Reciprocating saw suggestions

na76

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I live in central Florida and will hopefully be going collecting during the upcoming season. I'll also be working on some of my box and cypress trees which will involve some heavy root work, so it's time to go shopping for a reciprocating saw. Would anyone out there have any suggestions? Reviews on Amazon say Ryobi may not get the job done and Milwaukee are a bit on the expensive side. Thanks for advice/suggestions you can offer.
 

fore

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Buy the Milwaukee, I have one and it's powerful, dependable and the build quality is great...spendy, yes. So save a bit more imo...you asked ;))
 

rockm

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Personally, I wouldn't buy a reciprocating saw for use in sawing roots or, especially, collecting. It's like killing a gnat with a shotgun...

You might burn up the tool in a couple of years, if it doesn't die sooner from the sand and grit that will get into the motor.

I've used simple hand saws (the Japanese "pull" style) for collecting and root work for years (and I work with larger trees over three feet tall). I've found that a $25 pull saw will last about two seasons worth of collecting--Only a year if I'm digging difficult stuff -- like boxwood.
 

mcpesq817

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I have a Dewalt that I bought a few years back to remove some landscape trees from my yard that works fine. It also did a pretty good job on a chop on a 6" willow oak trunk that I'm working on.

That being said, depending on how much use you need, it might be worth spending a little more money. I have a bunch of Makita tools that have served me very well (not sure if they make a reciprocating saw though). Also, the quality of the blades is probably something worth considering as well.

As rockm said, I think using a hand saw and/or big pruner are better for collecting and root work. I wouldn't use a reciprocating saw under ground. If you're collecting away from a power source, I'd think that you'd need a battery powered unit which might not be all that strong.
 
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na76

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Thank you all for your input. I generally prefer to spend a bit more $$ for better quality, but a factor here is my wife and the amount I already spend on pre-bonsai, soil, pots, etc. The saw won't see that much use so justifying $350+ is tricky.

I found some pull saws on a site which seem useful, would anyone have input on them?
http://www.oldtreebonsai.com/saws.html

I worked the roots on a ficus last weekend using a $5 folding saw from a local hardware store. I got $5 results and a sore arm, piece of junk(!). That inspired my search for something that bites.
 

capnk

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We use a Dewalt cordless reciprocating saw when we need to do a lot of coarse route work, or for separating air layers and ground layers. If you choose to go that route, be sure to shop for a branch pruning blade. The typical blades that come with will clog up quickly. Have been abusing that saw for 10 years now and it's still going strong.

If you are only going to need a saw to collect a few trees, go to Lowe's and get a pruning saw. For root cutting when digging trees, we find pruning sheers more useful.

I save my "bonsai" saws for working in small areas where big saws won't reach, and making fine cuts.

Good luck,
Chris Kirk
Telperion Farms
 
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I ran into this problem this spring while out collecting a very large lodgepole pine. I kept thinking "there has to be a tool..." Sometimes when you've dug down so far a pull saw just won't cut it (not enough room down there to get in a cutting stroke) and that tap root is 3+ inches thick or more, a power tool is just the ticket. I didn't have the right tool that day but vowed to have one in my pack the next time I went out.

I went to Home Depot to see what they had in the way of cordless sawz-alls and was taken to a little Milwaukee 'Hackzall' cordless for $129. I couldn't believe it--there was the very tool I envisioned I needed and a decent price too. It paid for itself the first day on the mountain. Plenty of power and was less damaging to the tree than a pull saw would have been. I recommend buying a second battery if you want to collect a lot of trees in one day. The tool comes with a charger, ripstop nylon carry bag and a multi-purpose 3" blade. I bought a package of 5" blades also made by Milwaukee called 'the AX' for cutting heavy duty wood, which was what I took on the mountain with me. Another cool thing about the tool is the chuck--just twist and pull to change blades. Sweet:D

Bosch also makes a similar tool--in fact, they look identical except Bosch is blue and Milwaukee is red. The Bosch costs more but that is because their kit includes an extra battery, so the price is the same for each tool. I also have used mine to clean up the trees around the yard as well. I don't own too many tools but this is definitely one I'd recommend highly.
 

mcpesq817

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That's good to know that the cordless models have good cutting power. Glad to see that the battery technology has improved.
 

na76

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These are good points. I can imagine some cypress roots may be a bit tough. I should just print this thread and show my wife ;)

@Greg Brenden, will the Hackzall accept the same blades as the Sawz-alls? I spotted it at Home Depot but assumed it only accepted smaller blades for cutting metal, etc.

A few of the collecting locations I had scouted are no longer available, hopefully I'll be able to spot others. I'll search for some threads that may offer advice on the subject.
 
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I believe the blades are inter-changeable. The 'AX' blades I got for collecting with are 5" long. The saw came with a 3" multi-purpose blade (more hackswaw-like) and didn't look adequate for collecting with.

The help there was really good and had actually worked with the saw I bought. I know they want to make a sale but I can tell when someone is genuine or not. Like I said, the saw paid for itself the first time out:D
 

Smoke

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I havn't had much luck with the reciprocating saws, as the digging site is over a hundred miles away. I spent way more on extension cords than I did on the saw......
 

bob shimon

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No need for extension cord Al

After Years of trying to cut tap or other hard to reach roots with hand saws that turned dull when they hit dirt or rocks, I now carry a Milwaukee Hackzall and use a blade called "The Ugly." The other problem that I had with the hand saw, is that many time I couldn't get into position, or there wasn't room to saw back and forth. The Milwaukee is small, compact, and has plenty of power. I think the cost of the saw is about $125. I did invest in a lithium battery pack, which easily out lasts the 2 standard batteries. Cost for the battery is around $75. I wouldn't go collecting without it.
 

Smoke

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After Years of trying to cut tap or other hard to reach roots with hand saws that turned dull when they hit dirt or rocks, I now carry a Milwaukee Hackzall and use a blade called "The Ugly." The other problem that I had with the hand saw, is that many time I couldn't get into position, or there wasn't room to saw back and forth. The Milwaukee is small, compact, and has plenty of power. I think the cost of the saw is about $125. I did invest in a lithium battery pack, which easily out lasts the 2 standard batteries. Cost for the battery is around $75. I wouldn't go collecting without it.

Sounds great...anyone know where I can unload 116 miles of extension cords? I think four or five have smashed plugs from rude truckers.....
 

PaulH

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I just got home with my new Hackzall when I saw this thread. I'm looking forward to trying it on our clubs trip to White Mountain in a couple of weeks.
Paul
 

na76

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Hi all, I just wanted to follow up to report that I've not yet purchased a reciprocating saw. I have replaced my cordless Dewalt drill with a corded one after realizing the cost of batteries equals the cost of a drill, that made me think twice about buying a cordless reciprocating saw or any other cordless tools. I'm ok with using extension cords at home.

I got the ok from a nursery owner to collect a large ilex vomitoria in a few months. A more experienced fellow bonsai club member will assist and will bring along his tools, but our goal is just to use pull saws, shovel, etc. I'll follow up and let you all know what happens.

On a side note, I've put ads in craigslist and the local weekly paper offering to dig up bougainvilleas (which people around here apparently find to be pests) for free. Let's hope someone takes advantage of the offer!
 

ironman

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I collect in Texas and have a Dewalt 18 V saw which works GREAT. I use the LONG blades (8" I think) for limb sawing and a bag full of batteries. It makes quick work of all I dig including 39 bald cypress, 10 big boxwoods (some of which are 4 or 5" inches across) and a couple I cannot spell...all were collected last year and this.
After digging a quick trench around tree, I dig one side deeper and slip the saw blade under the tree and zip, it's out. Most take 15 minutes, max!
After the dig, I recharge the batteries and I am ready the next day...
An alternate...I saw the soil around the tree and dig 1 or 2 holes, slip the blade under the tree and again, zip, it's out.
Costs; saw, blades and at least 4 batteries=$250 to $300+...well worth the $$$.
 

ironman

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I collect in Texas and have a Dewalt 18 V saw which works GREAT. I use the LONG blades (8" I think) for limb sawing and a bag full of batteries. It makes quick work of all I dig including 39 bald cypress, 10 big boxwoods (some of which are 4 or 5" inches across) and a couple I cannot spell...all were collected last year and this.
After digging a quick trench around tree, I dig one side deeper and slip the saw blade under the tree and zip, it's out. Most take 15 minutes, max!
After the dig, I recharge the batteries and I am ready the next day...
An alternate...I saw the soil around the tree and dig 1 or 2 holes, slip the blade under the tree and again, zip, it's out.
Costs; saw, blades and at least 4 batteries=$250 to $300+...well worth the $$$.
 

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