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Reciprocating Saw vs. Jigsaw [A Clear Winner?]

Reciprocating Saw Vs. Jigsaw

Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.

Taking on a major remodeling project can be challenging, especially without the right tools.

Usually, everyone has a collection of handy tools in the house like a screwdriver, a wrench, and maybe a hammer. Most experienced users and DIY enthusiasts even add power tools to their collection. Now, the thing about power tools is that they make the job ten times easier. However, you must know how to use them.

There are too many to choose from these days, especially when it comes to saws. Moreover, choosing the right kind of power tool is the actual task. If you’re a DIY enthusiast or beginner looking into power tools, this is the guide to read.

We are here to help you pick between the all-important jigsaw and reciprocating saw. Both these tools can be super beneficial for different types of cutting, but usually, only one is enough. 

So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Reciprocating Saw Vs. Jigsaw

Reciprocating Saw Vs. Jigsaw

Power Saws – What Are Those?

The world of construction and demolition has become much more manageable. Now, even the simplest tools such as a saw or a screwdriver have an electrically operated version. A power saw is one such tool that has been enhanced to provide more using less effort. 

With the creation of power saws, it has become tremendously easy to cut through more challenging materials without much strain. But that is just one aspect of it as it is not just physical strain that this solves but also time. 

Cutting a massive piece of wood might be possible with a manual tool, but the chances of it taking half a day are also pretty high. That is why these tools are rather sought after as a complicated cutting job can be done in half the time. Furthermore, this is why professionals use them for more extensive projects.

A reciprocating saw and a jigsaw are both power saws, but they are not the only ones. There are many like them which can be used for different kinds of projects. Such tools include tile cutters, miter saws, panel saws, and of course, chainsaws. 

What To Consider When Buying a Power Saw

Whether this is your first power tool or the 100th, each time, there have to be certain factors that need to be kept in mind before buying them. Since each tool is different from the other, the mechanics and the ideal projects for the tools vary. 

Here are some of the things you have to keep in mind when thinking about buying a power tool

  1. Materials

The first thing to look into would be what kind of material you need to cut with the power tool. While most power tools work on all materials, others are only for specific materials, like a tile cutter. 

A tile cutter cannot be used for cutting anything other than tiles, and similarly, only a tile cutter can be used to cut tiles. This is why it is crucial to make a list of materials to ascertain if any special power tools will be required.

  1. Price 

Having a budget in mind is a good idea, especially if you need to buy more than one power tool. Depending on the project, you may need more than one tool to carry out the whole project effectively. 

It will not help if most of the project budget is spent on one tool in such situations. Keep a set budget aside for each tool, and then head out to look for one. 

  1. Type Of Cut

Are you looking for longer cuts or shorter ones? Precise and delicate cuts or rough cuts? It is essential to ask these questions so you can direct yourself to the appropriate tool.

Some power tools, like reciprocating tools, cut horizontally, making them ideal for specific projects. Furthermore, many tools have differently angled cuts that are specific to certain materials and projects.

  1. Type Of Project 

Larger projects will require tools that use more power and brute force to cut through objects instead of smaller projects. Make a note of the kind of work you will be undertaking before buying a power saw.

  1. Frequency 

Power tools can be expensive, which is why it is not possible to keep buying them. If you plan on using one frequently, we advise you to go for something high quality and durable. That being said, it might be a bit out of budget, but it will also be a valuable investment. 

However, we recommend not spending much money on big power tools for smaller and short-term projects. There are several budget-friendly options, although they might not be as durable.

  1. Features

Most power saws must come with multiple blades and blade guides; this makes using the tool much more effortless. In addition, they should include features that make the tool safe, like safety locks and comfortable, like padded grip handles. 

It is important to remember that a power tool does have a lot of power and vibration. For this reason, comfort should be of utmost importance.

Reciprocating Saw Vs. Jigsaw Compared

Essentially, they aren’t too different from each other. Many professionals would even say that a jigsaw is in the same family as a reciprocating saw. However, the main difference comes in because of the different types of cuts it offers.

But before getting into the difference between the two tools and determining which is better, let’s first look at them individually. 

Reciprocating Saw

What Is It?

Usually used in construction or electrical work, a reciprocating saw is a bit like an electrical hacksaw. It works horizontally, i.e., the blade moves forward and then back to cut through materials, which is precisely how the tool gets its name.

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DEWALT Reciprocating Saw, Corded, 12-Amp (DWE305)
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The best part about it is that it can be used for more rough-cutting, which is usually not what power tools are used for. As reciprocating saws pack a punch, these are primarily used by professionals for demolition purposes. 

Since it is a professional tool, it is made to cut through anything from metal to plastic to wood and even plaster. No wonder so many people opt for this tool! Plus, you can use multiple blades on one tool according to your requirement.

Purpose 

As we mentioned, cutting with a reciprocating saw means having rough, non-intricate cuts, and usually, that kind of work is best for demolition and remodeling. Most people use reciprocating saws for DIY projects at home or any small-scale cutting work. 

Many reciprocating saws cut right through ceramic as well, which makes this the ideal tool for professionals. As the tool has a lot of power, it is best utilized in the open, where you can demolish wooden and metal materials. Anything less, and you’d be missing out on its true power and what it can offer. 

Mechanics 

You already know how it works; the blade works in a forward and backward movement. Since it is like an electric hacksaw, the cuts will be straight, albeit a little rough around the edges. Additionally, different kinds of blades can cut through multiple materials and be attached to the primary tool. 

Keep In Mind

While the reciprocating saw is quite powerful, the power can be a bit restricted with cordless saws. This tool is known for its power which is why it is often chosen to carry out construction or demolition work. However, it is essential to keep in mind that cordless versions have batteries that are bound to run low on power after prolonged use.

If you are looking for an unending power supply for a big project, it is better to opt for a corded version. The alternative is to buy a cordless version with enough battery backup to last for a while.

The next thing to remember is that even though corded versions offer more power, they can restrict movement. When working on a big project, it is essential to move around comfortably, which might not always be possible if a 6-foot long cord is coming in the way.

Pros
  • Usually available in electric and non-electric variants
  • Better for demolition projects
  • Multiple blades
  • Possible to make flush cuts
  • Can perform overhead cutting
Cons
  • Not ideal for intricate cutting

Jigsaw

What Is It?

We weren’t kidding when we mentioned that jigsaws might be an extension of the reciprocating saw family. These power tools are very similar to the reciprocating saw in terms of looks, but the jigsaw has a circular cutting motion, unlike its sibling. 

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DEWALT 20V MAX Jig Saw, Tool Only (DCS331B) , Yellow
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The blades in the jigsaw move vertically in a circular motion rather than a forward-backward motion. Many users love that it is incredibly lightweight, making it easy to carry and work with. Additionally, unlike the reciprocating saw, these are ideal for more delicate cuts.

For a tool that is in the same family, they sure do have a ton of differences. Let’s explore a little more. 

Purpose 

Unlike the reciprocating saws, jigsaws are perfect for precision cutting. The movement by the thin blades of the jigsaw ensures fine cuts and more intricacy in work. Furthermore, the thin blades allow the user to use stencils for fine cutting as well. 

It is not as powerful as the reciprocating saw, but it can be used for multiple tasks and even smaller DIY tasks at home. Moreover, every jigsaw can be used with numerous blades as they are mostly detachable, making it a pretty handy tool to have at home. Most DIY enthusiasts and professionals use this for remodeling and metalwork. 

Mechanics 

This is a bit different from reciprocating saws despite being similar as the blade is attached vertically. Once connected, the blade will move in an oscillatory motion and cut the material in the process. 

The only thing to remember about this tool is that it is not as powerful by default and needs more power for some materials. The cutting would have to be done at a higher speed to give the jigsaw more power, especially to cut metal or wood. 

Keep In Mind

Jigsaws are rarely ever used for massive projects, which is why power is not an issue. But that does not mean it cannot be used for heavy-duty work. When using a jigsaw for something big, make sure it has enough power to handle the task. For this reason, a corded jigsaw is a more suitable option as the supply of power is consistent. 

A jigsaw usually has multiple features and aspects to look into before it is used for a project, and it all comes down to the requirements. If the project you’re working on requires a lot of movement from the tool, ensuring the jigsaw has precise steering is necessary. 

On a similar note, some features need to be looked into for the user’s benefit. Minor additions to the tool like anti-vibration or comfort grip make the tool more fun to use. Plus, it makes it easier to have more precise cuts if the user is comfortable using the tool. 

Pros
  • Ideal for making fine cuts
  • Switchable blades
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Can be used on any material
  • Cordless models available
Cons
  • Can’t be used for major projects

611oRqIc4VL. SL500

Main Differences Between Reciprocating Saws And Jigsaws

  • Cuts

One of the biggest differences between the two is the cuts they can make. Reciprocating saws are much better suited for jobs that require rough cutting and demolition. It offers cuts that are blunter in both horizontal and vertical strokes. The only thing is that those strokes are short, which is why they tend to be rougher. 

On the other hand, jigsaws offer fine and more precise cuts, making them perfect for finishing a project. Since the latter’s blade works in an oscillating motion, working on parallel or curved surfaces is easy. The only thing to remember here is that the more power it has, the more efficiently it will work.

  • Materials 

Both the tools can be used on a variety of materials since they have multiple blade add-ons. But, considering that a reciprocating saw is quite powerful, it is best used on thick and tough materials like metal or hard plastic at the start of the project. 

On the other hand, a jigsaw offers similar strength and power. It can also be used on metal, plastic, and even ceramic but towards the end, for finishing. 

  • Weight

Saws and power tools, in general, have a bit of weight in the body. Which is why jigsaws and reciprocating saws have a little bit of an advantage as they are both lighter tools when compared to saw in general.

However, when compared to each other, a reciprocating tool is lighter than a jigsaw. Most reciprocating saws weigh around 2-4lbs while jigsaws are around 5-10lbs, making the former a better option for extended work periods. But either way, they are both light and portable power tools.

51KJ4StThhL. SL500

  • Design 

As mentioned earlier, the reciprocating saw is based on a simple hacksaw design as the blade movement is forward and back. 

A few features of this tool are the blade, grip, and trigger. For ease of usage, this power tool also has a rear handle. Additionally, high-end models might have a feature to collect dust too. All in all, the design is quite simple, with a few additional features to make the cutting more effortless. 

The jigsaw design is a bit more complicated and consists of multiple parts. Most of the time, there are more than ten features that together form the jigsaw. Some of those include a clamp, blade guard, footplate, lock button, and many more. Despite the difference, in theory, the tools at first glance don’t look too different.

  • Price 

Price-wise the range for both the tools is quite vast, and they are both readily available at affordable prices. A budget jigsaw usually starts at $30, and a reciprocating saw of similar quality should be around $20-$30. However, the jigsaw seems to be a bit cheaper than the reciprocating tool. 

However, the higher end of the tools is where the difference comes in. A good-quality jigsaw can easily be purchased for less than $500, but a good-quality reciprocating saw is usually close to $1000. Even a mid-range reciprocating saw is over $100, while a jigsaw of similar quality is about $60-$70.

61+69T8BBIL. SL500

When To Use A Reciprocating Saw And A Jigsaw

We have mentioned time and again that both these tools aren’t too different from each other. But, they do have specific purposes and work best in certain projects. This part of the article gives you a better idea of when a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw should be used. 

  1. Carving Work

Carving work can be done for multiple projects such as for signs, and in such projects, precision is of utmost importance. Especially when carving intricate designs and letters, everything carved should look clean and appealing. This is where a jigsaw will be of more use than a reciprocating saw.

The former is known to work best for fine cuts, and hence the work produced will be of a higher quality. All you need to do is cut over the traced design or letters, which is effortless when doing it with a jigsaw and an appropriate blade.

That being said, carving work can be done when using the correct blade on the reciprocating saw, but it will not be as clean. Since this machine is not made for delicate cutting, the result might not look as appealing as you’d like. 

  1. Clearing

Planning to tear down a big piece of wood or get rid of some metal pipes outside the house? Get a reciprocating saw. 

Since work like this usually happens at the beginning of demolition or during renovation, the cut does not matter. Even if the material is not cut most accurately, what matters is that it should be out of the way. This is why a reciprocating saw is a much better option as compared to a jigsaw. 

The reciprocating saw will cut through the material using less effort in no time. While this kind of work can be done with a jigsaw, the chances of getting it done quickly are very low. This is mainly because a jigsaw does not have that kind of power or strength in the blade.

51mlip4gQhL. SL500

  1. Outdoor Cutting

Now we aren’t saying that someone has to be a DIY enthusiast or a professional to be using these tools. Sometimes, regular day-to-day work can also be sorted out using a power tool. Take cutting branches or bushes, for example; while there are dedicated tools for cutting them, one of the two saws can be used too.

You might have guessed it – it is a reciprocating saw. It is pretty evident since the mechanics of a jigsaw do not make it ideal for branch cutting. If you have taken it upon yourself to get rid of a few stray branches and prune a tree, then the horizontal cutting of the reciprocating saw will be ideal. 

Moreover, it’s not just branches – even small trees can be cut using this tool. As already established, it is more than capable of handling thick pieces of wood, making it the perfect tool for clearing a lawn on a Sunday morning. 

  1. Fabric Cutting

This one may seem a bit odd because scissors still exist in this world, but thick fabric can be cut with a jigsaw. While most people prefer using scissors – personal or professional-grade – jigsaw provides a much smoother and even cut. 

This is because a scissor, although being used for its primary purpose, is still a manual tool. A jigsaw can only provide accurate and precise cuts in half the time and effort because it is a power tool. Jigsaws even have a specific blade to take on cutting fabric like carpets. 

Needless to say, this is not a job for a reciprocating tool.

51p9qnoi6WL. SL500

  1. Refurbishment

A full refurbish and remodeling project is one of the few projects where having both kinds of saws is quite handy. It also depends on what type of remodeling and refurbishment project it is and what part you need to carry out. 

For example, a whole kitchen needs to be refurbished with new cabinets, new platforms, etc. If you have taken it upon yourself to see the entire thing through, it is best to have both a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw. 

The former will be of use in the beginning – to remove and demolish old wood and metal parts of the kitchen. This type of tool is a much better option when you have to remove small items like nails.

While the latter can be of assistance to cut kitchen pipes consistently and also for carving cabinets. Many people use jigsaws while installing countertops as well as it is easier to cut small holes with them. Plus, it has dedicated blades for this type of work.

In a nutshell, with both the tools by your side, remodeling projects can be done quickly and with great precision. 

Which Is Safer?

We mentioned before that despite the difference in features between the two, both tools look the same. However, the jigsaw is much easier to control since it does not have as much power as the reciprocating saw. 

There may be more features in a jigsaw, but it has been made with plenty of safety features that make it safe. Moreover, the blades that come with a jigsaw are not as big as those with reciprocating saws. It’s pretty clear that large blades combined with the immense power of the reciprocating saw do not scream “safe” for a new user. 

If this is your first time using a saw, we would recommend using a jigsaw. This will allow you to get used to that tool and the power that a “power tool” can offer. Only after that should you move on to something more extensive, like a reciprocating saw.

51YyhacEWJL. SL500

Reciprocating Saw vs. Jigsaw FAQ

What Is A Sawzall?

A Sawzall is the same as a reciprocating saw but made by a company called Milwaukee Tools. This name is trademarked by their company and became synonymous with the term “reciprocating saw.” It was the first of its kind to enter the market in the 1950s. Since then, it has maintained its quality.

Can Bricks Be Cut With A Reciprocating Saw Or Jigsaw?

You might have better luck trying to cut brick with a reciprocating saw. While both the tools can cut through concrete, bricks are a bit thick and need more power.

Is It Okay To Buy Both The Tools?

Ideally, that would be the best way to go about it. Since you can use both the tools for multiple purposes, it is best to have them both. The only thing to keep in mind is your budget and frequency of using the tools.

Can A Reciprocating Saw Be Used As A Jigsaw?

Yes, indeed it can! Many reciprocating saws do have blades that cut in a vertical motion. However, the jigsaw is more precise as the power is not as strong. So if you’re only looking to cut in an up and down fashion, then a reciprocating saw can be used, but go for a jigsaw for precise cuts.

Reciprocating Saw vs. Jigsaw

Conclusion – Is There A Clear Winner?

With that, we finally come to the end of this comprehensive guide on reciprocating saws and jigsaws. 

We know you are looking for a clear winner, so the reciprocating saw is much better, in our opinion. It has more power and is fit to be used regularly. However, if you must buy a power tool, why not get both. 

The chances of you taking on a demolition project is as high (or low) as taking on a sign-making project. You never know when the need for one tool or the other comes around, so there is no harm in having both. 

But, in the end, it all comes down to what you need. Let us know which one you ended up going with. On that note, we shall sign off and see you again soon!

Until next time!

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