Extend the life of your reciprocating saw blades - Pro Construction Guide

Extend the life of your reciprocating saw blades

Reciprocating saw blades dull quickly because they heat up as they move forward and backward to cut tough materials like nails, pipe and wood. However, you can extend the life of your reciprocating saw blades. Here’s how:

–Another way to extend the life of your reciprocating saw blades is to lubricate the blade. Reciprocating saw blades heat up quickly, especially when cutting through metal. Hot blades are quick to dull. Keep yours a bit cooler by applying a touch of blade lubricant before each cut. A side benefit: The lubricant also smooths away metal chips that can clog the blade’s teeth.

–Adjust the shoe. One of the best ways to reduce vibration is, paradoxically, one of the worst things you can do to a reciprocating saw blade. Pressing the saw’s shoe against the material you’re cutting will limit kickbacks and vibrations, and limit your fatigue. But it also will wear out the blade teeth that are closest to the shoe. A solution is to use a reciprocating saw with an adjustable shoe, which will allow you to cut with different parts of the blade instead of relying on the same teeth for each cut. As you retract the shoe, it will expose teeth in the blade that have not yet been used.

–Buy “breakaway” blades. DeWalt this spring introduced a breakaway reciprocating saw blade that the contractor can break in two when the top half wears out. The bottom section, which is less-often used during normal operation, then becomes its own blade, which the contractor can reinsert into the saw and continue to use. The breakaway blades come in two sizes: six-inch blades that break into four inches, and cut materials up to one inch in diameter; and nine-inch blades that break into six inches, and can cut materials up to two inches. The blades are made for cutting metals, like galvanized or copper pipe, conduit and studs. The company says the blades “are designed for the user who is tired of throwing away half-used blades.”

–Use the right blade for the job. You can buy multi-purpose reciprocating saw blades, but yours will probably last longer and do a better job if you cut metal with a blade designed for cutting metal and wood with one meant to cut wood. Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for which materials their blades are designed to cut.

–One of the most obvious ways to extend the life of your reciprocating saw blades is investing in quality. Tool reviewers say carbide blades last longer than those made from high-speed steel. Some manufacturers coat the steel with a tough finish that wears away after many cuts through metal, but extends the blade’s life nonetheless. Some manufacturers make their blades from tungsten, one of the toughest materials in nature. Overall, you will pay a premium for a blade that is meant to last.

–Save your dull blades. They might not be any good for cutting through metal or wood anymore, but you can use them to cut plastic pipe. A dull wood blade is nearly as successful at cutting through plastic as a new blade specifically designed for that job. Likewise, a dull blade does a good job on rough jobs—like cutting through roof shingles—and saves your sharp blades for smoother cuts on material like metal.

–Repair a bent blade, don’t discard it. Lay the bent blade on a wood block, and pound it with a hammer until it straightens out. Avoid hitting the teeth as you pound; if you damage them they won’t cut properly.

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