Mini Reciprocating Saws - Fine Homebuilding

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Mini Reciprocating Saws

comments (1) March 5th, 2009 in Blogs

Click To Enlarge Photo: Krysta S. Doerfler

by Mark Clement

At first glance, a small reciprocating saw didn't make much sense to me, especially in a category where tools are judged by size and cutting power. But these three new saws earned their keep on many more jobs than I expected.

The Milwaukee (12v) and the Hitachi (10.8 v) deliver power-tool performance to tedious handsaw work without sacrificing accuracy. I used both tools to remove excess spray-foam insulation around jambs, to cut holes in drywall, and to cut rigid-foam insulation, PVC pipes, and steel pipes.

Ridgid's corded saw is great for all the same tasks as the cordless models, but it's a bit too powerful and fast-cutting for really precise work. This is hardly a demerit, though; the Ridgid saw easily cut through nail-embedded framing lumber and 3⁄4-in. subflooring in my tests, tasks that exhausted the cordless saws.

All three saws have a nonorbital 1⁄2-in. stroke length and accept standard reciprocating-saw blades.

If these three models are any indication of things to come, I'm excited to see how other toolmakers compete in this new category of saws.



This little tool felt as if it were converting every drop of juice from its small 12v battery into pure cutting power. The offset motor truncates the 21⁄2-lb. saw, keeping you close to the work and creating a pommel that allows you to push the tool against the work to reduce vibration and to increase accuracy. The tool's sightlines are excellent from every angle. Blades are changed using a conventional twist collar, but pinching and turning the collar a full 90º to release the jaw isn't easy, especially when wearing gloves. With power and balance, this saw's parts work in harmony.
Cost: $165


This 21⁄2-lb. saw works in all the same applications as the Milwaukee, but with slightly more strain and vibration. Although the CR10DL's boomerang shape is comfortable for two-handed use, I found it a bit too long to use one-handed. The sightlines from the top and sides of the tool are good, but it has blind spots when making overhead cuts. The blade collar is too small to accept 10-in. blades, but I wish every tool could have Hitachi's simple lever-action blade-change mechanism.
Cost: $180


This corded saw is a little too jumpy for low-resistance work like cutting drywall, but if you lean on it to do the work of a bigger saw, the power is available. The wire cage around the nose of the saw doesn't block the view of the blade, yet I wish there were more than a wire cage as the barrier between me and the saw's armature. The work light is the best of the group, and blade changes are standard. This 4-lb. saw might be designed for one-handed use, but it's powerful enough that I almost always kept a second hand on the front, which left me wishing for a second grip.
Cost: $100

—Mark Clement is a remodeling contractor in Ambler, Pa. His Web site is


posted in: Blogs, saws

Comments (1)

IfIWereACarpenter IfIWereACarpenter writes: I have had a Makita 9.6v cordless saw in my pouch for years! Though it has it's limitations it's invaluable for what I do on a day to day basis! Sometimes I do wish it was a little more powerful, but it would probably take away from it's convenience and portability!
Posted: 7:04 pm on March 23rd

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