Make the cut

12/06/2007 @ 10:00am

A reciprocating saw is a powerful, specialized saber saw with a horizontal, rather than vertical, blade. The saw's elongated design and horizontal reciprocating blade movement allow it to get into hard-to-reach places and power through some of the toughest material on the farm.

Before you head to the tool section, Will Robinson, product manager of DEWALT cordless tools, says there are specific features farmers need to consider before they buy a reciprocating saw.

1. Corded or cordless. "A key decision from the beginning is if a person needs corded or cordless? If you're looking for major portability and may not have easy access to AC power, a cordless model may be more convenient," Robinson says.

2. Size. Don't buy more saw than you need. The size you choose depends on how often you'll use the saw and how heavy its applications. Cordless voltages range from 14.4 to 36. Corded versions are measured in amps and range from as low as 4 amps to up to 15 amps.

3. Jobs. Reciprocating saws do a lot more than just cut back and forth in a straight line. Make sure the saw you choose has the cutting action to perform the particular jobs you plan to tackle.

4. Users. If you won't be the only one using the saw, consider potential users and their abilities to safely operate it.

5. Variable speed. The stroke-per-minute helps determine how fast a reciprocating saw can cut a material and perform an application. Slower speeds are better for cutting metals and along curved or angled lines. Faster speeds are better for wood materials or demolition. A variable speed saw offers more versatility, especially when starting a cut in materials such as metal.

6. Blade. "You'll choose your blade depending on what you're cutting. A lot of it has to do with a tooth count and blade length. For example, a blade for wood has fewer teeth, more aggressive whereas metal blades have more teeth. The most common lengths are 6-, 9- and 12-inch blades," Robinson says.

7. Keyless blade clamp. It allows the user to insert the blade into the front of tool without having to use an allen wrench or separate tool.

Corded saws range from $89 to as high as $249. Cordless saws will cost anywhere from $169 to $369.

On the following page is a list of manufacturers that offer cordless reciprocating saws.

A reciprocating saw is a powerful, specialized saber saw with a horizontal, rather than vertical, blade. The saw's elongated design and horizontal reciprocating blade movement allow it to get into hard-to-reach places and power through some of the toughest material on the farm.

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Product and Go Link



Black & Decker

Firestorm 18-volt cordless reciprocating saw (Model FS18RS) features a Quick-Clamp blade change system, variable-speed trigger with electric brake, pivoting shoe with open channel, and rubber overmolded boot and handle. Compact lightweight design (6 pounds) reduces user fatigue.

$49.97 (saw)
$24.97 (FS18BXC battery and charger)


Model 1645B 24-volt cordless reciprocating saw features dual stroke for 1¼-inch stroke for fast aggressive cuts and ¾-inch stroke for plunge and precise cuts. Has a tool-less blade change system. Has a push-button foot adjustment for depth-of-cut control that extends life of blade. Battery not included.



XRP 18-volt cordless reciprocating saw kit (Model DC385K) features 1¹⁄8-inch stroke length, four-position blade clamp for increased versatility, lever-action keyless blade clamp, antislip comfort grip, XRP extended run-time battery, pivoting adjustable shoe, and variable speed with trigger lock.



WSR 650-A 24-volt cordless reciprocating saw kit features Smart Power Active Vibration Reduction and orbital action. Variable stroke rate has six settings. Weighs 9.45 pounds. Kit includes WSR 650-A saw, two 24-volt batteries, C 7/24 charger, 6×6T wood blade, and a kit box.

Contact a distributor for pricing.


Model BJR181Z is an 18-volt LXT lithium-ion reciprocating saw. It has a Makita-built D35 high-torque motor, compact design, ergonomic shape, one-handed, toolless blade changes and shoe adjustments, and it weighs only 8.1 pounds. Choose from a one-pack battery or a 45-minute charger.



McCulloch’s 24-volt cordless reciprocating saw (Model MJ7543) features an industrial motor, variable switch with brake, 7⁄8-inch blade diameter, ½-inch square driver, and two orbital actions. There is a one-hour charge time. Unit weighs 6.6 pounds.



The V18 Sawzall reciprocating saw kit with lithium-ion battery (0819-21) cuts up to 40 2×10s per charge. Gear protecting clutch protects tool from blade stalls. Keyless shoe adjustment provides tool-free blade depth adjustments. Blade clamp accepts blade upside down for close-quarter cutting.



The R854 24-volt reciprocating saw is powered by a lithium-ion battery and features a tool-free blade clamp, tool-free shoe adjustment, variable-speed trigger switch, push-on/push-off/lock-off button. This saw is sold as part of the XLi 24-volt three-piece combo kit (R931).

Contact a distributor for pricing.


The 18-volt lithium reciprocating saw features toolless blade clamp and variable speed. Unit weighs 4.2 pounds. Saw is part of Ryobi’s four-piece Lithium Power Tool kit, which also includes an 18-volt work light, 18-volt circular saw, 2.4-Ah lithium battery pack, and dual chemistry charger.



Skil’s 18-volt cordless reciprocating saw (Model 9350-01) includes an E-Z Lock blade clamp system that locks securely without tools, an on-tool blade storage that keeps two spare blades handy, and variable speed. Kit includes carrying case, three blades, 18-volt battery, and one-hour charger (SC118).