Porter Cable’s new ClampSaw is part of their introductory 12V Max Li-Ion cordless tool lineup. The ClampSaw, a compact reciprocating saw, looks pretty handy with its pivoting handle, but how well does it perform? We received a review sample and tested the saw on a number of different materials to find out.
Design & Ergonomics
The ClampSaw has three handle positions – 0°, 45°, and 90°, allowing it to be used in corners and tight work areas. For the review we used the saw in all three positions, but the 45° and straight handle settings were the most comfortable. The user manual showed a few examples of the saw used vertically in the right-angle handle position with the blade inserted upside down for a near-flush cut.
Our first (and lasting) impression was that the ClampSaw has great ergonomics and was very thoughtfully designed.
Whether by function or design, the motor housing is slightly narrower on the top and bottom, providing a perfect fit for my left supporting hand. A comfortable rubber material lines both the motor housing and the handle, allowing for a very secure grip. There is a physical stop near the front of the tool close to the shoe which helped prevent my hand from slipping.
A top-mounted toggle switch allows users to quickly and easily change the tool’s handle position. The pivot-lock engages when the handle reaches a new handle position with a very satisfying ‘click’. For safer blade changes and tool storage, a safety lock push-button prevents the saw from powering on. For the safest operation, we removed the battery before changing or cleaning blades.
The saw also features a variable-speed trigger and an electric brake which stops the motor as soon as your finger lifts off the trigger. There is also a single LED light used for workpiece illumination, but it doesn’t throw a bright or wide enough beam for my liking.
Adjustable Shoe Clamp & Blade Change
The ClampSaw’s adjustable shoe can be extended to “clamp” onto thinner materials, pipes and similar workpieces. An allen key (included) is required to loosen and lock the shoe, and can be stowed on the side of the saw. While not a true clamp, the shoe helps minimize the vibration transfered to smaller workpieces and allows for greater cutting control.
Blade changes are quick and easy with the tool-free blade clamp collar.
Compared to pro-grade 18V cordless reciprocating saws, the ClampSaw has a similar stroke speed (0-3,000 strokes per minute) but has a shorter stroke length (5/8 inch). This shorter cutting stroke is somewhat noticeable and results in longer cut-times, but I did not find it to be much of a problem.
For the review the ClampSaw was used on PVC and copper pipes, sheet aluminum, 1×2 pine, various pieces of 2x lumber, and an odd shaped piece of scrap hardwood (~2″ x 3″). As expected, some of these cuts took a little longer than anticipated. However, as advertised, the ClampSaw was lightweight, ergonomic and compact, and provided exceptional control when used on smaller workpieces and when used overhead.
Does the ClampSaw perform as well as a corded reciprocating saw or even a cordless 18V model? No, but it still managed to perform reasonably well for light to medium duty cutting tasks. It provides a surprising amount of power for its size, and as mentioned its ergonomics are superb. We recommend it for general purpose DIY and homeowner use, and for installers/professionals as a handy lightweight complement to heavier duty 18V and corded saws.
The ClampSaw kit comes with two 4-inch blades, 2 lithium-ion batteries, a 30-minute charger, and a long soft toolbag. At $129, the ClampSaw is quite reasonably priced.
Taking a quick look at Amazon, there are plenty of 4-inch recip saw blades available. The ClampSaw’s user manual says that 4-inch blades are recommended, but does not prohibit the use of longer blades if necessary.
Thank you to Porter Cable for providing the sample for this review unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or in some cases kept for further testing or benchmark and comparison purposes. This sample was returned to Porter Cable.