How To Find The Best Sawzall For DIY
Specifications Summary - Reciprocating Saw
- Corded unless you already have compatible batteries
- Variable speed
- Tool-less blade change
- 10-12 amps
Product Recommendations - Reciprocating Saw
*MADE IN THE USA*
A reciprocating saw, also commonly known as a sawzall, is a workhorse for rough cutting just about anything. The sawzall is not built for precise cutting, bevel cuts or any other use that requires a smooth or very accurate cut. This saw is made for chopping through various material types including wood, plastic and metal assuming you are using an appropriate blade. If you are planning to do any major remodels or renovations that may involve demolition work, then the reciprocating saw should be on hand. This saw will make quick work of a 2x4 stud that is part of a wall you want to remove. It will also cut through a nail if needed. Need to cut through some PVC pipe during your bathroom remodel? No problem. This handy saw is also capable of cutting, stone, tile and even brick. And, since the blade protrudes straight out the saw and the saw itself is usually fairly narrow, it can get back into some hard to reach areas.
The sawzall is also quite handy around the yard. It will easily cut through tree branches that need trimming. Removing a bush will be easy as well. I had some oak tree roots that were pushing my patio pavers out of alignment and with a few quick cuts with this handy power tool, my patio was back to level.
Key reciprocating saw features?
Reciprocating saws are kind of a “no frills” type of power tool. No fancy features or marketing gimmicks to wade through when shopping for one of these versatile tools.
- Cut the cord? -
First, decide whether you are willing to work with a cord or if going cordless is your preference. Cordless tools are fantastic and are very convenient to have around the job site. However, with convenience often comes a higher price and with reciprocating saws it is no different. Only you can decide whether paying up for a cordless saw is worth it. If you already have some cordless tools and their batteries are compatible with the sawzall you are interested in buying, then you could just buy the tool on its own and not spend the money on additional batteries or a charger. However, if you do not already have a compatible battery or do not plan to buy other cordless tools that may be compatible, then going with a corded saw will definitely save you a decent amount of money.
- Lithium Ion > Ni-Cad -
If you make the choice to go cordless on your reciprocating saw then I would purchase an 18 volt unit. Cordless tools that run on 18 volt lithium ion batteries are plentiful so you will not only have several choices for saws, you will also have many choices of different tools that will run on the same battery. I would always go with lithium ion batteries because the Li-ion batteries are smaller, lighter and tend to hold their charge better than the Ni-Cad’s.
- Amp it up -
Corded reciprocating saws will all list how many amps the motor of the tool has. Amps really just tell you how long the motor can run continuously without over heating, and does not indicate more power. Most of the reciprocating saws in this category will be 10-15 amps. The saw that I own is 12 amps and I have never had an issue. Since we are not professionals who are doing renovations every week, 12 amps is fine and you could even go 10 amps and probably never know the difference.
- Variable speed is your friend -
One other feature to look for when buying a sawzall would be whether or not it has a variable speed option. The ability to adjust the speed at which the blade moves (measured in strokes per minute) will give the person using the saw more control over the tool while performing a cut. More control is always better especially in tighter work areas or when working closely to something that you do not want to cut or damage with the saws blade. In regards to the strokes per minute metric, most of the tools will max out between 2700 and 3000. You can of course find tools that max out at a higher or lower speed but I would stick with the most common range in order to give yourself a good selection and fair prices.
- No tools needed -
Finally, most reciprocating saws these days will allow you to change blades with the simple flip of a switch. No tools required to change blades means one less thing to keep track of or have to hunt down while in the middle of a project. This is just one of those “nice to have” features and really should not be a make or break on your decision on a particular tool.
Take a look at the products below to see some recommendations of reciprocating saws with the features mentioned above.
How much is a sawzall?
Like with all my other power tools, I prefer to buy a reciprocating saw that comes with some type of case or bag to make storage easier. If you are interested in buying a corded reciprocating saw,
you should be able to get one similar to the specifications noted above for about $100 including a carrying case. For an 18 volt Li-ion cordless reciprocating saw with a case, charger and one battery you should expect to pay about $180. However, if you want a cordless tool and you do not need a battery, charger or bag then you can get the saw by itself for about $100.
If you were to search any of the major retailers you will find that there is no shortage of manufacturers producing reciprocating saws. In fact, most of these manufacturers compete with each other in just about every category of power tools. Some of the manufacturers cater to the professional craftsman but offer product lines geared toward homeowners and those interested in do-it-yourself projects. Other manufacturers focus primarily on the homeowner market and try to offer a tool that is as inexpensive as they can possibly make it. When it comes to tools, I am a strong believer in the old adage “you get what you pay for.” I am not saying that the cheap product will not work or will break after a couple uses. What I will say is that I would not have high expectations that the product is going to last for the long haul or survive being dropped off a ladder or put through fairly heavy use. If you are in a pinch and need something right away and you are just not ready to commit to spending some money on a top brand, then by all means get what you can. But, I have spent the extra money on the premium brands and I have used tools of the lower end brands and I can say that I notice a difference in quality.
Here is a list (in no particular order) of what I consider to be the brands that offer the best quality, selection and durability of reciprocating saws while also providing products that are affordable for users like us.
I personally own tools made by Milwaukee, DeWalt, Hitachi and Ridgid and I have been extremely happy with their performance, durability and price. I do not own any Bosch or Makita tools yet but I have read in many forums that people are very happy with these brands as well.
If you are big on “Made in the U.S.A”, your brand options are very limited. DeWalt is the only company I could find that will tell you which products are manufactured in the United States. These products are labeled with “Made In The USA With Global Materials.” Keep in mind that not all DeWalt products are made in the U.S but at least they are willing to tell us which ones are. Makita is the only other company that mentioned manufacturing in the U.S. They have a plant in Georgia but they did not specify which products are produced there.
The good news is that DeWalt makes a 20v lithium ion cordless sawzall that is labeled “Made In The USA With Global Materials.” There is also good news for those looking at a corded tool as DeWalt makes both a 10 amp and a 12 amp corded reciprocating saw right here in the USA.
When it comes to accessories for your reciprocating saw it is blades, blades and more blades. Blades will often be sold in sets but can be purchased individually as well. If you are planning some demolition work or a renovation, get yourself one of the kits as they usually come with blades for wood, nail embedded wood and metal cutting blades all in one set. Plan to spend from $15 to $30 for a set of 6-12 blades for various cutting materials.