Reciprocating saws (also known as “saber saws”) are powerful tools used to cut through materials like wood, metal, plastic, and more. They are often used in construction and woodwork.
The blades are the part of the tool that does the actual cutting. They are made of different materials, such as steel, titanium, and carbide, and come in various shapes and sizes.
If you’re a novice to DIY projects, you may wonder: are reciprocating saw blades universal? Read on to find out!
What is a Reciprocating Saw?
A reciprocating saw is a power saw that uses a moving blade with a back-and-forth (reciprocating) motion for cutting through various materials. Milwaukee Electric Tool was the first to introduce this in 1951.
It has different speed options to adjust according to your use. They have now also introduced models that move in different directions, such as up-and-down and in an oval pattern.
Most of the models on the market are trigger-operated, and some have a dial to run it at the desired speed.
It is a common tool for construction workers or emergency rescue services. Reciprocating saws also have medical uses – they can be used to cut through bones or to remove plaster casts applied for fractures.
If you are looking forward to using one on plywood, an article about the best plywood-cutting tools might also interest you. Or, if you need a list of the best circular saws on the market, we also have that for you.
Are Reciprocating Saw Blades Universal?
You may be getting used to your reciprocating saw, and wondering: what if I use the same saw to cut some other materials by replacing the blade? This will lead to another question: are reciprocating saw blades universal?
The answer is yes, but not always – it depends on the brand of saw you are using. Some saber saw producers have a different tang size and recommend using the blades from their brand.
Popular tool brands like DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Diablo manufacture blades of universal size with a half-inch tang, which allows them to be used interchangeably.
In addition to the tang’s size, you should also consider the size of its teeth, usually measured in TPI (teeth per inch), which indicates the number of teeth a blade contains in an inch.
You will find a lot of TPI variations on the market. If you plan to use the blade on wood, you need one with a lower TPI, and if you are going to cut through metal, you can go for wider blades.
Finally, the size of the blade as a whole should also come into play when you hunt for a suitable choice.
Types of Reciprocating Saw Blades
A reciprocating saw blade is the part of the tool that does the actual cutting. It’s usually made of different materials, such as steel, titanium, and carbide. The blades come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the type of material you want to cut.
There are four major types of reciprocating saw blades available on the market.
HCS (High-Carbon Steel) Blades
High-Carbon Steel blades are the most popular types of reciprocating saw blades and are widely available at most hardware stores. The significant advantage of this type of blade is its flexibility, which allows it to be used in the long run without the risk of breaking.
These blades are made of soft materials, which also makes them an affordable choice. They are not recommended for challenging projects but are more suitable for smaller-scale cutting, such as softwoods and plastics.
If you plan to use this blade, replace it frequently for better results, as the edges will wear out quickly.
As the name implies, these blades are made using a mixture of high-carbon steel and other metals to make them more durable.
Bi-metal blades can handle heat better and are more flexible, making them a good choice for industrial and heavy-duty uses.
Construction workers like bi-metal blades for their length, which makes them easy to use in industrial applications.
Carbide-tipped blades are the ones that you will find in heavy industries. This is an upgraded version of a bi-metal blade – the difference is that it has carbide caps on its teeth, making it incredibly impact-resistant.
They are typically used to cut through thick metals such as stainless steel, cast iron, or grade 8 bolts.
Diamond blades are the best choice for cutting hard or abrasive materials such as asphalt, concrete, glass, or ceramics because they have the best precision and strength among their counterparts.
This quality and durability don’t come cheap, however, and diamond blades are the most expensive option you’d find on the market. Due to their price, they are generally used by professionals for complicated tasks.
Tips for Handling Reciprocating Saw Blades
When using a reciprocating saw blade, it’s essential to use safety equipment. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris and hearing protection to protect your ears from dangerously loud sounds.
Before you start cutting, it is important to verify that the blade is securely attached to the saw and correctly aligned with the surface you’re working on.
When cutting, use steady and even pressure and follow the line or pattern you’ve drawn to trace. If you’re cutting through metal, use a lubricant to reduce friction and minimize damage to the blade.
If you are confident in your ability to use the reciprocating saw correctly, you can now look into top wood carving tools to improve the design of your project.
To sum up and answer the question of whether reciprocating saw blades are universal, we have explained that the universality of a blade depends on its tang size.
Most blades available on the market have a universal half-inch tang, which means you can use them with different saw brands.
In addition to the tang, the size of the blade and its teeth are also required to be selected carefully to suit your project.