By R. Craig Lord

Publication Date: March/April 2002

Cordless Recip Saws

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Makita

JR140DWA

14.4

7.3 lb.

0-2,700

7/8 in.

yes

14 sec.

3 min. 30 sec.

$279

Comments: This model surprised us with its speedy performance in the 2x4 test. The only 14.4 volt in the group, it kept pace with its bigger brothers -- except in the run time area. The small battery didn't last as long as the bigger ones. We also thought the trigger's lock-off switch was hard to engage and rather awkward. www.makitatools.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Bosch

1644K

18

7.9 lb.

0-2,300

3/4 to 1-1/4 in.

yes

12 sec.

5 min.

$319

Comments: This well-balanced tool has a nice view of the blade while you're cutting. It has two stroke speeds and an easy-to-use, tool-less blade-change and an adjustable shoe feature. It comes with two batteries and a box with metal buckles. www.boschtools.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Craftsman

27129

18

8.2 lb.

0-2,500

1-13/16 in.

no

25 sec.

5 min. 18 sec.

$269

Comments: Craftsman's saw has decent run time but didn't give us the cut speed we need. Its cutting action is bouncy. You need tools for blade changing and shoe adjustment. Because of its low price it might do well for intermittent use, but would be hard-pressed as your go-to tool. It comes with two batteries. www.sears.com/craftsman

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

DeWalt

DW938K

18

6.5 lb.

2.4

0-2,800

7/8 in.

yes

23 sec.

5 min. 30 sec.

$269

Comments: This model is a good cutter. It packs more spm than the other 18-volt tools and is right up there with the 24-volters' cut speed. This saw's battery powered more cutting time than the battery on the company's 24-volt model. The saw comes with two batteries, two blades, and a kit box, which makes it a nice value. www.dewalt.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Makita

JR180DWD

18

7.7 lb.

2.6

0-2,700

7/8-in.

yes

35 sec.

5 min. 30 sec.

$329

Comments: Makita's 18-volt saw has a nice tool-less blade change. The battery lasted for a good stretch on our doubled-up 2x10 test. The trigger lock engages every time you take your finger off the trigger, which we found annoying. This tool has decent power and performed well in the field and shop. www.makitatools.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Milwaukee

6514-21

18

8.3 lb.

2.4

0-2,700

3/4 in.

yes

24 sec.

8 min. 40 sec.

$259

Comments: This saw had the best run time in our doubled-up 2x10 test. Its articulating handle is great in cramped spaces. The Hatchet is the only saw with orbital cutting action, but this feature doesn't seem to add much to its cut speed. Its tool-less blade change and shoe adjustment work well. I need more power and cut speed on my jobs, but this tool is a great idea. www.mil-electric-tool.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Milwaukee

6515-27

18

8.3 lb.

2.4

0-2,700

1 in.

yes

22 sec.

4 min. 35 sec.

$279

Comments: This model's tool-less blade change and shoe adjustment mechanisms are well-designed and work with minimal effort. One of the best-balanced tools we tested, this one's nice for cutting in cramped areas. It comes with a heavy-duty box. www.mil-electric-tool.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Makita

JR140DWA

14.4

7.3 lb.

0-2,700

7/8-in.

yes

14 sec.

3 min. 30 sec.

$279

Comments: This model's cut view at 45 and 90 degrees is restricted. Adjustments are OK, except for the height adjustment. The locking screw is completely at full length and allows the bast to move. It has an adjustable 90 degree stop, which is very good. The top mounted guard retractor is too heavy. This is the comments section which will be awkward because it is so narrow. www.makitatools.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Ryobi

RJC180

18

5.7 lb.

1.5

0-3,000

7/8 in.

no

59 sec.

2 min. 30 sec.

$199

Comments: This tool is only available as part of a kit best suited for non-professional use. It lacks the cutting speed and power we need to keep moving. All its adjustments require tools, and the fit and finish aren't what they could be. www.ryobitools.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Porter-Cable

837

19.2

9 lb.

0-2,900

1 in.

yes

29 sec.

4 min.

$299

Comments: This saw has a vertically-mounted motor instead of an horizontal one, which makes the saw feel heavy, but its low center of gravity helps pull it through certain cuts. Because this saw's shorter, you can get into tighter places. The tool-less blade change works, but is hard to do one-handed. The shoe adjustment requires a tool. www.porter-cable.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Bosch

1645K

24

8.7 lb.

0-2,300

3/4 to 1-1/4 in.

yes

15 sec.

6 min.

$399

Comments: This is our favorite tool in this test. The saw's blade change hardware and shoe adjustment are tool-less and easy to use. The changeable stroke length is good for switching between metal and wood cutting. It comes with two batteries and a rugged box. www.boschtools.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

DeWalt

DW008K

24

8.1 lb.

1.7

0-2,3400/ 0-2,900

1 1/8 in.

yes

9 sec.

4 min. 30 sec.

$319

Comments: This saw can cut some wood. With its long, 1-1/8-inch stroke and 2,900 spm, it sailed through our tests. It turned in the best results of the bunch in the 2x4 test. The tool-less blade change works well, but we wonder about the flip-out lever's durability. This fast, light tool was popular with our plumbers and electricians. www.dewalt.com

Tool

Volts

Weight

Amp-hours

Spm

Stroke length

Tool-less blade change

Doubled-up 2x4 test

Continuous loaded run time test

Street price

Hitachi

CR24DV

24

9.5 lb.

0-2,600

1 1/8 in.

yes

31 sec.

5 min. 45 sec.

$360

Comments: This well-balanced tool features a variable-speed trigger with a safety lock. It performed well in the roof cut, but slowly in the 2x4s. The shoe is stiff and you need a wrench to adjust it. This saw turned in one of the highest battery run times in our doubled-up 2x10 test. www.hitachi.com/powertools

This article is reprinted courtesy of Tools of the Trade