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Double Life for Recip Saw Blades

This University of Extrication Newsletter takes a look at a feature on a typical reciprocating saw that many rescue teams have but don’t use. The feature is the adjustable shoe. Most rescuers usually disregard it and simply run with the shoe all the way retracted. You can however use this feature to your advantage and essentially double the cutting life of each saw blade you use at a vehicle rescue incident.

When you insert a new blade into the saw, move the adjustable shoe of the saw out to its extended position. This is your starting position. As the new blade is used for the first time, you can see from this first image that the cutting takes place in the two inches nearest to the shoe itself. The teeth on that section of the blade obviously wear out as the cutting takes place.

reciprocating saw

Reciprocating saw shoe in ‘OUT’ position

Instead of changing to a new blade when these teeth dull, quickly move the shoe back to its fully retracted position. The teeth at the base of the shoe that have not yet been exposed to any cutting are now in position to cut. From a realistic standpoint, it’s the same as if the saw operator changed to a completely new blade.

Reciprocating saw blade teeth

Fresh teeth at base of recip saw blade are not used initially when the shoe is extended

If your reciprocating saw has an adjustable shoe, develop a procedure where the norm for your department is to start with the shoe extended. Then, train your rescue team how to use the adjustable shoe to their advantage to essentially double the cutting life of each of your saw blades.

Reciprocating saw blade teeth

“Doubling” the life of the saw blade is achieved when shoe is retracted and fresh teeth continue the cutting

About Ron Moore

Ron Moore retired as a Division Chief with the McKinney (TX) Fire Department. He is now employed part-time with the Prosper, TX Fire Rescue and the Plano Fire Rescue. Ron is the author of now over 200 published articles in his renowned University of Extrication series, featured each month in Firehouse Magazine and is the moderator of the University of Extrication interactive section of the Firehouse.com website.