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What Can You Cut With A Reciprocating Saw?

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What Can You Cut With A Reciprocating Saw?

Issue Time:2021-03-01

Just what can you cut with a reciprocating saw? A lot, it turns out – this handy tool, combined with the right blade, can cut through just about anything just short of rocks or solid metal.

A reciprocating saw is an ideal demolition tool, able to cut down studs, the nails in the studs, and the drywall attached to it. It can also chow down on metal pipes and even solid rebar with the right blade, too.

The cutting capabilities of a reciprocating saw are highly dependent on the blade.  So the question of whether you can cut into something with this tool mostly boils down to – do you have the blade for it? With the proper blade, the reciprocating saw is a safe way to make rough cuts in a wide array of materials, more so than rotary cutting tools like circular blades or angle grinders.

Can You Cut Aluminum with a Reciprocating Saw?

If you have the right metal-cutting blade for it, yes you can cut through aluminum with a reciprocating saw. A metal cutting blade with a fine tooth pattern will cut through aluminum doorway thresholds with little problems.

If you are working with thicker metal sheets, a bit of lubricant or WD-40 can help cool down the blade and stop the aluminum from welding to it.

Alternatively, you can keep the saw speed on the lower side to help keep the blade from heating up too much. A bimetal or carbide coated metal-cutting blade will also last longer if you are working on aluminum a lot, too.

Can you Cut Brick with a Reciprocating Saw?

Reciprocating saws can cut through brick and mortar, ​as well. You will need a blade specially designed for cutting through brick and concrete first, though. These blades are extra aggressive, with a very low teeth count – around 2 teeth per inch is the norm for these types of masonry blades. Diamond/carbide blades will also work.

The teeth are shaped differently, too, with extra-wide spacing between the elongated teeth to make sure that the blade does not get choked on dust and debris. Do keep in mind that your blade needs to be longer by at least 2 inches than the brick piece you are cutting into for the reciprocating blade to work.

Always wear eye protection when cutting into brick and mortar, to protect your eyes from shards of material sent flying by the reciprocating saw. A dust mask is highly recommended too.

Can You Cut Cast Iron with a Reciprocating Saw?

You can cut cast iron with a reciprocating saw, as well as just about any type of iron piping that’s not too large for the tool. To cut into a cast iron pipe or bar, you can use a metal cutting blade, or a carbide coated blade to do the job if you are willing to use up and change blades in the middle of a task.

The best way to cut cast iron with a reciprocating saw, however, is with a diamond grit blade, especially the ones designed for cutting into the material.

Diamond reciprocating blades can cost more than 5 times the usual saw blade, but they are worth it if you are cutting into a lot of cast iron. Diamond blades do not dull in one cut, and they are easier to handle compared to using a toothed blade as well.

Plus, they are still much cheaper than using a diamond grinder blade, so it’s definitely something to consider if you’re on a budget.

Can You Cut Concrete with a Reciprocating Saw?

You can cut through concrete with a reciprocating saw, as long as it’s a piece that’s thin enough for the tool, which is usually never the case with concrete. 

​It is not recommended to cut concrete with a reciprocating saw, instead use a circular saw or angle grinder with a diamond blade attached.

Can You Cut Curves With a Reciprocating Saw?

You can cut curves with a reciprocating saw, as long as you’re not looking for a highly finished result. Thinner blades, as well as flexible, longer blades, will let you do freehand curves with a reciprocating saw to an extent.

You can also use a template for making larger, rough circular cuts as well, by keeping the shoe of the tool pressed against the material and next to the template.

Can You Cut Drywall with a Reciprocating Saw?

You can cut drywall with a reciprocating saw very easily, using just the general-purpose blades your tool may already come with out of the box.  The bigger teeth you have on the blade, the faster you can cut or demolish drywall, too.

You can also make plunge cuts in dry wall with a reciprocating saw. To start a cut, check that you have a pointed blade attached to your tool. Rest the shoe of the saw along the cutting line, with the tip of the blade over the material. Turn on the saw, and use the shoe as a pivot as you press the running blade tip into the drywall to start the cut.

Can You Cut Metal with a Reciprocating Saw?

You can cut metal with a reciprocating saw if you have the right metal-cutting blade attached. Even if you just have a demolishing blade on your tool, that’s already plenty to cut nails, screws and other fasteners, too.

Always wear eye protection when using a reciprocating saw on metal and nails.

Can You Cut Plywood with a Reciprocating Saw?

You can cut plywood with a reciprocating saw, and rather easily, too – as long as you don’t mind the jagged edges. A general-purpose reciprocating blade is more than capable of tearing through plywood, and a demolishing blade will eat through the supporting lumber and nails, as well.

To get a cleaner cut with your reciprocating saw, it helps if you have a way to guide your tool. You can use the edge of an existing framing or door jamb to help guide your cut, or you can take the time to mount a guide fence or a straight edge that you can follow with the shoe of the reciprocating saw.

That said, consider that there are better tools out there for making a clean cut on plywood.

Can You Cut PVC with a Reciprocating Saw?

You can easily cut through PVC pipes with a reciprocating saw, and you will not even need a special blade to do it. A woodworking or demolition blade is plenty for cutting through PVC pipes, as long as you can secure it in place.

To make cutting PVC pipes go faster, try to hold the shoe against the pipe as you make the cut.

Can You Cut Rebar with a Reciprocating Saw?

You can cut rebar with a reciprocating saw, and much faster too compared to using a hacksaw. And just like a hacksaw, you will need a suitable blade for cutting rebar – one with fine, sharp teeth of the right size. Any reciprocating blade marked suitable for mild steel will also work just as well.

You don’t need to cut all the way through the rebar to finish the cut. Once you have cut the piece almost all the way, you can bend and snap it off to get the piece you want. Keep in mind to always wear eye protection when using power tools to cut rebar.

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