Reciprocating saw is one of the most widely used cutting tools in a woodcutter’s arsenal. If you’re looking at this article, then assuming that you have at least a certain level of elementary knowledge on this powerful.
Although this machine is very versatile and specializes in construction and demolition works, it’s a great economical and affordable tool for makings straight cuts.
In this article, we will look at how you can make a neat straight cut using a reciprocating saw.
What is a reciprocating saw and how it functions?
Reciprocating saw also known as the recip saw is a power saw which equips a blade that protrudes from the body of the saw and uses a rapid back and forth motion to make the cut.
A reciprocating saw is used for varieties of purposes including pruning, landscaping, plumbing, demolition, and other jobs that require cutting. It is a powered version of a hacksaw.
The recip saw looks like a drill machine but it has a blade instead of drill bits. It can be used to cut soft boards, hard boards, plastic, and even metals.
The basic mechanism is as you hold down the grip and push down on the trigger, the recip saw starts to cut. The trigger used in a reciprocating saw is a pressure-sensitive one.
This means you can control the speed of the blade by putting or releasing pressure on the trigger.
Types of recip saw
There are many kinds of reciprocating saws which you can get at your nearby hardware store. Some common ones are listed below.
- Wired reciprocating saw
- Wireless reciprocating saw
- Compact reciprocating saw
- Pneumatic reciprocating saw
- Mini reciprocating saw
- HVAC reciprocating saw
Cutting straight with a reciprocating saw
Cutting straight, as the name suggests is quite a straightforward procedure on the reciprocating saw. Follow these step-by-step instructions and you will be able to make a clean and non-messy straight cut using a reciprocating saw
Tools you will be needing for the job
Before proceeding any further, we need to make sure we have these following tools and features at our disposal in order to make a safe and clean straight cut.
Reciprocating saws come with a wide selection of blade choices. Each type of blade is designed to perform a specific task only. That’s why before we proceed, we need to determine what material we will be cutting.
We have to select our blade according to the cutting material. The blades are mainly differentiated by their teeth count.
Clamp for the blade
The clamp of a blade lets you adjust the position of the blade and locks it in place. Some of the higher end recip saws come with blade camp which has four points.
This feature lets you adjust the blade in four positions. The blade the clamp allows the saw to cut in various angles.
The reciprocating saw is not known for its accuracy. Rather it is known for its raw power. But you still require some level of accuracy for a cleaner cut.
Handles play a big role in stabilizing the reciprocating saw. Stability increases the accuracy of your saw. You will need to pull the trigger with your active hand and hold the grip with your other hand.
The vibration-free handles decrease the vibration of operating to a significant degree. This increased stability also protects your arms from repetitive stress.
The vibration-free handles also prevent the saw from slipping away when cutting humid and damp surfaces.
Pivot shoes with adjustability
Pivot shoes are a great feature that makes sure that the cut is going straight. When you glide the reciprocating saw blade through the cutting material, the pivot shoe will identify uneven surfaces in the material and adjust the blade accordingly.
This tool comes in handy especially when the cutting material has curves and/or angles at regular intervals. It also protects the blade from early wear and tears.
Accuracy of any cut depends on many factors and one of those factors is the speed at which the blade makes the cut. With pressure-sensitive triggers, you can do this without any fuss by simply putting pressure on a button. The correct speed ensures accuracy.
There are some high-end reciprocating saws in the market which come with LEDs installed on them. These LEDs serve multiple purposes. Its basic function is to light up low light or dark spaces so the user can see where the cut is actually being made.
Some of the reciprocating saw have lasers equipped on them. These projects a guiding line on the cutting surface indicating where the cut is actually going to be made.
This feature helps in increasing the accuracy of your cut.
Step-by-step procedures for cutting straight with a reciprocating saw
Now, that we know what do we actually need for the job, it’s time we start looking at the cutting procedure itself. You can make straight cuts both horizontally and vertically. We will look at both of these procedures.
Horizontal straight cut
- Place the cutting material on the fence and secure it in place with the clamp. This will also reduce vibration.
- Draw a cutting line on the board and measure it to confirm that the line is accurate.
- Roll the pivot shoe over the cutting surface to make sure that the board does not have an uneven surface. After rolling down, restore the shoe to the starting position and get ready for the final cut.
- To ensure you don’t miss any marking, you must use a foot with a flat edge. These flat edge feet are so efficient that it will correct its path even if it misses the mark sometimes.
- Just place the reciprocating saw on the surface and let the machine guide itself. Do not force the reciprocating saw into the cutting board. This will increase vibration and cause an inaccurate cut.
Vertical straight cut
A vertical cut is very similar to that of the horizontal straight cut, but there are some additional steps involved:
- Instead of securing the cutting board to the fence, in a vertical straight cut you must secure the board with screws. This gives you the freedom to change the position of the cutting material fluently.
- Draw different color marking on the cutting board indicating different measurements. Different color marking is required to avoid mixing up the measurement.
- The cutting material must not be more than the width of the fence itself. If the wood/metal/plastic is bigger than the fence, it may slip from the clamp.
Just like operating any other powered saw, reciprocating saws can also cause injuries if used to maintain proper safety. Here is a list of some safety equipment that you should use when operating a reciprocating saw.
Safety goggles are a must-have safety tool for anyone who is working with a reciprocating saw. It protects your eyes from splinters and sawdust coming from the saw.
There is no specific protective clothing designed specifically for reciprocating saws but some basic rules shall be enough to protect you from any kind of accidents.
For example, you must avoid wearing any lose clothing while operating any kind of saw as it poses a risk of getting stuck in the blade. Always wear clothes which are a perfect fit for your body when operating a reciprocating saw.
Gloves play an important part in protecting your hands while performing cuts using a reciprocating saw. It can protect you from wood splinters and accidental cuts.
Reciprocating saw is famous for its raw power. This also produces a lot of sawdust, splinters, and debris. To avoid inhaling any of these you must always wear industrial grade respirators.
As we already know that the reciprocating saw is a very powerful weapon and it makes a lot of noise while operating.
The sound is not just irritating but it can also cause hearing impairment. That’s why you must always wear good quality earplugs while operating a reciprocating saw.
Helmets aim to protect the user from any unexpected head injury. As the reciprocating saw uses powerful blades it can cause some fatal accidents. Helmets will protect you from any kind of fatal accident.
Apart from the above-mentioned safety equipment, you must also study the reciprocating saw very carefully to learn every bit of information you can find.
This will not only help you make the best use of your tool, but it will also protect you and your precious tool.
Reciprocating saw Tips and Tricks
- Always start the cutting process by drawing a straight line where you are planning to make the cut.
- To ease the cutting of hard materials, it is wise if you cut drill holes in the hard places before the cutting begins. This will make the job quite easier.
- There are many types of blades available for the reciprocating saw including plastic or fiber blades. But it is always better to equip a metal blade for best results.
- Start the cutting process slowly by pointing the blade towards the cutting point and gradually increase the speed as you move forward.
- Try wearing insulated boots while operating the reciprocating saw. It provides better grip and also protects in case of a short circuit.
- Always hold the reciprocating saw with both of your hands. Using the saw with a single hand may cause you to lose grip and cause fatal accidents.
- Before cutting through a wall, try drilling a hole in it where you are intending to make the cut. Start cutting from the hole. If you are sure about the angles and measurements, move on with the cut. Otherwise, try a different angle.
- Always gently glide the blade while cutting. Only control the speed of the blade. Don’t use any force while cutting. This will cause inaccurate cuts and will also wear out the blade faster.
- Always remember to power off the reciprocating saw before changing blades.
Maintenance of reciprocating saw
Every equipment needs a maintenance routine to make it last longer. Here are few tips for maintenance for your precious reciprocating saw
- Remember to clean your reciprocating saw after each operation. Don’t let dust and gunk accumulate inside your saw.
- Speed up or slow down on your trigger depending on the material you are cutting.
- When using an air compressor to clean the insides of the saw be careful of the force you are exerting as too much pressure can damage internal parts of your saw.
- After each use remember to remove the blades as it will reduce any chance of accidents.
- Don’t touch the blade immediately after use. The reciprocating saw blade can get really hot after cutting through a material. Touching the blade with your bare hands can cause severe burns.
Sometimes, the material you are trying to cut is located at a place that is hardly reachable with any other saw. The reciprocating saw can reach any place and angle, which makes it the best choice when it comes to cutting in hard-to-reach places. This is why reciprocating saw is really popular among landscapers, plumbers, and rescue workers.
There is no all-purpose blade which is the best fit for every job. Each type of work requires a different type of blade. A toothed metal blade is best for cutting pipes and coarse blades are best suited for walls and other dry surfaces. Choosing the right blade not only makes the cut clean but also increases the lifespan of your blade.
Once in a while, you will need to oil your reciprocating saw to keep it working at optimal condition. Here’s how to do it-
- Pull the security pin and remove the shoes of the saw
- Now, remove the clamp and surrounding plastic packaging
- Use a compress oil gun to spray lubricant into the machine.
A top-notch reciprocating saw is always a perfect solution to cut plastics, metals, aluminum, PVC, fiberglass, masonry, plaster, and other construction materials. But a specific saw blade is not ideal for different cutting applications. Different materials require a different class of saw blades. The reciprocating saw should adopt a suitable blade by evaluating the material’s size, weight, thickness, and overall composition.
While a reciprocating saw is great for lighter materials, it can also satisfactorily cut tree roots. Especially if you put a chisel blade on the reciprocating saw, it will cut down any harder tree roots, branches, bushes, limbs, and thickets within the shortest possible time.
If you have gone through this article mindfully then you should be able to make horizontal and vertical straight cuts in a safe and effective way.
Apart from the straight cutting procedure, you also learned about features of reciprocating saw, safety tips and tricks, and methods of maintenance. Hope this article helped you in your journey of being a craftsman.
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