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An In-Depth Look at 20 Volt Cordless Reciprocating Saws Introduction

An In-Depth Look at 20 Volt Cordless Reciprocating Saws


The evolution of power tools has seen significant advancements over the years, with one of the most notable being the transition from corded to cordless models. Among these tools, reciprocating saws have become indispensable for a wide range of applications, from demolition work to precision cutting in tight spaces. The advent of 20-volt cordless reciprocating saws has particularly revolutionized the way both professionals and DIY enthusiasts approach their projects, offering a combination of power, flexibility, and convenience.

Overview of Reciprocating Saws

Reciprocating saws, often referred to as sawzalls (a trademarked term by Milwaukee Tool), are versatile cutting tools that use a push-and-pull motion of the blade to cut through various materials, including wood, metal, PVC, and more. Their design allows for easy handling and maneuverability, making them ideal for jobs that require cutting in tight or awkward spaces.

The Rise of Cordless Technology

The transition from corded to cordless tools has been driven by advancements in battery technology, particularly the development of lithium-ion batteries. These batteries offer a higher energy density, longer run time, and faster charging compared to their predecessors, such as nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries. The introduction of 20-volt systems has further enhanced the performance and efficiency of cordless tools, making them competitive with, and often superior to, their corded counterparts.

Advantages of 20 Volt Cordless Reciprocating Saws

  1. Portability and Convenience
    • One of the most significant benefits of cordless reciprocating saws is their portability. Without the need for a power outlet, users can take these tools anywhere, whether it’s a remote job site, a backyard project, or areas without readily available electricity.
    • Cordless saws eliminate the hassle of managing power cords, which can be a safety hazard and a source of frustration in cluttered workspaces.
  2. Power and Performance
    • The 20-volt battery platform provides ample power for most cutting tasks, allowing users to cut through dense materials with ease.
    • Modern cordless reciprocating saws often feature brushless motors, which are more efficient and durable than traditional brushed motors. This results in longer tool life, better battery efficiency, and increased power output.
  3. Versatility
    • These saws are designed to handle a wide variety of tasks, from demolition and rough cuts to precision work. With the appropriate blade, a 20-volt cordless reciprocating saw can cut through wood, metal, drywall, and even masonry.
    • Many models come with adjustable shoe positions, variable speed triggers, and orbital action settings, enhancing their versatility and control.
  4. Ease of Use
    • Cordless reciprocating saws are generally lightweight and ergonomically designed, reducing user fatigue during prolonged use.
    • Features such as tool-free blade changes and LED lights further enhance their usability, allowing for quick adjustments and better visibility in low-light conditions.

Key Features to Consider

When selecting a 20-volt cordless reciprocating saw, there are several key features to consider:

  1. Battery Life and Charging Time
    • Battery life is crucial for uninterrupted work. Look for models that offer long run times and come with high-capacity batteries (typically 4.0Ah or higher).
    • Fast charging capabilities are also important, allowing users to get back to work quickly after a battery swap.
  2. Stroke Length and Speed
    • The stroke length (the distance the blade travels in one reciprocating motion) and stroke speed (measured in strokes per minute, or SPM) determine the saw’s cutting efficiency. Longer stroke lengths and higher SPMs generally result in faster cutting.
  3. Ergonomics and Weight
    • Since reciprocating saws are often used in various positions and angles, ergonomic design is vital for user comfort. Look for models with well-balanced weight distribution and comfortable grip handles.
  4. Durability and Build Quality
    • Durable construction is essential for tools that will be used in demanding environments. High-quality materials and robust build ensure the saw can withstand the rigors of heavy-duty use.
  5. Additional Features
    • Features like variable speed triggers, adjustable shoes, orbital action, and integrated LED lights can enhance the tool’s functionality and user experience.

Leading Brands and Models

Several brands stand out in the market for their high-quality 20-volt cordless reciprocating saws. Here are some noteworthy models:

  1. DeWalt DCS387P1
    • Known for its compact and lightweight design, the DeWalt DCS387P1 is ideal for cutting in confined spaces. It features a 1-1/8 inch stroke length, 2,900 SPM, and a four-position blade clamp for flush cutting and increased versatility.
  2. Milwaukee M18 Fuel Sawzall (2720-21)
    • Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Sawzall is renowned for its power and durability. It features a brushless motor, 1-1/8 inch stroke length, and a maximum speed of 3,000 SPM. The REDLITHIUM battery technology ensures extended run time and enhanced performance.
  3. Makita XRJ05Z
    • The Makita XRJ05Z offers a 1-1/4 inch stroke length and up to 3,000 SPM. Its two-finger variable speed trigger and tool-less blade change system provide excellent control and convenience.
  4. Bosch GSA18V-125
    • Bosch’s GSA18V-125 features a 1-1/4 inch stroke length, up to 2,700 SPM, and an ergonomic design for comfortable use. The tool’s Electronic Motor Protection (EMP) helps protect the motor from overload, ensuring long-term durability.

Applications and Use Cases

The versatility of 20-volt cordless reciprocating saws makes them suitable for a wide range of applications:

  1. Construction and Demolition
    • These saws are perfect for demolition work, including cutting through studs, joists, and other framing materials. They are also used for cutting through nails and other metal fasteners during teardown.
  2. Plumbing and Electrical Work
    • Reciprocating saws are essential tools for plumbers and electricians, who often need to cut through pipes, conduits, and drywall. The ability to make precise cuts in tight spaces is particularly valuable.
  3. Landscaping and Tree Trimming
    • Cordless reciprocating saws are useful for cutting branches and small trees, making them a handy tool for landscaping and garden maintenance.
  4. Home Improvement and DIY Projects
    • For DIY enthusiasts, these saws offer the flexibility to handle a variety of home improvement projects, from remodeling and renovation to crafting and repair work.

Maintenance and Safety Tips

To ensure the longevity and safe operation of a 20-volt cordless reciprocating saw, follow these maintenance and safety tips:

  1. Regular Maintenance
    • Keep the saw clean and free of debris. Regularly inspect the blade and replace it if it shows signs of wear or damage.
    • Check the battery contacts and keep them clean to ensure a reliable connection.
    • Lubricate the blade clamp and other moving parts as recommended by the manufacturer.
  2. Battery Care
    • Store batteries in a cool, dry place when not in use. Avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures.
    • Fully charge the battery before storage and periodically check its charge level if stored for extended periods.
  3. Safety Precautions
    • Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety glasses, gloves, and hearing protection.
    • Ensure the work area is well-lit and free of obstructions.
    • Use the correct blade for the material you are cutting to prevent damage to the saw and the material.
    • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation and maintenance of the tool.


The 20-volt cordless reciprocating saw is a powerful and versatile tool that has transformed the way various cutting tasks are approached. With the combination of portability, performance, and ease of use, these saws are invaluable for professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. By understanding the key features, leading brands, and best practices for maintenance and safety, users can maximize the potential of their cordless reciprocating saws and tackle a wide range of projects with confidence and efficiency.

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