Reciprocating Saw Inspection and Cleaning Steps

Reciprocating saws face dirty and rough conditions. They are such a flexible and effective cutting tool, they are often used and this means they will need to be inspected and cleaned.

Reciprocating Saw Inspection Steps

Inspecting a reciprocating saw takes very little time. Before starting, make sure it is unplugged from the power source or the battery is removed. Have enough lighting so you can see the parts clearly.


  1. Check for any cracks in the handle or case
  2. Check for any loose screws
  3. Check the blade to see if it is loose
  4. Check the power cord for any frays or cracks

Cleaning a reciprocating saw is important because it prolongs the life of your tool. Over time, the reciprocating blade will accumulate dirt and rust that makes using it impossible. You should clean your reciprocating saw at least once every 5-10 uses.

Reciprocating Saw Cleaning Steps

Cleaning a reciprocating saw is important because it prolongs the life of your tool. Over time, the reciprocating blade will accumulate dirt and rust that makes using it more difficult. You should clean your reciprocating saw at least once every few uses.

Cleaning a reciprocating saw does not have to be difficult. Here are some methods that you can use to clean the reciprocating saw.

Reciprocating Saw Demolition

Follow these steps to clean a reciprocating saw:

  1. Unplugged the saw and let it cool down.
  2. Unlock the blade and remove it.
  3. Inspect the saw for any dust or grime buildup. Check around the blade and air intake areas.
  4. Gather cleaning materials, such as a metal scraper or small drywall knife, old screwdriver, a moist rag, and soft soap. Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals that could damage the saw (rubber grip, handle, plastic casing, etc.)
  5. Put on rubber cleaning gloves and a breathing mask, especially if using any type of cleaning agent. This will also protect you from metal or concrete dust particles that can cause irritation if inhaled.
  6. Use a vacuum or air compressor to clear the air intake and blade areas of dust.
  7. Spray some WD40 degreaser in the blade quick release chuck to make it easier to open.
  8. Remove rust from the saw or blade with the drywall knife or screwdriver, using quick outward strokes while holding the blade down firm. You can additionally use coarse sandpaper followed by wiping away the rust particles with a cloth each time.
  9. Dip the blade in paint thinner to clean it and let it dry. Apply paste wax to the blade on each side to prevent rust from forming again.
  10. Plug in the saw and test it out to make sure it isn’t making any noises and functions smoothly.

A clogged switch can cause problems, so it is recommended to use an air comprosser to blast the dust and grime away. This may also require replacing the spring contacts that allow the switch to function, which may be corroded.

Good Reciprocating Saws

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX POWERCONNECT 7/8 in. Cordless Reciprocating Saw

DEWALT 20V MAX* XR Reciprocating Saw, Compact

Makita JR3051T Recipro Saw – 12 AMP

Common Reciprocating Saw Issues

Reciprocating saws face seveal mechanical issues, just as other power tools do.

The Blade Gets Stuck

A reciprocating saw with a loose blade is difficult to control and can bind against side or base rails, leading to tool damage.

The Blade Falls Out

This can be due to the saw blade lock mechanism being clogged by dust or grime. This will result in the lock not working properly, releasing the blade. You can use an air compressor to blast it out, or WD-40 to clean away the grime build up.

The most common problem is a blade that loosens or binds in the end of stroke. It can also become bent if it is long version and gets pressed into a tight cutting position.

A piece of a broken blade can also get stuck in the saw. This will require opening the locking mechanism and shaking the saw upside down or running it slightly to get the blade to drop out.

The Reciprocating Mechanism Fails

The reciprocating mechanism inside the saw uses gears that can have broken or missing teeth. These can be replaced by opening up the saw and inserted new ones purchased from the manufacturer. The saw’s warranty may cover these repairs.

The Battery Dies

A reciprocating saw battery that is old, may start to hold a limited charge. If you are not sure, try and remember the purchase date and consider how often you charge it. Batteries have a limited number of charges they can go through before they decay far enough to stop working well.

The Power Cord Frays Or Is Cut

The power cord can become cracked or frayed in certain places. It can happen when the cord ties around itself and bends the plastic covering over time until it cracks. The connection point at the rear of the saw is also a weak spot. Make sure to inspect the cord each time you use the saw.

The Trigger Is Not Working

The trigger of the saw may not work consistently, or at all, if the internal switch gets blocked by dust or breaks. If this happens, the saw will not turn on or off properly.

The metal contacts that touch the springs may become rusted or otherwise corroded with use. Since reciprocating saws face dirty and dusty conditions, gunk can easily build up and cause this to happen. The solution is the clean the trigger mechanism and its contacts.

The Motor Is Not Functioning Well

The motor of a reciprocating saw is an electric motor that has bearings and a rotating shaft. Bearings can wear out or corrode in time, which can make the shaft struggle to spin. Fixing this requires opening the saw and taking the gearbox and engine apart.

You can try to replace the bearings yourself, or send the saw into a service center or to the manufacturer to do so. Letting the bearings get too worn out can result in loud noises coming from the saw it it to stop working all together.

The Reciprocating Saw Makes Strange Noises

A reciprocating saw can make strange screaching noises, or wizzing sounds. This can be due to aformentioned worn out motor bearings, a motor that is out of alignment, or an electrical source that provides inconsistent voltage.

This could be due to faulty wiring inside the saw or the wall plug not being fully connected.

Reciprocating Saw Storage

Reciprocating saws are not difficult to store. Most new ones come with hard plastic containers or flexible cloth storage bags. Saw cases may also have a very tightly packed blade storage compartment.

If you already have a hard plastic container, it may not be large enough to accommodate the saw with the blade extended. This will be helpful because all reciprocating saw blades are not exactly 9 inches long and some manufacturers don’t include a blade with purchase.

Reciprocating Saw Boxes

A reciprocating saw storage box can be made of metal, plastic, or wood. Plastic is the most common type of box. It is a light-weight material that doesn’t dent or rust. Storing a reciprocating saw in a cardboard box may or may not work, as it can degrade over time or get wet and not fully protect the saw from dust.

Reciprocating Saw Bags

Reciprocating saw storage bags are lightweight and easy to handle. They have additional top straps to grab, and some can be carried over the shoulder. These bags are made from ballistic nylon-style material, so they can stand up to rough use. Reciprocating saw storage bags have a variety of pockets and feature plenty of room for blades, bits or other accessories.

Reciprocating Saw Holders

Using a reciprocating saw holder is the best way to keep your reciprocating saw tools hanging from a wall. This is great for quick access and visually spotting the tool when you are looking for it.

You can use wall hooks made of metal or a custom wood design, or angled metal holder with a nylon strap that attaches around the saw.

In Closing

Reciprocating saws are made to handle dirty and dusty conditions, and they will invevitably get dirty with use. But fear not, as inspecting and cleaning them does not have to be too big of a chore.

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Nick Klamecki, Author
About Nick Klamecki, Author

Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use. Learn more about Nick here or connect with him on LinkedIn | Medium