Which reciprocating saw blade should I buy first? What is the best reciprocating blade for pruning and which one for best for metal and wood? Allow me to help you.
A reciprocating saw or a Sawzall is a very powerful tool used for demolishing and remodeling work. It is highly useful power-tool for professionals like a carpenter, electrician, plumber, etc.
However, in order to get the most out of a reciprocating saw, you need to equip it with the best blade for the job. In this guide, I am going to give you all the information that you need to make an informed choice when buying reciprocating saw blades. You will learn about the different kinds of blades, as well as the best kind of blade to buy for each particular job.
Types of reciprocating saw blades
There are various kinds of reciprocating saw blades out there, each one with its own unique functions.
Carbon steel saw blades are the most common kind of reciprocating saw blade. They are inexpensive and they will likely end up being the blade that you use the most. However, there are some downsides to these kinds of blades.
Firstly, they are only really meant to cut softer materials, more specifically softwoods. Unfortunately, if you use them on harder materials the blades will struggle to cut through; this can lead to your saw being damaged. Secondly, Carbon steel blades, even when used correctly, will be worn out a lot quicker than other, more durable types of blades.
High carbon blades are inexpensive.
Suitable for wood, plastic and other soft material.
The cutting edges will get dull faster.
Cannot cut hard material like metal and not suitable for masonry work.
Poor heat resistance.
So, if you use your reciprocating saw a lot, you might want to invest in a more durable kind of blades which I will explain shortly.
HSS or High-speed steel blades are a definite upgrade over carbon steel blades. A reciprocating saw equipped with a high-speed steel blade will be able to easily cut through a variety of materials, both soft and tough.
These blades are not necessarily meant for cutting through things like concrete or tile, but they can easily cut through any kind of hardwood, softer metals etc. Plus, high-speed blades have the added advantage of not dulling as quickly, so the blade will last you a lot longer than a regular carbon steel blade.
Retains cutting edge sharpness at a higher temperature up to 600°C
Suitable for cutting steel pipes, channels, and bars.
Not as durable as bimetal blades
Brittle. They can break easily if they are bent or twisted.
A bi-metal blade is made out of two different metal joined together. In case of an alloy blade like HSS, different metals are mixed together during the manufacturing of steel. In case of bi-metal, two layers of dissimilar metal, usually spring steel and high-speed steel are welded together to form the blade.
The body of the blade is made from spring steel while the cutting edges are constructed from high-speed steel. The spring steel allows the blades to be more flexible resulting in less breakage. The combination results in a blade that lasts longer yet retain its cutting edges at a higher temperature.
In terms of function, a bi-metal saw blade is very similar to a high-speed steel saw blade in that both are meant primarily for cutting both softer materials like wood as well as metal. However, where they differ is in terms of durability. A high-speed reciprocating saw blade will last a lot longer than a carbon-steel saw blade. Likewise, a bi-metal blade will last even longer.
Traditional wisdom states that a high-speed blade lasts around five times as long as a carbon steel blade, while a bi-metal blade lasts ten times as long. So, if you need a durable blade that has very little chance of breaking, then a bi-metal blade should be your number one option.
10 times more tool life when compared to high carbon steel blades.
They are flexible and break-resistant and heat resistant.
Bimetal demolition blades are ideal for wood with nails
Carbide tipped reciprocating saw blades are excellent for cutting aluminum casting, brass, bronze and other non-ferrous metals. These blades can also be used to cut soft steel, tiles and other masonry work.
If you are familiar with saw blades at all, then you have probably heard the phrase “carbide tipped” thrown around before. Pretty much every kind of saw out there can be equipped with carbide tipped blades. They are not just for any specific kind of job. Rather, carbide tipped blade is what you need when you really need to cut through tough material. Like for example, say you need to cut through sheet metal; well, that is a situation where you will want to go for the carbide tipped saw blade.
Carbide tipped blades can cut through a wide variety of materials. From wood to metal.
Retains cutting edge sharpness at very high temperatures.
Excellent general-purpose blade.
Very good finish especially on non-ferrous metals.
A very little occurrence of binding since the chances of tooth set collapse is very low.
Carbide and Diamond-grit blades
These are blades were diamond abrasive is affixed to steel blades. Abrasive blades are what you want to use when you have to cut through extra tough materials like concrete, brick, slate, tile, marble, etc. If you are a DIY guy, you will not get a lot of use out of these types of blades as they are not that good for cutting wood. But, it is still a good idea to keep some abrasive blades around in case you find yourself having to use your reciprocating saw on some very resistant materials.
Diamond grit blades are ideal for cutting through cast iron, tiles drywall, fiberglass etc.
Carbide grit blades are suitable for masonry work. You can churn through bricks, clay roof tiles, clay sewer pipe s, terra-cotta flues etc. with a quality carbide grit reciprocating saw blade.
Excellent for cutting hard materials.
Suitable for masonry and construction work.
Not suitable for soft material like wood.
Number of Teeth
The number of teeth of a reciprocating saw blade is denoted by teeth per inch (TPI). It is an important factor to look for while buying the blade.
Rough blades: These are blades with less number of teeth per inch. They can cut faster and is ideal for soft materials like wood and plastic.
Fine blades: These blades have higher TPI. Blades with higher number teeth cut slower, but the resulting surface is smoother. They are ideal for cutting metal and other hard materials.
While cutting thin sheets, use a fine blade. This is because blades with less TPI will cause snagging.
Blade Length: The size of the blade, specifically its length, is also important as it determines how deep the cut will be. Longer blades will deliver deeper cuts and can potentially make it easier to cut through material.
However, longer blades are also more difficult to control and more prone to breaking, so this is something that you will need to consider.
Blade Thickness: Another factor is the thickness of the blade. Thicker reciprocating saw blades are usually a bit easier to control, less prone to breaking, and are unlikely to wobble when being used.
I generally recommend getting a 0.05-inch thick blade whenever possible. The minimum thickness you should go for is 0.35 inches. The only exception is if you need very precise cutting, in which case a thinner blade will produce more accurate cuts.
Blade Width: The width of the blade has an effect on the quality of the cut. Generally, the wider blade will have lesser tendencies to wobble or bend. If you are planning to do heavy-duty jobs get a 0.062-inches thick blade that is around 7 to 8 inches wide.
Best Reciprocating blade for your job
By now, you should already know that you should choose the blade depending on the type of work you want to perform. Let‘s see which blade is best for each type of work and for cutting different material.
Reciprocating saw blade for pruning
One of the common uses of a reciprocating saw is cutting away dead tree branches that may be cluttering up your property. Reciprocating saws are especially good for this due to their ability to be used on ladders. When it comes to pruning trees, you want a shorter blade to help keep the saw as maneuverable as possible.
The pruning blades are usually bi-directional. That means they can cut in both forward and reverse stroke. Reciprocating saw pruning blades are also designed with deep gullets to ensure faster cutting.
Nearly all the popular brands produce specialized wood pruning blades for Sawzall. High carbon steel is the most commonly used material for pruning blades. Some of the manufacturers also offer carbide tip blades for pruning. I highly suggest you to get the dedicated blade since you want enough cutting power to get through those extra stubborn branches easily.
Recip saw wood pruning blades are available from 6 inches to 12-inches in length. Get the shortest blade you need.
Recommendation: Get a 9-inch high carbon steel wood pruning blade with 4 to 8 TPI
When choosing a wood blade, you must consider the two types of wood; clean wood and nail embedded wood.
Clean Wood: For clean wood, you can use a high carbon steel blade. They are inexpensive and work well with all softwoods. If you need a blade that can retain the cutting sharpness longer, get a bi-metal blade.
Wood with Nails: For nails embedded wood, you need a bimetal or carbide tip blade. You can also use a bimetal demolition blade with plunge cutting tip to cut through nail embedded wood.
Recommendation: Get a 9-inch bimetal blade with 3 to 6 TPI.
Reciprocating saw blades for metal
When it comes to cutting metal with your reciprocating saw you are going to want to spring for a carbide tipped saw blade. This is the most durable kind of blade and it will ensure that your blade is able to cut through the metal without breaking. Also, you are going to want to find a reciprocating saw blade with a lot of teeth. The more teeth, the more precise the cut will be.
Metal cutting reciprocal saw blades are available from 6 inches to 12 inches in length. If you are looking for a general-purpose metal cutting blade go for an 8-inch carbide tip blade with 14 to 18 teeth per inch (TPI).
For a specific metal cutting application, see the list below.
Carbide Tip Blades: Get a carbide tipped blade for cutting cast aluminum, brass and other solid metal blocks.
Bimetal blades: If you are cutting steel pipe, bars and channels go for a bimetal reciprocating saw blade. HSS blades can also work, though bimetal blades are more durable.
Diamond grit blade: Use this blade to cut through cast iron and solid steel blocks.
Reciprocating saw blades for masonry
If you are cutting through masonry, then you should get one of the abrasive grit blades that I mentioned earlier. There are two types; carbide grit and diamond grit. At the least, you must get a carbide tipped blade. These will allow you to cut through masonry without damaging your reciprocating saw. Trust me when I say that you don’t want to try and cut through masonry with any other kind of blade.
Carbide grit blade to cut through bricks, tiles, clay sewer pipe, marble, terra-cotta flues, cement board etc.
Diamond grit blades are ideal for cutting very hard materials like ceramics, fiber cement, fiberglass etc.
Reciprocating saw for demolition work
Because demolition work typically involves large amounts of cutting as opposed to precise cutting. You should simply focus on getting a blade that will not dull or break from the excessive amount of use. That is why I would recommend going for a dedicated bi-metal demolition blade. You can rest easy knowing that they will not break on you or lose their edge.
The bi-metal demolition blade for the reciprocating saw is specifically designed for cutting drywall, wood with nails, PVC, plastic, metal lath etc.
You can also get plaster blades for churning through plasterboard, and plaster with wood. However, keep in mind that some of the plaster blades cannot be used to cut wood with nails. So if you have to cut through wood with embedded nails and plaster, get an all-purpose demotion blade for your Sawzall.
Special Purpose Blades
Different manufacturers are continuously coming up with specialty blades for the reciprocating saw. Here are some of the popular blades.
Masonry Blade for Sawzall
These are carbide tipped blades that you can use to cut bricks and concrete. The special design with large vents enables these blades to dissipate heat quickly.
Keep in mind that even though these blades can cut concrete, they won’t last long. If you need a professional grade masonry blade, go for diamond grit blades.
Spyder makes double edge bore blades. These are very good for multidirectional cuts. The teeth per inch can be different on both edges. In the below image you can see a double edge bore blade with 10 TPI on one side for general purpose jobs while the other end has 7TPI which is suitable for wood cutting.
The rounded tip of the bore blade allows for easy plunge cutting. These are made out of bimetal. This blade is much of a personal choice. Some people really like the bore blade due to its versatlity while others feel that thhe blade not good enough for any specific jobs.
As I said earlier in the article, pairing your reciprocating saw with the right kind of blade is essential for getting the most out of your reciprocating saw. I hope the information in this article will help you to quickly and easily find the right kind of blade for each kind of job.