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12 Unique Reciprocating Saw Uses

Many say to use the right tool for the job. But what if we told you “If you don’t have the right tool, then this is the right tool”. Of course, we are talking about the Reciprocating Saw. Circular Saws, Miter Saw, Band Saw, and other power saws help you in cutting large and thick pieces of wood or metal. But a Reciprocating Saw can do it all without care about precision or accuracy. So, we often call the reciprocating saw, the demolition saw. In this guide, we will see a brief detail about the reciprocating saw. After that, we will take a look at some important reciprocating saw uses.

You can use the Reciprocating Saw on all kinds of materials, be it wood, metal, plastic, MFD, etc. How do you use such a versatile saw? We are here to help you with this. We will see 12 unique uses of a Reciprocating Saw that make you wonder, “is there anything a reciprocating saw can’t do”.

What is a Reciprocating Saw?

Reciprocating Saw is a powerful handheld saw. As the name suggests, these saws cut through the material by reciprocating (to-and-fro or back-and-forth) movement of the blade.

Speaking of the blade, the Reciprocating Saw has a long, exposed blade that can cut through virtually anything (different materials need different kinds of blades). Hence, when Milwaukee Tools launched this tool, they marketed it as Sawzall (as in it saws all kinds of materials).

As the blade is thin, long, flexible, and pointing, the Reciprocating Saw is sometimes known as Saber Saw (due to its resemblance to a sword).

Reciprocating Saw isn’t known for its fine crafting or precision. Rather is a demolition-type saw that can cut through metal, wood, concrete, or anything in front of it. Hence, firefighters and police use Reciprocating Saws in rescue operations to cut through walls, obstacles, or debris.

Change the type of blade that you fit to the reciprocating saw and you can use it for small, light-duty, or heavy-duty jobs. Apart from different types of blades, most reciprocating saws also support various accessories that help in scaling, scalping, grating, cleaning, brushing, etc.

Most Reciprocating Saws have variable speed trigger. So, the speed of the blade depends on how much you depress the trigger.

Unlike Jigsaw, which is primarily a horizontal saw, a reciprocating saw is very versatile. Thanks to the handheld design of modern reciprocating saws, you can use them in horizontal, vertical, or any other orientation.

You can get Reciprocating Saws as Corded Electric as well as Cordless Battery Operated.

12 Unique Reciprocating Saw Uses

Reciprocating Saw is truly a versatile power tool. With the right kind of blade, you can cut through wood, timber, metal, PVC, bricks, concrete, ceramic, etc. using a reciprocating Saw.

Using attachments, you can even use it as a sanding, grouting, and scraping tool.

1. All-in-one Cutting Tool

A Reciprocating Saw can “saw” everything. Just use an appropriate blade or attachment and you can cut through any material.

Want to make a cut in a piece of wood? Make a home in drywall? Cut a slice of metal? Cut through old plumbing pipes? You name a job and reciprocating saw can do it.

The catch is it is not a precision cutter. You cannot make accurate cuts in a piece of wood like a table saw. The sheer power of the reciprocating saw is meant for demolishing objects or cutting through all kinds of materials.

We feel this is the reason why Milwaukee Tools (the original developer of the reciprocating saw) branded it as Sawzall.

2. Demolition/Cutting in Small or Awkward Spaces

If you are planning to renovate your house, you need to demolish old frames, walls, studs, etc. A sledgehammer will be the first choice but you will soon get tired as you have to do all the lifting and smashing with a sledgehammer.

You can use a reciprocating saw to cut through walls, studs, frames, pipes, etc., anything you don’t want in your way. Use a wood cutting blade when you are working on the “wood” parts of the home.

Similarly, change the blade to a metal cutting blade while working on metal objects.

The exposed blade of the Reciprocating Saw is really useful in these situations. You can easily guide the blade in small and tight places and start cutting. Sledgehammers or other cutting tools are of no use here.

3. Cutting Through Wood, Nails, Nail-embedded Wood

If you want to cut through a piece of wood, you can do it with a reciprocating saw. But the interesting point is you can also cut through exposed nails, or even if the wood is embedded with nails.

Just use a regular “demolition” blade and cut through wood, nails, screws, etc. You don’t have to change the blade.

Imagine another type of saw in this situation. A Circular saw can cut through the wood but as soon as it reaches the nails, it will damage the blade. So, if you are certain that there are nails inside the wood you want to cut and you have no intention of removing the nails, then the reciprocating saw is the best way to cut through the wood.

4. Cutting Various Plumbing Pipes

Are you a plumber? Working to replace old plumbing pipes? A Reciprocating Saw can help you out.

Some might think that plumbers only work with metal or plastic pipes and tubes. But we all know this is not true. To get the “plumbing job” done, plumbers have to work with different kinds of materials and perform slightly odd jobs.

These include removing old plumbing lines, fittings, and valves, going through a concrete wall, cutting wall studs to route or insert pipes, cutting pipes and tubes for a perfect fit, and many more.

From all the things we mentioned above, it is clear that a plumber can benefit hugely from a reciprocating saw at his/her disposal.

They can use it to cut metal pipes (copper, steel, brass, iron, etc.), plastic, and PVC pipes and tubes. You can guide the blade of the reciprocating saw in any direction or orientation. So, the position of the pipe doesn’t matter as long as you have a reciprocating saw at your disposal.

5. Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Do you have a lot of trees, plants, bushes, or shrubs in your garden? If the branches of a tree are overgrown, then you have to perform a pruning operation on them.

For small bushes and shrubs, there are small pruning tools that help you cut or shape them. But what about large tree branches? If you have a reciprocating saw, you can use it.

Just attach a wood-cutting blade to the reciprocating saw and start pruning. Take all necessary safety measurements and precautions while doing this as you might have to climb a ladder, deal with a lot of debris, etc.

Cordless Reciprocating Saw can be very useful in this situation. You don’t have to worry about electricity. Just charge the battery of the cordless reciprocating saw and start using it.

However, if the branch is too big, then a corded electric reciprocating saw can provide much more oomph to easily cut through the branches.

6. Overhead Cutting Application

Whether it is plumbing pipes, tree branches, or any other “high-position” objects, cutting through them is quite tricky. But that’s not the case if you have a reciprocating saw.

After securing yourself properly, guide the blade of the reciprocating saw to the overhead object, hold the reciprocating saw with both your hands, and start cutting.

We agree that cutting anything overhead is not that easy. But with a reciprocating saw, the job becomes slightly less difficult.

Make sure you are using the right kind of blade depending on the material you want to cut.

7. Scrape Glue, Resin, and Other Adhesives

As we mentioned earlier, the reciprocating saw comes not only with different types of blades but also a variety of attachments. One such attachment that is quite popular is the Scraper Blade.

Even though it has the term “blade” in it, the Scraper Blade is not meant for cutting, rather, we use it for scraping.

Assume you are renovating your house and redoing all the tiles. You can use the Scraper Blade in combination with the reciprocating saw and easily lift tiles.

Just place the scraper blade attachment to the reciprocating saw, slide the blade under a tile (even a little bit is fine) and start the saw.

You can also use the scraper blade to remove other items that are glued to surfaces. Slide the scraper blade under the glued object and the reciprocating action of the saw will gradually lift up the adhesive material.

Another useful scenario is if you glued a carpet to the floor and want to remove it. Even in this case, you can use the reciprocating saw with the scraping blade.

8. Making Plunge Cuts

A Plunge Cut is one of the tricky cuts that you might need to make. If you want to cut a shape inside the wood, it is known as Plunge Cut.

Making plunge cuts without drilling holes is an art and you need a lot of practice to master it. But if you are a beginner, we recommend you use a power drill to make a hole in the wood.

You can use this hole as a starting point to insert the blade of the reciprocating saw and start cutting through wood. We often have to cut drywall to install electrical outlets, speakers, etc. In all such situations, you can use a reciprocating saw.

9. Sand and Scour Wood or Metal

Sanding, Polishing, or Scouring is often done with orbital sanders or belt sanders. What if we told you that you don’t need such expensive tools and you can do all these jobs with a reciprocating saw?

Here we will introduce you to three more attachments of a reciprocating saw. They are Sanding Pads, Scouring Pads, and Wire Brush.

If you are sanding a piece of wood or looking to polish metal surfaces, you can use the Sanding Pad attachment with the reciprocating saw and do the job. Additionally, you can also use this attachment to deburr or remove rust.

The Scouring Pad attachment is mainly useful with metal surfaces. If you want to clean metal surfaces such as barbeque grills, you can use this attachment with the reciprocating saw.

Apart from metal, you can use a combination of a reciprocating saw and the scouring pad to clean brick, concrete, or ceramic.

Coming to the wire brush attachment, you can use it to deburr metal surfaces or even remove rust.

10. Remove Grout

If you are planning to retile your floors (bathrooms or other places), then you have to remove the grout between the tiles. The grout can be made up of sanded cement, unsanded cement, or even epoxy.

Regardless of the type of grout, you can remove it with the help of a Grout Rake Attachment and a Reciprocating Saw. The Grout Rake Attachment has a slightly curved blade and even the surface of the blade is coarse-grit.

This makes it easy for the blade to move through the grout and remove it. If you want to reuse the tile, then make sure to be extra careful while removing the grout. You don’t want to damage or break the tile.

11. Easy to Maneuver Through Cuts

Jigsaw is still a better option to maneuver through the wood. But with some patience and practice, you can use a reciprocating saw to drive it through the wood in any odd shape.

Note that reciprocating saws are not useful for high-precision works. They are mainly used for cutting through all kinds of materials without regard to accuracy or precision.

12. Cleanup After Storms

After a huge storm, your garden or backyard will be full of broken trees, branches, and other debris. You can easily clear and remove small branches and debris. What if there is a large branch, or a tree has fallen right in front of your house?

Manually chopping the tree into smaller parts is not an option. If you have a powerful chainsaw, then it is the best way to cut the tree. Even if you don’t have a chainsaw, you can still chop the tree or branch into small pieces using a reciprocating saw.

Do this job if and only if it is easy to perform. If you feel that job is risky, contact a professional as they will have the necessary tools and safety measures.


Reciprocating Saw is very versatile. Although the main job of a reciprocating saw is applying brute force with no patience, you can use it for several things such as cutting through wood or metal, pruning trees and branches, scraping surfaces, and even cutting through nail-embedded wood.

In this guide, we saw the basics of Reciprocating saw. After that, we saw 12 common Reciprocating Saw uses that are very unique. We hope that this guide gave you a new appreciation for the capabilities of reciprocating saws.

If you feel we missed anything or want us to add something do let us know in the comments section below. It will not only help us but even other readers.

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