A reciprocating saw is a machine-powered saw that creates cuts through a reciprocating (“push-and-pull”) motion of a slender blade which has jagged teeth on one side. The machine has a motor that moves the piston up and down, and the handle is designed to cut vertically. When you need to cut something off quickly or simply tear it down, the reciprocating saw is perfect for you.
Reciprocating saws are based on the simple and traditional hacksaw. For a long time, these were the main option for cutting things. When electricity was widely adopted in the 1940’s, reciprocating saws were invented and marketed for plumbers, who needed to cut pipes in tight spaces.
Today, you’ll find a wide variety of uses for these incredibly versatile tools that are the wrecking crew of saws. Their cuts are quick and crude, but they’re also very powerful and invaluable to many professions, including emergency rescuers, maintenance workers, and construction crews. It definitely belongs in any DIY hobbyists’ garage as well. How do you find the best reciprocating saw for your needs? Take a look at our reciprocating saw reviews below for a head start on the market.
Reciprocating Saw Comparison Chart
|Brand/Model (Click Item Text to Scroll to Review)||Rating|
|1. DeWalt DCS367B 20V Max XR Brushless Compact Reciprocating Saw|
Our Top Pick for 2019
|2. Milwaukee 2720-21 M18 Fuel Sawzall Reciprocating Saw Kit||9.7/10||CHECK PRICE|
|3. Black+Decker BDCR20C 20V MAX Reciprocating Saw||9.5/10||CHECK PRICE|
|4. PORTER-CABLE PCC670B 20V MAX Lithium Bare Reciprocating Tigersaw||9.5/10||CHECK PRICE|
|5. DeWalt DWE304 10-Amp Reciprocating Saw||9.4/10||CHECK PRICE|
|6. Ryobi P514 18V Cordless One+ Variable Speed Reciprocating Saw||9.3/10||CHECK PRICE|
|7. TECCPO TARS24P 120V 9-Amp Professional Reciprocating Saw||9.2/10||CHECK PRICE|
Best Reciprocating Saw Reviews
1. DeWalt DCS367B 20V Max XR Brushless Compact Reciprocating SawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This saw by DeWalt makes the top of our list due to its lightweight design, ease of use, and power. It’s a cordless saw and involves less downtime, with almost no self-discharge for maximum productivity. The design is very compact has been improved, with the same runtime yet a lighter and shorter battery pack compared to other DeWalt models, and it’s about a pound lighter due to this.
Built to help you power through any project, this saw has a pivoting shoe and trigger that you can set at variable speeds to have absolute control. It comes with a bright LED light, as well as a LED fuel gauge that allows you to quickly check on how much power your battery has, so you have an idea of how long your project can take. With this tool, you can cut studs and navigate tight spots easily and quickly. The motor, which is brushless, provides you with more than two times the run time. You can also use the keyless, 4-position blade clamp to change blades quickly and easily.
This saw is backed by DeWalt’s well known three-year limited warranty. It’s an excellent choice for many woodworkers, however a few users felt that the saw has a higher level of vibration, which may lead to more noise and less precise cuts. However, DeWalt makes the top of our list due to its power, ease of use, and portability.
2. Milwaukee 2720-21 M18 Fuel Sawzall Reciprocating Saw KitCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This kit provides you with everything you need for a cordless reciprocating saw that delivers fast cutting speed, great power, and excellent durability. Using a Total System communication, this saw provides you with overload protection as well as optimized performance. Overall, it aims to be among the best you can get with reliable cuts every time. The motor is brushless, so it provides you a constant supply of power in reduced heat. This gives you fast cuts and an extended life so you can get as much as you can out of the saw.
The Fuel Sawzall reciprocating saw is among the fastest cordless reciprocating saws available, and offers cutting that’s as much as 30% faster. It has 18 volt capability and aims to give you five times the tool life. You’ll get as much performance from this saw as you would any corded saw, as it has an extended capacity battery pack, which gives more life than competitive batteries. It includes an adjustable shoe, rafter hook for easy storage, and LED light.
Overall, this is one of the most powerful cordless reciprocating saws on the market and you’ll get great use out of it. However, some users felt that the saw was quite heavy.
3. Black+Decker BDCR20C 20V MAX Reciprocating SawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
At just four and a half pounds, this saw by Black+Decker is a great addition for your home workshop or garage. It provides you lots of control with a pivoting shoe as well as a trigger that can be set at variable speeds, and you can make blade changes quickly and easily without any tools necessary. The saw is very lightweight, versatile, and easy to use. It was built to be very convenient for you and its 3000 SPM motor is powerful enough so you can handle any demolition project you take on.
This reciprocating saw is also part of Black+Decker’s 20V Max system–so you can invest in just one battery and share it among all your Black+Decker tools, which saves you time and money. It’s also backed by the company’s well known two-year limited warranty. Unlike many other cordless saws that require a battery which is sold separately, this purchase not only brings you the tool but also the 20V Max lithium battery and an accompanying charger.
Unfortunately, the battery does get very hot as you work, so you will need to be careful handling this aspect of the saw. The battery life is also thirty minutes or less, and you will need to plan your project around this limitation. Some users also felt that the saw is very shaky and has a lot of vibration. Overall however, this is near the top of our list due to its power and ease of use.
4. PORTER-CABLE PCC670B 20V MAX Lithium Bare Reciprocating TigersawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
PORTER-CABLE’s reciprocating saw features a drivetrain that’s high performance and delivers a 1-inch stroke length and an aggressive cutting speed, so you can tackle your projects and demolish anything you need to. It was designed to be very compact, so you can use the tool when you’re in tight spaces. You can also change blades easily and quickly with a tool-free blade release. The trigger can be set at variable speeds so you get complete control over your work performance and will be able to cut a wide variety of materials.
This tool is lightweight enough for you to handle with just one hand, however it’s powerful enough to cut through anything without hesitation. This saw also has a molded and contoured handle which will fit your hand perfectly, so you’re as comfortable as possible while you work. It’s part of PORTER-CABLE’s 20V Max System; you can share the battery among all of your PORTER-CABLE cordless tools.
Unlike the Black+Decker saw above, however, this purchase comes with just the tool and the battery is sold separately. This PORTER-CABLE saw also tends to be very loud and vibrates intensely while you use it. It does not have long-term durability; some users had it stop working after just a few month’s use. However, it’s a great saw for tight spaces and is a solid choice if you need something lightweight as well.
If you’re a fan of PORTER-CABLE’s power tools, you’ll also find them featured on our Scroll Saws Article, along with many of the other brands listed in this post.
5. DeWalt DWE304 10-Amp Reciprocating SawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
DeWalt’s 10-Amp saw is very easy to use and backed by a powerful motor that’s excellent for your heavy duty projects. Its trigger can be set at varying speeds so you’re in control, and the trigger also provides up to 2,800 strokes each minute so you cut through quickly. A four-position blade clamp provides lots of versatility; you can complete easy blade changes in four different directions for a variety of applications, such as flush cutting. The clamp is keyless and lever-action, so no tools are necessary.
Many people use this saw for a wide variety of projects, including dealing with composites, fiberglass, rubber, plastics, plaster and drywall, heavy metals, and nail embedded wood. It’s also backed by DeWalt’s great three-year limited manufacturer’s warranty. Many users enjoyed the blade change system, as it allows you to put in the blade facing forward or back, or even at 90 degrees, giving the saw great versatility.
You may have noticed that this is the second DeWalt unit to make our list. In fact, DeWalt’s tools have been featured as our top picks on a number of different articles, two examples being this Best Miter Saw post and this Best Table Saw post. DeWalt’s lineup of power tools are some of the best in the industry and have a long track record of safety and reliability.
Unfortunately, this is one of the heaviest saws on the list and some users had difficulty holding it or using it for a long period of time. Others believed that this saw is not well adapted for industrial jobs where lots of power and durability is necessary; it’s better for small, at-home projects. However, the easy blade changes are tough to beat and DeWalt’s tools are quite easy to use.
6. Ryobi P514 18V Cordless One+ Variable Speed Reciprocating SawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Ryobi aims to provide you with a saw that’s powerful and serves you well whether you’re working at home or on the job. The company is focused on giving you as much comfort and control as possible, with a non-slip rubber grip along the handle that allows you to hold on even if you’re working in poor conditions. The handle also was designed to absorb shock from the motor, so you experience less vibration and improved handling for accurate cuts.
This saw operates at more than 3,000 strokes per minute and springs in the handle prevent your wrist from becoming fatigued. Every battery from Ryobi’s One+ line is compatible with this power tool, and it works well with many different types of the Ryobi Lithium Ion battery so you don’t have to purchase a different one for each saw you have. Its blade changing system is lever-actuated so you don’t need extra tools, and three blades are even included in the purchase to get you started.
Unfortunately, this is one of the saws on this list that doesn’t come with a battery included. Users also found it difficult to get used to this saw’s safety switch, and it’s tough to get the blades locked in tightly. However, with its easy blade system and very powerful motor, the Ryobi is a great choice for both personal and commercial projects, whether you’re working outdoors or indoors.
7. TECCPO TARS24P 120V 9-Amp Professional Reciprocating SawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
With TECCPO, you get a reciprocating saw that combines quality and great technology to provide you with smooth cuts and consistent performance. The motor is made from copper and delivers less strokes per minute than many of the others on this list at 2,500, however copper provides a more persistent and stable performance than a motor with aluminum material. The saw has an infinite speed trigger that allows you control over varying speeds and you can adjust the length and angle, giving you a wider variety of types of cuts.
TEPPCO’s saw is also convenient and practical. Three different blades are included in your purchase to save you money: two blades that are meant for plastic and wood, and one that’s meant for metal. You can change out these blades within seconds with a clamp that has a locking knob. This knob is made out of metal and doesn’t deform as easily as plastic knobs. The speed can be easily adjusted, and vibration has been reduced by 40% so you experience a durable and stable operation. With this saw, you can tackle any demolition project you set your mind to.
At almost seven and a half pounds, this saw is one of the heaviest on this list and some users had difficulty with this. It does reduce vibration, however it’s still quite loud. It’s also great for the weekend DIYer, but may not be compatible if you need a tool that you’ll be using every single day.
How a Reciprocating Saw Works
Like many other power tools, the name of a reciprocating saw tells a lot about how it works. In this case, its “reciprocating” namesake refers to the way in which the blade moves, which is back and forth. Essentially, a reciprocating saw is like an electric hacksaw. These old fashioned, hand-powered saws have been in use in centuries and are your most basic type of saw.
The shape of the saw looks like a powder drill, except instead of drill bits sticking out the front, there is a blade instead. This design limits how precise the saw can be and how many angled cuts it can make, but if you’re dealing with large materials and need to create simple cuts, a reciprocating saw is perfect. It’s a versatile tool that can be used in any situation in which you need to break something down quickly. The most likely place you’ve seen reciprocating saws are during demolition, but there are other situations in which you might use one:
HVAC and Plumbing
This is one of the reasons why reciprocating saws were developed in the first place: during plumbing, space is tight and sometimes you have just a few inches to saw off pieces. The saw makes this easy, as you simply need to aim the blade, squeeze the trigger, and quickly cut the end of the pipe off. This helps during HVAC work as well or any other situation where there’s limitation to space.
Reciprocating saws are utilized often during construction projects where demolition is involved, such as removing walls and tearing down studs. These saws also allow you to tackle one side of a wall without impacting the other side, and you can make careful cuts that leave a clean and empty workspace behind. You can also use this saw to cut off nails and screws, remove door frames, and quickly saw off anything that’s in your way.
Reciprocating saws are great when you need to work on your yard and need to trim anything that’s growing, such as trees. A reciprocating saw’s blade is a great shape and size for cutting down branches, and for trimming anything else.
Corded vs Cordless Reciprocating Saws
Like many other power tools, you’ll have two main choices when it comes to picking out your reciprocating saw: whether it should be cordless or not. Consider your power sources to determine which one is right for you.
Cordless reciprocating saws utilize battery power, and they’re definitely more convenient, however they do tend to be heavier due to the battery packs. These packs typically are 9 or 12 volts, and varying models will be able to hold different capacities. They also do have some major drawbacks regarding their power, because battery packs can run out and you’ll have a certain time to complete your project. You can invest in a very powerful model or purchase extra batteries, but this may cost you more in the long run.
If you’d like to focus on your project and be able to work however long you want without worrying about losing power halfway through, a corded reciprocating saw is your best bet. Their mobility will be limited, as you need to have an electric power source nearby, however if you’re working from your garage or shop this shouldn’t be an issue. With these, you won’t have to worry about limitations as you get unlimited use. Typically, corded saws are more powerful as well.
It’s true that there are situations when it isn’t an option to run a power cord to the saw, or it isn’t easy to accomplish this. In this case, a cordless saw will come in handy. Consider your own needs and preferences to select the best option for you.
Setting up and Maintaining a Reciprocating Saw
To begin using your reciprocating saw, the first step is to select a blade. Consider the material you’ll be cutting to pick the right blade for the project. Fortunately it’s very easy to put your blade into the saw; simply insert the back part of the blade into the blade slot. Move it all the way in so it’s secured by the blade clamp, and you’re good to go.
The next step is to adjust the shoe of the saw. While this isn’t always necessary, it’s a good idea if you’re working with hard or dense material, since you can change the shoe to provide a sharper angle. The shoe can also be used to stop the blade from going completely through a wall. Once you’re set up and have the right blade, shoe setting, and angle, simply squeeze the trigger to activate the blade. Apply even pressure as you cut and try to control the saw throughout the entire process.
Reciprocating saws are very easy to use–and luckily, they’re very easy to maintain as well. As with any other power tool, you should care for your saw as you have it so it lasts as long as possible and performs as well as possible. With reciprocating saws, you don’t need to make any calibrations or adjustments, and you don’t need to invest in oil for maintenance. Simply use your common sense and some caution as you do your best to keep it clean.
When you’re done with your project, take a dry cloth or rag and wipe the body of your reciprocating saw to clear away any debris or sawdust that may be lingering on it. Every once in a while, you can use a can of air to gently clear out the insides of the saw. If you have a fitted case for your saw, take the blade off before you pack away the saw so you don’t accidentally snap off the blade. To maintain blades in general, you should replace a blade as soon as you notice that it’s getting dull or is otherwise damaged. It’s best to invest in a new one so your cuts are not only accurate, but also safe.
When it comes to the power source, it’s a good idea to check your power cord every time you use the saw and watch out for damage. If your saw is cordless, always take the battery out when the saw isn’t in use–especially if you think it will be awhile before you use your tool again. Simply follow these easy steps, and your reciprocating saw will perform well for years.
Best Reciprocating Saw Buyer’s Guide
Important features to keep in mind as you shop reciprocating saws are ease of use and comfort, especially if you consider yourself more of a beginner. You want to be in control and comfortable as you’re working with the saw. Many brands have kept this in mind and have designed their saws to be very easy to use, such as DeWalt. Others have developed handles that are very easy to grip and will be comfortable for you. A small amount of vibration will be helpful as well in terms of comfort and control, so keep an eye out for saws that have reduced vibration such as the Milwaukee.
That said, lightweight saws are also much easier to handle and will provide you a greater deal of comfort if you’ll be working for a while. Some saws are lightweight enough to handle with just one hand, freeing your other hand to deal with your material. The Black+Decker is one of the lightest on our list at four and a half pounds, and it’s definitely light enough for one-handed use. However, the TECCPO saw on our list is almost twice as heavy, and some users did complain that DeWalt’s 10-Amp saw was very heavy and difficult to use for a long period of time. Consider the time lengths of your potential projects to determine how important a lightweight feature is for you.
You may also be interested in a high number of strokes per minute. The greater the SPM is, the faster you will be able to cut. Reciprocating saws typically fall within a general range of SPM, but it is a number to pay attention to depending on your project. For example, the TECCPO had one of the shortest SPMs on our list at 2,500, while the Ryobi and the Black+Decker both had speeds at more then 3,000.
Some saws are also naturally more adept at tackling small jobs or projects you complete every once in a while, rather than extended daily use. A reciprocating saw that has lots of power behind it–such as the Milwaukee and the PORTER-CABLE on our list–will get you through those big projects. Pay attention to previous users’ reviews, which often will tell you whether the saw is better for smaller projects; the DeWalt 10-Amp in particular had this complaint.
Summing It Up
By determining which features are important to you, it’s easy to find the best reciprocating saw for your situation. These saws are great for any type of project that requires you to cut or tear down quickly, and they are perfect for a wide variety of uses. Overall, they’re basic saws that are an excellent addition to anyone’s home or garage.
Check out our reciprocating saw reviews to look at the top seven reciprocating saws that are currently on the market. They feature a wide variety of power, control, and speed, but in the end each will help you get the job done. Once you have your saw, take care to maintain it periodically so you can have it as long as possible. Once you notice a blade is dull or damaged, get a replacement. With a well-maintained reciprocating saw, you’ll be able to tackle any project with a power tool that’s convenient and fast.