A reciprocating saw is a widely used power tool in woodworking and construction. The reciprocating saw packs a great deal of power and speed that makes it a top choice for cutting just about any material.
The saw comes with a blade that varies in length, depth, thickness, and number of teeth. The blade of a reciprocating saw looks like the blade that comes with a bread knife. Both blades have the same structure, but the blade of the reciprocating saw is powered by a motor.
This leads to more speed, aggressiveness, and power. All of these attributes are amazing perks in the hands of a woodworker. However, the increased speed, power, and aggressiveness can also cause injuries if the saw isn’t properly handled.
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This means it’s vital to learn how to use a reciprocating saw safely even if you are a pro because accidents can happen to anyone at any time.
So, either you are a beginner or a veteran using the reciprocating saw, you need to learn how to use the power tool safely. Luckily, this post will teach that and more.
What Tools Do You Need to Safely Use a Reciprocating Saw?
The reciprocating saw is largely used for cutting various materials ranging from wood to metal. This means you will be working with different sharp objects and hard materials that can cause injuries.
Therefore, it’s important to protect yourself from any possible injuries using the tools below. You can also check our review of reciprocating saws.
Safety gear: this includes a pair of quality leather gloves, eye protection (goggles), earplugs, dust masks, and boots. These are your best bet against possible injuries while using the reciprocating saw.
The correct blade for the task: using the wrong blade with your reciprocating saw for your task can lead to poor results, cause injuries, and damage your equipment.
A lubricant: if you are working on metal, it’s advisable a lubricant like “the lapping fluid.” The function of the lubricant is to allow smooth movement between the blade of the circular saw and the metal surface you are working on.
Cleaning rags: this is used to clean the surface area you are working on and apply lubricant on the blade.
The Types of Injuries That Can Result From Using a Reciprocating Saw Wrong
Some common injuries experienced by woodworkers while using the reciprocating saw include:
- Cuts from the saw’s blade.
- Electrocution if you are using a corded reciprocating saw.
- Heat burn.
How To Use a Reciprocating Saw Safely?
The simple answer is to be vigilant and careful when using the power tool. This involves taking into account different factors. Let’s examine some of these factors and safety measures to follow when using the reciprocating saw.
1. Turn off the reciprocating saw when you want to make changes
Occasionally, you might need to change the blade on your reciprocating saw to fit the task at hand. Before you attempt any changes, it’s vital to completely turn off and unplug the saw.
Leaving your saw on while you attempt to change the blade can cause serious injuries. You can accidentally press the trigger button causing the blade to hit you, so turn off your machine.
2. Use the correct blade for each task
The reciprocating saw is versatile. It can be used to cut a wide array of materials like pipes, wood, metal, and so on. There are different blades that best fit each material you want to cut.
For instance, cutting wood requires a coarse blade while cutting metal requires a fine blade. Using the wrong blade can damage the blade, resulting in poor cuts, and can cause serious injuries to the user. So, always use a blade that fits the task.
3. Always put on safety gear
This cannot be overemphasized. A large percentage of injuries that occur while using power tools like the reciprocating saw can be prevented with the right safety gear.
Leather gloves, eye protection, dust masks, and steel-capped boots are highly recommended when using a reciprocating saw.
4. Avoid the blade coming in contact with the wire or cord
. If you are using a corded saw (corded saws are electrically powered), ensure the blade doesn’t come in contact with the cord to prevent electrocution.
Also, make sure the power source is far away from any conductor that can cause harm to you or anyone around the work station.
5. Be gentle with the trigger
One of the amazing features of the reciprocating saw is that you can adjust the speed of the blade using the trigger. It is advisable to start slow while cutting, then gradually increase the speed of the blade.
So, apply little pressure on the trigger when you start cutting and increase the pressure on the trigger to increase the speed and power of the blade as you go on.
6. Avoid touching or placing your hand over the vent
The vent of the reciprocating saw is usually at the side of the machine. The vent prevents overheating in the machine while it’s being used by allowing heat to pass through it.
The vent is usually one of the hottest parts of the saw, so placing your hand over it can cause heat burns especially if you are not using gloves or protective clothing.
7. Ensure the blade is well fixed into the saw chuck before you begin cutting
The saw chuck varies in design according to the saw. It is the part of the reciprocating saw that holds the blade firmly in place while working.
If the blade isn’t firmly fixed into the chuck, it can surge out unexpectedly when you turn on the saw causing bodily harm.
8. Press the shoe of the saw against the material you are working on.
This prevents unnecessary movement of the blade and the piece you are working on. The pressure from your weight on the shoe of the saw holds the saw against the material firmly. This will lead to perfect cutting results and prevent possible injuries.
9. Avoid touching the edge of the blade with bare hands
This is not just to prevent cuts but burns too. While cutting, the blade moves really fast through the material being cut.
This rapid friction causes the blade to get really hot during tasks. So, touching the blade in the middle of a task not only puts you at risk of getting cut but also getting burned, literally.
10. Do not look away while cutting
While cutting, you might need to get a quick glance at something. It may be the furniture you are building, the blueprint of your project, or someone who calls for your attention.
Either way, ensure to stop cutting and turn off the saw before you do so. Looking away while cutting is risky to you and to your task. You need to pay close attention to what you are doing. This means you can’t get distracted while cutting.
11. Clean the surface you are working on
A dirty surface can be dangerous while cutting. Debris on the surface can change the direction of the blade rapidly. This can cause kickbacks and uneven cuts.
Tips and pointers while using a reciprocating saw
The following points will help you achieve the best possible cutting results with your reciprocating saw.
- Keep the material you are cutting locked firmly.
- Use the correct blade.
- Use a lubricant if you are working on metal.
- Measure and mark out the parts you want to cut.
- If your cut isn’t going in line with the points you marked out, adjust the blade and start again.
I’m sure by now, you should know how to use your reciprocating saw safely. Be sure to leave a comment below and check out other posts on this website.
Enjoy the rest of your day and remember, there isn’t such a thing as “being too careful.” Have a great sawing experience.