Feb 01 , 2018

DIY Dictionary: Sawzall

reciprocating saw sawzall
Photo: Derek Hatfield/Shutterstock

What is a Sawzall?

Sawzall—though a registered trademark of Milwaukee Tool—is the term often used to describe any brand of reciprocating saw. It’s not hard to see how the nickname developed since a reciprocating saw indeed “saws all” materials. Depending on the type of blade installed, it can cut through lumber, metal, plywood, plastic and cast iron pipe—you name it—making it a favorite of remodelers. Blades commonly range in length from 3 to 12 inches and can have anywhere from 6 teeth per inch (for aggressively cutting lumber) to 18 or more teeth per inch for smoothly cutting metal. These saws cut in a back-and-forth motion, similar to a handsaw that’s just downed four espressos. The “shoe” at the base of the blade is designed to rest against the material being cut to prevent the tool from hopping around. What it lacks in precision it makes up for in versatility and aggressiveness.

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