What is a reciprocating saw? What is it used for? These are the common questions asked about the reciprocating saw. Well, the answers are relatively simple.

A reciprocating saw, also called a sabre saw, is a handheld power tool that uses a back and forth motion like a manual saw to cut through various materials. The back-and-forth motion is called a stroke. The saw’s speed is measured in strokes per minute (SPM).

Answering the next question, what is a reciprocating saw used for? The reciprocating saw is a versatile all-around tool that can be used for many operations, from construction to concrete demolition and everything in between. Thanks to the interchangeability of its blades, a reciprocating saw can cut through wood, steel, cast iron, fiberglass, drywall, and even ceramic tile. And that’s not all; a reciprocating saw comes with many attachments beyond simple blades, like grout removal tools, scraping tools, and sanding and scouring pads. These notable features make the reciprocating saw an all-in-one cutting tool.

With that said, let’s look at what reciprocating saws are used for.

The Five Best Uses of Reciprocating Saw

  1. Working in Tight Spaces

The compact size and easy handling of reciprocating saws make them ideal for working in small, tight spaces that other saws and destructive tools like sledgehammers or jackhammers won’t fit into. They are also ideal for making overhead cuts at awkward angles or hard-to-reach places.

  1. Cutting through Nail-filled Wood

If you’re cutting through a piece of wood or any other material with nails or pins, you need no other than a reciprocating saw. A reciprocating saw can easily slice through wood, nails, screws, and pins with a standard demolition blade.

It’s important to grip the saw tightly while you work, as it can kick back when it comes in contact with a rigid material. 

  1. Pruning Trees and Shrubs

You can also use a reciprocating saw to prune your yard’s trees, bushes, or shrubs. Although you can also use a chainsaw or an ax for pruning, a reciprocating saw is quieter and much safer. Choose a wood-cutting blade to slice cleanly through unwanted branches and overgrown slopes to give your yard a brighter makeover.

  1. Cutting and Fitting Window or Door Framework

Thanks to its portability, a reciprocating saw can be conveniently used when fitting or cutting out a window. A reciprocating saw can be used in places other saws can’t reach, making it the best tool for cutting and trimming down the materials around the framework to fit doors and windows and when cutting through joists and plasterboard.

  1. Cutting Plumbing Pipes

Reciprocating saws are your best bet for plumbing works, thanks to their ability to work in tight spaces and cut through iron, lead, copper, brass, plastic, and PVC pipes.

Reciprocating Saw Blades

The blades of a reciprocating saw come in various sizes, lengths, thicknesses, and different types of teeth to suit the material being cut. Let’s briefly look at the common types, sizes, and materials of reciprocating saw blades.


Here are the four materials of which a reciprocating saw blade is composed.

  1. 1. High carbon steel blades (HCS)are the most commonly used blades. They have high carbon content and are ideal for cutting wood, PVC, and plasterboards.
  2. Carbon Steel Blades: These blades are cheap and flexible, making them ideal for cutting in tight spaces, but they wear out quickly. 
  3. Bi-metal blades (BIM): They are more robust than HCS blades and more heat resistant, making them ideal for cutting metals.
  4. Carbide tipped blades:They have carbide tips, which enhance their cutting power, making them suitable for cutting fiberglass,concrete cutting, ceramic tile, cement board, and some metals.


The length of reciprocating saw blades ranges from 3 to 12 inches. The length of the blade dictates what size you can cut. The thickness also depends on what you want to cut. A 0.035 inches blade is adequate for most tasks, while 0.05 inches is better for challenging jobs.

Teeth per Inch (TPI)

A blade’s TPI is an important feature that dramatically affects how the saw will cut. Reciprocating saw blades usually have about 3 – 24 TPI.

A lower TPI (5 – 8)means faster, rougher cuts making it perfect for wood and demolition. On the other hand, a high TPI (14 – 24)blade will produce slow, clean cuts. Thus they are suitable for cutting metal or PVC pipes.

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