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How to Use a Reciprocating Saw – Step By Step Guide

How to Use a Reciprocating Saw
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Reciprocating saws are an excellent tool for any workshop, and knowing how to use one will make any home project even better. A reciprocating saw will come with different types of blades which allows you to choose what type of cut you want to do, and whether the cut will work for your project.

While it is easy to use a reciprocating saw, you can use this tutorial to learn how to use a reciprocating saw, or refresh your memory. After all, it never hurts to have a quick reminder on how to use a reciprocating saw.

What You Will Need to Follow the Tutorial

Since a reciprocating saw can do a variety of jobs, you want to make sure you have the right tools for the right jobs. It may seem like the same blades will work for anything, but this is not true. There are different attachments you will need. To do any type of job, here is what you will need.

1. Fine tooth blades

  • Fine tooth blades are the best for cutting through nails and other metal objects.

2. Coarse blades

  • Coarse blades are practical for cutting through wood, like plywood or wooden beams. If you need to cut through plaster, you should use the coarsest blade available.

3. Tungsten carbide abrasive grit blades

  • While not all blades will be toothless, or have tungsten carbide abrasive grit, you should find a toothless blade to cut through stone, ceramic tiles, and cast iron. They are more effective because they don’t damage the fragile tiles, and they work more effectively.

4. Extension cord

  • If you need the extra length for different areas.

5. Ladder

  • Stepping up on a box isn’t a good idea. Remember to bring a ladder or step ladder to help you reach high places.

6. Reciprocating saw

  • You can’t do the work if you don’t have the saw. 

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7. Ear muffs or plugs

  • You don’t want to blow out your eardrums, especially if you need to position your head near the saw while it’s in motion.

8. Safety glasses

  • Splinters and shards can go flying, especially when you hit a knot. Better to be safe than sorry.

9. Gloves

  • Gloves come in handy to get a good grip on the saw, prevents splinters, and nicks and cuts while you’re cutting.

10. Sander or sand paper

  • After cutting the material, you should use sanders or sand paper to smooth out the edges. Nothing makes things look better than a quick sanding job.

Step by Step Instructions - How Does a Reciprocating Saw Work

Once you have all the materials you’ll need to start working, now comes the tutorial part of the section. We’ll give you a step by step guide to ensure you use the reciprocating saw properly.

Set the Orbital Action

  • The orbital action of the saw allows you to guide the saw where you want to go. You should match the orbital action on the saw to ensure you can match the type of material you’re cutting. Wood is going to be different from metal, and metal is going to be different from ceramic and stone.

Install the Blade

  • Once you know what material you’re working with, you can choose the right sawzall saw blade for the job. You should position the blade facing the direction you will guide the saw. There is a blade change lever located at the top of the saw. You can secure the blade and tighten it accordingly. You should make sure the blade is properly secured before you start cutting to ensure it won’t come out when you’re using the saw.

Starting the Cut

  • After the blade is in the secured position, you should put on your safety goggles and ear plugs. You may want to wear some gloves as well, in case you hit a knot in the wood and splinters start flying. After you’ve gotten your safety gear on, you should rest the front edge of the base plate on the material. Make sure the blade is at a right angle on the marked guide line to ensure your cuts will be perfect.

Adjust the Settings

  • While you’re cutting, you may notice that the saw isn’t working as well as it should be. You can adjust the speed and rotary action settings if you find the saw isn’t up to your preference. You should make sure the saw is at the right settings before cutting, but you may not know how it will perform. Before adjusting the settings, you should turn off the saw. After you’re done adjusting the settings, you can make your cuts along the guide lines.

Cutting a Hole

How to Cut a Hole

  • You may have noticed some holes in plywood or other materials, and wondered how they got there. This part will teach you how to cut a hole in your material. To cut a hole, you should have a drill available. Make sure the bit is large enough to fit the blade through the hole. You should drill as close as you can to an edge of the cut. Drawing a circle will give you an idea of where to make your cut, and you can fit the blade in the hole.

Place the Tip Inside

  • You should insert the blade into the hole, and place the blade near the cut line. The wood should be supported, and you should follow the guide line using caution. You can take your time cutting this hole in your material to ensure it comes out right. You don’t need to use the fastest speed, and you want to make sure the hole is perfect. Take your time, practice some patience, and cut the hole. Accuracy is more important than speed when it comes to cutting out the holes in your material.

Smooth Out the Hole

  • Cutting through material can cause some rough edges, and you should try and even out the hole if you have edges. Using the sand paper you brought with you, you can smooth out those rough edges. This way, your hole will be nice and smooth, which is good if you’re planning on putting a ring on the hole. It will make it fit better, and also makes the ring easier to put in and take out

How to Cut Through Metal

  • Cutting through metal is going to be a little bit different than cutting through wood.

Find the Right Saw

  • While reciprocating saws are almost the same, you should have a heavy duty one if you’re going to cut through metal. If your saw has an orbital or pendulum action, you should adjust the setting before installing the blade. You can adjust the settings near the tip of the saw to ensure it works the way you want it to. Though it may be tempting to use your regular reciprocating saw, you should avoid it. A regular reciprocating saw may not be as powerful, and will make life a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

Change the Blade

  • Though reciprocating saws are going to be similar, heavy duty saws are going to need more equipment. You will need an Allen key or wrench to change out the sawzall blade. Since you’re going to cut through metal, you should find a fine-tooth blade to cut through the metal. A fine-tooth blade is going to look like a hacksaw, and it will cut through metal easier than the other types of blades. Depending on the metal you’re cutting, you may get away with using a smaller sized blade. If you need a longer blade, you can find one that is up to a foot long.

Cut Through the Metal

  • After you have the settings at the right spot, you can start cutting through the metal. You should have a guide line to ensure you follow the path. You should apply the base plate on the material, and turn it on. Once you start cutting through the metal, you want to make sure you’re applying even pressure along the guide line. This will ensure the cut is even, and will make smoothing out the cut a lot easier. Even if you’re cutting through a pipe, you should make sure the saw has the proper amount of pressure applied.


After reading this tutorial, we hope it provided you with the information you needed to start using a reciprocating saw. Using a reciprocating saw can help you complete any task you set out to do, and there are endless uses for a reciprocating saw.

If you found this tutorial to be helpful, we would love to hear your feedback. If you enjoyed the article, feel free to share it with your friends and family. Who knows, someone may need a little help to remind them how to properly use a reciprocating saw for their next home renovation project.

5 thoughts on “How to Use a Reciprocating Saw – Step By Step Guide”

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