Reducing Vibration in Reciprocating Saws

Skilsaw Buzzkill Technology Counterbalance

Tool manufacturers have made great strides in fatigue-reducing features with lighter materials and better ergonomics. These two improvements are all you need for fatigue reduction in a tool with rotary action. But for reducing vibration in reciprocating saws, materials and ergonomics can only take you so far.

Reciprocating saw vibration is inherent in the blade’s motion. As it moves from its most retracted state to full extension and back again, that action reacts with the tool. Moreover, the rough demolition style cutting that recip saws are used for creates a lot of vibration. That can really wear out a user’s arm in a hurry. Manufacturers have successfully reduced vibration in the best reciprocating saws over the last few years.  Some of the designs are downright ingenious.  Most companies now employ varying types of anti-vibration technologies.

Reducing Vibration in Reciprocating Saws Through Design

You may be wondering how a  reciprocating saw’s action works in the first place. There are several ways, actually. Manufacturers employ cranks, swash plates, cams, and other mechanisms to turn rotary motion into linear motion. Of course, all of these mechanisms create vibration. Some just create more pronounced vibrations than others.

Reducing Vibration in Reciprocating Saws
The more a manufacturer can reduce vibration in their recip saw, the less fatigue you’ll experience.

The first and simplest anti-vibration technology is a shock-absorbing handle. Although this is really like addressing the symptom, an accordion-like design can soak up a noticeable amount of vibration.

By far the most sophisticated anti-vibration technology that some manufacturers employ is an internal counter-balancing weight system.

sawzall counterweight
The Milwaukee SawZall uses a flywheel counterweight to reduce vibration.

These counter-balances work by reducing vibration in the plane of rotation or otherwise neutralizing the vibration with an opposite movement.

skilsaw buzzkill recip saw vibration technology
This moving weight counterbalances the thrusting motion of the blade to reduce vibration in the Skilsaw 15A Buzzkill reciprocating saw.

Reducing Vibration in Reciprocating Saws Through User Control

Reciprocating saws with better vibration control have much better consistency than the ones without it. Sawing through wood may not reveal the starkest difference, but cutting slows down through metal. This really brings out the vibration. There are ways users can help reduce vibration under these circumstances. Be sure to disable orbital action mode (on reciprocating saws that have it) when cutting metal. That mode is designed for aggressive wood and demo work.

Skilsaw Buzzkill 15A Reciprocating Saw SPT44-10 orbital mode

Users should also place the saw’s shoe—that’s the metal nose through which the blade sticks—right up against the material. This greatly reduced vibration. By pushing the show up against the cutting surface, the material being cut absorbs some of the vibration. If the shoe isn’t pressed against the cutting surface, all vibration is transferred back through the blade, into the saw, and into the user’s arms.

Metabo 18V Recip Saw shoe

Smoother Sawing Generally Means Faster Cuts

As you can see, reducing vibration in reciprocating saws has been the target goal for most manufacturers. Of course, with proper use, users can reduce at least a small amount of vibration. We wish you happy reciprocation. If you’re a professional tradesman and have reciprocating saw tips to share, add them in the comments below. You can also reach us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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