Jigsaw Vs Reciprocating Saw: Which Cutting Tool Is Best For You And Your Uses?

Jigsaw Vs Reciprocating Saw: Which Cutting Tool Is Best For You And Your Uses?

Choosing the right saw for your project is vital to getting the job done right. We take a look at a jigsaw versus a reciprocating saw and ask which one is best for you and your needs. 

What Is A Jigsaw?

A jigsaw is a hand held power saw which is reasonably lightweight. It has a blade that moves back and forth much like a reciprocating saw but in a vertical direction creating an up and down movement.

This blade is mounted perpendicular to the body of the saw and is typically quite narrow and thin. 

The jigsaw is most commonly used for cutting thin pieces of sheet material, but this can be wood, metal or plastic. There are corded and cordless versions of this saw for greater versatility, ease of use and portability and have a blade guide to help with precision cutting.

They can be great for creating precise cuts and even curved cuts thanks to the up and down movement, that makes it a truly versatile tool, perfect for metal cutting, as well as wider intricate cuts. 

While operating a jigsaw is relatively easy being designed to be used with one hand it does require a degree of skill in order to use it to full effect, especially to cut in a straight line.

It is used mostly in a horizontal position while being guided through a piece of sheet material or thin wood, plastic or metal, and can be used at a variable speed. 

Purpose Of A Jigsaw

Jigsaws are used for precision cutting and creating intricate designs and patterns in materials such as plywood, metal or plastic. It can also be used for creating patterns or for use with a stencil. 

Due to the smaller, thinner and narrower shape of jigsaw blades, it is possible to use a jigsaw for cutting curves, circles and shapes. Most come with a guide to allow finesse in any job by helping to control how the blade cuts through material. 

The blades in a jigsaw are replaceable and can be swapped for cutting various materials such as metal and plastic, and even some slightly more tough materials, provided you use the right blade. 

If you have a job that is delicate and calls for careful execution then a jigsaw is ideal for that. Its narrow blade and light weight allow for excellent control and accuracy, so you can even create intricate shapes that another powerful tool may have trouble with.  

For this reason jigsaws are more often used by cabinetmakers, carpenters and will be found in workshops as frequently as on a building site, especially amongst those that need to create irregular shapes. 

What Is A Reciprocating Saw?

A reciprocating saw gets its name from the action of its blade which moves rapidly back and forth in a push and pull motion. Unlike the jigsaw, the blade is mounted in a horizontal direction.

Reciprocating saws are also called saber saws. These can often be used for more heavy duty projects, and to cut into thicker materials. 

They are used for more robust work than a jigsaw as they are more powerful and the blade is much larger with bigger teeth, to help it to easily cut materials. While they are tougher than a jigsaw, they are capable of more intricate and precise cutting than a circular saw. 

Due to its size and the jobs it is used for, a reciprocating saw is held with both hands, one on the handle and the other supporting the body of the saw. They come in various sizes and some may be heavier than others.

This increased size, makes them perfect for heavy duty tasks that most saws may not be able to handle.

Reciprocating saws are available in both corded and cordless models and with various capabilities including cutting wood, drywall, thin metal and masonry. 

Purpose Of A Reciprocating Saw

A reciprocating saw is incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of situations and for many different materials. It can be used in demolition, remodeling and for many DIY projects. 

One thing to be aware of is that the reciprocating saw will create a rough cut and, as such, is not really suitable for delicate work or something that requires a tidy finish, such as stencil cutting.

The edges of the cuts of a reciprocating saw will be rough, but they can be sanded down if needed. Compared to other saws, a reciprocating saws is a more rough tool that may require more frequent blade replacements.

The reciprocating motion makes a reciprocating saw a brutally powerful tool.

You can also use a reciprocating saw overhead and for cutting through materials such as tiles and masonry as part of demolition or remodeling work. It can even be used outside in the garden for taking down smaller branches that your chainsaw would be too large for.

This can make it a fantastic go to tool and an all in one tool that is perfect no matter your stroke length.

For cutting different materials, you will need to change the blade to the most appropriate one for the material. Frequent blade change can add quite significant extra time to a task, especially when compared to a handheld tool or a less heavy duty tool for accurate cutting.

Similarities Between A Jigsaw And A Reciprocating Saw

The main similarity between the jigsaw and the reciprocating saw is the way in which it moves in the saw, allowing it to cut through sheet metal, or even making it perfect for demolition work.

Both have a blade that moves back and forth in a reciprocal motion. But while the jigsaw blade moves up and down, the reciprocating saw blade moves in and out, making it great for ceramic tiles, or when you require immense cutting power at variable cutting speeds. 

The motion of the jigsaw is effective as this tool is normally used in a horizontal position with the operator above it and leaning over the work. However, the reciprocating saw can be used overhead, in front of you or in most orientations that you can safely operate. 

Another similarity between the two saws is that the blades are replaceable. Therefore you can swap the blades according to the type of material that you need to cut. 

Jigsaws are capable of cutting wood, metal and plastic while reciprocating saws can cut wood, ceramic, masonry and concrete. There are blades available for each of these materials. 

What Is The Difference Between A Jigsaw And A Reciprocating Saw?

Although there are similarities between a jigsaw and a reciprocating saw there are a lot of differences too. 

The main difference between the two is the orientation of the blade. A jigsaw blade is perpendicular to the body of the saw while a reciprocating blade is a continuation of the body and handle. 

The blades move in different directions too, vertical for a jigsaw and horizontal for a reciprocating saw. The position of the blade on both of these saws allow them to be used perfectly for their individual functions. 

Being positioned over the jigsaw with the blade running perpendicularly, an operator has a better line of sight on what is being cut and therefore has greater control over the process. 

In contrast the use of a reciprocating saw is less precise and more practical and the position of the blade suits this purpose. 

Which Jobs Are They Each Suited To?

Jigsaws allow you to cut with precision and finesse. Therefore they are ideal for bevel cuts, curved cuts, patterned and intricate designs. 

They can be used for all these types of cuts in wood, plastic and metal. However, they work best in sheet material and thin pieces of material. 

As jigsaws are quite lightweight they are good for such delicate work, although they can also be used for ripping sheet materials such as plywood. 

Reciprocating saws are portable so can be used on construction sites, in demolition, for home remodeling or in a workshop. They typically have variable speeds and can be used to cut through various materials including wood, drywall and masonry.

You can use a reciprocating saw as a rough cut saw in all of these situations. It can be used horizontally but can also be used overhead. 

Both of these power saws have their advantages especially when used where they are most appropriate. 

In Conclusion

Both of these saws are versatile and can be used on different materials. They each have their own strengths and when used in the right situation can give you perfect results. 

We hope this guide to jigsaws and reciprocating saws has been helpful. 


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