most part, reciprocating saws should come with everything you need to start working on your next project, but there are some peripheral items that you should have as well to ensure your safety while on the job. Here is a list of what you’ll need.

  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Saw Blades
  • Eye Protection (goggles)
  • Safety Gloves
  • Battery and Charger (if battery operated)
  • Ear Protection (if necessary)
  • Face mask

As you can see, you will need proper safety gear when using the saw. Because the blade is exposed, you don’t want to risk having a nasty accident. Also, dirt and debris can be a serious problem, which is why you want to keep your eyes, ears, nose and mouth protected. No matter what material you’re cutting, small flecks can fly off at high speeds, and you don’t want them to get stuck in your eyes or mouth while you work. Similarly, it’s imperative that you don’t breathe in wood dust that could be created while cutting.

Step By Step Instructions

Once you have all of your equipment handy, then it’s time to get to work. For this tutorial, we will go over all aspects of using a reciprocating saw, from inserting the blade to making your first cut. We will also go over certain features that you may find on your saw model. These features might not be available on all reciprocating saws, but if your unit does have them, then it’s important to know how to use them.

Step One: Insert Your Blade

For safety reasons, you never want to store your saw with the blade already installed. Not only will that make the whole thing more dangerous but it could also damage the machine if it is stored improperly. The blade could bend and damage the internal components, so it’s crucial that you remove it each time you’re finished working.

To insert the blade, you will place the locking end against the saw’s guide roller. Then you will place it into the device. In some cases, you might need a specialized tool to lock it into place, but most modern saws have a lever that you can use to keep it secure. Once the blade is inside, make sure that it is locked in. Try to pull it out and see if it wobbles or shifts. If it does, then that means that you have to reinsert it and try again.

Step Two: Adjust Your Settings

Some reciprocating saws have various options that you can choose depending on the material you’re cutting. These can include speed, saw depth, and position. Before you turn the saw on it’s important that you monitor your settings and adjust them according to your needs. If your saw is not calibrated correctly, then that means you can damage the device itself or the material.

Step Three: Start Your Cut

When doing this, it’s imperative that you start slow and take your time. In many cases, you will be using a reciprocating saw to cut a particular shape, which means that you may have to follow a line. Thus, you want to go slow and steady to ensure that you stay within the lines and don’t create a jagged cut. You also want to apply even pressure as you move along as this will create a smoother result overall.

Step Four: Removing or Changing the Blade

Over time, your blade will start to wear down and need replacing. Also, you may have to swap them out depending on the material you’re cutting. For example, metal requires a different shape and tooth setup than wood, so make sure that you’re using the right blade for the job.

As we mentioned above, some saws will require that you use a tool to loosen or tighten the blade (usually it’s an Allen wrench), but if your unit is tool-free, then all you have to do is loosen the lever and pull the blade out.

Other Features

Depending on the kind of saw you get, you may have some bonuses that will allow you to work more efficiently. Here are some common extras that you can find on reciprocating saws.

Light

If you are cutting into drywall, then you have to make sure that you don’t accidentally cut through a pipe or electrical wire. To help you see what you’re doing some saws come with a LED lamp. Usually, there is a button or a switch on the device to activate the light.

Battery Operated

If you want more versatility and agility with your saw, then you ought to get one that doesn’t need a cord. In most cases, these saws use a proprietary battery and charger system. To make sure that you have enough power to last the whole job we recommend buying a secondary battery so that you can keep one charging while you work.

Variable Speed

Many modern saws allow you to go faster or slower depending on the job, meaning that you have a much broader range of work you can perform. Typically these models will have a knob on the side that you turn to increase or decrease the speed. What’s important here is that you adjust the settings when the saw is turned off so that you don’t risk damaging the internal components nor do you put yourself at risk.

Trigger Brake

As an added safety precaution, some units will stop automatically if you let go of the trigger. This is a great feature as it means that you don’t have to worry about cutting anything by accident. Not only can it prevent personal injury but it can also ensure that if you start cutting into the wrong place, you can stop immediately without doing any further damage.

Adjustable Shoe

Finally, some reciprocating saws allow you to customize the depth of the blade. The reason for this is so that you can cut into walls without risking the chance of accidentally cutting into wires or a pipe. We highly recommend getting a saw like this as it will make your job much easier and safer overall. Also, to adjust the depth you will need to have the saw turned off so that you can move it back and forth.

Tips and Tricks for Using a Reciprocating Saw

Once you’ve mastered the basics for using this type of saw, you will want to do some experimentation to figure out how best to use it for various jobs. With that in mind, here are some common tips that can make your work easier overall.

  • Grip the saw tightly. It will vibrate as it cuts, so you need to compensate. Heavier saws will dampen the vibration more, but they will be harder to hold.
  • Keep the edge flush with the material. To help maintain control of your saw you want to hold the base against the material as much as possible. This will also result in smoother cuts.
  • Ease into your cuts. Instead of starting with the blade against the material you might want to turn it on and then start cutting. This will help you maintain control as well as ensure that you keep a smoother cut.
  • Drill a hole before cutting in the middle of a piece. To make things easier on yourself, you should drill a large hole in the material before starting with the saw. This way you can still ease into your cut rather than trying to dig in immediately.

Conclusion

No matter what kind of project you’re doing, a reciprocating saw can be a versatile and valuable device to have on hand. Whether it’s cutting a section out of your wall or doing some light demolition for a remodel, this machine will make your life so much easier. As long as you remember to practice proper safety techniques and treat the saw with care, it should help you get the job done without posing any significant danger.

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Garry Harris
 

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