The Takeaway: Everybody wants a saw that’s lighter, faster, and less tiring. This saw from Metabo-HPT (model CR18DAQ4M) is all those things, reason why we selected it as a Gear of the Year winner. It’s designed specifically for one-handed cuts, indoors or out. Grab a tree branch with one hand, cut it with the other. Hold a piece of pipe or a hunk of lumber that you need to remove, and shear it off.
- Weighs only 3.6 pounds with battery and blade
- Compact (slightly less than 14 inches long) to fit in tight places
- Accepts T-shank jig saw blades and reciprocating saw blades
Designing Speed and Versatility
You can use a reciprocating saw to cut tree branches and roots, lumber (and lumber with nails embedded all through it), plastic and metal pipe, plywood, sheet metal, insulation board, and asphalt or synthetic shingles. These tools lead hard lives.
To equip the saw to lead such a harsh and varied existence, Metabo-HPT (formerly Hitachi Power Tools) gave the saw three important features, first of which is a motor with a top speed of 3,200 strokes per minute (spm). Typically, these tools operate in a range of 1,700 to 3,000 spm, so giving the CR18DAQ4M a little extra juice with a higher top speed helps it to be more productive, especially when cutting softer lumbers and tree branches. Trigger speed control helps you slow the blade down when you encounter nails or want to cut steel pipe. Metabo-HPT rates the saw as having the capacity to cut 2-inch-diameter pipe. In our tests, we didn’t go that large, but we tried it on 1.5-inch pipe using an appropriate steel-cutting blade, and it sailed through.
Next, the manufacturer designed its feisty motor, drive train, and grip into as small a package as possible. The tool is only 14 inches long (excluding blade and battery, both of which will vary in size). That’s not small enough to drop into the space between studs or joists, unless the wood framing is spaced on 24-inch centers. But it’s still small enough to help you do cutting in tight spaces, like under sinks, the corner of an attic, inside closets, or in a tangle of branches.
Finally, we found it extremely useful that you can use T-shank jig saw blades with the tool. These blades boost the versatility of the tool. Jig saw blades are narrower than reciprocating saw blades, and although they’re generally shorter, they do come in a far wider variety of tooth configurations than are available for reciprocating saws. Now you can use the CR18DAQ4M to cut tight-radius curves or make cutouts in unusual materials such as aluminum, hardwood-veneer plywood, and stainless steel.
As we mentioned above, reciprocating saws lead a tough life. They’re often used in not just dirty places, but in dark ones. Metabo-HPT is wise to equip the saw with an LED work light, a must for remodelers and homeowners who work in basements, attics, and crawlspaces. They don’t always bring an additional work light with them.
Those cuts are hard, and the LED is extremely useful in these situations; after all, it’s even more difficult to cut something if you can’t see it. But the work light serves a second purpose. If you push the tool so hard you risk overheating the battery or motor, the LED will blink on and off, telling you to back off. Let the CR18DAQ4M cool down, recharge the battery, or both.
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