When a newcomer enters the woodworking scene, things could turn out to be too overwhelming. Take the saws for example, first; there are too many types of saws available and second, saws seem too similar when considering functionality. We heard too many times – “They both are the same, which one should I go for?”
It’s time we made things simpler for the newcomers. That’s why we decided to create an article on jigsaw vs reciprocating saw – two of the common saws people tend to get confused over.
Some even think these two saws are the same! Well, they might be similar but not the same in any way. Most importantly, they have different sets of functionalities and use cases.
But why do people get confused? Well, maybe because they both are “reciprocating!”
Are we making you even more confused?
Sorry about that! Let’s not waste any more words and jump straight onto the point.
What is a Jigsaw?
Jigsaws actually belong to the “reciprocating” saw family. That means the blade moves in a back-and-forth motion in this type of saws.
What makes the jigsaws different is – the intricacy and precision. These power tools are used to make special, and delicate cuts that have different purposes from the common reciprocating saws.
Apart from the table saws and the power drills, a jigsaw is the most used power tool for the woodworkers. It’s because no other saw can make better plunge cuts than the jigsaws.
Other than the perfect plunge cuts, you can also use it for making curve cuts and a better bevel cut.
Aren’t you familiar with such cut types?
Let us clarify; a plunge cut is cutting through the workpiece that you can even start from the middle of it. A bevel cut is an angled cut and, as you have guessed, a curved cut is making non-linear cuts.
As we are comparing it to the reciprocating saws, can’t the reciprocating saws create such cuts?
Yes, a reciprocating saw could do the same, but the results are too much different. A cut made from a reciprocating saw would be too rough and doesn’t give as much accuracy as the jigsaws.
If you have the right blades attached with the saw, you can even cut through hardwoods, ceramic, and sheet materials.
Popular Blade Choices for a Jigsaw
There are five popular blade choices available for the users –
- High TPI for cutting metals
- Mid TPI for cutting for plain, fine wood
- Low TPI for demolition and wood
When Should You Choose a Jigsaw?
We think we have cleared one thing to our readers – jigsaws are more special compared to the reciprocating saws.
The Flat Surface King!
The perfect use case for a jigsaw is cutting through flat surfaces. For example, if you need to make a curved, plunge, or straight cut on counter tops, nothing compares to the jigsaws.
The main reason for being so is that the blade quite thin and sleek compared to the popular circular or reciprocating saws.
Just like the countertops, you will love using it for working with sheet materials.
Complex Designs? No Problem
One might argue that the same cuts can be made by a band saw or a hand-held circular saw. Yes, you are right. But you cannot load larger workpieces on a band saw, or a table saw.
As for the circular saws, they cannot create as precise and smooth finish as a jigsaw. A circular saw fails to make complicated and intricate designs where a jigsaw excels comfortably. The cut quality of a jigsaw is just too superior.
New in Woodworking?
There is another reason to go for the jigsaws – ease of use.
Even a newcomer with little to no experience can handle a jigsaw quite comfortably. A jigsaw is typically small, handheld, and easy to maneuver.
No wonder why an inexperienced person loves working with it.
Let’s sum things up. We have made a checklist, choose a jigsaw if you are planning on working any of the following –
- Countertop installation
- Large metal sheets, ceramic tiles, planks, plywood, or soft plastic sheets
- Making curved cuts or complex cuts
- A novice user
- Making straight cuts along a sheet if you don’t have a track saw or a circular saw
- Cutting profiles for complex templates if you don’t have a scroll or a band saw
- Superior curved and complete circular cuts
- Best plunge cutting ability
- Easier bevel and compound cuts
- Better at making intricate cuts
- Higher accuracy
- Cannot handle thick materials well
- Unable to make flush cuts
What is a Reciprocating Saw?
As the name suggests, the reciprocating saws are power tools that have a blade that works in a push-pull motion.
Apart from the “push-pull motion,” there are variants of reciprocating saws that incorporate pendulum or orbital motion. Even there are different models that can create either push or pull motion.
This type of saws is best for cutting off additional parts from a body.
That’s we see these saws in plumbing, electrical, and construction operations. These are quite effective for demolishing and creating rough cuts.
Typically, a reciprocating saw has a more powerful motor compared to the jigsaws. Because of the powerful motor, it can cut off materials in a jiffy.
Woods, metals, plaster, fiberglass, you name it, it can cut through them all! Such a wide variety of application make it more popular among the users.
In short, if you are looking for cutting off things quickly despite the cut finish being rough or aggressive, the reciprocating saws are the variety you are looking for. You would see these saws at the hands of woodworkers and carpenters in most cases.
Popular Blade Choices for a Reciprocating Saw
You can use three common types of blades in a reciprocating saw. Each has different using preferences –
- Straight Edge Mid TPI for metal cutting
- Bi-Metal Mid TPI for hardwoods and light metals
- Plunge Cuttable Low TPI for woods, demolition, and nails
When Should You Go for a Reciprocating Saw?
We think you are already getting to understand the proper use case for a reciprocating saw. They are rough but can cut things off fast.
If you are looking for accuracy, DO NOT choose a reciprocating saw. You will get terrible results. We are talking to you mate – the casual woodworkers or the DIYers. Stay away from it!
Okay, does that mean a reciprocating saw is bad?
These saws simply have different use cases. As we have said, these saws are better for those scenarios where you need to cut off A LOT OF excess materials in a short time period.
That’s why plumbers and electrical technicians tend to use the reciprocating saws more. With the powerful motor and sharp blade, they can cut off even hard materials with ease.
So, what is the perfect use case for them? The answer would be making doors and windows.
These are made for professionals only and have specific applications only. Being light and handheld, they also useful while you are on a ladder cutting something off in a high-up place.
Just like the jigsaw application check-list, we have made a check-list for the reciprocating saw too. Take a look –
- Making doors and windows
- Making fast and rough cuts
- Demolition and remodeling
- Working with harder materials that jigsaws cannot cut
- Pruning branches of trees and plants
- Best for demolition and remodeling
- Easy to use
- Great for cutting something off above the head level
- Can handle harder materials
- Faster cut speed
- Cut quality is very rough
- Not suitable for intricate cuts
Jigsaw vs Reciprocating Saw: Head-to-Head
|Comparison Criteria||Jigsaw||Reciprocating Saw|
|Blades||Smaller, even works with T-shank and U-shank||Bigger|
|Power||Average||High power motors suitable for heavy duty projects|
|Blade alignment||Blade is perpendicular to the body||Blade is in line with the saw body|
|Safety||Comparatively safe||Risky, could cause accidents easily|
|Main advantage||Smooth curve cutting capability||Demolishing and remodeling|
|Biggest disadvantage||Cannot handle thick material||Rough surface finish|
Despite both of the saws having a reciprocating blade motion, the jigsaws and the reciprocating saws are entirely two different kinds. One is a best friend of the DIYers and casual users; another is designed for the tough professionals.
These two saws are designed entirely for handling different kinds of tasks. Actually, they have exactly the opposite applications.
So, you cannot actually compare them using the same scale. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.
We think, now you are clear about these two popular types of saws and will not confuse between them.
So, what do you think about our analysis on the topic jigsaws vs reciprocating saws? Let us know your thought on the topic.