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Reciprocating saw with carbide Diablo pruning blade  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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My Milwaukee Fuel cordless reciprocating saw, coupled with a Diablo blade, has become my new favorite pruning tool. I often need to cut very bushy things that are growing close to house foundations, rocks and other obstacles. Because these things are all in the city, I encounter wire and nails. The carbide blade rips right through small obstacles.

I have used the reciprocating saw in the past, mostly with a Milwaukee demolition blade attached. I was happy with the production, but I think this blade is three times faster.

It's best suited to branches over half an inch in diameter. When small stuff is cut, it's hard to do a neat job. I used it mostly to cut larger branches from the trunks of big rhododendrons and other plantings that were surrounding a house that is being moved. Speed is comprable to a small chainsaw, when doing branches under 3 inches in diameter. I very carefully cut two 7 inch stumps within 1/4 of an inch from the soil, so that vehicles could drive over them. It's difficult to do that with a chainsaw. Hitting a bit of mud is much more serious with a chainsaw. The actual cut time is longer, but this tool is very quick to move from cut to cut, and into difficult spots. I will use it as a limbing saw, the next time I cut firewood. I could see it being very useful when limbing softwoods that are to be used in building. It does a much more accurate job than a chainsaw can accomplish. When dealing with small limbs, it's more about hand speed than cut time.

I used a 5 amp hour battery, because of its compact size. The saw would have more power if I used a 9 amp hour battery, but I was really happy with how fast and maneuverable it was.

I often salvage floor joists from houses that are being demolished. I hold the saw over my head and cut the joists as close as possible to the beam. These blades are going to greatly reduce cut time and therefore the time that I have to have my arms over my head while pushing. The blade is so aggressive that I barely had to push at all. So, I expect to get the work done faster, using less battery power. I only discovered these blades yesterday, and they have already saved probably half an hour of labor. On big salvage jobs, there is usually no electricity, because the buildings are being decommissioned. A saw that is faster that uses less battery power, means that I'm not running off to charge the batteries. There will be times when these blades make an extra $100 per day.

For the average person who isn't a chainsaw user, these are much safer and perfectly suited to dealing with trees under one foot in diameter. For pruning fruit trees, topping big hedges and other tight work, I expect it to be faster than my small chainsaw that I currently use. Cuts are very smooth.

The only issue I've had, is if I try to cut something that's too small , it gets shaken around by the back and forth motion, instead of being cut. It would be best used in combination with loppers. Anything that is thick enough to be difficult to cut with loppers, is the perfect size for this saw.

These blades will work with any cordless saw. A flimsy Ryobi unit won't cut as fast, but provided you don't push, it won't stall out the saw. I did a few cuts using only about 1/4 of the power my saw provides.
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Still razor-sharp after hundreds of cuts
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Not much left holding this house up
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This one had 2 by 8 ceiling material. $1 50 per board foot. Boom!
 
garden master
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Thanks for this tip Dale!  I've got a decent amount of damage in my forest garden from a storm we had around Thanksgiving that still needs some work to finish cleaning up and will give this a try.  I noticed that besides the 9", they also offer a 6" and 12".  Do you think the 12" would work nicely too or much more likely to fold?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I bought two nine inch blades and one 12. The only time I ever expect to use the 12in, would be if I'm cutting a large stump or if I have to make a beam cut in a difficult location. I think most of the time that extra length would just get in the way.

For pruning of fruit trees and other small maintenance, the six inch blade would probably be better.

The 9-inch was perfect for the stuff I did yesterday, since I had to cut some seven in stumps and some 8in posts.

Diablo blades are usually quite strong and they don't break off very easily at the point where they enter the power unit. But a big long blade that's flopping around a lot, might be more prone to metal fatigue at that point. Most DeWalt blades that I have used, broke off at that point before the teeth were dull, and DeWalt go dull easily. I never by low-quality crap like that, but sometimes people leave them behind, so I use them up. Better than tin foil, and perfectly suitable for cutting butter or jello :-)

Next week, the house lifting crew will get the weight of a big house on to the jacks, but they won't actually go up, until I cut through two big beams that are a combination of steel I-beam with paralams bolted to them. This mixed-media cut will require the best blades available. I'm going to have plenty of Milwaukee and Diablo blades on hand for the occasion. They will get it up and then they will go for lunch. Any delay beyond that would cost the company more than $1,000 per hour, so I'm going to make sure that I'm not the weak link in that chain. We can't use a wood saw because of the steel and we can't use a torch because of the wood. It can't be taken apart, because it's holding the weight of a house, so the only choice is to use a reciprocating saw.
 
pollinator
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I have been impressed at their demos I have seen on youtube.

 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm glad you posted that video, Mart. I'm going to go shopping for those blades several days before the big beam cuts that I mentioned in my edit to my last post. There will be no electricity available, so the only tool I have that could possibly accomplish this, is my Milwaukee fuel reciprocating saw. I will post the results. I've never made reciprocating saw cuts that were so critical to our operations. Usually, I can just get everything done at my own pace before they show up to lift the house. This is unique in that a six-man crew and a lot of expensive equipment could be stuck waiting, if there's a delay in my progress. I'm going to make sure that they bring their Milwaukee fuel saw, as well, just in case I break a blade off inside or make it unusable in some other way.
 
pollinator
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Haven't tried that particular blade yet, but I would agree that the Diablo are better than Milwaukee blades.

Have you tried the M18 hackzall? I've got the older pre-Fuel version, love it.

Beyond the obvious perk of one handed operation for many many things, I like to use it as a heavy-duty jigsaw.

It won't replace the fullsize sawzall as the stroke is shorter, so in thick material it bogs down easier, and needs a lot of angle adjustments to clear the cut.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I could see that being really useful as a jigsaw. I almost always need the full speed and power that the big saw provides. I could also see it being useful for someone who does tree pruning. I find mine a little heavy for one-handed operation, although I quite often do it.
 
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Took down most of a tree with my hackzall.
Love that thing.

One note about your beam cutting Dale.
As you know,  good steel or even cast iron is hard to cut with sawblades of any type.
On these materials I use a side grinder with a diamond blade,  intended for ceramics and concrete,and it eats right through.
No way a sidegrinder can cut deep enough for your beam,  but a concrete saw should work, and Milwaukee has one with a 14" blade ,though its not cordless.
Dewalt has a cordless but it's only 9".
Anyway,  thought I might mention the idea in case you need a back up plan.
 
pollinator
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A plumber friend uses a (good) angle grinder w/a diamond blade to cut cast iron.  Don't know about steel. Diamond lasts longer when cooled w/a stream of water. Should be possible to run tests.

Other ideas:

Is there a 3000+ KW generator on site? With the serious equipment already allocated, it would not be unreasonable to have one and it enlarges your tool options. There are also gas powered saws. With a large operating cost per hour that day, as you describe, there s/b room in the budget for "what it takes" to make those cuts.

If it's possible to "open up" the cut, that is, cut back the wood 6-12" either side of where you slice the steel, it might allow cutting with a torch. Other fire safety measures depend  on nearby surroundings. Possibly the cut can be opened up a day or so ahead of time and that would reduce risk of delays.  It might be helpful to remove the wood anyway to be able to see what is happening while cutting the steel.

Circular saws waste wood faster than just about anything when you can get the blade on the work properly.  If the situation allows, using a circ-saw to kerf the wood longways might be very fast and make scooping out the remainder relatively easy.

If there's a local borg, laying in lots of new tool and blade inventory ahead of time allows for surprises. Return what's not used.


Sounds like a great challenge. Good luck.

Rufus


 
Dale Hodgins
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I was forgetting that the lift unit has its own power generation. So I do have the option of using that. I will be removing wood from around the beam before the cut, but the paralams must remain, since they are part of the strength of the whole thing. So it must be a cut through wood and steel at the same time. I think that eliminates torches. I made 16 cuts today through 3/16 inch plate post saddles that were sticking up from the ground in a place where a vehicle must be driven. The sharp remnants were bent flat. Total cut time was probably under 15 minutes using the Milwaukee saw and a Milwaukee metal blade meant for thicker material.

I once had to fire a guy because of torches. We had some torches meant for very tough jobs and this was one of the few things he was good at. Nobody else seemed to be able to get the gas mix to work. He liked to avoid cleanup work and heavy lifting, so every time he encountered a half inch bolt, he would run for the torch and waste 15 minutes setting up and putting it away again. He managed to piss away a good portion of his day on something where he should have just used the Sawzall. This and other work avoidance behaviors were common with this guy.
 
Dillon Nichols
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I use a cordless grinder for some of what I bet you use the sawzall for... but I use it because discs are cheaper than blades and I'm not getting paid.

The sawzall throws a lot less nasty shit around than a grinder, or a big saw; I think it's proportionately safer.

As you point out above it's going to cut mixed media better much cleaner than the other options.

(I jumped from 5AH to the new 12AH on my old hackzall. Man, what an upgrade... it really drinks the juice, so the capacity bump is awesome.)
 
Dale Hodgins
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I determined today that the blades in my first post are unsuitable for nail embedded wood. It destroys them quite quickly. So they are really just a super awesome pruning blade.
 
pollinator
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I use my Sawzall all the time for trimming trees.  In fact, I've got a chain saw and I'd prefer to use the sawzall rather than the chainsaw.

I took down six VERY large Queen Palms with that Sawzall -- some of which were at least 20 inches in diameter.  It went through the palm trunk like a hot knife through butter.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I used some of the carbide metal cutting blades today and they were a colossal disappointment. Tried them on an old hot water heating system. The teeth came off relatively quickly when I tried to cut those pipes and steel gas line. I thought it might just be that those were somehow hardened materials, so I tried another blade on rebar with the same effect. So perhaps the Diablo carbide metal cutting blades are useful for cutting mild steel I-beams, but they are certainly not suitable for anything I've tried so far. Perhaps the teeth did stay sharp, but since they got knocked off, those sharp little bits are somewhere on the floor.

As for them lasting 20 times longer, I used a standard Milwaukee hacksaw blade on the same rebar and got more cuts out of it before it went dull. I will get some pictures if I can find those blades.

The video shows a nice smooth cuts being made. I'm often in places where there's lots of bouncing, until the blade scores the material. Perhaps it's the bouncing that the teeth can't take. I am never in a shop type situation, where I could prevent that. I don't know that I've ever been so completely disappointed with a product that held so much promise.
 
Mart Hale
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I used some of the carbide metal cutting blades today and they were a colossal disappointment. Tried them on an old hot water heating system. The teeth came off relatively quickly when I tried to cut those pipes and steel gas line. I thought it might just be that those were somehow hardened materials, so I tried another blade on rebar with the same effect. So perhaps the Diablo carbide metal cutting blades are useful for cutting mild steel I-beams, but they are certainly not suitable for anything I've tried so far. Perhaps the teeth did stay sharp, but since they got knocked off, those sharp little bits are somewhere on the floor.

As for them lasting 20 times longer, I used a standard Milwaukee hacksaw blade on the same rebar and got more cuts out of it before it went dull. I will get some pictures if I can find those blades.

The video shows a nice smooth cuts being made. I'm often in places where there's lots of bouncing, until the blade scores the material. Perhaps it's the bouncing that the teeth can't take. I am never in a shop type situation, where I could prevent that. I don't know that I've ever been so completely disappointed with a product that held so much promise.



Yes if you watch the video again, the instructor said that bouncing will destroy the teeth quickly.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I just watched the video again and he warned against bounce because it would take the teeth off. I'm often  cutting loose pipes and things that I have to reach, to make the cuts. There's no way I can brace all of this material perfectly. I've made thousands of cuts with other blades and they didn't lose their teeth from the material bouncing around. Today we broke some concrete and there were lots of bits of rebar that had to be cut. Unless you get really tight to the spot where it comes out of the concrete, rebar is going to bounce. I tried reaching in for a one handed cut, and could not get the blade to find a track. Used that way it would just bounce around all day without making a trench that it could follow.

I will still try them on those large beams that I have to cut, but I'm definitely going to have a back-up plan.

The most disappointing product I've tried in years. I've used plenty of other Diablo blades, and I've always been happy with their quality, until now.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Mart and I were writing at the same time. So these blades don't seem to be made for the sort of work that I've always done with a Sawzall. Renovation type stuff and demolition stuff, where you reach into a difficult area to make a cut. A Sawzall blade that can't be used for that, is worthless to me. I doubt that 5% of Sawzall blades are used in controlled shop situations. People use them in real world situations where you can't brace everything. So far, I tried them on steel sewer pipe, steel hot water heating system, rebar and gas pipe. In each situation the blade was destroyed. I often use Sawzall blades when removing door frames. I can't see exactly where all of the nails are, I just run the blade through the space and it cuts whatever it encounters. I'm expecting a fail there as well. I will return the unused blades after the beams are cut. Useless!
 
Dale Hodgins
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I used the lift to get to every portion of this big tree. It had to be seriously pruned in order for the house to pass by it. It's going to be very tight, since it's a giant house. This is the first time I've ever cut branches off a tree, from a bucket. Extremely efficient.

The larger cuts were all done with a chainsaw, but I did use the reciprocating saw for many small branches near the bottom that were cut away to improve vision and access.
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Dale Hodgins
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We managed to cut those steel and wood beams. It took about 5 minutes per side. It was necessary to have a 6 in space between the portion of the house being lifted and the portion that will be left behind. So 10 minutes for each beam of actual cut time. And at least another five minutes of monkeying with blades and moving the ladder Etc.

We ended up using jack posts, so that it didn't have to be done while the crew waited.

The Diablo carbide metal cutting blades might be slightly faster than the thinner Milwaukee blades. After making two cuts, the carbide blade was still in good shape. But then it broke, so ultimately didn't cut any further than the Milwaukee metal cutting blade. It was a difficult spot, where there was some bending at the point where the blade inserts into the Sawzall. In a shop situation, I'm sure the carbide blade would last much longer, since the teeth on the Broken Blade are still in perfect condition.
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Rufus Laggren
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Now those are cuts to be proud of, Dale!


Cheers,
Rufus
 
pollinator
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I bought two nine inch blades and one 12. The only time I ever expect to use the 12in, would be if I'm cutting a large stump or if I have to make a beam cut in a difficult location. I think most of the time that extra length would just get in the way.

For pruning of fruit trees and other small maintenance, the six inch blade would probably be better.

The 9-inch was perfect for the stuff I did yesterday, since I had to cut some seven in stumps and some 8in posts.

Diablo blades are usually quite strong and they don't break off very easily at the point where they enter the power unit. But a big long blade that's flopping around a lot, might be more prone to metal fatigue at that point. Most DeWalt blades that I have used, broke off at that point before the teeth were dull, and DeWalt go dull easily. I never by low-quality crap like that, but sometimes people leave them behind, so I use them up. Better than tin foil, and perfectly suitable for cutting butter or jello :-)



Vermont American makes a pruning blade, tooth grind looks like a bow saw blade, but on a reciprocating blade blank. It is at least 9" but i think it's 12". While the end flops around a bit, it is nice for pruning trees that you care about (not removals) as you can use the end of the blade and keep the shoe of the saw away from striking the trunk.
There's also the perennial problem of the teeth near the shoe getting dull more quickly, so more length = some sharp ones near the tip.
I also found that these blades outlasted my chainsaw in cutting tree roots, maybe in part because of the back-and-forth motion? I wish I had the Diablo carbide to tryout side-by-side!
 
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Truth.  I used this same set up last summer when clearing out the edge of the pond.  It works *great* - just need to be mindful of use on larger things with no bar oil.  Otherwise, it works great for most cutting even up to 5-6"
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have used the type that looks like a Swede saw blade. Much slower and the cut wasn't as clean. I used this one to cut a 10 x 10 fir beam. You can get them up to 12 in long.

We often have a situation where something needs to be cut under the house where men are working. If some fool starts a gas chainsaw, everybody has to clear out until the Smoke Clears.

On really large cuts it's important to start off straight and to remain straight so that it's not trying to curve the blade. They can get quite hot if it's running tight along the side of the cut.
 
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