Tips and Techniques: How to Get the Straightest Cut with a Reciprocating Saw

A reciprocating saw can be a very helpful tool until your project requires you to cut a straight line. The reciprocating saw blade is thin and has a short cutting surface.  This tool is made for small and decorative cutting and is able cut a fraction of an inch on any straight cut your try.  However, there are a few tips and techniques you should follow to achieve the straightest cut possible with your saw.

Straight Cutting a Board, or Plank Horizontally

You can ensure a clean and straight cut with your reciprocating saw on a plank or a board by using clamps to lock down a fence rail along the edge of the work you are cutting. Use c-clamps to hold the piece your cutting securely to a surface and get a running straight edge and clamp this down into the desired position.

When you measure to mount the fence rail or straight edge, be sure to take the foot of your saw's measurement into account as well. If there is a 1/2 inch on the reciprocating saw, between the fence rail and blade, you will be cutting that distance out from the rail into the wood. Clamp your rail firmly to the surface so it does not move from the vibration of the saw or the cross pressure you will apply to it as you go. If the piece moves while your cutting, you will end up with an very uneven cut that will leave a diagonal cut in or outside of the cut line.

The foot of your reciprocating saw is the piece at the head of the blade that rests on the cutting surface. People will also refer to this as a guide, and in many cases can be removed or interchanged with others. You will want this foot in place and rest its edge along the side of the fence rail as you make your cut. A flat edged foot is the best to keep it even, as you can keep straight side pressure on the fence rail as you cut, without concern of the blade veering in or out.

Straight Cutting a Vertical Surface

As with cutting a straight line on a board or plank, mounted with a fence rail, you can do the same on vertical walls and partitions by applying the same basic concept. Instead of mounting your surface and then fixing a rail to it, simply take your measurements and attach a rail right to the wall with wood screws. The same rules apply when using this technique so you can cut straight with your reciprocating saw.

This method can be used with a reciprocating saw on all types of materials where you need to do box holes or other straight line applications. A fence rail can be made from a 2 by 4 stud or other flat surface scrap materials with a straight edge and enough length for the job at hand. You will want it to be thick enough on the edge so that the foot of your saw will follow it without slipping out of line.