How To Cut Straight With A Reciprocating Saw

Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray

How To Cut Straight With A Reciprocating Saw

Having a reciprocating saw in your kit is one of the best decisions you’ll make, with their unrivaled design and cutting power.

Yet, it’s no good if you don’t know how to use it properly.

So, how do you cut straight with a reciprocating saw? Firstly, it’s best to mark a line upon the material you’re cutting with, using some tape measure and permanent marker. This gives you a line of  visibility, however, it cannot be done in all situations. With the reciprocating saw held in front of you in line with your stomach, press the shoe against the material, aligning the blade to the marked line as closely as possible.

Angling the saw slightly downwards, it will begin to rip through the material with the pressure you’ve applied. It’s best to cut through the material by using your body rather than your arms to guide the cut – as your body can provide more stability than your arms, especially under fatigue.


And there you go – a straight cut with a reciprocating saw.

Cutting Straight With A Reciprocating Saw

Keep in mind, the reciprocating saw is known for its’ power, rather than its’ accuracy.

That being said, it’s possible to follow the guide above and get a cut that is quite precise.

There are also a number of useful features designed within some reciprocating saws that can greatly aid in a straight cut.

These features can be found on models which cater for all affordability options, which is a bonus. They can also promote the safety and longevity of your tool.

Additional Features Which Can Assist

  • Anti-vibration handles
  • LED lighting for dark workspaces
  • Adjustable pivoting shoe
  • Four position blade clamps
  • Variable speed triggers/dial

Anti-Vibration Handles

An anti-vibration handle does exactly what it says it will do – reduces the vibration to minimise fatigue on a shaky arm. These handles can also include an anti-slip grip to help with wet/sticky conditions.

LED Lighting

Many reciprocating saws include one, or sometimes two, LED lights which can be used to illuminate a dark workspace. This provides the user with more light to work with, and is perfect for electricians and plumbers.

Adjustable Pivoting Shoe

An excellent feature which can assist in making straight cuts.

Adjustable pivoting shoes allow for any uneven surfaces to automatically be found out, as you press against the surface when cutting. As they adjust, they are versatile for surfaces in an array of angles.

Some are even able to extend, providing more leverage and protecting the worn and dull teeth of the blade.

Four-Position Blade Clamp

A feature often found in saws that are a little more pricey – however the quality is unrivaled.

As this feature allows for the blade to be inserted in four positions, you can make more cuts from additional angles.

Different angles have different lines of sight, which give you more ways to work with your cut.

This increased accuracy is another bonus for a straight cut.

Variable Speed Triggers/Dials

Speed plays a big factor when cutting, also determining how precise the cut will be.

There is no universal speed setting which is designed for all materials. From wood to metal and PVC piping, it’s important to know what speeds to be using.

Not doing so can otherwise result in damage to your material, and even increase the chances of damaging or breaking the blade. This can be an expensive error.


Blades are designed to perform cuts on almost any material you can find. As each blade is unique to the material they’re cutting, there is also no universal blade for all applications.

Blades differentiate from other blade types by the amount of Teeth Per Inch (TPI), as well as the composition of the blade. Most usually, a blade for woodcutting purposes is the generic blade you’ll find included within a new reciprocating saw kit.

My Final Thoughts

After reading through this guide, you should be well-equipped to perform straight cuts in different applications and environments.

Aim to remember that reciprocating saws are used more so for their power rather than precise cuts. However, by utilising the technique outlined, and assisted features where necessary, your reciprocating saw cuts will be both powerfully cut and also as accurate as possible.

In settings where you’re unable to mark a line, it’s always important to use your judgement when surveying areas in settings where cutting is necessary, as well as following the necessary safety requirements.

What about you, do you have any techniques you use for a straighter cut with a reciprocating saw?

Or perhaps you have some other tips for readers?

Whatever they may be, leave your comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

You mentioned that reciprocating saws are more renown for their power rather than their accuracy, so why would I use a recip saw for a straight cut?

That’s a good question, and easily answered. There are often obstacles in place which will stop you from using other tools or techniques for a cut, which include environments, materials you’re cutting, and also the space you’re working in.

As they are powerful tools, they can cut through a little more easier than other tools which are designed for accuracy, like the jigsaw.

In most situations, it’s often an easier solution, and eliminates the need for extra tools which you may only use occasionally.

What tools could I use that are more suitable for a precise and straight cut?

If you’re required to produce consistently straight cuts without the power, it may be time to look for an alternative power tool to use.

Such tools are examples of precise, straight-cutting action:

  • Circular Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Miter Saws

For alternative shapes which are more intricate than a standard line, you can also have a look at using a jigsaw, or a scroll saw.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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