DIY Basics: Essential Guide To Multipurpose Saws

Multipurpose saws are power tools that often go where others can’t, while also being capable of cutting an incredibly wide range of materials. Their adaptability is the result of clever design features or the many accessories and blades available for them.

Reciprocating saws are not tools that are famed for subtlety. Their trademark qualities are power, speed and adaptability, as well as how manoeuvrable their blades are in awkward spaces.

The reciprocating action is similar to that of a jigsaw, except that the blades are usually longer and tougher, and the tool is designed to be grasped using both hands.

Even with the shoe pressed firmly against a workpiece, the kickback from a reciprocating saw can be formidable.

Cutting a perfectly straight line using a reciprocating saw can be a real challenge, so if accurately sawing along a ruled line is a high priority, clamp a straightedge to act to as a guide for the shoe wherever possible.

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The reciprocating action is similar to that of a jigsaw except that the blades are usually longer and tougher

Extended-range sawing

With a rigid blade that is well-suited to plunge cutting, a reciprocating saw can be great for jobs such as creating openings in floors or cladding during renovations without the overshoot typical of a circular saw.

The blade’s reach usually exceeds that of an oscillating tool or jigsaw, allowing you to cut through fasteners such as framing nails with ease.

Most reciprocating saws feature tool-free blade change, an extendable shoe, variable speed and a trigger lock.

In addition to blades designed for cutting a wide range of materials, they are also compatible with various attachments, including scrapers, brushes and even files.

Reciprocating saw technique

Famous for being able to cut in awkward spaces where other tools can’t reach, a reciprocating saw has countless uses ranging from renovations to garage maintenance, and switching blades to suit the material being cut takes only seconds.

Cut through fasteners

Use a metal cutting blade to saw straight through fasteners when making modifications to plasterboard walls during a reno, allowing studs, noggins and other framing members to be easily knocked free.

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Protect the surface

Reciprocating saws are notorious for heavy vibration, even when used correctly. To protect floorboards or other quality timber, cut a piece of pipe insulation foam or polystyrene and attach it to the shoe with masking tape.

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Trim a garage door track

If the end of a garage door track is in contact with damp concrete, it can begin to rust. A reciprocating saw is ideal for cutting about 10mm off the end of the track before applying rust converter and metal paint.

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Twice the slice

With two circular blades that turn in opposite directions, a property called contra-rotation, the Ozito X2 Twin Cutter stands out from the crowd in function as well as looks.

A contra-rotating system has unique advantages, the main one being that the forces from two blades spinning in opposite directions cancel each other out, making the tool surprisingly agile even at full speed.

Unlike a circular saw, whose design hinges on pushing it forwards to cut, the X2 cuts in a backwards direction just as effectively as forwards.

There is also a shearing component to the cutting action, the same as the principle by which scissors work.

Despite a more complex gearbox, changing blades is straightforward, with the only extra effort being to lock the discs together using a supplied pin.

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Unlike a circular saw, whose design hinges on pushing it forwards to cut, the X2 cuts in a backwards direction just as effectively as forwards

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A wax stick feed system lubricates the blades when cutting through metal

Safety features

Contra-rotating blades reduce the risk of kickback almost to zero. The X2 also features a retractable blade guard like the one on a circular saw.

The rear/side handle configuration allows it to be held like a small angle grinder, while still cutting similarly to a circular saw. This makes it perfect for major reno jobs, as it can safely be used on walls and at unusual angles.

Twin cutter applications

The benefits of contra-rotation have long been utilised in the design of coaxial helicopter rotors and torpedo propellors. Now the same technology is available to DIYers for sawing metal just as effortlessly as timber without changing blades.

Making cuts in timber

If cutting from an edge, the blade guard will retract automatically, as it does on a circular saw. Plunge cuts can be made by retracting the guard manually and keeping the tool at an angle of about 30º to the surface.

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Sawing through metal

The carbide-tipped teeth can cut metals ranging from copper pipe to steel roofing. When cutting metal, the blades need to be lubricated using supplied wax sticks that are pushed against the cutting edges by rotating the feed knob.

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Demolition duties

The X2 can cut timber and metal with the same set of blades, making it great for demolition or a major reno. Its plunge-cutting ability also lets it saw openings in a plasterboard wall more quickly than using a jab saw.

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Versatility to the max

This tool is in a class all its own, but like other multipurpose saws, it does not have a single specialised role to play. The sheer versatility of this saw has the potential to give other power tools inadequacy issues.

The Saw-Max’s name may seem ironic considering its compact size, but it packs a lot of guts into a small package, being capable of sawing through virtually any material from timber and metal to ceramic tile.

Similar in shape to the highly specialised power saws used in the operating theatre, this tool is just as lightweight and designed to be safely used one-handed, with a lock-off catch on the power switch.

Like a cross between an angle grinder and a circular saw, it has a base plate that allows the depth of cut to be controlled, and can also be used with a straightedge guide.

The base plate is small enough to ensure excellent visibility, making it easier to cut accurately.

dremel saw max, handyman magazine,
This tool is in a class all its own, but like other multipurpose saws, it does not have a single specialised role to play

A saw for all seasons

Arguably the biggest advantage of the Saw-Max is that it lets you cut all the materials you are likely to face in a bathroom renovation or similar project using only the one tool.

In addition to a carbide-grit cutting disc for timber and plastic, the Saw-Max comes with reinforced cutoff discs for metal and masonry, similar to angle grinder wheels.

A diamond blade for cutting very hard materials, ranging from marble to tile, is also included, and the many optional extras available extend the possibilities of this tool even further.

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The optional flush-cutting disc makes it easy to trim skirting and architraves