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Top 4 Best Reciprocating Saws of 2018

Best reciprocating saw reviews 2018

Best-in-class
DEWALT DCS387P1

DEWALT DCS387P1 20-volt Compact Reciprocating Saw Kit

Compact commercial-grade tool

Top-notch reciprocating saw fits between studs and delivers precise cuts in confined spaces.

DEWALT DCS387P1 Review

The DEWALT DCS387P1 is perhaps the best reciprocating saw on the market.

This commercial-grade tool boasts a compact, lightweight design with a total length of only 14.5 inches; this makes it perfect for cutting in confined spaces, while the variable speed up to 2,900 SPM delivers sufficient power even for the most challenging cuts.

A four-position blade clamp adds versatility to the design and makes the tool suitable for flush cutting; at the same time, the 1-1/8 inches stroke length delivers a faster cutting speed.

Powered by a reliable 20V Max Li-Ion battery, the saw also delivers portability and features a LED light that allows working in darker areas. Powerful, compact, and easy to handle, this reciprocating saw is ideal for those in search of top performance.

Best value
DEWALT DCS380B

DEWALT DCS380B 20-Volt Reciprocating Saw

Convenient high-end performance

Cordless convenience equipped with a variable speed trigger that provides superior blade control.

DEWALT DCS380B Review

Built for performance and coming at an attractive price point, the DEWALT DCS380B comes equipped with innovative features and patented technology that appeals to contractors, carpenters, and other professionals, but also to the hobbyist looking for a professional reciprocating saw.

Up to an extent, the unit is comparable to our best-in-class pick. It comes with a 4-position blade clamp that allows for versatile cutting options, a 1-1/8 inches stroke length and pivoting adjustable shoe that ensures an accurate depth control and increases the lifespan of the blade.

Another great feature of this tool is the speed range that goes up to 3,000 SPM. This allows it to cut through materials with high precision, while its nice heft and compact design make it easy to maneuver.

Delivering cordless mobility, best-in-class features and coming at a price point that won’t break the bank, the DEWALT DCS380B is the best reciprocating saw you can buy.

Also great
DEWALT DWE305

DEWALT DWE305 12-Amp Corded Reciprocating Saw

Limitless runtime

Corded cutting tool comes with a powerful motor and packs a host of best-in-class features.

DEWALT DWE305 Review

The DEWALT DWE305 is very similar to both our best-value and our best-in-class picks but is ideal for the professional or hobbyist who doesn’t care much about mobility. This reciprocating saw plugs to a traditional wall outlet, providing limitless runtime.

Powered by a reliable 12-Amp motor, the tool delivers up to 2,900 SPM and boasts a 1-1/8 inches stroke length.

A variable speed trigger and 4-position blade clamp ensure cutting versatility, while the total length of the tool is 17.5 inches.

Lightweight, powerful, and running for as long as you like, the DEWALT DWE305 is a great alternative if you need an extended runtime and don’t mind the lack of portability.

Best budget
BLACK+DECKER BDCR20B

BLACK+DECKER BDCR20B 20V Reciprocating Saw

Perfect for amateurs

Reliable and more than affordable reciprocating saw comes with commercial-grade features and won’t break the bank.

BLACK+DECKER BDCR20B Review

The BLACK+DECKER BDCR20B is one of those tool built for performance but affordable enough to appeal to the hobbyist shopping on a budget.

Powered by a 20V lithium battery with a nominal power of 18 volts, this reciprocating saw boasts a variable speed trigger and moves the blade up to 3,000 SPM for an easy cut control.

An adjustable pivoting shoe and a tool-free blade change enhance the ease of use, while the stroke length of 7/8 inches is perfect for most light-duty demands.

Lightweight, versatile, and easy to use, the BLACK+DECKER BDCR20B delivers power and performance to the budget-savvy crafter or professional.

2. Why invest in a reciprocating saw?

Small but powerful, a reciprocating saw is typically used for cutting in confined spaces but serves many other purposes in your home or workshop. Equipped with strong blades that can cut through most materials, this tool can be used for:

  • Cutting PVC piping
  • Make indentations on walls
  • Cut through nails
  • Cutting and fitting windows
  • Woodwork
  • Demolitions
  • Pruning and trimming shrubs

3. Linear vs. orbital reciprocating saw

All reciprocating saws are capable of producing linear cuts. Commercial reciprocating saws and some of the mid-range models also boast orbital action.

  • A linear (or straight) reciprocating saw moves back and forth along a single plane, a movement ideal for cutting through soft materials like wood, plastics, or metals, or for making precise cuts.
  • An orbital reciprocating saw engages in an elliptical movement instead of moving only back and forth, producing faster and more aggressive cuts. This model is often employed in cutting throughhard materials, including masonry.

Do you need orbital action?

It depends. If you mostly work with soft materials and only occasionally engage in heavy-duty applications, orbital action could be unnecessary, and you could save some money by investing in a unit capable of producing only straight cuts.

You also don’t need orbital action if you mostly cut metals or other precise work that require you to keep the blade perpendicular to the surface.

However, orbital action will give you more muscle for:

  • Rough cutting through wood or plastics
  • Rough cutting through walls
  • Demolitions

4. Reciprocating saw power source

Depending on whether you need continuous power or mobility, you can choose between corded and cordless machines.

  • Corded reciprocating saws: Are ideal if you mostly work in a fixed location. Plugging to a wall outlet, the saw will be able to run continuously for as long as you like, saving you the hassle of remembering to recharge the battery or of stopping mid-work due to insufficient power.
  • Cordless reciprocating saws: Are your best bet if you often work outdoors or in areas without access to an outlet. The best cordless reciprocating saws come with batteries that ensure up to 60 minutes of continuous operation and that recharge in less than a couple of hours. Investing in a unit with interchangeable batteries even gives you the possibility to extend the runtime.

5. Saw power

When it comes to assessing the power, reciprocating saws are similar to the band saws or miter saws, in that the more powerful they are, the better.

  • The corded models are typically powered by motors rated from about 7 to 15-Amps. If you’re a contractor or need the tool for high-volume or heavy-duty demands, a 15-Amp model is what you need. For occasional use or the novice, a lower-amp machine could bring more benefits, as it’s lighter and easier to maneuver.
  • Cordless reciprocating saws come with batteries that produce between 12 and 36 volts. However, the nominal voltage won’t tell you how powerful your machine is. To assess which is the best tool for you, you need to figure out the watts-hour. To do this, just multiply the nominal voltage by the ampere-hour (Ah) of the battery.

6. Reciprocating saw speed

The cutting speed of a reciprocating saw is determined by both the stroke length and the stroke speed per minute (SPM).

  • Stroke length: Refers to the depth of the cut and most reciprocating saws come with a stroke length of 1-1/8 or 1-1/4 inches.
  • Stroke speed per minute: Indicates how many times the blade moves back and forth per minute. The max SPM varies between low-end and high-end units from about 2,600 to 3,000 SPM.

To figure out the cutting speed of your tool multiply the stroke length by stroke speed. The best reciprocating saws have an adjustable speed that goes up to 3,000 SPM and 1-1/4 stroke length.

7. Best reciprocating saw blades

The best reciprocating saw blades don’t come in a “one-type-fits-all” formula. These saws use specific blades for each type of material you want to cut through.

Best blade material

There are essentially three types of blades:

  • Carbon steel: Are the cheapest but also the most flexible. They can easily reach into tight spaces and handle light-duty chores with ease. However, these blades have weak teeth that dull very quickly.
  • High speed steel: Are stronger and last longer than carbon steel but are also more expensive and less flexible.
  • Dual metal: Are made from both carbon steel and high speed steel and combine the best of both worlds. They are flexible, durable, and tend to last for a long time. They also come with hard teeth that stay sharp for longer. However, the complicated manufacturing process makes them expensive.

Teeth material

Unlike the traditional saw blades, reciprocating saw blades don’t necessarily have teeth made from the same material as the blade. The material employed in the construction of the teeth determines their strength and the suitability of the blade for cutting through various workpieces. The teeth are typically made of:

  • Metal: Typically the same metal employed in the construction of the blade itself. This choice is the least expensive, but they tend to get dull very fast. Metal teeth are usually ideal for cutting through plastic and wood, but can rarely handle harder materials.
  • Carbide: This hard material increases the cutting ability of the blade and its lifespan, making it a better investment in the long run. Carbide blades are made specifically for wood and plastic but perform more accurate cleaner cuts.
  • Carbide grit: Are made of carbide embedded with fine particles of industrial diamond grit that increases the strength and durability of the blade. Ideal for hard materials, these blades can rip through cast iron and masonry materials but are also suitable for delicate materials like fiberglass, ceramic, and clay. This type of blade works on very low speeds on wood and plastics, which makes it unsuitable and even hazardous to use on these materials.

Teeth per inch and teeth pattern

The number of teeth per inch (TPI) and the pattern of the teeth determine the blade’s ability to make fine or rough cuts.

  • Rough cuts: Require from 3 to 12 TPI and raker teeth that extend beyond the edge of the blade in an alternating pattern. These blades typically rip through the material at high speeds.
  • Fine cuts: Need from 14 to 18 TPI and wavy teeth designed to produce smooth, precise cuts at low speeds.

Variable tooth blades

A special category is the variable tooth blades that have an area with a lower TPI density designed for fast cutting and an area with a higher TPI density for fine cutting. All it takes is to flip the blade on the desired side and use the appropriate TPI density for the job.

8. What other features to look for?

The best reciprocating saws incorporate a series of other important features, such as:

  • Shoe adjustment: An element that offers more control over the depth of the cut for smoother precision cuts.
  • Tool-less blade change: Guarantees a fast and hassle-free change of the blade whenever needed.
  • Ergonomics: A reciprocating saw can be a pain to use if the tool is not perfectly balanced, lightweight, and ergonomic. Also check the level of vibrations and make sure it’s low.
  • Built-in LED light: illuminates any dark areas and is ideal when you have to work in confined spaces.
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