Learn to Cut Straight with Your Reciprocating Saw

cutting with sawzall

A cordless reciprocating saw is excellent in cutting straight, precise lines. It has a sturdy blade that can cut through heavy, dense material with ease. You can use it on almost any surface, thanks to its versatility.

This saw is available in corded and cordless versions. You can use it for horizontal or vertical cuts.

Due to its power, a reciprocating saw has a lot of vibration and kickback when cutting. It can be a bit challenging to get a clean, accurate cut, especially if you are not conversant with this tool.

Mishandling the saw could be deadly, and therefore, you need to take the necessary precautions to stay safe while using it.

This article is an in-depth guide on how to cut straight with a reciprocating saw. It has everything you need to know about the proper techniques and equipment to use and precautions to take for best results.

Requirements to Help You Cut Straight with a Reciprocating Saw

The robust cutting ability of a reciprocating saw is more prominent than its accuracy. Just like many saws, a reciprocating saw does not provide a clean, precise cut automatically. For you to get that accurate straight cut, you need to have the following tools and techniques:

Use the Right Blade

There is no one size fit all saw blade in the market. Selecting the right blade for your task depends on the material’s type, thickness, size, and shape.

There are a variety of reciprocating saw blades, each suited for a specific purpose. Therefore, it would be helpful if you did thorough research before buying one.

Anti-Vibration Handle

A reciprocating saw vibrates a lot when in use. An anti-vibration saw handle would come in handy to counter any excessive vibration or kickback. As a result, you will have a steady grip, which is vital in getting an effortless straight cut.

Most saws don’t come with this feature, and those that do are a bit costly. However, it is worth every dime.

Blade Clamp

A blade clamp acts as a guide to help you cut through a straight line. It also provides extra stability, enabling you to get that precise straight cut with much ease. The best clamp features four adjustable positions so you can place it in your desired direction.

Adjustable Pivoting Shoe

An adjustable pivoting shoe is a must-have if you want a precise cut on any surface.

It is more so important when working on an uneven surface. You can adjust it accordingly to get a straight cut without any block.

Pace Adjacent/ Speed Control

When cutting through any material, speed control is crucial. Every material has a unique reaction against friction and pressure. Therefore, controlling the blade’s pace allows you to apply the perfect friction for a straight cut.

LED Lighting

LED light is a perfect addition to enhance your cutting experience. This digital feature provides better visibility and acts as a guide for your eyes to follow. As such, you can be sure to get an accurate straight cut.

Blade Sharpness

You will need a sharp blade to cut straight through any material. A dull blade produces a more significant kickback which may lead to a life-threatening situation.

The Step by Step Guide

Once you have all the equipment in order, you are ready to start cutting. You can get a vertical or horizontal cut with a reciprocating saw.

Horizontal Cut

  • If you are cutting horizontally, be sure to follow the following steps.
  • First, you will need to clamp your reciprocating saw properly. Doing so will give it better stability and prevent excessive vibrations.
  • Take all the necessary measurements and make bold markings on the areas you intend to cut. As such, you will get better visual guidance for a precise straight cut.
  • Set up the pivoting shoe and roll it over the surface to check an uneven spot.  Adjust it accordingly to ensure that it’s in the proper position for the job.
  • Now, press the saw trigger and ensure you keep a steady hand. Don’t apply too much force on the saw, as this will give you a generous kickback in return.

Vertical Cut

You can apply the same concept of cutting horizontally to make a straight vertical cut. However, having the right blade is mandatory. The process goes as follows:

  • Use screws to mount your object rather than using a fence rail. This method gives you enough stability and flexibility to change positions.
  • Take measurements
  • Draw lines using a bold color for visibility
  • Adjust the clamp and pivoting accordingly

Safety Measures when Cutting Straight with a Reciprocating Saw

A reciprocating saw has a dangerous blade, and a little bit of carelessness can cost you a lifetime of pain.

However, following the necessary safety precautions will help prevent any life-threatening situation.

Here are crucial precautionary measures that you ought to take:

  1. Always stay alert
  2. Unplug the reciprocating saw every time you are changing blades or accessories.
  3. Never touch the blade when its cable is still plugged-in
  4. Wear safety goggles, a dust shield mask, gloves, and earmuffs before you start cutting.
  5. Lubricate the surface you are working on to ease the cutting process
  6. Never pull the blade out of the cut in haste. It has a kickback mechanism and can violently buck through the surface you are cutting.
  7. Please don’t touch or change the blade immediately after use as it generates a lot of heat which could burn your hand.
  8. When using the saw, you should always stand with your legs out of the saw’s way. Apply pressure to the saw towards the material you are working on until the saw stops.


Having a reciprocating saw in your toolbox is one of the best decisions you will ever make. With its unrivaled cutting power, you can be sure to cut through almost any material from metal, to wood, to PVC piping, among others.

Although this saw is highly effective and reliable, cutting straight through various materials does not come without effort. You can only achieve this by having the right equipment and using the correct techniques.

Marcus Weldman

Marcus Weldman is the main author of WiseMakr.com. Marcus is a tool and DIY enthusiast. He spends his time discovering the comparative differences and practical limits for all kinds of tools.