Reciprocating saw performance

What is the reasonable maximum cutting capacity of a reciprocating saw in mild steel? What is the incremental benefit of going from 11 Amps to 12 Amps to 15 Amps?
Apparently Milwaukee make recip saw in all three sizes. Accuracy in this case is not an issue.
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Michael Koblic
Campbell River, BC
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I am guessing that you are looking at a sawsall. IIRC, there are various strokes such as .75" to 1.5". More stroke in cutting metal would good afaikt. The .75 stroke is perfect for demolition (aka remodeling stud construction). You can't cut out a stud if the blade leaves the cut.
Dripping oil on the blade works wonders. A sawsall isn't my choice for cutting steel but it will do in a pinch. I'd look at a portable bandsaw if space is a problem.
(Amazon.com product link shortened) for some choices.
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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The answer would be bandsaw or power hacksaw, unless the cutting needs to be done while standing on a ladder or some other unexplained situation.
The motor power in a reciprocating/Sawsall saw isn't easily applied to the blade at the cutting zone, so motor power isn't a major factor in this case. Both the bandsaw and the power hacksaw cut much more efficiently (and accurately).
The power hacksaw at least lifts the blade away from the workpiece as the blade is retracted, which a recip saw doesn't do.
The recip saw doesn't offer any load/pressure to the blade cutting force, and the forces that are generated are actually counter-productive to cutting efficiency. The vibration doesn't contribute to cutting, but instead, counters the cutting force due to overall shaking which makes the cutting more difficult for the operator. Since the blade generally stays in contact with the workpiece, the recip saw is attempting to force the saw back at the operator half of the time.
The length of the cutting stroke, and the speed of the blade, would be of more significance than the difference of a couple of amps of motor power.
When cutting wood, a recip saw is sometimes faster than trying to use a handsaw, (due mostly to strength and stamina) but certainly not as efficient as using a circular saw, for example. A recip saw offers better access in many cases.
The lower speed required for steel and other metals will require more of the operator's time, while realizing just how slow it cuts (and lack of control). Increasing the recip saw's speed will most likely reduce the cutting efficiency, and dull the blade.
Cutting thin metal stock will likely be more problematic.
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WB
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OK, why would then anyone pay $50 more for a 15 Amp saw as opposed to 13 Amp saw? I have got a Cordless Wonder which is pretty much useless for cutting *any* metal. I have used a "proper" recip saw (Milwaukee) once - about 15 years ago. I cut metal with it then and it was a significant improvement.

All the Milwaukee corded ones have orbital action.

Is this where the anti-vibration design (again: Milwaukee) comes in?

Most of the big ones are 1-1/4" with speed up to 2800 strokes /min. The top end have a dial up speed to reduce it for cutting metal.

That is one of the issues here.
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Michael Koblic
Campbell River, BC
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I can't speak for anybody else, but many consumers shop by numbers, so a 15A tool would be better to them, than a 13A tool. I'm certain that manufacturers are aware that bigger numbers produce sales, whether it's a 15A motor or a 3GHz computer.
You might be able to find an unbiased opinion of someone that's used both models of the Milwaukee saws, or it could be up to you to buy 'em both and write a concise review.
There are other methods of cutting that aren't as easy as a reciprocating saw, and many tradesmen would be lost without one. They're nice to have as an option for lots of cutting tasks, but I'd prefer a different method in most cases.
Any time I've used a recip saw, I've always thought that they would cut much better if there were an extending fingers/jaw-type accessory to stabilize the saw. Something like an F that extends from the end, where the workpiece fits into the end of the F between the parallel lines (and adjustment for workpiece thickness). There may be many situtions where the material to be cut isn't exposed enough with enough clearance to use that type of accessory.
Orbital action and anti-vibration may be enhancements or marketing hype. I guess they would be meaningful if one needed to operate a recip saw for extended periods, amounting to a couple of hours or more per day, on a regular basis.
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WB
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On Fri, 27 Nov 2009 00:10:08 -0500, "Wild_Bill"

Chain saws have them VBG
    Alan
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Or a 20 megapixel camera!
I am beginning to suspect that you are right. I thought in the beginning this would be a simple question with obvious answers (e.g. my cordless circular saw does not cut nearly as well my 15A corded one). When the answers came as somewhat counter-intuitive I decided to worry this particular bone a little more. I e-mailed the Milwaukee tech department. Their answer was interesting in that they related benefits of their bigger saws to *associated fringe features*, not the motor strength per se. E.g. 12A saw cuts with orbital action, 13A saw has antivibration, dial-up speed and head that twists to diffeent positions. 15A saw has electronic speed maintenance. And so on.

I looked long and hard before I posted and the info I was looking for was lacking.

No question. However that was not the point.

I just pruned a medium sized tree with my cordless recip. I could not have done it with any other tool, but I could have done better if I knew that there were specific "pruning" blades. And yes, two batteries was not really enough.

My jig-saw has orbital action. I have not used it enough in its different modes to say how useful it is. Most jig saw now do have it, though.
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Michael Koblic
Campbell River, BC
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For tree limbs, I've been seeing a wicked-looking tool recently, that's a small chainsaw bar at the end of a tubular pole. The power is from a small 2-cycle engine, similar in size to a gas weed trimmer.
The trouble with gas powered stuff is fuel and carb related issues, especially if the tool isn't being used frequently.
Electric power is a major convenience, that's for sure.
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WB
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I doubt if there is much difference between 11 Amps and 15 Amps.
I would not want to use a reciprocating saw on much more than 1/2 inch mild steel round bar as a regular thing. Not that it will not work, but blades are relatively expensive compared to hacksaw or bandsaw blades.
Dan
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Michael Koblic wrote:

All depends on what your using it on. The one we use at the Station is the largest unit offered 3 years ago. With the blades we have we can cut just about any material. I do like it for cutting the windshield out (MUCH faster than a Glassmaster tool) however I'm not sure how it will do with the new boron steel being used on some vehicles.
I would select the most powerful unit you can afford IF you plan on using it a lot. Larger motor means less strain on it and cooler operation.
Some of the cordless units are pretty nice, BUT you have to make sure you have at least 2 batteries ,4 is better...
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Steve W.

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And way more expensive...but do I understand you right? There is no difference between a cordless and corded recip saw in terms of performance on a full battery?
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Michael Koblic
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Michael Koblic wrote:

With a full battery they cut almost the same, the cordless is a bit easier because of the lack of cord and the heavier pack tends to dampen vibration as well. BUT you want to keep spare packs handy because they eat batteries during constant use.
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Depending on the application I have found a cheap circular saw with abrasive blade and/or a O/A torch are much faster. I do have some "torch" blades for my sawzall style reciprocating saw. I have cut steel upto 2 inches thick with one mounted in my 88 dollar crapsman I bought 15 years ago on sale to do one job and throw away. (I still use it)
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