Fitting Reciprocating Saw Blades to a Saw Handle





Introduction: Fitting Reciprocating Saw Blades to a Saw Handle

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

This is a follow-up to my recent Instructable on making a Keyhole Saw Handle from Pipe.  I went to look for a new keyhole or compass saw blade and found they do not exist.  I could buy a cheap compass saw with a plastic handle.  I wanted to see about adapting a standard reciprocating saw blade to the handle I made for the earlier Instructable.   

Step 1: Standard Reciprocating Saw Blades

Makita makes a blade for its reciprocating saws that appears to have a large enough hole in the right place so that the Makita blades would work without modification.  But, I could not find a local dealer who sells the Makita blades.  So I began to adapt the standard blade configuration.

Here you see a variety pack of reciprocating saw blades.  Adapting standard blades also makes a compass or keyhole saw more versatile.  You can use a coarse wood blade or a fine wood blade.  Or, you can use a blade designed to cut steel, or even masonry.

(The photo is from Home Depot's web site.)

Step 2: The Problem

Blades for a reciprocating saw are made from high carbon steel.  Most twist drills will not drill through high carbon steel.  On the Internet I read about special drill bits available in the United Kingdom for drilling high carbon steel.  They are similar to a masonry bit, except that the carbide tip is sharper and is brazed in place with a very high melting point brazing alloy.  These bits are used without lubricants and create so much heat that the very hard steel softens and comes off in hot shards.  I have another plan.

I marked the location of the hole in my saw handle.


Step 3: The Dremel

I used an abrasive cutting disc in my Dremel tool to begin cutting through the blade on four sides of the mark for the hole.  The cutting disc has been used so that it is smaller, which allows smaller and closer cuts.  This is better for making a small 1/4 inch hole in the saw blade.

Step 4: Marks on the Other Side

In addition to some scratch marks made when sliding the blade in and out of the pipe handle, you can see three of the cuts from the other side beginning to poke through the blade.  I turned the blade over and finished all four cuts from this side.  The blade did not get hot and the Dremel cut the high carbon steel at full speed reasonably well.

Step 5: The Finished Hole

Here you see the finished hole.  It does not matter that it is square, nor would it matter if it were just a little over-sized.  The handle squeezes the sides of the blade and that is what holds the blade.  The hole simply makes a place for the bolt to go through the blade.

Step 6: Options

This blade has parallel edges top and bottom.  Reciprocating saw blades are made to cut on the pull stroke rather than the push stroke, like a Japanese handsaw.  The photos in this Instructable show me adding an extra hole at the end visible in this photo.  That gives me the choice of reversing the blade so it cuts on the push stroke in use.  If the blade did not have parallel edges that would not be possible. 

I was not pleased when I found I could not easily buy a replacement blade for a keyhole or compass saw, but that actually led to something that gives me many more options for using this saw in terms of materials it will cut and cutting direction.

I should also mention I did see some saw kits with handles that accept a standard reciprocating saw blade.  The handles on those saws were not at a near right angle to the blade, but came straight back like an extension of the blade. 



    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest
    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    • Planter Challenge

      Planter Challenge

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Phil, you've got a lot of great instructables and deal with a variety of attitudes in people's commenting without defensively replying, I admire that too.

    1 reply

    Thank you, Nathan. Just because someone else acts intemperately does not mean I must follow suit. During earlier periods of my life I too often responded poorly to people, and do not want to do that anymore. Sometimes a gentle response even brings an apology from someone who reacted while too full of oneself.

    Wow the way that handle looks it makes me think you've been watching the movie Mad Max too much! Wooden handles aren't all that hard to make. I know they look hard, but they're really not. And when you're done they look like they were hard to make.

    I made a paper template to make this one:

    This one I modeled in some of that never hardening clay first then used it as a template:

    Once I've drawn the handle out on the wood I drill some holes in the obvious places and use a jig saw to cut out the rest. I radius it on a router table, some sanding and it is done.

    Next one I do I'm going to try to put some fancy carvings and scrollwork on it just to see if I can make a wooden handle that actually is hard to make. Maybe something along these lines:

    Its probably not that all fired difficult to do either when you get right down to it.

    10 replies

    Your handles are very nice. They would make good Instructables. I encourage you to publish them.

    Like I said there is not much to it really, just draw it and cut it out. Last time I did a dead simple Instructable it was rejected. Seems there is some minimum of steps or something. Shame really because it is mighty handy. See if you can download it, as it seems to keep on disappearing so get it while you can!

    It is the secret to my success. It is a magic table. Mine is the most comprehensive I've seen on the Internet. There is similar just not as all encompassing. I printed mine out and taped a magnet to it for easy hanging in my garage. Don't think just download it and print it out and put it in your work area. It is endlessly useful!

    Ok I see now that was 3 years ago. Probably has changed since then.

    There's no minumum of steps. They have an auto-rejector, I had one rejected by it. I dont know why. I emailed the staff and they put it through to published.

    One of my early Instructables was how to use a sanding drum to prepare wood edges for precise joining in cabinetwork. (The Rich Editor is not responding, so here is the URL-- ) The idea is very simple. I created one graphic that was clear enough. But, the Robot wanted more steps and more pictures. So, I stretched what I thought was the obvious into several steps with illustrations. That is always the rub when you are dealing with an editor. The editor has his own view of how he wants things.

    I looked at your drill sizes chart. It is good. I have not used something like it very often. I guess it depends on what kind of projects a person does.

    Ha ha ha the "Rich Editor" pulls that nonsense with you too? I thought it was the browser I use but I have tried different browsers and when this site is doing it it is doing it I guess. Anyhow I stretched my Instructable enough so it passed the automated system then one of the site admins pulled the post.

    I use my chart all the time, in fact I just used it. I put some end cap pieces onto my tablesaw and I wanted to know which transfer punch was just below the tight one for a hole I was transferring. I guess I could have mindlessly tried a bunch of different punches but with the chart I knew I'd selected the very next size down.

    Often when I measure something with my calipers I am not sure just what size I am looking at, so a quick glance at the chart and I can make a fair guess as to just what it is trying to be. Or like with the punches sometimes things are a bit too tight or loose so I can use the chart to find the next size. Handy tapping or for clearance holes. I even use it when I am wrenching to figure out the best wrench for hardware.

    Really I'd be lost without it.

    I look for any excuse to weld something.

    Not me I guess I used to. Now I don't want to come off sounding like a snob or anything but I'm looking for a bit more refinement in my projects anymore. Don't get me wrong I still weld when it is appropriate, but it has to be the only method available to me in order for me to weld.

    I love the process but it has a lot of drawbacks for the types of things I do. Now we can play a game I like to call Where's Weld Bead?

    I can count 12. Most can't be seen but I just know they're there.

    Good weldors weld regularly. I have to look for excuses to weld so I get some reasonably regular practice. As a result, I weld anything I can. Even at that, I get far too little practice.

    I never said I was any good :) I really don't think backyard welding is too difficult. If I prep the work, pick the correct process, and use sane setups it is pretty straight forward. It is not like I ever find myself welding pressure vessels or anything.

    I didn't think this was going to be as hard as it turned out to be:

    I know it doesn't look it but it was a bit tense.

    This could have come out better but I didn't want to over do it:

    Long story what I had to do in order to refurbish that vise. It works good now though. This is when welding is less than fun:

    I know it isn't pretty but I was bent up like a pretzel in order to do that. That sort of thing is something I like to do as little as possible. I think it looks a lot better than it did:

    I stopped caring what my welds looked like under vehicles a long time ago. After I saw what my welds looked like after some time. Just so long as they hold together I'm good with it.

    Wow, you are fast, Phil!  And comprehensive as always.

    1 reply

    Thank you.  I thought about it ahead of taking photos.  I also made a dry run with the first hole.

    Thank you very kindly.