I had the privilege recently of field-testing 13 of the leading reciprocating saws on the market courtesy of JLC and the saw manufacturers. When JLC first contacted me about the test, John Matthew of Allenwood Construction and I were converting a college dorm into a nine-unit apartment building. I thought it would be a perfect place to abuse a dozen or so reciprocating saws. To get more input, I also enlisted the help of some other tradesmen, and tried to rotate the saws between carpenters every ten days or so. Each of the carpenters who used the saws has at least ten years of experience in the field, and most have well over twenty years in the trades. The testers were all small-volume, independent builders -- guys who pay close attention to the details of their tools and equipment. Ken Randall of Randall Contracting and his crew put the saws through their paces on a large commercial renovation of a late nineteenth century building in downtown Barre, Vt. Builders Pete Copping of Copping Construction and Kevin Rand of Kevin Rand Construction also used the saws and gave me feedback, as did Peter Thomas and John Ayers, who were working on an extensive renovation of a farmhouse in East Montpelier, Vt. Bob Pomer of Pomer Contracting and Dave Smith of Knob Hill Carpentry and Design used the saws, too, and weighed in.

Deciding which recip saw to purchase has more to do with the volume and kind of work you do than any other factor. All the tools we tested are top-of-the-line, commercial-grade tools that will provide years of quality service if they are used properly and well-maintained. The saws ranged from two 6-amp models to several big 11-amp, heavy-duty...

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