Jigsaw vs Reciprocating Saw

Jigsaw vs Reciprocating Saw

Last Updated on: 4th March 2020, 01:58 am


From time to time, when you have two different items to choose from, and they seem similar, you may find yourself stumped as to which one you should choose. So, what do you do when you have two different saws to choose between? You sit down and do some research, of course. In this particular case, we need to choose between the jigsaw or the reciprocating saw. Which one is better?

Both the reciprocating saw and the jigsaw are great choices for the professional and DIYer, but each shine in their own situations.


What is a Jigsaw?


Cutting parquet board with jigsaw

A jigsaw is an electrically powered saw that uses a metal blade that goes in an up and down motion. It is great for cutting different types of materials such as thin metal, plastics, wood, and a variety of other materials. When I first discovered the jigsaw, I felt that it operated a bit like the needle in a sewing machine, except with this one, instead of sewing, I was cutting wood.

The jigsaw can be either battery powered or electric powered and they usually weigh between three to six pounds, depending on which one you get. The metal body is where the motor is and on the metal body, there’s a handle located on the top. Under the front part, a shaft extends in the downward position; again, it’s similar to a sewing machine as the blade extends down below the foot. I noticed that the foot has a tendency to have an open side that is facing the front.

How Does the Jigsaw Work?

The jigsaw has an electric motor that is responsible for turning the shaft. The shaft is connected to eccentric gears – these are gears that have axis’. This is what causes the blade to move in the up and down motion.

Most jigsaws currently on the market have different speed settings. You can set them from – to 3,200 strokes per minute. The slower speed settings are used for cutting metal and plastic, while the higher speed settings are used for cutting wood.

When using the jigsaw, the foot is blade on the material that you’re working with, while the blade faced in the same direction as you. The actual cutting takes place during the upstroke of the blade due to the angle of the teeth. I recommend flipping the material over so that the front is face down, because there could be some splintering depending on the type of wood you’re using. By placing the material face down, the splintering will be in the back where no one will notice.

What Can Jigsaws be Used for?

Jigsaws can be used for cutting out holes, cutting curves, and even for cutting stencils. I can’t think of any other type of saw on the market that is able to do this, and that’s why it’s such a unique tool. However, a jigsaw can be used in the house for a variety of different projects. As long as you have the right blades readily available, you will be able to use the jigsaw for a variety of tasks. To give you an idea of what you can use a jigsaw for, I’m going to give you a list.

When Installing New Countertops

If you’re working on installing new countertops in your kitchen, you’re going to need to cut holes for sprayer hoses, faucets, and so on. These type of things will require tiny, round holes, and I cannot think of any other tool that would do better than the jigsaw. Actually, there’s jigsaw blades on the market that have been designed solely for cutting countertops – those are called downstroke blades.

When Working with Metal

Yes, you can use a jigsaw when working with metal material. For example, you may need to make a hole in the material so that you can fit a pipe – the jigsaw can do that. You may also need to cut curves in the metal so that it can fit on the wall. You can even use the jigsaw on pipework.


Of course the saw can be used for cutting wood. The wood can range from plywood or thick wood, all the way up to construction timbers. If the construction timbers contain nails, you can find a blade that is capable of cutting through this. The jigsaw is great for cutting stencils, scrollwork, and adding neat decorative patterns to furniture.

Ceramic Tile

You may need to cut ceramic tile, and this is something the jigsaw can do. For example, to curve around a pipe, you may need to cut a neat little semicircle. Sure, you can use a tile cutter, but that’s more difficult to use.


You can use concrete blades if you’re working with porous concrete and fiber cement.


Here’s one you probably didn’t think of – you can use the jigsaw to cut through carpet. Using a jigsaw on carpet is much better than using a pair of scissors or a utility knife. There’s a blade that is designed for this type of material  – it’s a soft material blade. It can also be used on cardboard, leather and polystyrene.

You see, with a jigsaw, there’s so much that you can do.

Pros of the Jigsaw

Makes Accurate Cuts –During those times when you need to make accurate cuts, the jigsaw is going to be your best friend. It may not have the best power out there, but ti sure can make more accurate cuts than the reciprocating saw.

Cuts Curved Lines – As long as you’re using the right blade on the saw, you will be able to cut curved lines in almost any type of material you’re working with.

Plunge Cuts – The jigsaw can even make plunge cuts. You can starts out by drilling some holes through the material or you can plunge right into the materials.

Intricate Cuts – With the jigsaw, you can make some intricate cuts and shapes.


Not for Flush Cuts – The jigsaw is a versatile saw and there is no denying this. However, it’s just not useful for flush cuts due to the nature and design of the blade.

Not for Thick Hardwood – If you’re wanting a powerful saw that is capable of cutting angles or shapes into dense hardwood, then this might not be the appropriate saw. This saw should only be used for hardwood that is under ¾-inches thick.

What is a Reciprocating Saw?

Reciprocating saw Jigsaw difference

Reciprocating saws are often referred to as sabre saws. Long story short, they’re hand-held saws that come into play when you no longer want to use crowbars and hammers. That’s right, they are great for demolition work. The main use for the reciprocating saw is to tear and cut down the materials around windows, doors, and so on.  When it comes time to replacing doors and windows, ripping out those old fittings can be a time-consuming task. If you have a handy reciprocating saw, you’re going to save a whole lot of time.

The reciprocating saw has a variety of blades, with each blade being able to cut through different types of materials. They have blades that are designed for cutting through metal, wood and plasterboard.

How Does a Reciprocating Saw Work?

The motor moves the blade back and forth, kind of like a jigsaw. The reciprocating saw looks a tad bit like a miniature chainsaw. There’s handles on the back and the blade on the saw sticks out from the front. However, the blade on the reciprocating saw is only a couple inches long and it rapidly moves back and forth.

When it comes time to swap out the blades because you’re cutting different material, it is usually easy to do.

What Can the Reciprocating Saw be Used for?

The reciprocating saw can be used for a whole array of home projects. To me, the reciprocating saw is an all-in-one tool that makes working around the home a whole lot easier. To give you an idea of what you can use a reciprocating saw for, I’m going to give you a list.

Great for Working with PVC Piping

Okay, let’s say you have some PVC pipes that are hard to get to and the regular saw isn’t able to reach them. This is where a reciprocating saw will come into play. With this tool, you’ll find that the PVC is easy to cut.

Putting Indentation on Your Walls

When you’re doing some remodeling, you may need to place wires on the wall – you can make an indentation with the saw. When the area includes odd angles, I prefer using a reciprocating saw.

Cutting Difficult Pins or Nails

When pins or nails are hard to remove, go ahead and pick up the reciprocating saw. This type of saw can cut the head, instead of putting it out.

Fitting a Window

If you’ve ever paid attention to the professionals, you may have noticed them using reciprocating saws when they’re working around window frames. This is the type of saw they use when cutting down or fitting a window due to the fact that these saws can reach uncomfortable places.

Cutting Tree Branches

I just had to say it …if you have tree branches you need cut down in your yard, then you can use a reciprocating saw to do it.  Due to the cutting power and durability, the reciprocating saw will do a great job at cutting those tree branches.

The reciprocating saw, like the jigsaw, can be used to cut through so many different materials. With reciprocating saws, the sky is the limit. You can cut through almost any material, such as PVC, wood, and metals.

Pros of a Reciprocating Saw

Best to Use for Demolition – Regardless of what you’re demolishing, whether you’re doing some remodeling in your home or you’re demolishing an old structure, the reciprocating saw is the best choice. This saw can cut through everything from pipes to nails, making the demolition work a whole lot easier on you.

Easy to Use – The reciprocating saw is very easy to use. The blade is out in the open, making it easy to see exactly where you’re going to be making the cut.

Cuts through a Variety of Material – When it comes to a reciprocating saw, no material is too hard. Whether you’re cutting metal, wood, pipes, stucco or fiberglass, this saw will come in handy.

Great for Cutting above the Head – When you’re doing demolition work, making cuts over the head can be hard if you’re using any other saw other than the reciprocating saw.


Not Great for Intricate Cuts – When you’re trying to make elaborate cuts, this is going to require a great deal of accuracy and precision, so the reciprocating saw isn’t the best choice.

Produces Rough Cuts – The reciprocating saw is known for making some pretty rough looking cuts, so it’s not good for those times you want smooth cuts.


Honestly, you might want to go ahead and get both the reciprocating saw and the jigsaw, because they will both come in handy. Both the jigsaw and the reciprocating saw will come in handy in their own way. Both of them have their spot in this world and are used for different purposes.

The biggest difference between these saws is the purpose you’d use them for. A reciprocating saw is a powerful tool that can be used for remodeling and demolition work, as well as for pruning trees. Whereas, a jigsaw can be used for cutting sheet materials, making intricate shapes on wood, cutting table tops, ceramic tiles, and so on. If you do demolition work, then definitely go for the reciprocating saw, because it will make life much easier on you.

Jigsaw vs Reciprocating Saw
Article Name
Jigsaw vs Reciprocating Saw
We discuss the differences between a Jigsaw and a Reciprocating Saw and look at the different uses for the two types.
Publisher Name
Saw Winner