Reciprocating Saw vs. Sawzall: Are They the Same?

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So you’ve stumbled upon the world of reciprocating saws, right? I’ve been there. These handy little power tools are a top pick for garden enthusiasts and construction crews alike. You might have even heard of the name “Sawzall” thrown around in your search. 

Feeling a bit overwhelmed about which one to go for? Don’t worry! Let’s dive into the differences between a regular reciprocating saw and the Sawzall, so you can make an informed choice. Ready? Let’s break it down.

What is a Reciprocating Saw?

A reciprocating saw is a handheld saw and portable machine powered by a powerful motor that works through a reciprocating motion or the blade going up and down. 

There are corded and cordless models of this machine-powered saw, allowing users to choose what compliments their working style. 

The device takes its namesake from its way of operating, which is on a reciprocating motion. The blades are similar to a jigsaw with a comfortable handle and are commonly used for surfaces that are complicated to reach with a regular saw. 

BLACK+DECKER BDCR20C Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating saws work on a push-pull mechanism and can generally deliver straight cuts on various materials like wood, plastic, and even metal. 

This powerful saw has an array of blades, and different types of teeth count. The more teeth on the saw, the cleaner your produced cuts will be. 

Unlike other saws, a reciprocating saw doesn’t have fences or attachments to the blade, which is why the woodsman’s finesse and delivery of cuts are based on the handcraft work. Hence it’s still a powerful tool as it can cut tough pieces of plastic and lumber. 

What is a Sawzall?

People often confuse Sawzall as a different type of saw, but it’s only a brand of a reciprocating saw. This brand’s line has echoed its name as the best reciprocating saw in the market. 

Though not commonly known, this renowned tool is the brainchild of Milwaukee Company and has a registered trademark. 

operating Milwaukee 2722-20 Super Sawzall Reciprocating Saw

It was known as the best reciprocating saw, which explains why it is most commonly referred to as a “Sawzall.” Milwaukee also has its line and models of reciprocating saws named Hackzalls. 

Similarities Shared by Reciprocating Saws and Sawzalls

Design and Build

If you’re on a search for a powerful tool in building and designing, you’ve come to the right place. Reciprocating saws have different models and lines to choose from. The differences between these units are mainly speed, delivery, and weight. 

They range from lightweight to heavy-duty models for different kinds of saw workers. These varying features are an advantage for more precise and picky users. 


Reciprocating saws come in two types. A corded reciprocating saw runs through an electric source, while lithium-ion batteries power the cordless one. A cordless reciprocating saw also has a pivoting shoe for increased control. 


The namesake of reciprocating saws came from its unique mechanism. It is built and structured with different tools, such as crank, scotch yoke drive, barrel cam, or captive cam. It works in a back and forth motion. 

Other types fall into the reciprocating saws category like the saber saw, scroll saw, and rotatory reciprocating saw. 

power testing reciprocating saw

It’s also best used for demolition works and heavy-duty operations due to its relatively powerful delivery. There are also different versions specially made for lightweight projects.

Exclusive Features of a Sawzall

The Sawzall is the more common and upgraded variation of the reciprocating saw. This version of the reciprocating saw has a bit more definite and modern features that prioritize user convenience at most. 

The Sawzall also works more efficiently, and its abilities make it a better option than the regular reciprocating saws. It also has some special features, making it more convenient than the regular reciprocating saws. 

It includes a forward-mount supported point and rubber grips that make the tools easy on the hand and less prone to hand fatigue.

Milwaukee 2722-20 Super Sawzall Reciprocating Saw

It is also smaller than common reciprocating saws but doesn’t compromise power. This is a reason why a Sawzall is also considered a balanced and optimized model. Apart from these notable characteristics, it can also change blades depending on your use. 

What Makes the Sawzall Special Compared to Other Brand's Reciprocating Saws?

The conception of the Sawzall was revolutionary in the reciprocating saw industry as most users have deemed it the best for its type. The popularity of this tool is driven by its impressive cutting power. 

Sawzalls needed no advertising because word of mouth has made it popular worldwide.

Uses of Reciprocating Saws or Sawzalls

Maintain Branches or Bushes

Their compact size is one of its most valuable features, making it an option for landscapers and gardeners. Reciprocating saws have a small nose that can cut through dense leaves to locate the inaccessible twigs and branches. 

Gardeners commonly opt for this tool when maintaining their branches and bushes for a seamlessly beautiful facade. 

Install Windows and Doors

Installing a window or door frame is arduous and requires a specific amount of planning and estimating. This saw easily solves this problem as its blade can shave through the tiniest layers of the window frame. 

cutting wall sheathing for window openings

They have a small blade that can cut even the tiniest corners to trim a better finish for your windows and doors.

Slice PVC or Metal Pipes + Nails and Pins

Since reciprocating saws are popular tools for getting through the crampiest spaces, it’s the best tool for installing pipes and slicing through hard plastic. 

To maximize its powerful ability and flush plunge cuts easily, it’s best to attach a double-faced blade with a sharp tip to your reciprocating saw. 

Tearing Down or Demolition

The blade of a reciprocating saw functions through a reciprocating action and is efficient for demolishing ceramics or [1] linoleum tiles. 

Through a scraping blade, the saw seamlessly cuts through dried glue. It’s also more straightforward and minimizes grunt work, rather than bashing glued tiles with a hammer. 

Remove Drywall

Electrical wirings make tearing through drywall more complicated, but with the right tools, this can be facile. Just fit a drywall chainsaw blade onto the nose of the reciprocating saw and use it to tear through the wall without damaging the wires cleanly.

Before starting any demolition or removal work on drywall, it is essential to turn off the power supply to the area and exercise caution to avoid accidental contact with live electrical wires, ensuring safety throughout the process.

cutting drywall with reciprocating saw

Sanding and Scraping

The multiple arrays of attachments that can fit into the nose of a Milwaukee Sawzall make it impressively versatile. 

Use the sand attachment to sand away and coarse the rough edges on new plastics or wood. Meanwhile, you can also use the handy scraping attachment to remove residual dried cement or glue. 

Reciprocating Saw and Sawzall: Advantages + Disadvantages to Know


1. Both corded and cordless versions of the reciprocating saw deliver its quality feature of compatibility. It’s also easier to carry so that you can bring it anywhere. 

2. It’s easy to control the orbital action and speed trigger of the saw, making it handy even on changing surfaces. The reciprocating saw is easy to use on most surfaces, such as bricks and walls. 

GALAX PRO Reciprocating Saw

3. Cordless reciprocating saws do not need plugs because they are powered by batteries, making them more compact and portable.

4. Whether you’re cutting horizontally or vertically, these saws will not disappoint. It’s versatile for various work, unlike regular machines with limited cuts. 


1. They are built for heavy-duty workpieces and massive demolitions. This makes it a draw if you’re working on lighter pieces. If you’re onto light jobs, choose a model for that specific work. 

2. They are very powerful compared to other saws, so you can’t expect them to deliver precise and accurate cuts. 

Milwaukee 9” ‎48-00-5026 Reciprocating Saw Blade Set

3. Taking extra precaution for this special tool is vital as the saw’s blade can be very sharp, especially when it’s running. Without extreme caution, a simple accident can lead to life-threatening injuries. 

4. Corded reciprocating saws need an electrical source, and if you’re working in small rooms, there’s always a risk that you cut through the cord or get pulled into a knot. 


Diving into the world of saws, you might be scratching your head over the whole Sawzall versus reciprocating saw debate. 

Here’s the lowdown: think of Sawzall as that popular kid in school – it’s just one specific brand of reciprocating saw. So, while every Sawzall is a reciprocating saw, not every reciprocating saw can strut around calling itself a Sawzall. 

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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