Reciprocating Saw Vs. Jigsaw: The Differences You Must Need To Know!

What is a reciprocating saw and how does it differ from a jigsaw? By definition, a reciprocating saw is a saw whose blade uses a push and pull motion to cut through materials. A jigsaw, on the other hand, is a type of a reciprocating saw.

These two words are sometimes used interchangeably. Nonetheless, there are some differences between the reciprocating saws and jigsaws. In this article, we will be looking at how jigsaws differ from reciprocating saws.

Also, we will be looking at how these two types of saws compare to other common saw types. In particular, the more common and popular circular saw. Without further ado, let’s look at which one is better between Reciprocating Saw Vs. Jigsaw.

Reciprocating Saws VS Circular Saws: A Comparison

Given that we have already established that jigsaws are reciprocating saws, for purposes of this section we will compare circular and reciprocating saws. Now the first thing you need to note is the type of blades used by these two types of saws.

As its name suggests, circular saws use circular blades of between 7-1/4 and 10 inches in diameter. Reciprocating saws, on the other hand, use a knife like blade with serrated teeth. In terms of applications, circular saws are used mainly for cutting wood.

However, some circular woods come with the option of a replacement blade. Thus you can swap out the wood cutting blade for a stronger blade for cutting metal, plastic, stones, etc. Reciprocating saws on the other hand cut through virtually anything, stone, metal, wood, plastic you name it.

Due to the pull-push motion of their blades, reciprocating saws have unpredictable results. Thus do not expect a clean cut from this type of saw. Finesse is not what reciprocating saws are known for.

Circular saws are suited to projects that require finesse such as making furniture. Also, these types of saws can be used to make intricate angled and even beveled cuts. In essence, they are best suited for carpentry and woodworking.

Reciprocating saws, on the other hand, are suited to demolition works, pruning of trees, and yard work. In other words, get a reciprocating saw for the projects that do not require any finesse.

A jigsaw is what you get when you combine a reciprocating saw and a circular saw. While it has the same type of blade found in a reciprocating saw it can be used as a circular saw. The blade of a jigsaw is narrower and more fragile than that of a reciprocating saw.

This type of saw can be used to make bevel cuts into different materials. Also, it is the best tool for carving out a sign on plywood. A jigsaw does not have the same roughness as other reciprocating saws.

Reciprocating saw vs. jigsaw: differences in blades

Jigsaw Blades

As already stated jigsaws have narrower and more fragile blades. Therefore, they are more suited to precision cutting. Some of the things you can do with a jigsaw include crosscutting, plunge cutting, beveling, and ripping.

Jigsaw blades come in a variety of styles to suit the material you want to cut. Generally, the blades can cut through wood, ceramic, light metals and plastics. Jigsaw blades can also cut through drywall and ceramic tiles which can be an alternative of best wet tile saw.

In a nutshell, the jigsaw is designed for function and versatility. It is the kind of saw you would want to have in a construction project. It can cut through a wide array of materials and can make different kinds of cuts.

Reciprocating Saw Blades

Reciprocating saw blades are stronger and thicker. Also, due to reciprocating saws having more powerful motors, they are also able to cut through materials faster. The blades on these saws are rough cutters designed for demolition works.

It is no wonder that reciprocating saws are common in construction, plumbing, and electrical works. The serrated knife-like blades of these saws can cut through stone, ceramic tiles, metal, wood, fiberglass, stucco and drywall.

Depending on your needs power will be an important factor to consider for reciprocating saws. The motors of reciprocating saws range between 5 amps and 15 amps. A 10 amp motor is sufficient for most heavy duty works.

Circular Saw Blades

Circular saw blades are designed for precision-cutting of wood. However, as stated above you can swap out your saw’s default blade for one suited to cutting another material. Due to their versatility, they are more common than reciprocating saws and jigsaws.

What is a Sawzall and is it different from a reciprocating saw?

The reciprocating saw is one that has very many names. Some people refer to them as recip saws while others call them saber saws. Saws-all is another name that has been used to refer to reciprocating saws.

One of the coolest names is Sawzall. The latter was name coined by a Milwaukee Electric Tool Company. That being said, the term Sawzall is just another name for the reciprocating saw and does not refer to an entirely different type of saw.

Common Uses of Reciprocating Saws

Reciprocating saws and jigsaws have many different applications. Used predominantly in construction works, they are also used by DIYers. Reciprocating saws are commonly used in demolition works.

What this means is that if you want to tear down anything in your house for a renovation, a reciprocating saw is then one for you. These types of saws can also be used for pruning trees, cutting down branches and general yard work.

Common Uses of Jigsaw

Jigsaws, on the other hand, are used for more intricate projects. For projects that require attention to detail, the jigsaw is the better option. As such, it is used mainly for making angled, beveled cuts on different types of materials.

It can also be a useful tool for making carvings on wood and other materials. For remodeling purposes, it is a handy tool.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a jigsaw blade on a reciprocating saw?

There are certain blades that are marked as reciprocating/sabre blades that offer the kind of precision cutting that a jigsaw blade offers. This blades can be used on reciprocating saws and are usually made from high carbon steel, tungsten or bimetal.

how safe is a reciprocating saw?

Due to the push and pull motion of their blades reciprocating saws can be dangerous and it is advisable you hold it with both hands. While jigsaws are not as powerful and do not have the same kickback, it is still important to be careful.

Can a jigsaw cut through nails?

Yes, jigsaws can cut through different metals including aluminum, iron, and steel. Also, jigsaws with more powerful motors can cut through thicker metals. some of the best pocket holes jigsaws options are Kreg k4 and k5.

How thick can a jigsaw cut?

The cutting depth of jigsaws vary depending on the material being cut. For wood, jigsaws can cut up to a depth of between 40 and 150mm. For non-ferrous metals, the cutting depth decreases to between 10 and 40mm. For steel jigsaws have a cutting depth of 5mm and 15mm.

Reciprocating saws vs jigsaws; Pros and Cons

Reciprocating saw pros

  • These types of saws are very portable. This is true for both corded reciprocating saw and cordless reciprocating saws.
  • They offer you the ability to adjust the cutting speed depending on the material you are cutting.
    Due to their power, they can cut virtually through anything horizontally and vertically and are thus very versatile
  • With a reciprocating saw, you can work from anywhere and are not tied down to a tabletop and with a cordless version you can move more freely
  • Most reciprocating saws have handles that are ergonomic and coated with rubber thus you cannot develop blisters from using one.

Reciprocating saw Cons

  • Cannot be used to make complex or angled cuts
  • They do not produce a clean cut

Jigsaw pros

  • Jigsaws can be used to make complex and curved shapes and cuts on different materials
  • They are easy to use and handle and even novices will have no problem using a jigsaw
  • While they have narrower and thinner blades than reciprocating saws they can still cut through most materials including metal, wood, drywall, and ceramic tiles
  • While their designs make them look a bit less portable than reciprocating saws, they are still portable and can easily be carried
  • They are safe to use even for kids under adult supervision thanks to their designs

Jigsaw Cons

  • They require an even surface for the base to rest upon
  • Are incapable of making flush cuts

Which is best for whom and for what?

As is evident each saw has its admirers. Reciprocating saws are suited more to demolition works. Therefore, if you want to demolition anything reciprocating saws are ideal. They cut through a wide variety of materials quickly.

They are ideal for both home use and professional use in industrial construction works. Jigsaws, on the other hand, are suited to more intricate projects. If you want a saw for making complex carvings and shapes the jigsaw is for you.

Since it can cut through different materials, the jigsaw is ideal for remodeling purposes. Also, this type of saw can be used by carvers for carving different shapes. Also, a jigsaw is useful for projects where you have to cut on flat surfaces.

In essence, a reciprocating saw is ideal for professional contractors and may be unnecessary for DIYers. On the flip side, a jigsaw can be used by both amateurs as well as professional contractors.


Both jigsaws and reciprocating saws have their place in this world. Also, they are used for different cutting applications. Bottom line, the type of saw you buy will depend largely on what you want to do.

Circular saws are more conventional than both reciprocating saws and jigsaws. However, they are certain projects that will require either of the latter two.

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