New cordless tool idea - cordless body saw / mini recip saw

I had this thought a few weeks ago and I’ve been kicking it around since. I was curious to see what everyone thought. This would be a tool I’d get tons of use out of, I’m hoping others will agree, and maybe there’s some slim chance of inspiring one of the tool companies to pick it up? I think it could be very successful.

What is it? A cordless version of an auto body saw. Or another way to look at it would be a very small “sawzall” for tight spaces. The key features are:

  1. takes T-shank jigsaw blades. These are much more compact than standard recip blades and fit where recip blades cannot. Unlike auto body saw blades these are widely available everywhere and available in a huge variety of types for a wide variety of materials.
  2. has a very small nose and shoe; this enables the tool to get into very tight spots. The nose of the tool should be as narrow as possible, no bigger than an inch an a half diameter tops, ideally just one inch or so.
  3. it cannot have the big “hump” that tools like the Milwaukee Hackzall have where the motor is housed; that just gets in the way for the kind of work I envision this tool for. It is important that the nose of the tool, and several inches behind it, should be as slender as possible to reach into tight spots. The motor and gearbox can be located at the rear of the tool where it doesn’t get in the way.

Other than that it would have the standard features you see on most cordless tools these days: safety lock-out switch, LED lighting for the work area, variable speed control, tool-less blade change. There is no need for an oscillating function, in fact it would actually be counterproductive for the work this would be good for. Onboard storage for a few extra blades wouldn’t hurt either and seems easy enough to incorporate. I think it would be best suited for a 12v platform but 18v/20Vmax would be fine too so long as the mantra of slender and narrow is adhered to. The tool could be straight, have an angled handle, or perhaps a pistol grip. I don’t think that matters a whole lot so long as the big stuff (battery, grip, gearbox) is kept at the back of the tool so it doesn’t get in the way of the nose reaching into tight places.

Obviously such a tool would not be useful for the heavy demo work that full-size recip saws get used for, but I think this would be incredibly handy for anyone who needs to work in tight spaces. I could see it being handy for a number of trades as well as just general DIY work. Think about how many times you were under a car or pretzled inside a cabinet and you needed to cut a bracket or a pipe or a bit of wood and you just couldn’t reach a larger power saw where you needed it to go.

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Let me preface this with I know nothing about auto body work; if I’m envisioning this correctly you’re describing an inline sawzall that takes t-shank blades.

Sounds like a cool tool that could be adapted to a number of other applications. Perhaps light hobby work, under sink cutouts and other tight spaces.

How many speed settings would be ideal? How about stokes per minute and stoke length?

describing an inline sawzall that takes t-shank blades.

That’s exactly right. I don’t think it would need a gearbox with a high/lo range like many drills and drivers have. A simple variable speed knob or trigger like most jigsaws or sawzalls have would be fine. I think most jigsaws have about a 3/4" stroke, and the small cordless sawzalls like the Milwaukee Hackzall and its competitors are 5/8". Either of those would work fine.

what’s the blade type on an autobody saw? is that T-shank, I’m not that familiar with them. My thought is you could take the air drive tool end- and shove a brushless motor and battery controler there. Then you’d drive the same blade.

I would say however you would end up with a larger tool of for no other reason than the battery space, and handle weight.

So a battery version of this air tool?

or this similar air tool?

Autobody saws usually take their own standard of blade. It’s roughly halfway between a jigsaw blade and a full-size sawzall blade. I think making this tool accept Jigsaw blades would be much better for three reasons:

  1. they’re much more widely available from any hardware store or home center; you don’t have to go to a specialty vendor to get blades.
  2. they’re available in many more types, like wood- and plastic-cutting, carbide grit, etc, whereas normal body saw blades are only available for metal cutting
  3. the shank is smaller which would allow every other part of the nose of the tool to be smaller as well.

Yes exactly. Battery version of those tools but set up for standard T-shank jigsaw blades rather than the specialty blades shown in those pics.

In another topic here a poster clued me into the fact that Ingersoll-Rand is making a very similar tool right now. It is their model number C1101, it is a battery-operated saw of this type but it takes the specialty body saw blades, not generic T-shank. I also found a corded version of a similar tool, Makita JR1000FT. That one takes T-shank blades but it’s not battery operated.

Bosch also made a corded 120-volt, variable-speed B4050 inline jigsaw similar to to that Makita JR100F that also used the T-shank [bayonet] jigsaw blades. Bosch stopped selling it in the USA back in the early 2000’s though, due to low sales, so I don’t believe they’ll ever make a cordless version available.

Thanks UNI.
I did come across two different Bosch corded models, both seem to be unavailable in the US now. But for some reason Bosch put quite a large shoe on their saws. Compare the Bosch 4050 to the Makita JR1000, for example, and the nose of the Makita is much narrower than the Bosch. It seems strange to me that Bosch would put such a large shoe/guard on a tool whose purpose is to get into tight spots.

Yes, the shoe on it is quite big, I just measured it and its 3-5/8” long X 1-1/4” wide. Too long for things like toe kick cutouts for heaters and vacuum inlets. The shoe is adjustable and removable though, which is okay but, then the blade guide roller is exposed at the base and you need to keep it away from the workpiece. I really get way more use out of my oscillating tools and compact reciprosaw than the B4050 these days. The one I have is from the early 90’s, but that Makita still looks like an improvement.

Not my field, but it sounds like it could be useful. I’ve seen people use a Roto-zip or similar tools for that kind of cutting, but the spinning bit tends to cause the cut to pull to one side. Not a problem if you’re used to it, seems like.

But I’ve tried cutting up steel angle stock (the thin, stamped kind) with a jigsaw, and the screeching it made was just unbelievable. If I ever have to do it again, I’m going to try that little Milwaukee cut-off tool with a diamond blade. I wonder if your tool would be noisy too.

I’m familiar with the rotary cut-out tools. I used to have a Rotozip, I currently have an older corded Dewalt. They work well for fairly thin wood as well as drywall but they’re useless for metal or cutting thicker/stronger materials compared to a piece of sheathing or sheetrock. I also don’t like how they fling the shavings all over the place. Of course a saw makes “sawdust” too, but it doesn’t get flung around to the same degree as it does with a rotary tool. My other gripe with rotary cut-out tools is that you can never get closer to an object than a distance equal to the radius of the tool’s body. This is natural because the cutting bit is in the center of the tool. On the other hand, a saw can offset the blade to one side of the tool, which allows you to get closer to an obstacle. For example, my DCS367B recip saw is much larger than a typical cutout tool. But, it allows the blade to be positioned near the edge of the tool so even though the tool itself is much bigger it can actually cut closer to an obstacle than the rotary tool can. My final gripe with rotary cutout tools is that of control. A saw, especially one with good speed control like most recip and jigsaws have, is very controllable. It tends to follow its own cut line and the variable speed lets you go low-and-slow when needed. Every rotary tool I’ve ever used has had no speed control, they just run balls-to-the-wall, and it’s challenging to cut a straight or a smooth line with one without some kind of guide or fence. The only thing I use my rotary cutout tool for nowadays is cutting out round holes in ceilings. I used to use it for electrical boxes and similar but the oscillating tool has completely replaced it in that role for me. It’s quieter, cuts nice straight lines with good corners, makes less of a mess.

Cutting thin metal with a saw can absolutely be loud (something which rotary tools always are). Normally the cause is that the metal is being allowed to vibrate somehow. Keeping the shoe or baseplate of the saw firmly against the metal you are cutting will greatly reduce the noise, and so will clamping it securely, but those aren’t always possible depending on what/where you are cutting. Cutting at a lower speed helps too, and that also greatly extends blade life. So does using the correct tooth count in the blade. A blade that’s too coarse for thin metal will make a ton of noise. Switching to a blade where you have at least 2-3 teeth in contact with the workpiece at all times will make it a lot quieter.

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I’d agree for maneuverability you’d need to have the smaller size shoe and I think you might want the autobody saw blade - due to thinner profile. I agree Tshanks are more widely available but I think the autobody application is specific - thinner blades thinner cuts - finer body lines.

but otherwise I do agree you should easily be able to have a cordless electric setup.

I agree the air saw blades can get into some really tight places that a jigsaw blade wouldn’t necessarily fit, but I think the jigsaw blade is close enough for the vast majority of tasks, and they are the more important blade to target first because they are available for cutting other materials beyond just metal. I have never seen an air saw blade in any config other than very fine teeth for metal cutting. I wouldn’t want to give up the ability to use the tool in wood, plastic, tile, etc. just to get a little smaller metal cutting blade in there. But an even better option would be to have a 2-in-one blade holder that could take either the jigsaw blade or the air saw blade. I can certainly get behind that, and it would help the tool be more marketable since auto body techs could use the same blades they’re used to.

I saw Metabo HPT is releasing a recip saw that accepts jigsaw blades. While not suitable for the application we’re discussing here- crazy cool innovation in my opinion.

Yes, I saw that in one of Stuart’s announcements a couple weeks ago. One of the other posters (I’m sorry I can’t recall who, but thank you!) mentioned that the similar saws made by Metabo (non-HPT) also had the same feature. Metabo offers both a 12 and and 18 volt version. I compared them and ended up purchasing the Metabo SSE 18 LTX BL Compact. I just received it yesterday in fact. I am running it on Dewalt 20V max batts using an adapter. So far I’ve only made a handful of test cuts but it seems like a great tool. It has a lot more power than a Milwaukee Hackzall, quality is great. The blade change is tool-less and it feels very strong and secure. The tool is heavy for its size and simplicity; it’s obvious it has a huge motor inside and all metal gearbox. It’s a bit chunkier than I would like but it’s plenty good enough to be worth buying, in my opinion. The shoe is the best I’ve seen on a saw of this type. It’s about 1.5 inches wide and 2.25 inches tall. Bigger than I’d like but smaller than most saws in its class. It also has a 6-position adjustable depth on the shoe, which is a very important feature most saws like this lack. The ergonomics of the grip are fantastic. It’s not a perfect tool but it’s getting close. I will report back as I’ve had more of a chance to use it. I’m also tempted to pick up the Ingersoll saw for comparison’s sake but we’ll see. My initial impressions of the Metabo are that it’s a darn good tool.