Ridgid One Handed Reciprocating Saw Review
What do you get when you take 50 percent jig saw and 50 percent reciprocating saw along with all the functionality of a hand saw? What you get is the new Ridgid R3030 One-Handed Reciprocating Saw! Many times a reciprocating saw is too big, does not fit or lacks the finesse needed to do a tricky cutting job. For example when you have to reach up inside a joist space, and there is not enough room to move with most power saws and definitely not enough room to get any productive strokes out of a hand saw; this new saw will reach into those tight places and give you complete functionality and precision control.
Our test tool arrived in a slim looking box and inside the box was a zippered nylon carry case, the reciprocating saw, three sample blades (we will talk about the blades later) and the instruction manual. The saw seems to be well made and sturdy. The main body is made up of the familiar Ridgid orange ABS plastic with grey overmolded rubber grip sections. There is a thick bent chromed wire guard that surrounds the quick release blade change mechanism. This wire guard also functions as a guide and rest for when you are cutting. It is stout enough that you can press and push against with without it moving. Blade changes are super simple and only require rotating the spring loaded metal collets about a 1/4 turn to release the blade. New blades are easily inserted and held in place with the same turn of the collet. In the past, we have had some issues with some of the Ridgid blade change mechanisms and it appears that they got this tool right! One of the really fantastic items we have come to like and almost expect from Ridgid is their super long power cords. This tool is no different with its 16 ft length and their nifty lighted plug end that quickly helps you identify if you have power.
There are a few things to note about this one-hand reciprocating saw that differentiate it from its larger brothers. One is that it has a shorter stroke length of only about 1/2″. This is about half the stroke length of most reciprocating saws. This is not a bad thing, but what we did notice is that when cutting a thicker piece of wood like a piece of 2x material, chips were slower to be cleared from the cut. To speed up the cut we moved the saw in and out slightly. Also this saw does not have orbital cutting action. This too is not a bad thing but more an issue of what you are trying to cut. Due to its compact and slender design, the orbital action would have bulked it up too much and also added vibration during use. The lack of orbital action in some ways makes this saw more versatile because when you have to cut hard materials like metal pipe, orbital action is not desired as when cutting soft wood. In our experience, a more precise cut is easier to achieve when orbital action is not used.
Now if you are wondering why we think this saw is in some ways similar to a jigsaw, it is because of the size and the fact that it came with a thin jigsaw-like blade that had a reciprocating saw tang on it. What this did was allow us to make jigsaw-type cuts in plywood and paneling. For example, we had to cut in several holes for two gang old work boxes for some new switches we were installing. In one room the walls were covered in paneling and in the other they were covered with 3/4″ thick tongue & groove cypress boards. We first traced out the boxes and then we proceed to drill 3/8” holes in the inside corners of the traced boxes on the wall. Using the one hand reciprocating saw and the jigsaw-like blade, we connected the drilled holes. The one handed saw worked great and was very comfortable to maneuver. The long trigger allowed us to hold it different ways and still have good finger control of the variable speed trigger.
To test how well the saw cut hard materials, we put a 1″ steel gas pipe in the vise and found that we were easily able to slice off sections much faster than if we were using a hack saw. We tried the saw numerous times cutting 2x materials. We also tried a few precise cuts that involved flush cutting some trim and installing a wood threshold for a laminate floor. All the cuts were easy to make. The saw was easy to control and what made the saw even better was the good blade selection. Make sure to use a sharp blade and one that is designed for the material or application you are using it on. There are many different types of reciprocating saw blades on the market and most of them will fit in this saw.
A slender body, easy blade changes and small form factor are just a few of the features that make this saw handy. We liked it for its versatility and functionality. For our performance rating we gave it a 7/10 because, even though it has many great features and practical uses, we did find it a little slow to cut some materials due to its short stroke and no orbital action. For our value rating we gave it an 8/10 because the saw fills a good gap between the different saws at a very fair price point.