DIY Safety: How to Use a Reciprocating Saw

how to use a reciprocating saw

Last Updated on July 15, 2021

Knowing how to use a reciprocating saw is easier than you think. Of course, if you want to get the best out of your reciprocating saw, then you’ll want to know all of the best ways to use it, and that is where this post is going to come into its own

So, there are some steps you should follow to know how to use a reciprocating saw. However, let’s clear up one thing first, and that’s where you may want actually to use this particular tool.

Where a Reciprocating Saw Works Best

One of the best things about a reciprocating saw has to be the number of different materials that can be cut with the blades. From plasterboard to metal, wood, and even ceramic tiles, a reciprocating saw is a brilliant tool to have at your disposal.

But here’s the critical thing to remember. Reciprocating saws will only be useful when you have the correct blades in place. There is a wide array out there for you to choose from, and it’s best to have a selection in your arsenal to help you deal with a number of different projects.

Also, keep in mind that most people will use a reciprocating saw primarily for demolition work. It’s not meant for the cleanest of cuts as it does tend to use a coarse blade to rip through things effectively.

But with that in mind, how do you even use the saw in the first place?

Step By Step Guide On How to Use a Reciprocating Saw

Step 1: Choose Your Blade

The first step is something we just mentioned, and it’s choosing your blade. A reciprocating saw can have a wood cutting blade, a metal cutting blade, one for stone, and pretty much any other material you can imagine.

Step 2: Switch off the Power

Once you have selected the blade, you need to install it. The way this is done will be the same whether you are talking about cordless reciprocating saws or a corded reciprocating saw.

First, make sure there’s no power going to the saw. Either remove the battery pack or unplug from the mains.

Step 3: Attaching the Blade

Next, you need to attach the blade. Exactly how this is done will vary depending on the model you own. Generally, there will be a lever that you either press down or where you press a button on the chuck of the saw. That should then release the old blade and allow you to slide the new one into place.

You must continue to hold down the lever or button when trying to put a new blade in your reciprocating saw. Only by releasing the blade will you lock everything into place, as this then secures the blade before you fire it up.

Step 4: Check the Teeth

When you are happy that you have the correct blade in place, check the position of the teeth. The teeth should be pointing down and pointing toward the handle. Once you are happy with the position, you want to pull on the blade to see if it pops out. If it does, then it means you didn’t secure it correctly.

Step 5: Deal With the Shoe

The shoe is a part of a reciprocating saw that goes around the base part of the actual blade. It’s designed to make it easier for you to control the saw when it’s in use.

Take the shoe and press the buttons on either side to slide it into place. The key here is that the blade needs to be at least one inch longer than whatever you are cutting. You need to be aware of this not only when cutting through wood but any material.

Once you have this length, let go of the shoe, and everything will click into place.

Step 6: Getting the Materials Ready

Once the reciprocating saw is ready, you need to get the materials ready to cut.

Begin by marking what you are going to be cutting. Use a pencil to get your line. Use a straight edge for a straight cut, or if you plan on making a curved cut, then use the appropriate tool to get the correct curve. Do remember you will need a special blade for cutting the curve as well.

Step 7: Remember Safety

Before you start cutting, you need to remember to wear safety equipment. As this saw will cut faster than so many other tools, it does mean pieces of the materials can fly off. You want to wear not only safety glasses but also a dust mask and protect your ears as well. This type of tool can be loud and noisy, so if you are working in a confined space, then keep the noise in mind.

Step 8: If Required, Clamp Your Material

Depending on what you plan to use a reciprocating saw for, you may need to clamp down the material you will be cutting. This is ideal if cutting plumbing pipes before they are installed or if you are cutting ceramic tile before it’s put on the wall. It will reduce vibration that makes the materials move, so you will do a better job of those metal pipes or whatever you are cutting.

Step 9: Hold the Reciprocating Saw Firmly

You need to hold the reciprocating saw firmly. This guy can move around thanks to the power that’s involved, and that could cause a problem.

When you have a firm grip, it will involve you using your stronger hand to hold it tightly just behind where the chuck is located. It provides you with better control over the saw, while your less strong hand will be on the trigger.

It means you will also feel more confident in using the saw, as you know you can hold it steady when you go ahead and start to make that back and forth motion.

Step 10: Making That Cut

You need to start to make that cut, and there are a few things that will make this part of the job a whole lot easier.

When using a reciprocating saw, the best thing is to rest the shoe on the material you will be cutting. However, this is not always possible. On the other hand, it’s the reason why you need to set the shoe in the right position, as was mentioned earlier.

You need to avoid using only slight pressure when pushing against the material to be cut. It will stop the reciprocating saw from bouncing all over the place as it’s working its way through the material.

Step 11: Use At Full Speed

This is an important tip, but when you squeeze the trigger, make sure you do so fully and don’t play around with the power aspect. You need this saw to go full speed for it to do its job correctly, and that applies no matter if you are cutting tree branches, cast iron, or anything else.

Doing this with your reciprocating saw means it will start cutting faster as speed is of the essence with this thing if you want to get through your project.

Step 12: Go Straight Through

With this saw, you need to guide the blade to go straight through the material and keep going in that straight line. Use the shoe to hold the saw tight against the material, and then use the shoe as your guide.

By doing this, your reciprocating saw will quickly cut through the material, as long as you have the correct blades at the correct length, and you will then see just how effective this tool actually is.

One extra tip. If you plan on removing the blade from the material, never do so when the saw is in action. That can cause the sharp blade to catch whatever you are cutting, and it will potentially cause a problem and result in the material and saw kicking back on you.

Step 13: Creating a Plunge Cut

If doing a plunge cut, then it means you are going straight down a material. It is common for people to use reciprocating saws, as it’s often the case when cutting plasterboard in a DIY project.

However, although it goes straight down the material, you need to use the correct angle to cut through the material without any problems.

After getting the blade parallel to the material, you want to line the reciprocating saw up to an angle of between 30 degrees and 45 degrees. That makes it easier for the tool to plunge through the plasterboard in next to no time, giving you a better cut at the end of the job.

Step 14: Maintaining Your Saw

Once you have completed the job at hand, you need to think about maintaining your saw. It’s up to you if you decide to remove the blades before you do this, but do make sure you store the saw on its side. That is going to avoid putting pressure on the blades while it’s in storage.

As you can see, it’s not difficult when using a reciprocating saw. Also, there are so many reciprocating saw uses that this is one of those tools that you will purchase and then suddenly realise why it’s so popular.

However, there are several other important tips for you to keep in mind.

Other Important Tips

Tip 1: Remember the Speed

This tool works on speed. Whether it is for metal, going through a wall, or any other reciprocating saw uses that we mentioned, speed makes the difference.

Tip 2: Watch Out for Flying Debris

Keep an eye out for flying debris with this tool. It can go everywhere thanks to how these tools work. That is why using safety equipment is so important.

Tip 3: Buy a Number of Blades

Finally, buy a number of different blades that are suitable for various uses with this tool. There are specialist blades for various jobs, and the right blade will make all the difference. This is more important than getting blades for a circular saw, for example, and if you are unsure if you have the right blade, then ask your local DIY store for advice. They will only be too happy to point you in the right direction.

Start Using Your Reciprocating Saw

So, that is how to use a reciprocating saw, and it’s not difficult. Thankfully, reciprocating saws are easy to use. They do the hard work for you. The only thing you need to worry about when trying to use a reciprocating saw is how to change the saw blade for the correct project. Once you master that, then reciprocating saws will become your best friend when doing some demolition work in and around your home.

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