How to choose a reciprocating saw?

A reciprocating saw is a very versatile tool that can be used for cutting heavy objects, such as tree branches, and for demolition work. When selecting a reciprocating saw, there are several factors to consider, including the teeth per inch (TPI) and the appropriate size of the saw blade, as well as the materials and applications of the saw blades.

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Understanding Teeth Per Inch (TPI)

Choosing the right TPI for the reciprocating saw blade is crucial. Generally, the TPI of reciprocating saw blades ranges from 6 to 24.


What is the difference between different TPI?

The main differences between different TPIs lie in the cutting speed and the level of smoothness in the cut. Lower TPI blades can quickly and efficiently complete cuts, but the resulting cuts may not be as clean. If you want more precise and fine cuts, choosing blades with higher TPI is more suitable. So, how do you choose?


6 TPI blades are ideal for pruning trees and quickly cutting through branches. They can also be used for demolition work when you may need to cut through wood and nails. You don't have to worry about clean edges because you will be replacing the wood or covering it with drywall or paneling.


14 TPI blades are used as metal-cutting reciprocating saw blades and allow you to cut different types or thicknesses of metal. These blades are also often suitable for wood and provide a good balance of smooth cutting and speed.


How to choose the size of the reciprocating saw blade?

The size of the reciprocating saw blade is also an important factor in determining whether the project can be cut smoothly. Different materials and different sizes of materials require different blade sizes. Therefore, in the market and among blade manufacturers, there are many different sizes of blades to choose from. The blade length, width, and thickness of the reciprocating saw blade are all related to the final cutting efficiency.

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Blade Length

The length of the blade determines the depth that the reciprocating saw blade can cut. Longer blades can cut deeper and therefore can cut thicker materials. The blade should be a few inches longer than the thickness of the material you need to cut. The standard length ranges from 4 inches to 12 inches, with a 9-inch reciprocating saw blade being a good choice and a common choice for general DIY work.


Longer blades can flex slightly and are great for flush cutting or curve cutting. Longer blades also have better cooling capabilities, which prolongs their lifespan. You will see longer blades used for pruning and heavy-duty demolition work.


Shorter blades do not flex as much as longer blades, so they have more cutting power. Typically, you can have better control with shorter blades and are more likely to achieve straight cuts. The rigidity of the short blades allows them to cut thicker metals effectively and is suitable for cutting materials without edges or pilot holes (known as plunge cutting).


Blade Width

Similar to shorter blades, wider blades are stronger and more stable compared to narrower blades of the same type. Manufacturers measure the width of the blade surface from the tooth to the top of the blade, so wider blades have a higher profile. For demolition work, use a blade that is 3/4 inch wide or wider. For smoother surfaces or more delicate cutting, choose narrower and lower-profile blades.


Blade Thickness

Manufacturers measure the thickness of the blade edge. Like length and width, thickness is also a factor in blade strength and rigidity. Blade thickness typically ranges from 0.035 inches to 0.050 inches or larger.


Thinner blades are suitable for general DIY work, precision cutting, and creating smooth surfaces. Thicker and sturdier blades allow you to tackle heavy-duty tasks and cut tough, dense materials. Thick blades create wider kerfs, removing more material compared to thin blades. Keep this in mind for jobs that require precise measurements and cutting.