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Is it time again to buy a new reciprocating saw? They do wear out fast when you put them through their paces, so we’ve found some time in our busy tool-reviewing schedule to round up 10 of the best reciprocating saws that are on the market in 2020. We’ve tried to keep the selection balanced with cordless and corded saws that are well-suited both for light trimming work as well as heavy-duty cutting for professionals.
Whether you want to have a handy tool in the shed for the annual tree and bush trimming chores or you’re a busy professional who needs a saw that can make quick work of solid steel rebar or ceramic pipe, we’ve got a reciprocating saw in this year’s reviews that’ll fit the bill.
Let’s not beat around the bush any longer, and take a look at the line up!
An excellent reciprocating saw capable of cutting through a variety of things. Its motor has enough power to deal with whatever a homeowner might use it for, and it can hold its own for lighter work all day long for a professional
A solid choice for a home DIY mechanic who’d like a cordless reciprocating saw that comes with a good warranty and versatile design. If you’ve got trees to trim and wood to cut down far away from electrical outlets, this saw could be a good choice
Light reciprocating saw for outdoor trimming or cutting wood boards fast. However, it isn’t recommended for professional work that requires cutting tougher things like solid steel bars or concrete pillars
This reciprocating saw is an affordable power tool for a home mechanic. Its comfortable design won’t aggravate hands that aren’t used to using this type of power tool very often. It’s also easy to swap out blades when you need to change jobs
Pricey reciprocating saw model designed for professional work in mind. It has the power needed to cut through concrete or steel at a good pace. For the typical DIY homeowner, this saw is probably overkilling
DeWalt’s DWE304 is a favorite among reciprocating saw users for good reason. For a reasonable price, you get a saw with a 10-amp motor, a speed-adjusting trigger design, tool-free blade swapping, and a blade clamp with 4 positions.
It’s a corded reciprocating saw, so you can work uninterrupted as long as you have enough extension cord to move around your workspace.
It has a selection of blades that can cut through just about anything from wood to concrete. Add to that a host of attachments, and you’ve got a tool that can take care of the jobs any DIY or construction professional might need to tackle. It also comes with DeWalt’s 3-year warranty, which is longer than many other power tool makers.
What we liked:
Maximum speed of 2,800 strokes per minute
The blade clamp has four positions to choose between
Ergonomic trigger designed to select speeds conveniently
What could be better:
You get a rather skimpy carrying case with this saw
Are you a DIY homeowner looking for a flexible and light cordless reciprocating saw?
DeWalt’s DC385B is a light-duty reciprocating saw with efficiency and flexibility built into its design. Being a cordless reciprocating saw makes it ideal for outdoor work like tree-trimming and bush grooming. If you need to cut down wood boards quickly or tear down pallets, it can handle those typical jobs as well. If you want to slice through concrete or steel, you’ll need to take your time and have freshly-charged batteries on hand.
That’s not to say this isn’t a bad choice for home use. It’s just not going to do more than light-duty work for professionals. It features DeWalt’s flexible and easy-to-use setup design, like tool-free blade swapping and an adjustable shoe.
Those are the features that make it a good choice for home-owners who’ll use it for a variety of tasks.
What we liked:
Maximum speed of 3,000 strokes per minute at 1-1/8 inch stroke length
Looking for an inexpensive saw for DIY home projects?
Porter Cable’s Tigersaw has enough power and versatility to handle most quick cutting jobs you might have in the workshop at home. It’ll tear down pallets, nails and all, without much complaint. It’s a lightweight tool, so you can use it without getting tired of long-running jobs like cutting down wood boards. Just don’t expect this saw to make quick work of harder materials like stone or steel.
It comes with a solid 3-year warranty, so Porter Cable stands behind its workmanship like most top brands in the power tool market. It uses 20V lithium-ion batteries that are sold separately. That means you can take it away from power outlets and use it to cut bushes or tree limbs without any problem.
What we liked:
Maximum speed of 3,000 strokes per minute
Tool-free blade swapping design
Compact design well-suited to working in tight spaces
Are you looking for a cordless saw that can cut through metal and wood without trouble?
Bosch’s CRS180B is one of the more powerful battery-powered reciprocating saws on the market. It comes at a price, but it’s certainly a power tool to consider for professionals like plumbers who need to cut metal and plastic in close quarters. It can take on nail-riddled wood jobs like pallets and wall-studs just as well as it does ceramic pipe and sheet metal.
The CRS180B is designed to work one handed almost with a variety of cutting materials and has all the ease-of-use features for changing blades and adjusting its shoe that we’ve come to expect.
What we liked:
Speeds ranging from 0-2400 or 0-2700 strokes per minute
Speed control trigger makes it easy to adjust the saw’s speed to the material being cut
Compact, cordless design
What could be better:
A powerful motor on a cordless saw means frequent battery changes during long work sessions
Looking for a cordless saw that has comfort as well as versatility in mind?
DeWalt’s DCS380B is another excellent contender for the best cordless reciprocating saw on the market. It may not be as well-suited to day-long work cutting through tough materials as a corded saw, but it has enough power to handle hard obstacles like aluminum or steel conduit when you need it.
It has all of DeWalt’s ease-of-use features for quick setup of blades and speed control. On top of that, this model has a comfortable grip thanks to a rubber over-mold that takes the edge off its vibration.
It comes with DeWalt’s 3-year warranty, but you’ll need to buy its 20V batteries and charger separately, which is par for the course with these power tools.
What we liked:
Has enough power to cut through metal and concrete
Fast blade swaps make changing jobs quick and efficient
Makita’s JR3050T has a couple good design features to ensure that it has a long life if you maintain it right. Its brushed motor is accessible so that it can be serviced, giving it a longer life expectancy than other brushed motors. It also has ball and needle bearings that further extends this power tool’s life.
The JR3050T’s 11-amp motor is powerful enough to cut through metal, wood, and plastic material without bogging down too much. Its blade clamp and shoe can be operated and adjusted without the need for additional tools.
Makita had the long-term life of this power tool in mind when they designed it, but they only offer a 1-year warranty to cover workmanship defects.
What we liked:
Brushed motor can be accessed externally for easy maintenance
Both blade and shoe changes are made painless with tool-free design
Need an affordable cordless reciprocating saw that comes with starter blades?
It’s not often you see a saw that starts you out with a couple blades out of the box, but Ryobi’s P514 does. It’s no powerhouse, but this light-duty saw can be great for a homeowner who needs something to trim trees and bushes. It can cut through wood and nails without too much trouble but don’t expect miracles when it comes to metal pipe or concrete.
The selling points of the P514 are its comfortable design. A non-slip rubber over-mold helps you keep a firm grip on the handle. In addition to that, the handle is designed to dampen the shock of the motor’s reciprocating action, so you won’t be fatigued by the vibration if you use it for longer projects.
What we liked:
Nicely designed non-slip rubberized grip
Anti-vibration handle design absorbs much of the shock produced by the motor
Looking for a heavy-duty sawzall that can cut through the hardest materials?
The 6519-31 packs enough power to cut through just about anything given the right blade. Its 12-amp motor has enough wallop to get through concrete-filled pillars, steel pipe, and ceramic tiling. Wood with nails or drywall is just for warming up this power tool.
It can hit a maximum speed of 3,000 strokes per minute and doesn’t get bogged down by hard materials like a saw with a weaker motor will. It’s a corded saw, which makes sense when it has a motor that will drain batteries too fast. As long as you have enough extension cord to reach a power outlet, this tool will get the job done.
Looking for a solid reciprocating saw that can handle most light-duty work?
SKIL’s 9216-01 is a solid competitor on the reciprocating saw market for light and medium-duty work. The motor has enough power to make short work of any wood-cutting and limb-trimming you throw at it. It comes with a variable speed control that switches between 6 different settings, giving you plenty of room to dial in its speed for a given cutting job.
This saw also adds safety to its list of selling points with a power-on indicator to make sure you’re aware that it’s on when you’re changing blades or performing maintenance. You’ll find swapping blades is fast and painless with SKIL’s tool-free blade installation.
The housing is well-built and will hold up against the abuse it can receive during remodeling or demolition work.
What we liked:
Blades can be changed without additional tools
Foot pivots for added stability when cutting
Variable speed controls selects between 6 settings
What could be better:
Mediocre motor power isn’t suited for difficult cutting jobs
Black & Decker’s RS500K isn’t a bad saw for light-duty work, but it has yet to find the sweet spot in terms of price. The comfort-grip design certainly is pleasing if you need to cut wood or trim trees for more than a few minutes, but the 8.5-amp motor isn’t going to be speed demon if you need to cut through steel or stone.
You do get a starter blade with this saw, though customers have noted that it isn’t a high-quality blade that will last long. Black & Decker also covers this tool with a 2-year limited warranty, which is respectable enough.
It does give you the efficient design that’s become standard with other modern reciprocating saws like tool-free blade changes and an adjustable shoe for cutting at odd angles.
What we liked:
Comfortable grip with a vibration-dampening handle
Light weight ensures fatigue is not a problem
Variable speed settings adjust the saw to various materials
What could be better:
Comes with a starter blade with limited life
When you decide it’s time to shop for a new reciprocating saw, it’s best to take stock of what type of work you plan to use it for. Most reciprocating saws share a set of features that change from model to model based on the size and power needed to do the jobs they are designed to do. Keep reading to make an informed choice!
What is a reciprocating saw?
When it comes to multipurpose power tools, reciprocating saws are one of the most versatile cutting tools you can find. Of course, it’s not as powerful as a professional chainsaw, for instance, but it’s suitable for a variety of cutting tasks at home and in construction work, these saws can cut through plastic, pallets, drywall, metal, and concrete. They’re also handy for odd jobs like trimming bushes and trees.
These saws are sometimes called oscillating saws, sawzalls, and sabre saws. The way reciprocating saws cut is by moving a blade back and forth at high speed with an electric motor.
Mimicking the motion of a hand saw, reciprocating saws move the blade a shorter distance at a much faster speed. This combined with special blades makes them efficient at cutting through hard materials like concrete and metals that a hand saw wouldn’t make much progress with.
Features to consider when choosing the best reciprocating saw
This is how much distance the blade travels with each stroke as it moves back and forth. The longer the stroke length, the more work the blade is doing, though this is also a function of how fast the blade is moving.
The power of a saw’s motor is expressed in amps of electric power it consumes. The more amps a saw is rated at, the more power it has. More powerful saws will have an easier time cutting hard materials like steel, nails or concrete.
The shoe is the guide that stops the saw against the surface it is cutting. Adjustable shoes add versatility to the reciprocating saw.
Strokes per minute
This is the measure of how fast the saw moves its blade. The higher this number is, the quicker it will cut through material.
Variable speed control
This is another feature that will add versatility to a saw. Some materials cut easier at a lower speed than others, so variable speed saws are best if you want to cut a variety of materials.
Orbital vs. straight cut
Orbital cut saws remove more material as they cut, which can make cutting through tough material faster. If you want a narrower line as you cut, a straight cut saw is what you’re looking for.
Corded vs. Cordless
Corded saws have a larger power supply and don’t need to stop to recharge batteries. Cordless saws, on the other hand, let you take the saw to places without electrical outlets.
Types of reciprocating saws
These power tools have become fairly standardized, varying mainly in their size and power. There are a few features that distinguish one type of reciprocating saw compared to the next.
Reciprocating saws are electric power tools. In the past, corded saws had the most powerful motors, but battery packs have advanced to the point that they can match corded saws in amperage. Still, a corded saw isn’t going to need to recharge or swap batteries out on long jobs.
If portability is important, battery-powered saws are cordless. They can be used outdoors and at remote locations where no power outlets are available. If you have a couple batteries, you can usually charge one battery while using the saw and have it ready when it’s time to swap them out.
Straight cut reciprocating saws move their blades in a single plane of motion, making for a straighter cut along the line that the blade travels.
Orbital saws move their blades in an elliptical or oval pattern, making for a more aggressive cutting motion. They will create a larger cut width and can make quicker work of difficult materials.
These are small, one-handed reciprocating saws that are designed to handle small jobs in tight spaces, like under cabinets, in crawl spaces, or between walls.
How reciprocating saws are used
As we’ve already noted, reciprocating saws are great for cutting materials in many different situations. Here’s a list of a few common ways these power tools are put to work.
When you’re removing large portions of a structure, reciprocating saws are handy since they can cut through most construction materials quickly, and you won’t need to worry about measurements or the accuracy of the cuts.
Any remodeling to do?
These saws are also helpful during remodeling projects. They can be used to cut away PVC or metal pipes, removing excess sheathing on door or window frames, and cutting away the sole plates under doorframes, to name a few examples. You can also use special attachments for pulling up tile or stripping plaster off walls.
Also, the reciprocating saws are well-suited to taking apart pallets since they are handheld and cut through nails and wood without difficulty.
Plan to trim trees and bushes?
You can use reciprocating saws for trimming bushes and trees, especially when you want to quickly clear a space. A reciprocating saw can act as a pruning and sculpting tool in these situations in the same way hand shears can.
Benefits of a reciprocating saw
Reciprocating saws are versatile power tools that can be used to cut a variety of different materials that couldn’t be done by hand. Blades are available that can cut through concrete, steel, and aluminum. They can also make quick work of wood, drywall, and plastics like PVC.
If you’re tearing down wood walls or crates full of studs and nails, a reciprocating saw can cut through them without any trouble with the right blade. With a full set of blades, one reciprocating saw can be used to trim bushes one day and take down drywall the next day.
The biggest benefit you get from these power tools is time and labor savings when you need to cut through large amounts of material, such as in a demolition job. They typically weigh less than 10 pounds and are designed with enhanced grips that make repetitive strokes easy to do for hours.
When you factor their light weight and ergonomic design into the portability of a battery-powered saw, you get a power tool that can be used in many different settings to accomplish a wide range of tasks. Without one of these saws, you would have several different tools to do the same amount of work.
Blades used in reciprocating saws
Need to cut through something?
Chances are, there’s a blade for that. Reciprocating saws have become the go-to power tool for construction and demolition jobs, so over the years, blades have been designed for just about every material you might want to cut through.
High-carbon steel blades
These blades are efficient for cutting through wood.
Bimetal steel blades
These blades have hardened steel teeth for cutting through wood with nails in it or other smaller metal objects like pipes and sheet metal.
When you need to cut through hardened steel or cast iron, diamond grit is applied to steel blades to make them harder than steel. They’re also suitable for cutting through stone and concrete.
Softer metals like aluminum can be cut with blades with carbide-tipped teeth. There are also carbide-tipped blades designed to cut bricks and masonry.
These blades are designed to cut through clay tile, ceramic pipes, concrete, and stone.
If you want to use a reciprocating saw to prune bushes and trees, these blades are designed for the job with a custom tooth pattern.
There blades that have teeth on both sides so you can bore into sheet metal or drywall and cut in either direction.
Attachments and accessories
A major reason for the versatility of reciprocating saws is the ability to expand their uses with attachments and special purpose blades. Because these saws allow anything to be mounted in their blade slot, it’s even possible to use them for non-cutting purposes.
There are 90-degree arms that can be attached to the reciprocating saw so the blade can reach hard to reach spots or cut flush to a surface in tight spaces.
You can extend the length of a saw’s blade or mate a blade that doesn’t fit it with an adapter.
These attachments look more like flat chisels. They’re designed to get under a layer of plaster and quickly strip it off of a wall.
Wire brush attachments
These attachments turn the saw into a power wire brush that can quickly remove paint and other coatings from a metal surface.
Top reciprocating saw brands
Here is the list of the best saw manufacturers on the market today: Dewalt, Makita, Ryobi, Milwaukee, Ridgid, Bosch, Black and Decker, Porter Cable, Kobalt, Hitachi
Voltage and battery
Power requirements for reciprocating saws vary widely depending on the type of power outlet or battery that they are designed to use. Corded saws are usually designed to use standard 110V or 120V AC wall outlets, but you can find some professional-grade saws that use 240V AC sources.
Battery-powered saws will vary as well, depending on the battery they are designed to accept, but most use 12V, 18V, or 20V batteries.
The alternatives to the reciprocating saws
Portable, corded and cordless
Vertical and upright cutting
Low precision cuts
Wide variety of blades and attachments
Blades are quick to change
Portable, corded and cordless
Horizontal cutting, best for straight or wide arcs
Laser guides help with precision cuts
Can cut through hard materials
Blades take some time to change
Portable, corded and cordless
Horizontal cutting, can do irregular lines and tight arcs
Medium level of precision
Special blades can cut hard materials
Blades are quick to change
Weight, grip and vibration
Do you expect to use a reciprocating saw for all-day jobs?
How a power tool is designed makes a difference in how practical it is to use for all-day work. Most handheld reciprocating saws are not heavier than 15 pounds, and many range between 5 and 10 pounds. This makes them easy to use for extended periods without too much fatigue.
Given the nature of the work you do with a reciprocating saw, standing upright as you cut downwards or sideways, weight is less of an issue than the ergonomics of the tool’s grip.
A source of fatigue when you use a reciprocating saw is the convenience (or inconvenience) of its grip design. It’s best to handle a saw before buying it to be sure it will be a good fit for your hand and arm size, not the mention the type of work you plan to do with it.
Another issue that can make using a reciprocating saw for long periods tiresome is the amount of vibration that is transmitted through its grip to your hands. Rubberized grips and saws that dampen the amount of vibration they generate will give less trouble when working on construction or demolition projects.
Power tools like a reciprocating saw are inherently dangerous because of their exposed cutting blades as well as being powered by electricity. By following a number of common sense precautions, you can avoid accidents and unpleasant surprises.
Wear the appropriate personal protection gear. Reciprocating saws cut through hard materials like metal, wood, and concrete. Protect your eyes against flying debris and your ears against hearing loss if you’ll be using the saw for long periods.
Dress safely. When using any machinery with exposed moving parts, you should avoid loose-fitting clothes and secure hair and jewelry that may dangle. With reciprocating saws, you need to keep anything attached to your body away from the blade.
Don’t work in wet conditions. Unless your power tool is specifically designed to be waterproof, you should never use electric motors in situations where they could get wet. Not only will it destroy the power tool, but you could be fatally shocked.
Turn off and unplug your saw for maintenance. The best way to ensure the saw isn’t accidentally turned on is to remove its source of power. If your saw is battery powered, remove the batteries as well.
Handle reciprocating saws with care. When you’re cutting, don’t apply excessive force or overreach. Maintain good footing and avoid holding the saw at awkward angles. This will avoid slips, falls, and drops that could bring the saw’s blade in contact with your body while it’s running.
Care and maintenance
Want your reciprocating saw to last as long as it can?
There are a few maintenance and care practices you can follow to keep them in good condition.
Reciprocating saws are lubricated before they leave the factory, but after three to six months, depending on how much you use your saw, it’s a good idea to have it serviced. Service technicians can remove debris from the internal components and make sure the moving parts are lubricated.
When you clean your saw, pay particular attention to the trigger switch. If you cut roof-shingles, for example, the tar can gum up the switch. Keep it clean and clear of debris that could jam it.
The head of the saw also should be cleaned out carefully after each use. Debris like sawdust and tar can make it difficult to change blades or cause drag when the saw is running.
Like most tools that take a beating every day and are likely to break at some point, warranty length and coverage can be an important consideration when comparing models and manufacturers.
Many warranties are limited to faulty workmanship or materials, meaning that repairs and replacements are covered only when breakage happens while the tool is being used as intended. You won’t usually get a replacement saw if you let it get wet and its motor is shorted out, for example.
The main difference you’ll find between manufacturers is the length of warranties. A one-year limited warranty is the standard minimum, but you can sometimes find warranties that are much longer. There are manufacturers who’ll stand behind their tools for as a long as you own them.
Yes. You can use a standard steel blade to cut tree limbs, but a pruning blade will make quicker work of tree limbs of any size. A reciprocating saw won’t be as efficient as a chainsaw, but it’s great for trimming smaller limbs and branches.
The blades used by these saws vary in length depending on the work they’re designed to do. They range from 3 to 12 inches in length. The length of the blade determines the maximum depth of its cut, so a long blade is not necessary if you’re not cutting through extremely thick material.
We tried our best to be objective when we sat down to tally up this year’s winner. It can be difficult to pick a generic winner, when a power tool category like this has clear subcategories, like light-duty cordless saws vs heavy-duty corded saws. Which of them is the best reciprocating saw for you depends as much on your own needs as it does on the quality of the saw.
Still, with all things being equal, we scored each saw based on how it compared to its closest competitors in terms of price, comfort, and raw performance.
Which one takes home the blue ribbon this year?
DeWalt takes the ribbon with their excellent DC385B cordless saw. It’s a great addition to any DIY homeowner’s tool shed, making short work of trimming tree limbs and shaping overgrown bushes. Its versatility both in ease of use and ability to cut through tougher things like steel or aluminum conduit is more than we’d expected for the price this tool sells at.