fbpx
October 17, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Chicago Electric Rotating Handle Reciprocating Saw Review

Everybody – and we mean everybody can use a cheap reciprocating saw to accomplish household maintenance and repair projects (well, OK, maybe not your mother-in-law). It’s just a super-convenient tool that lends itself well to being a multi-purpose “grab-it” solution. Harbor Freight’s Chicago Electric Tools 4-1/2″ Rotating Reciprocating Saw looks to be the cheapest product we’ve seen in some time, retailing for $25 and often being on sale for less than $20 (we know, that’s less than a combo pack of recip saw blades ). We had wanted to review this product for some time and finally were able to procure one – on an out of town trip, no less. Never truly off the job, we latched onto the tool and opened up the box to begin our testing. Within, we quickly found the 6-amp 4-1/2″ reciprocating saw, a 10 tpi wood-cutting blade, 24 tpi metal-cutting blade, and even a pair of replacement brushes. Lifting the saw from the box to feel how well it was made, our initial impression was that it was not exactly top-notch in the build quality department, but it did feel like a great occasional-use power tool.

Chicago Electric Rotating Handle Reciprocating Saw Review

Everybody – and we mean everybody can use a cheap reciprocating saw to accomplish household maintenance and repair projects (well, OK, maybe not your mother-in-law). It’s just a super-convenient tool that lends itself well to being a multi-purpose “grab-it” solution. Harbor Freight’s Chicago Electric rotating handle reciprocating saw looks to be the cheapest product we’ve seen in some time, retailing for $25 and often being on sale for less than $20 (we know, that’s less  than a combo pack of reciprocating saw blades ). We had wanted to review this product for some time and finally were able to procure one – on an out of town trip, no less. Never truly off the job, we latched onto the tool and opened up the box to begin our testing. Within, we quickly found the 6-amp 4-1/2″ reciprocating saw, a 10 tpi wood-cutting blade, 24 tpi metal-cutting blade, and even a pair of replacement brushes. Lifting the saw from the box to feel how well it was made, our initial impression was that it was not exactly top-notch in the build quality department, but it did feel like a great occasional-use power tool.


Chicago Electric Rotating Handle Reciprocating Saw Build Quality

The very first thing we noticed with the Chicago Electric rotating handle reciprocating saw was that the pivoting shoe was a bit stiff. It actually pivots up to a full 30 degrees, which is rather nice, but it was really tough to get moving. Once we started using the tool, and working it back and forth (and, um, after adding some lubricant!), it loosened up for easier use. We don’t want the shoe to be floppy, but I also don’t want it to keep me away from getting it flush to the work piece, either.

Chicago Electric Rotating Handle Reciprocating Saw shoe

A big selling feature of the Chicago Electric rotating handle reciprocating saw is the rotating body. This really allows you to maintain a standard grip on the tool while performing horizontal, vertical, or even diagonal cuts. You can then complete your cuts without having to contort your forearms. It really makes the tool all that much more comfortable and ergonomic to use. The motor brushes (the kit includes 2 replacements) are also easily accessible when the body is rotated 90 degrees to each side and they are then visible through the top body cutout. The replacement brushes can be taken two ways, one is that the manufacture is so sure that you will use your reciprocating saw for the rest of your life you will need to eventually change them out. Or that it runs so rough that during the initial warranty period you will need the extra set if you use it too much.

Chicago Electric Rotating Handle Reciprocating Saw switch

The rubberized overmold is easy to hold and it’s quite comfortable, but also not very grippy, particularly with ungloved and sweaty hands. This isn’t a huge deal, but we do like some texture on our grips and this one is almost completely smooth. At the base of the front grip are to Allen-type bolts that can be removed to allow access to the internal mechanism and removal of the shoe assembly.

Chicago Electric Reciprocating Saw adjustable shoe

Rotating the tool’s 5-position grip is a simple process of pulling back the top locking lever with you thumb and twisting the body while maintaining a firm grip on the handle. The lever wasn’t so hot at springing back into place, however, so expect to have to give it a little push to re-seat it when you get to your desired cutting angle. the action varied, with it auto-locking about 4 out of 5 times. This button, the trigger, and the trigger lock also looked and felt cheap, but not so much as to think they would not last under continuous use. Be sure to keep the mechanism clean and free from debris.


Chicago Electric Rotating Handle Reciprocating Saw

Using the Chicago Electric Rotating Handle Reciprocating Saw

Inserting the blade is done by twisting the blade holder and pushing the blade in until it’s seated fully. The shoe is set back pretty far and doesn’t really adjust, so you may find yourself cutting on the same section of blade and wearing them out faster. This isn’t uncommon with smaller entry-level reciprocating saws.

The trigger is easy to pull and is variable speed. You can also use the side-mounted trigger lock for extended use without having to keep the trigger down. For us, it worked well, but the trigger and the lock seemed to be really cheap in quality and we’re not sure how much abuse it can take in terms of prolonged use and environmental contaminates.

Chicago Electric Rotating Handle Reciprocating Saw trigger

The Chicago Electric rotating handle reciprocating saw cuts nicely, and the shoe kept a comfortable angle on dimensional lumber as we made our cuts. While the tool doesn’t come with an orbital mode, it was easy to rock the tool back and forth to get through cuts quickly. The 30 degree maximum angle of the shoe made it especially easy to do this and keep positive contact with the workpiece. We found the rotation mechanism a bit unpredictable, but never difficult to use. Even when the mechanism didn’t automatically lock, it was easy to push the release button back into position and proceed with our cut.

Conclusion

This is a tool that is easy to recommend. While we don’t exactly feel that it will be an enduring product, the $20 price tag (look for sales or a coupon) makes it hard not to get excited about. The tool cuts easily (and will cut even better if you pop a better blade into it) and the ergonomics can’t be beat. Are there better reciprocating saws? Yes. Are there better saws for the price? We don’t know if there are ANY for this price. We’ve seen blades that cost more. In any case, it was easy to give a Value rating that neared perfection, a 9/10. On performance there is a lot to be desired, and it’s certainly not intended for professional use – not by any stretch. Still, our 4/10 rating is no slouch. If you need a quick saw, this is going to be a hard deal to pass up. We’ll just call it a starter tool – and we’re certain many consumers will use it as a stepping stone to bigger and better saws.

Related articles

Hart Garage Storage Kits Review

Give Your Garage a Facelift by Adding On-wall Storage for Your OPE Tools and Accessories I don’t know if you’re like me, but my shed lacks…organization. From string trimmers, hedge trimmers, and blowers, I seem to have gear laying everywhere. That may have led to my piqued interest in Hart Tools Garage Storage Starter Kits. […]

Werner Glidesafe Extension Ladder Review

Werner Glidesafe Extension Ladder Makes Extending and Lowering Easier with More Control Werner isn’t new to climbing the ladder…get it? But seriously, professionals that depend on quality know that Werner is a prime contender when they’re in the market for a new ladder or looking for the latest innovation. We got our hands on the […]

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
10 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Don

I bought one and used it to cut down bolts on metal fencing. It worked just as good as a Royobi I used to have. It had lots of power and did what it was suppose. I am not going to be using it all the time so for my use I rated it a 10 on a ten scale rating. I would buy another one in a heart beat.

John

I broke a blade . Any suggestions on how to get the broken piece out so that i can put in a new blade

Donna

Will it cut small tree limbs? This grandma wants to know

Kathy Blair

I just bought one of these today. Actually it is my second one. The first lasted 5 years of using it several times a year. It was $20 well spent for both the old one and the new one. The old one just gave out last week so I have been waiting to get another $20 one. I’m just a part timer so I don’t need an expensive one. By the way I am a grandma and a mother-in-law! lol

Marty McDermott

The only thing in my box was the saw and a wrench, so be it,; my problem is I can not seat the blade. What am I doing wrong?

10
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x