Hacksaw vs. Reciprocating Saw: Which to Choose?

Hacksaw vs. Reciprocating Saw: Which to Choose?

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If you are planning on doing some cutting and sawing around the house, particularly for demolition purposes, then two tools that you may use include the hacksaw and the reciprocating saw. While they might sound similar, they are different types of saws with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Today, we’ll discuss which of the two you should be using for your project.

Hacksaws and Reciprocating Saws: The Basics

Before we start talking about similarities and differences, let’s first figure out what both hacksaws and reciprocating saws are.

What Is a Hacksaw?

Hacksaw First, we have the hacksaw, which is a special type of manual or hand-powered saw designed for cutting things like brackets, rods, and metal pipes. The hacksaw features a frame in the shape of a U, complete with a handle at one end, and a blade that spans in between the two open parts of the U-shaped frame.

These blades also have very small and fine teeth, which are designed specifically for cutting metal. Each end of that U-shaped frame features small pins, nuts, and tensioner knobs that can be used to either extend or retract the length of the frame, which therefore allows for different lengths of blades to be used.

At the same time, these knobs also put tension on the blade to ensure that it is stiff enough to perform any task at hand, while also keeping it in place. Keep in mind that hacksaw blades can be fixed to the frame in order to cut on either the push stroke or the pull stroke, although cutting on the push stroke is the more common of the two.

What Is a Reciprocating Saw?

Reciprocating Saw We then have the reciprocating saw, which is a relatively small powered tool. This type of powered saw can be either corded or battery-powered.

They feature a fairly long shaft or body, complete with a handle and a trigger at one end. The front end of this saw features a relatively long, thin, and fine tooth blade that moves in a reciprocating manner.

In other words, this saw utilizes a blade that moves back and forth very quickly to achieve a sawing motion. Keep in mind that with a reciprocating saw, the blade is in line with the shaft of the machine, unlike a jigsaw where the blade is placed perpendicularly to the shaft of the machine. Also, keep in mind that there are different types of reciprocating blades for different uses.

The reciprocating saw, although it may be used in construction, is much more commonly used in demolition. While cutting wood and other materials is very common with this type of saw, it is most often used to cut things like metal and plastic pipes.

Similarities of Hacksaws and Reciprocating Saws

Now that we know what both of these tools are, let’s figure out what makes them similar.

1. The Motion of the Blade

One of the most basic similarities here is that both saws feature the same blade motion. Although one is a manual saw and the other is a powered saw, both move back and forth in a similar reciprocating motion.

2. General Applications

The other basic similarity shared by both of these tools is that they are most often used for demolition purposes, mainly for cutting apart metal and plastic pipes, although they may also be used for wood.

To learn more about this, read my article on hacksaw uses and reciprocating saw uses.

Reciprocating Saw in Use

Differences Between Hacksaws and Reciprocating Saws

Now that we know what makes hacksaws and reciprocating saws similar, let’s figure out what makes them different.

1. Manual vs. Powered

One of the biggest differences between these two saws is, of course, that the hacksaw is manually powered, which means that your biceps do all of the work, whereas a reciprocating saw has a motor that does the work for you.

2. Shape, Size, and Weight

Another big difference here is that a hack saw is generally much lighter in weight than a reciprocating saw, which is of course due to the fact that it only has a frame and a blade, whereas the reciprocating saw also has a large motor incorporated into it.

Although the two may be similar in size, a reciprocating saw is generally going to be larger. Due to it being heavier, a reciprocating saw can be difficult to use for prolonged periods of time, although that said, because you don’t have to use manual power, it is easier to use in that sense.

3. The Stroke

Another difference to keep in mind here is that with a hacksaw, you can affix a blade to cut on either the push stroke or the pull stroke. However, with a reciprocating saw, the blades are designed to cut on both the push and the pull stroke, therefore making much faster work of any job at hand.

4. Speed and Ease of Use

Of course, due to the fact that a reciprocating saw has a motor, whereas a hacksaw does not, a reciprocating saw is going to make much faster work out of any job at hand, while also being much easier to use. You won’t suffer from nearly as much fatigue when using a reciprocating saw as a hacksaw.

5. Versatility

While you can change the blades on hacksaws to make them very versatile, so they can be used on various materials, reciprocating saws are even more versatile. You will be hard pressed to find any kind of material that the reciprocating saw blade cannot cut through.

6. Cost

Due to the fact that it is a powered machine with a motor, you can expect to pay many times more for an average reciprocating saw than for a hacksaw.

Hacksaw in Use

Hacksaw vs. Reciprocating Saw: Which Should You Use?

If you only need to cut apart a few pieces of metal, the hacksaw will be just fine. However, if you plan on doing regular demolition work, and working with various materials, then a reciprocating saw is going to be the more efficient option.


You should now know all of the major differences between hacksaws and reciprocating saws, so you can make an informed decision as to which one to use for your next big job.

How Do Hacksaws and Reciprocating Saws Compare with Other Tools?

See how reciprocating saws compare with: angle grinders | chainsaws | circular saws | circular saws and jigsaws | jigsaws | miter saws | oscillating multi-tools

See how hacksaws compare with: coping saws | hand saws