The sabre saw is invaluable due to its ability to make cuts no other saw can make so readily, and gains a place in the home workshop for this reason. Its chief asset is versatility. It is literally a portable jig saw and would do almost everything that any other saw would do. Also, it is strong enough, and uses such a variety of blades, that it can make cutouts that a circular saw can't make.
As a circular saw has a lot of different blades for various sorts of cuts and materials, the sabre saw likewise has a great rangeof useful and different blades, for cutting wood or metal, for cutting curves, for cutting flush to a surface horizontally or vertically, for heavy cutting. Blades having more teeth per inch will cut smoother, and those having fewer teeth per inch—that is, larger teeth—would cut faster. If the teeth are too big, however, they may not cut at all on hard materials. The reciprocating action of this tool creates vibration that doesn't make for as smooth edges as are possible with other types of saws. The blades cut on the upstroke; hence the good side of your work, if any, should be down, to preserve that side. If you are going to shellac the piece anyhow, shellac it prior to sawing it; this will hold the wood fibers together and minimize chipping. A strip of transparent tape over the cut line would also make for a smoother edge.
A unique advantage that some sabre saws have (Stanley) is the way they can cut flush, right up to, or within a fraction of an inch on a surface. This feature can be employed, for instance, in cutting a hole in a wall without cutting the studs. Another advantage isthe manner the sabre saw can make plunge cuts. This is useful, for example, in creating cutouts for switches in walls, for fixtures in ceilings, and the like. To do a plunge cut, tilt the tool forward, resting the front edge of the shoe on the material. Align the blade with the cut line, turn on the tool, and lower the blade into the material.
For a square hole, create four insertions with the blade, or a round hole, you can make just one insertion and resume the cut around. Don't try to cut tight corners with a the blade. Never force the tool; that would just result in breaking a blade. Where needed, you can back the blade up and make another cut to get around a tight corner. A ripping guide used together with the sabre saw enables you to make long, straight, accurate cuts. You can likewise follow a guide trip clamped to the work, as you do using a circular saw.
The tool is quite handy for notching 2-by-4's cleanly and easily, without having to chisel out the stock. Create parallel cuts first, then take out the stock using a plunge cut.
The saw is available with a tilting base, like the circular saw, for making angle cuts from 45 to 90 degrees. A good sabre saw must have versatility of position so that it could be tilted on its base from left to right, and should allow cutting at a right angle.
Each model has its own distinctive features, but a good sabre saw must have a minimum of distracting chatter and must provide for keeping dust off the guidelines.