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Reciprocating saw

jyang949's picture

More than once, my husband has said that our next tool purchase would be a reciprocating saw. We bought a lawnmower instead, and its rechargeable batteries (lithium-ion) are surprisingly lightweight. That got me wondering about cordless reciprocating saws.

The FineHomebuilding reviews are so old (2001 and 2005), I doubt they are all that relevant now. I'd like your opinion on reciprocating saws. Are they useful for DIYers?

I assume that cordless saws are less powerful and heavier/bulkier than corded. A bulky cordless might be less versatile than a corded saw, but of course it's a question of degree. Would you recommend cordless over corded? 

Janet

reciprocating saw (post #210150, reply #1 of 14)

Janet,

A reciprocating saw is a very versatile power tool. Who ever invented it should get a Noble Prize. A good recip saw can save you a ton of time especially when doing demo work. As far as the corded vs. cordless debate goes either type of saw works well. If you are going to be using a saw for an extended period of time then a corded model would probably be better. However, today's lithium ion batteries last longer and are lighter weight than the older NiCad batteries. Of course, you could have the best of both worlds by purchasing a good lithium ion powered cordless recip saw and then pick up the basic Harbor Freight corded model which sells for around twenty bucks.

Get one with a cord. if you (post #210150, reply #2 of 14)

Get one with a cord. if you are a typical homeowner your use of it will be sporadic which means the batteries will be low or dead. Corded tools are much more powerful, cheaper and as long as you have power will always be there when you need them.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 40 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

That's kind of a maybe/maybe (post #210150, reply #3 of 14)

That's kind of a maybe/maybe not situation.  If the HO is engaged in a long-term remodeling project, where, eg, several hours of work is done most Saturdays, then the cordless is a reasonable choice, as a HO is unlikely to run down the battery in one day's work.  But if it's a tool that will be used once and then put away for 6 months before the next use then corded is probably a better choice.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

I vote against cordless for a (post #210150, reply #4 of 14)

I vote against cordless for a DIY (eg Me). Maybe the batteries are longer lasting in run time and lifetime now, but when I went to use my few cordless tools, invariably the batteries were run down.  So I had to charge them shortly after using the tool.  Eventually the batteries performance became shorter and shorter.  Then the batteries developed problems and would not hold a charge, or would not even charge up all the way.  Now I had a lightly used tool that is worthless.  Batteries generally cost as much as the whole tool cost.  So I cut my losses and now have no cordless tools left.  I will probably get another cordless drill someday.  My impact driver is even a corded Makita.  And that's a fine tool.

A corded tool is ready to use whenever you want to use it.  It's stronger usually, will run all day etc.  It will last 30 or more years with light use, and work as good as new.  Then they are cheaper to start with.  I understand cordless for everyday use, that's where they shine.

It depends on the amount of (post #210150, reply #5 of 14)

It depends on the amount of use.  For a recip saw cordless is questionable, but I've been ever so happy with the cordless drill I bought about 15 years ago.  I may go for 2-3 months without using it these days (not so much back when I was doing regular Habitat work), so the batteries need charging when I go to use it, but the convenience of a cordless far outweighs the inconvenience.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

I have never had any cordless (post #210150, reply #6 of 14)

I have never had any cordless tools batteries last 15 years.  But I gave up on them probably 15 years ago.  Maybe they last better now.  They are handy, no doubt, I only use the lithium ion 1/2 dewalt drill at work.  Hate the weak keyless chuck though.

Though I have yet to do so (post #210150, reply #7 of 14)

Though I have yet to do so with my current drill, do note that you can buy replacement batteries for most brands.

Furthermore, outfits like Batteries Plus will often rebuild batteries for you for less than the replacement cost.  This is a better choice anyway since you're guaranteed to be getting new cells, not a battery that's been sitting on a shelf for 5 years.

(Same goes for cellphone batteries, BTW -- don't buy the original manufacturer's replacement, but get an off-brand as it's likely fresher.)


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

IF memory serves . . . (post #210150, reply #9 of 14)

The only cordless tools I have are drill/drivers. The reason is because it's the only tool that consumes little enough power in one gulp to make them reasonable (for me). And I don't have any of the heavy 18-20V jobs, either. Both of mine are Makita, one an 8V Nicad, and the other a lithium 7.6V (although it can now use batteries up to 12V). The Nicad driver is admittedly pretty old as these things go, and I've replaced the batteries several times, even tho, as someone noted, new batteries are nearly as expensive as the driver kit itself. But I've decided to continue using the old one just to prevent one more usable tool from a premature end in a land-fill.

As for the power issue, I rarely attempt to drive a screw--long screws, particularly--without a pilot hole (I tend to work more deliberately than for sheer speed), and an 8V driver also fits into a holster more easily.

I do use lots of corded tools, but the place cordless really come into their own is when you're working on scaffolding. It's hairy enough up there without the added distraction of trying to avoid tripping over extension cords.

 

 

============

". . . and only the stump, or fishy part of him remained."

Well, I find the 18v lithium (post #210150, reply #10 of 14)

Well, I find the 18v lithium ion drills to be a relatively light and powerful tool.  I would buy one if I needed one, but I rarely need cordless myself, but they are handy.  I would not want to have cords upon a scaffold at all so I get your point.

Yes, it's a yes or no (post #210150, reply #8 of 14)

Yes, it's a yes or no question but didn't she ask for opinions?  I've got a half dozen cordless recips and a half dozen with cords. The best cordless I've got is a kids toy compared to the worst corded model.  You can buy a decent corded model for $99.00 bucks but a semi-decent cordless and 1 battery will set you back about $250.00 amd another battery will run you another $99.00. No contest.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 40 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

go for the cord (post #210150, reply #11 of 14)

I like both versions and use them sorted by immediate needsr . A high end cordless is almost as powerful as a high end corded but you probably don't need a high end recip.

Low endcordless recips are suspect whereas a lowend corded will probably be just fine for your needs. Use the money you save and buy a few really good blades   suited to what your're going to cut.

.

Cordless recrip-saws seem to (post #210150, reply #12 of 14)

Cordless recrip-saws seem to go through batteries much faster than any other cordless tools. I've got both cordless and corded models. The last one I bought was a corded Millwaukee. I picked it over others I was considering because of the light weight.

For the occasional, small (post #210150, reply #13 of 14)

For the occasional, small job, the cordless versions really are a blessing.

I advise against the cheaper versions ($100). The batteries seem good for only one charge, and the inner parts seem to break rather easily.

Still, a full-size version - I'd go with either Milwaukee or Dewalt - are a bit much. Most of the time, you won't need such a tool. 

Instead, look at the Milwaukee "Hackzall." http://www.milwaukeetool.com/power-tools/cordless/2420-22  It's plenty strong enough for most jobs.

That depends (post #210150, reply #14 of 14)

In my opinion, unless you've already got one or more of today's 18 volt (20, if it's Dewalt) lithium battery powered tool or tools, I wouldn't purchase a battery powered recipricating saw, as you most likely won't be using it enough to justify the added expense of the battery one over the plug in one. Now if you plan on using more of battery powered tools, then you should make good use of the batteries and charger needed to run those tools. If you've already got one or more 18 volt lithium battery powered tool(s), then you could actually purchase a bare batteryless recipricating saw (comes without battery, charger or case) for much cheaper than one in a kit (one with tool, battery, charger, case).