What makes the reciprocating saw so versatile is that you can adapt its blades to the materials you need to cut through, and even fit another type of accessories to it, like scrapers or brushes. The best reciprocating saw blades are universally built to fit most recip saws, so you won’t have to limit your choices to the blades made by the manufacturer of your saw. Getting a starter’s kit of diverse blades when you get your recip saw is a great way to get to know how this tool works. Later you can go into more specialized blades and try them out when more special tasks arise. All in all, choosing the right blade for your reciprocating tool is maybe more important than the saw itself.
Next, we will see how to choose the best blades and what exactly they can do. We will go through some of the best picks on the market, but also provide a detailed guide on how to buy a great reciprocating saw blade set. But before that, we want to show you a list of blades those are best at their field.
Reciprocating Saw Blades Buying Guide
Making the best reciprocating saw is to fit it with the right blades, according to the task you have at hand. Purchasing a wide range of blades that will cover any possible task will save you a lot of money and space on other tools you could use. When purchasing your sawzall blade sets, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind and a few questions to answer before choosing your product.
Here are some of the general technical specifications you might need to know beforehand about the recip saw blades.
Number of teeth
The number of teeth on a blade will give the cut a rougher or a more polished appearance. The more teeth your blade has, the smoother the cut will be. This is why, if you know that you will mostly do demolition work or just don’t need the cuts to be pleasant to the eye or precise, you can opt for a blade with fewer teeth, also called a ripping blade. It will cut faster and do the job for a long time.
Blades with more teeth, like crosscut blades, will make smooth, fine cuts. If you are an electrician or a plumber you may want to use these to cut holes in the drywall, for example. They will leave you with super smooth edges and precise cuts, so you can put back the drywall piece and make it look seamless.
TPI (Teeth Per Inch)
Another technical specification that has to do with the blade’s teeth is the TPI: teeth per inch. As we saw before, the number of teeth will influence the cut, but it depends even more than that on the tooth density per inch. This is a more accurate value that can range from 3 to 24 and it will give you a clearer idea of how the blade will cut.
Understanding Saw Blade Material
The material from which the saw blade is made of is a good indicator of how long the blade will last, how flexible it is, how expensive it will get and what it can cut.
The most common material for reciprocating saw blades is carbon steel, which is relatively inexpensive, but also not the most durable. If you don’t need to cut dense, hard materials, these blades are all you need in your toolbox; otherwise, you will want to invest in more durable blades.
HSS blades (high speed steel blades) are made out of harder metal which will allow you to cut into metal, brick, pipes and hardwood essences. If you need to do demolition work, invest in a set of high speed steel blades and nothing will stop you. The same applies to plumbers and electricians, who will rely on an HSS blade to cut into all sorts of materials.
For cutting into porous, denser materials like ceramics, brick, marble or fiberglass you need a blade that will not slip on the surface. An abrasive material is perfect, so go for carbide-grit blades.
Even more specialized blades are the diamond-tipped ones, which you can use for cutting through glass or concrete.
The direction of the tooth ends will give you the hook angle and it will greatly influence the cutting style of the blade. The values of the hook angle are measured in degrees (or interval of degrees), so you can have a zero degree hook angle, a positive one or a negative one.
A zero-degree hook angle blade has the teeth pointing perpendicularly on the surface. A positive degree hook angle has the teeth tipped in the direction of the pull, making a more aggressive cut, suitable for ripping blades, for example. For crosscutting it is more common to have a negative hook angle, meaning that the teeth are tipped towards the direction of the push. This will make the cut less aggressive and the blade won’t rip at the surface so much, leaving a clean cut behind.
Angle of Teeth
Besides the number and density of teeth, you will want to look at the blade to see how the teeth are angled and combined. This will give you a clear indication of what type of cut the blade is designed for and how it can help in your particular task. We will present some of the abbreviations you will encounter when browsing for blades and what they mean.
FT: Flat Top Teeth
They are useful for cutting into wood that won’t splinter.
ATB: Alternate Top Bevel Teeth
The teeth alternate between left and right angles, giving the blade a good edge for crosscutting.
TCG: Triple Chip Grind Teeth
The teeth alternate between a flat top and a trapeze tooth. These blades are good for cutting into dense materials.
HiATB: High Alternate Top Bevel
A variation of the ATB where the blade is cutting very smooth, fine cuts.
Types of Blades
If the specifications above are too detailed for your needs and you want a more general approach to purchasing a recip saw blade set, here are the main types of blades you can find on the market.
The Ripping Blade
As we have mentioned before, a ripping blade has a low number of teeth and low TPI and it is mainly used to cut fast into materials, mainly wood. It is the best reciprocating blade for demolition work or gardening.
The Crosscutting Blade
On the contrary, if you want to cut wood smoothly and precisely, go with a crosscutting blade. It has a much higher TPI and it will produce a clean cut. Use it if you have to do nice looking cuts, for example in electrical or DIY plumbing jobs. It will be slower than a ripping blade, but much more precise.
The Combination Blade
This blade takes the best from the first two, but it becomes less specialized than both of them. It is a good compromise if you want a general set of blades that will be good for a wide range of jobs.
The Abrasive Blade
We have mentioned this type of blade when talking about the carbide-grit blades. These blades are coated with an abrasive material that will allow you to cut into materials like ceramic tiles, brick or marble. This blade will create friction with the material and won’t slip against it.
Top 6 Best Reciprocating Saw Blades Review
1. DEWALT DW4856 Metal/Woodcutting Blade Set
Each blade has markings and specifications that summarize their purpose, making it easy to pick the next blade needed for the job. All the blades are compatible with most bare tools on the market, making them a great gift for a construction passionate person, for example.
The cutting length of the blades will be 3 inches long, so take that into consideration, even if the blades themselves are 5 inches long.
The price is great for this set and it is the best purchase if you just got your first hognose and want to test it. After using this basic set from Dewalt, you will have a better idea of what you need and want and how to complete your blade collection.
Where it fits best: wood cutting, metal cutting.
2. PORTER-CABLE PC760R 9-Inch Pruning Sawzall Blades
These blades are designed to be for wood when the cut doesn’t need to be perfect. They are made of high carbon steel, so they are very durable, and they can cut through wet and pressure treated wood. They are perfect for gardeners but feel free to use it for any wood cutting job and demolition job. It is a classic set of blades.
They are the perfect tool to have when you want to avoid spending money on a chainsaw. Not to mention it is safer than a chainsaw, which you would have to operate with two hands. The reciprocating saw will be much more easy to handle and if you do gardening work you will want to have a hand free to grip while you work above ground.
Where it fits best: pruning and trimming trees and shrubs.
3. Milwaukee 49-22-1129 12-Piece Ultimate Demolition Sawzall Blade Set
The wood cutting blades are designed to make the plunge cuts easier, as they have additional teeth on the tip of the blade. This will be especially useful when cutting through wood panels or drywall. The teeth have double relief angle, which takes a lot of the strain from the blade, making it last longer than other types.
These are thick blades with 1-inch height, which makes them very durable, even after prolonged or intense use.
Where it fits best: just about anywhere, but it is a star of demolition work
4. DEWALT DW4898 Bi-Metal Blade Set with Case
The way these blades are designed is meant to maximize efficiency and deliver professional grade cutting to any household. The teeth are reinforced and their angle allows the blades to chew through materials at a fast rate. The blades are also treated with an anti-stick coating that reduces the friction with the material, thus making the cut faster and increasing the lifespan of the blade.
The set comes with a sturdy plastic case that can expand to hold longer blades too, up to 9 inches long ones. The case is also compatible with the Dewalt power tool kit boxes, allowing you to store the blades together with the tools, in a compact and efficient way.
Where it fits best: everywhere, from cutting wood to metal and other dense materials.
5. Bosch RM618 6-Inch 18T Metal Cutting Reciprocating Saw Blades
The price may be higher for these blades, but the quality of the cut is guaranteed, and the blades are very durable, so consider it a long-term investment. You can also buy them with a friend or colleague and split them. They are totally worth it!
Where it fits best: best for nails and other metal cutting.
6. Milwaukee 48-00-1430 9-Inch Tungsten Carbide Sawzall Blades
The materials this blade cuts through, as mentioned by the producers, are various: cast iron, ceramic tiles, fiberglass, stainless steel, hardwood floors and many more. If you have a tough job, bring out the tungsten carbide blades and have fun cutting away. We tested it and it is probably the best reciprocating saw blade for fiberglass that we have tried.
Where it fits best: cutting ceramic tiles, fiberglass, brick etc.
Read what you don’t know about reciprocating saw uses
Are Reciprocating Saw Blades Interchangeable?
The answer is yes, and this is one of the most helpful characteristics of a recip saw: you can use a specialized blade and achieve the best results for what you are cutting. The companies that manufacture both the saws and blades use a standard fit so that you will be able to use just about any type of blade with any reciprocating saw.
No matter the length or the function, all blades and even accessories like brushes or chisels will fit in the lock system of your Sawzall.
How to Change a Reciprocating Saw Blade
Some of the newer models of reciprocating saws have a lock system that allows you to easily replace or remove a blade from the saw, without the use of any tools. Before this was standard, it was still pretty simple to change a blade on your saw.
For this, you need a Philip head screwdriver or a flat head screwdriver and safety gear, like gloves or glasses. Check the screw and choose the correct screwdriver for it. Before starting, make sure you are safe by unplugging the reciprocating saw or removing its battery. Then proceed to remove the screw holding the blade and taking it out of the socket. Place the new blade in the lock and fit the screw in its place. Tighten it enough so the blade does not move or jiggle in its place.
Tool-less lock system
Newer reciprocating saws have special lock systems that make it really easy and fast to replace a blade. Just follow the directions illustrated on the lock system. For example, some saws have a clamp you will need to loosen up by turning it in a certain direction. Make sure there isn’t any debris in the system and if there is, clean it up, then you are ready to place the new blade on the saw.
As you can see, reciprocating saw blades can be very specialized and different from each other. Knowing what to look for when purchasing your first set will turn you recip saw into one of the most used tools in your arsenal.
Knowing about teeth count and density, the material of the blade and angle of teeth will help you make an informed choice and use your saw to its maximum potential. Virtually all blades fit any recip saw you may have, but sometimes a certain recip saw pairs up perfectly with a certain type of blades. Testing is also important, so make sure you begin by buying a starter’s set that contains a few of the most common blades out there.
An informed customer will be able to choose the best recip saw blades.