A reciprocating saw is a small and typically hand-held saw that cuts using a series of short back-and-forth movements or strokes. It can be corded or cordless and can cut through different materials depending on the type of blade you use. If you’re here to find the best reciprocating saw and blades for wood, this is the quickest way to narrow down your options.
Step 1: Understand What a Reciprocating Saw Does
‘Recip’ saws are traditionally used in repair and demolition jobs. This saw is not a fine crafting tool. It is a powerful cutting workhorse that is small enough for tight spaces. At best, you can make rough cuts of wood, metal, or stone if you use the right blade.
A recip saw gets most of its cutting power from the stroking motion of the blade. While it cuts quickly, it doesn’t usually cut cleanly. As a result, its uses must be restricted to repair, demolition, and rough cutting.
Step 2: Know Which Features Matter
Strokes (& Stroke Length)
The speed of a reciprocating saw is measured in strokes, the back-and-forth motion produced by its blade. Therefore, a tool with a rate of 3,000 SPM moves the blade back and forth three thousand times per minute.
The other factor to consider is stroke length. The stroke length refers to the distance that a reciprocating saw can cut in one stroke. Some tools cut ¾ inches in a single stroke; others cut 1 1/8 inches or more. A higher stroke length will help you cut faster—as will a higher SPM—but that doesn’t mean that faster tools are necessarily better.
If you wish to slow down or speed up the reciprocating saw (and in many cases, you will), you must buy a tool with variable speed options. With a faster or slower stroke, you can cut through different materials and use the tool for multiple applications.
Basic reciprocating saws come with a variable speed dial, which allows you to work with one speed at a time. But, with a variable speed trigger, you control the speed of the saw by applying pressure on the trigger. The harder you pull, the higher the SPM.
Brushed motors generate electricity using tiny brushes inside the motor that conduct the electric currents. But these brushes tend to get worn after just a few years of use, necessitating replacement or a whole new motor.
That’s why you should always aim for power tools with brushless motors. Their circuit boards are more durable and will give your device a much longer lifespan.
The front part of the reciprocating saw is where you’ll find the blade clamp, the section which locks the blade into place. What you’re looking for is a clamp that lets you switch out blades without a tool.
Tool-less blade clamps won’t necessitate the purchase of extras like Allen and hex keys. When it’s time to change your blade, you can unlock them by hand, facilitating quick and convenient blade changes every time.
Step 3: Know the Correct Blade for the Job
As with any other cutting tool, the blade is an essential part of the reciprocating saw. It dictates the tool’s cutting ability and largely determines how much you’ll be using your tool.
Your first reciprocating saw will probably ship with a generic wood blade. If you need more cutting power, you’ll have to explore other blade types made for metal, plastic, masonry, nails, and plaster.
Blade types also differ depending on the kind of jobs they’re meant for. You’ll get slightly finer cuts with blades that have more teeth, whereas blades with angled teeth can cut make larger cuts quickly.
Where Can You Start?
Are you eager to get the best reciprocating saw and blades for wood but don’t know where to start looking?
If you are, the following section is for you.
Black + Decker 20V Max Cordless Reciprocating Saw
This is a beginner-friendly entry-level recip saw that’s powerful enough for most home repair and DIY projects. It is affordable too, and so a good candidate for your first power tool collection.
You get a variable speed trigger and a quick, tool-less blade-changing mechanism even at this price point. The overall build is compact, and light at 4.5 pounds, and the tool’s ergonomic shape supports both one-handed and two-handed use.
With the right blade, it can cut through wood, plastic, metal, rubber, and more. It also has a pivoting shoe (the bottom part), which is more comfortable to adjust when cutting from different angles. For your safety, it also features an electric blade that can bring it to an instant stop.
DeWalt 20V Max Compact Reciprocating Saw
If you’re a heavy power tool user, then you need a reciprocating saw like the DeWalt DCS367B, a professional-grade tool that is deceptively compact at only 14.5 inches long. Packed inside the impressive ABS plastic and rubber casing is a powerful brushless motor capable of up to 2,900 SPM.
The variable trigger gives you complete control over its speed, allowing you to speed up or slow down depending on the application. It has one of the most stable clamp configurations: a 4-position blade clamp, which will enable you to make flush cuts with relative ease.
It also has a reasonably high stroke length (1 1/8 inches), so it’s built for more intensive work. To top it off, it comes with a built-in LED light that helps you maintain cut line visibility.
DeWalt Atomic One-Handed Reciprocating Saw
If ease of use is a priority, then the DCS369B is a quality option to consider. The one-handed recip saw features a conveniently slight build, but it delivers an ample assortment of features despite its size.
It has a stroke length of 5/8 inches, a brushless motor, and a variable speed trigger, not to mention tool-less blade changing. In other words, it’s as good as some of the higher-end models you’ll find at three times the price.
It is only 12.5 inches long and weighs only four pounds. Its pivoting shoe gives you more contact points, allowing you to work materials from different angles. Thanks to its size and lightweight design, it is a much easier tool to control, and so it comes highly recommended for newbies.