How to Cut Straight with a Reciprocating Saw (Wood, Metal, PVC)

How to Cut Straight with a Reciprocating Saw

Are you asking yourself how to cut straight with a reciprocating saw? I did too, and here’s what I’ve learned from my experience using sawzall.

Getting things done yourself is one way to feel good and broaden your horizon. Not only does embarking on DIY projects improve your skills, but it also helps you save money. Over 30% of homeowners cannot afford repair costs, and entrusting your home improvement projects adds to your financial burdens. DIYing is the only way to cut these costs. 98% of homeowners affirmed that they saved money by handling projects themselves. You get to cut labor and material costs.

As a DIY enthusiast, one of the major tools you’d need in your kit is a reciprocating saw. Being one of the most versatile power tools ever, you’d need to know how to use it to make straight cuts on various materials. Stick with me as I show you the abilities the reciprocating saw possesses and how I have used mine to make straight cuts to different materials in the last couple of years.

Making Straight Cuts to Woods using a Reciprocating Saw

You can make straight cuts to the wood in two ways; horizontally or vertically. Don’t forget to scale your timber before making any cut. Here’s how to do both;

Horizontal Placement

  • Use a C-clamp to lock the wood board along its edges. It is an excellent way to avoid vibrations.
  • Make measurements for mounting the fence rail. You’d use the same measurements for the foot of your reciprocating saw too.
  • Keep the foot of the saw resting on the foot rail
  • Use a flat edge tool for accuracy, as it keeps you cutting along the marked line.

Vertical Placement

  • Make necessary measurements on the wall.
  • Use wood screws to attach the fence rail to the wall.
  • Adopt the horizontal method of cutting.

Both methods are not entirely different from each other. Carbon steel blades are best for making straight cuts to wood, with a 6-10 TPI range.

Safety Tips

  • All PPE should be in use.
  • Turn off the power before making a blade switch.
  • Do not change blades with bare hands, especially immediately after use. It could be pretty hot.
  • Always keep your body parts away from a blade in action.

Making Straight Cuts to Plywood using a Reciprocating Saw

Making a straight cut to plywood is difficult but not impossible, and here’s how;

  • Mark your plywood with a pencil marker.
  • Mount a fence rail to help guide your cut.
  • Use a door jamb when mounting a fence rail seems a little too stressful.
  • Apply no pressure and let your saw do its work.

A general-purpose reciprocating blade is usually perfect for cutting plywood. As straight as the cut may be, you might still have to sand the edges to keep them smooth.

Safety Tips

  • Wear protective gear while making cuts.
  • Avoid contact with the blade.
  • Do not apply pressure as plywood is quite delicate.

Making Straight Cuts to Steel using a Reciprocating Saw

When working on steel materials for your next big project. Here’s a guide to helping you make the best straight cuts using a reciprocating saw:

  • Set your saw to straight cut instead of orbital cut if there are such options for your tool.
  • Mark out a straight line on your metal with an engineer’s square and French chalk, or mount a fence rail and clamp to the part to be cut after measurement.
  • Set the shoe of your saw at the most appropriate point on the blade.
  • Using the shoe as a pivot, place the blade on the markings and cut through the metal.
  • To accelerate the cutting process, change the cut angle by raising and lowering the trigger hand.
  • After the cut has been made, withdraw the blade through the cut. Do not remove the blade by pulling it up.

Depending on the metal’s thickness, an 18-24 TPI range metal-cutting blade is the ideal blade for related projects.

Safety Tips

  • Keep your hand away from the blade during and after cutting. It could get really hot.
  • Keep the steel sheet firm with the clamp.
  • Always have your PPE on.

Here are steps to follow whenever you intend on making straight cuts to aluminum;

  • Mount the piece of aluminum on your working table.
  • Make use of two C-clamps to hold at both ends.
  • Measure with a measuring tape and mark its surface with a permanent marker, using a try square as a guide.
  • Place your blade on the edge of your workpiece.
  • Pull the trigger of your reciprocating saw and set it at high speed to cut faster.
  • Withdraw the blade through the cut.

To cut aluminum effectively, use a metal-cutting blade with an 8-10 TPI range.

Safety Tips

  • Put on your safety goggles and gloves.
  • Use your dormant hand to support your workpiece for a firm cut.
  • Keep any part of your skin from touching the blade before and after use, as the friction between the blade and aluminum peace generates heat.

Making Straight Cuts to PVC using a Reciprocating Saw

If you’ve ever wondered how to make straight cuts to PVC with a reciprocating saw, here are a couple of steps that’ll guide you;

  • Hold your pipe down with plastic pipe clamps or any clamp that wouldn’t break the pipe.
  • Take a hose clamp and slide it through the pipe.
  • Use a measuring tape to line it up to your preferred length.
  • Tighten the hose clamp with a screw.
  • Slide another hose clamp through the tube, leaving a little space for the blade of your recipe saw to cut through.
  • Use your reciprocating saw to glide through the tiny space between both hose clamps.
  • Use your dormant hand to hold down the pipe.
  • Unscrew both hose clamps.

When making a straight cut to PVC pipes, metal blades are the best option, with a 10 to 14 TPI range. Using a dull blade also makes cutting through PVC firmly and efficiently.

Safety Tips

  • Support the pipe with your hand, as the clamp cannot provide all the support you need.
  • Make sure you have your protective gloves and goggles on.

Making Straight Cuts to Fiberglass using a Reciprocating Saw

  • Use masking tape alongside a measuring tape to mark the part that needs to be cut.
  • With a marker, draw lines on the tape using a three-square or ruler, depending on the size of the cut to be made.
  • Place the blade of your recipe saw and cut from the inside of the markings.
  • You can sand the edges to make it smoother.

A carbide-tipped cutting blade is best used for cutting fiberglass.

Safety Tips

  • Always have your PPE on.
  • Keep the good side of your fiberglass facing down, as the backstroke motion of your sawzall blade can damage the good side.

The reciprocating saw is pretty much a jack of all trade. The push-and-pull motion of the blade attached to the reciprocating saw makes it capable of cutting wood, masonry, metal, fiberglass, stucco, drywall, plaster, PVC, and so on. What the reciprocating saw can cut is dependent on the type of blade in use.

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What are the use cases of cutting straight using a reciprocating saw? Why?

If you’re one to put your hands to work and get things done yourself; you’d find the reciprocating saw useful when the need for the following arises:

Window Fitting

When you need to make adjustments to your window and door frames, you’d require a reciprocating saw to make this alteration without damaging the previously installed frame. Since most frameworks have four edges and need straight cuts, this saw always comes in handy.

Cutting Furniture Edges

With the right blade, constructing the straight edge of tables and chairs get easier. Reciprocating saws can make straight cuts on a variety of materials. However, wood is used to make most furniture, and the ideal tool for this project remains the reciprocating saw.

Cutting Fences

Whether you’re making a wooden fence, brick, or a metal one, the reciprocating saw will surely aid the cutting process. Especially when you need to construct the post, the reciprocating saw is rugged enough and up to the task.

Tile Works

Sometimes, when laying tiles on the floor, you could experience a shortage in floor space. You’ll need to cut the tile to fit in, and the straight-cutting abilities of a reciprocating saw will make it possible to fit the tile right in.

Cutting PVC

To perfectly fit two or more pipes together, both ends of each tube need to be neatly cut. With a reciprocating saw, you can avoid future blockages and allow pipe joints to function effectively.

Cutting Through Metal

Working on metal is inevitable in your journey as a DIY enthusiast. The reciprocating saw has blade options that can make straight cuts on metal when you need to make a welding table, clothing racks, etc.

Here’s some more amazing reciprocal saw uses:

My 2¢

The reciprocating saw is a masterpiece, and it facilitates DIY projects. However, safety precautions need to be taken. About 93,880 saw related injuries were recorded and treated in U.S hospital emergency rooms, with 18% of these injuries caused by handheld saws like the reciprocating saw. To reduce the risk of injuries, all safety tips need to be strictly adhered to in the course of your project.

When working on any project, do not ignore the need for PPE. Between 2015 and 2016, there were about 621,000 non-fatal injuries and 144 fatal injuries, where the majority of these victims had no PPE present. To avoid accidents too, do not skip any step. It also makes your work easier.

And this is how to cut straight using a reciprocating saw.

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