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How to use a Reciprocating Saw

If you ever need a reciprocating saw for a home improvement project, it is import to know how to use it. Using this type of tool without proper knowledge can be very dangerous, which is all the more reason to get this information beforehand.

Steps to follow

Choosing the Right Blade

First, you’ll have to select the right blade for the material you are going to be working with. Certain blades are designed to cut through wood, while others are made to handle tougher materials like metal. Blades that cut metal have a finer design and anywhere from 14 to 24 teeth for every inch. You also have demolition blades, which can be used on a variety of materials. These blades have six to fourteen teeth for every inch, allowing them to cut through both metal and wood. You should have no problem finding the right blades for the job you need to do, as they are marked as being for a specific purpose.

Installing the Blades

You will need to know how to put in the saw blades properly so that they are firmly in place and won’t come loose while you are working. The method that you’ll have to use depends on the specific model of the saw. Some reciprocating saws will require you to flip a lever. Once you have the blade in position, you will press down on the lever to secure it in place. It is crucial that you make sure the blade is all the way in before pushing back down on the lever.

Other reciprocating saws require a specific tool to switch out blades. This is more time consuming than simply flipping a lever, but it also means that the blades are more firmly locked into place. You will need to insert the tool in the opening and keep turning it until the blade has been loosened. You’ll then put the new blade in and use a tool to tighten it into place. After you have done this, you can turn the saw on and start using it.

It is important that you never try to put in or take out a blade while the saw is still powered on. If it is a corded model, make sure it is unplugged from the electrical outlet. If it is a cordless model, detach the battery pack first.

Using the Shoe

The shoe is the part of the reciprocating saw that helps you keep your cuts straight. Some shoes can be adjusted while others cannot. Make sure that you have the shoe pushed flush against whatever you are cutting so the vibration is minimal. You can raise the back of the saw and pivot with the shoe to get maximum control while cutting.

Cutting Metal

If you are using a reciprocating saw such as Dewalt DCS386B to cut through metal, it is important to use the right blade. After you have found and installed the appropriate blade for the job, you’ll have to push the shoe against the material. Make sure that it is firmly flat on the metal before starting. Start by going slow so the saw doesn’t go all over the place. After several seconds you can feel free to start going at full force. You always need to keep the saw firmly against the stock to compensate for the heavy vibration.

How to Keep Control over the Saw

You will need to maintain complete control of your reciprocating saw at all times because otherwise you could get injured or ruin the material you are cutting. If you are cutting from a vertical downward angle, try keeping your foot on whatever you are cutting for stability. A block guide can also be useful for this purpose. This is essentially just a piece of wood that affix to what you are cutting to guide the saw. It will help you make accurate cuts for the best possible results. Check our recip saws buying guide for more info:

Safety Tips

There are also a few safety tips that you will need to keep in mind when using a reciprocating saw, including:

  • Always make sure that your fingers are never in the way of the saw blade. This might seem obvious, but you need to keep it in mind at all times. While these saw blades might not be as sharp as others, they can still do a lot of damage to your fingers.
  • Try to use the shortest blade you can, as it will help you get the job done with the least amount of hassle. Longer blades wiggle around more than shorter blades, which will only work against you.
  • Make sure that the blade you are using is plenty sharp. While it doesn’t have to be brand new, it should still be able to get the job done without any issues.
  • Wear gloves whenever you are using a reciprocating saw. This will keep your hands safe from dangerous flying debris. You might be surprised how much damage little pieces of wood can do when they are traveling fast enough.
  • It is also a good idea to wear safety glasses at all times when operating this type of saw. This will keep your eyes safe from debris so they don’t get cut or injured in any way.
  • Put on a dust mask before getting started if you are cutting wood. This will keep you from breathing in sawdust and debris, which can irritate your throat. It will also make it a lot easier to work, as you won’t be distracted.
  • Before you start using the saw, always make sure the blade is firmly locked into place.

Applying Pressure

Another important aspect of using a reciprocating saw is applying pressure. The amount of pressure you use will determine the results you get. Too much pressure can ruin your blade, so you need to be fairly precise. You have to consider the material you are working with, but sometimes you just have to learn from your mistakes.


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