How To Cut Steel Pipe With Sawzall

June 24, 2022

Steel Pipe to make table legs.

Do you know what a Sawzall is? Well, if you don’t, you’re not alone, for the term Sawzall appears to be like a foreign word to many. Nevertheless, you might have already encountered this word if you are familiar with metallurgy or metal works. 

Of course, Sawzall is a trademark of Milwaukee, a well-known power tool manufacturer based in Wisconsin. Sawzall is a reciprocating saw, and because of its popularity as a reciprocating saw, most users have used it interchangeably when referring to a reciprocating saw. Sawzall is perfect for cutting through almost every type of metal.

Steps on Using Sawzall To Cut Steel Pipe

Since the term Sawzall is almost synonymous with the term reciprocating saw, I will use it interchangeably with this term while discussing the different steps on how to use Sawzall to cut a steel pipe. As a beginner, you will find the Sawzall a little rough and tough to handle. So, to help you in its use, you can check out these simple steps on how to use Sawzall to cut steel pipe:

Step 1: At the onset, Set Up the Sawzall to Orbital Action Mode. 

The orbital action is one mode of motion by the blade of the Sawzall or any reciprocating saws. This motion is characterized by the blade’s in and out movement that lets it slice through the steel pipe. Yet, it is not merely an in and out motion; it also adds a wiggling motion for quick cutting. This combination of circular and wiggling motion lets the Sawzall cut fast with less effort.

Cutting steel, of course, is a tough job. It requires a certain level of expertise in the use of a cutting tool. Moreover, it requires specific knowledge about safety tips on how to handle a cutting tool. So, if you’re not used to a wiggling blade while cutting a steel pipe, you better not try using this saw to get the hang of its use. 

If you want to gain mastery of Sawzall’s use, you can go read through this article and learn the succeeding steps on how to use the Sawzall. Moreover, you would find it hard to get fine cuts with the wiggling Sawzall. Of course, some reciprocating saws would enable you to get fine cuts with orbital motion mode, while others would not.

Step 2: Install the Blade

Experts in cutting metals know that they need to choose the right blade when cutting metals. Metals also vary in constitution and composition, and for this reason, you need to select the blade that is right for the type of metal. If you are cutting a metal steel pipe, you should choose a blade made for cutting steel. You do not need to use a blade designed for cutting aluminum. 

Changing the blades of Sawzall is easy, for you do not need to deal with nuts or screws when changing its blade. Moreover, you do not need to use a particular tool, either.

At the onset, you should turn off the saw before installing the blade. Then, once you are sure that the saw is not on, you can then insert the blade at the shoe slot’s back. The shoe refers to the little metal piece. This metal piece sits between the blade and the opening at the end of the saw. It will also help to lift the key. Then, insert the blade. Push it back to lock it back in place. Make sure that you did it right and have correctly locked it.

Step 3: Adjust the Settings of the Saw

The settings of the saw may vary depending on the brand and model you are using. The tool may vary, of course, but the measurement settings are still the same. Moreover, it is good to note that some Sawzall saws come with several speeds while others come with only a one-speed rate. When adjusting the speed, one caveat you should bear in mind is to keep your hands and arms out of the blade’s reach to keep yourself safe. 

Start with a slow speed level to let you get the hang of its use and avoid injuries. Before using a Sawzall with no speed trigger, it will help to set it up before switching it on. As you get the hang of its use, you can then switch to a faster speed. But as a beginner, it’s advisable to go for a slow speed level.

Step 4: Begin Cutting

Once you have set the blade and the tool, you can then begin cutting the steel. It will help to double-check everything before you start cutting to ensure that you did not miss anything. Then, position the shoe on the pipe that you would like to cut and attached it well. 

The blade should be perpendicular to the steel pipe’s surface. Then, turn on the saw and begin cutting using slow speed. At the onset, you will feel the strong vibrations. Adjust your body to the vibrations until you get the hang of it. Hold the pipe tight while you handle the Sawzall. You can start increasing the speed once you get the hang of its use.

Other Essential Tips that You Should Know

  • Aside from knowing the steps on using a Sawzall, it will be useful to know the following valuable tips to ensure that you will properly use it:As mentioned above, you need to choose the right blade for the type of metal you will cut. For example, you need to select a blade with 20 to 24 TPI for thin metal. Yet, you should go for 10 to 18 TPI blades if you will cut medium thickness metal. But if you are going to cut very thick metal, you should shift to 8 TPI blades. Thus, if you intend to cut various types of metals, you need to invest in a set of blades containing various blades for different metal sizes and composition.
  • When using a Sawzall, you need to take extra precautions and protect yourself at all times. Use ear and eye protection gear because Sawzall’s use may generate intense decibels and even cause sparks and flying metal chips. It will also help if you use protective gloves to protect yourself from cuts.
  • Choose longer blades when engaged in flush cutting. Longer blades will bend to let you get a more significant proportion for riding flat. On the other hand, when cutting thinner materials, you can decrease the wiggling of the blade. The blade, however, should be longer by several inches than the cut depth required.
  • You should follow the right insertion of the blade according to the application. If you are cutting a metal flushed to the floor, you can insert the blade with its teeth facing upwards. Then, change the tool’s orientation to avoid the handle from getting in the way.
  • You should set the saw at a slower speed if you are just a newbie in the Sawzall use. Aside from reducing the vibrations and giving you better control, the blade also can extend its life if it runs at a slower speed. Ensure that you set the shoe at the most suitable blade’s point.
  • Guide the blade using the shoe as your fulcrum as it burrows through the metal. Hold the tool and slowly squeeze its trigger.
  • It will help if you change the cutting angle by raising or lowering the trigger hand relative to the workpiece. In this way, you can also increase the speed of your cutting time.
  • Let go of the trigger once you have completed the cutting. Then, draw back the blade. Stack away the tool to safety storage once you’re not going to use it anymore.


As a machine-powered saw, the reciprocating saw cuts via a push-and-pull motion. Hence, it is called reciprocating because of this push-and-pull movement of its blade. As a tool, users mostly used it in demolition, and its use makes demolitions easy and more fun. Thus, many users refer to it as the ultimate demolition equipment. By following the steps mentioned above and the safety tips in using it, you can make the most of its use.

A Sawzall is a well-known tool utilized by construction workers and window fitters. It is also a go-to tool by the emergency rescue teams because of its capability to cut through any metal type; thus, it will be useful to have this tool at hand in your workshop.

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