Reciprocating Saw vs. Jigsaw: Which is Better for You?

Reciprocating saw vs. JigSaw

There is always a saw for every cut that you might want to make in the workshop or for use in your home improvement, renovation, and other projects.

However, sometimes it can be tough to pick between certain types of power saw as they look not only similar but also perform almost the same roles.

One of the most common dilemmas that many woodworkers and this is more so the beginners will face is whether to buy a reciprocating saw or jigsaw. The two saws are quite similar in appearance, and many woodworkers with no prior experience with both cannot tell them apart.

While both the reciprocating and jigsaw can be handy to have around, sometimes you can only afford to buy one. Knowing what suits most of your projects will make it easy to pick between the two.

reciprocating saw

The reciprocating saws are power saws that cut in a push and pull motion. And it is one of the best power saws for cutting things that are out in the open.

Although most reciprocating saws will use the pull and push motion, you can still get some with pendulum/orbital action. Also, others will come with a switch that allows you to use either of the two motions.

Reciprocating saws are one of the most common cutting tools in plumbing, construction, and electrical works. And unlike most other power saws it is often used for demolition and making rough cuts.

The motor on these saws will deliver a lot of power to its short blade to give it the ability to slice through various materials quickly. Some of the things that you can cut with the saw include wood, metal, fiberglass, plaster, and stucco.

The horizontal blade action on the reciprocating saw will make it one of the most reliable power saws for rough and aggressive cutting.  And this saw will also be handy for framing out windows and even for cutting pipes.

Pros

  • Easy to use. You will hardly find a power saw that is easier to use than the reciprocating saw. Since the blade is out in the open, it will be easy to see and direct to make the cuts simple. Also, the nature of the tasks that the reciprocating saw performs also means that it is hard to go wrong with any cut.
  • Best for demolition. Whether you are demolishing an old structure or doing some remodeling and home improvements that require you to bring down walls and doors, this is one of the best tools that you can use. It will cut through everything from nails to pipes and both hard and soft wood to make the demolition work easy and quick for you.
  • Ideal for cutting above the head. Making cuts over your head when doing a demolition can be hectic, but this is only so if you do not have a reciprocating saw. With this handy saw, you can make the cuts quickly when standing on a ladder or any other raised platform.
  • Cuts various materials. No material is too hard for a reciprocating saw. Whether you are cutting wood, metal, pipes and even fiberglass and stucco this saw will be handy.

Cons

  • Produces rough cuts. The reciprocating saw is famous for making some rough and aggressive cuts, and so it will not be useful when you want straight and smooth cuts.
  • Not ideal for intricate cuts. When you want to make some elaborate cuts that require a high level of precision and accuracy, this will not be the right saw for you. It is hard to make intricate and precise cuts with a reciprocating saw, and this is regardless of the blade type that you use.

Jigsaw

Jigsaw Reviews

The jigsaw is one of the best power saws for tasks that require some delicate cuts. With the long slim blade in this saw, you can make some intricate and precise cuts.

Although the jigsaw is from the same family or category as the reciprocating saw it is a distinct power saw that will be suitable for different purposes.

When it comes to versatility, the jigsaw will be in the same category with other handy power tools such as the table saw and drill. For most woodworkers, it is also one of the tools that they will use most.

Jigsaws are handy power saws for making plunge cuts which are cuts that will start in the middle of the workpiece, and you can also use it to make some both accurate and free-hand curves.

And just like the reciprocating saw, you can use a jigsaw to cut various materials provided you have the right blade. However, many woodworkers will prefer to use it when cutting wood, ceramic tiles, countertops and sheet metal.

Pros

  • Cuts curved lines. With the right blade in your jigsaw, you can cut some curved lines into almost any materials that you might be using. And all you will need is an appropriate guide to make the curved or circular cuts.
  • Makes accurate cuts. Jigsaw might not be the most precise power saw, but they will make way more accurate cuts than the reciprocating saw.
  • Ideal for compound and bevel cuts. If you make compound and bevel cuts often in your projects, then the jigsaw is a must-have. The saw makes both relatively easy, and all you will need to do is to move the base of the saw to a 45-degree angle. And you can also make the cuts in various materials.
  • Intricate cuts. Another thing that makes the jigsaw a handy tool to have in the workshop is that with the right guide you can make some very intricate cuts and shapes in wood and other materials.
  • Makes plunge cuts. Plunge cuts or cuts that will start in the middle of the workpiece are often hard to make with most power saws, but this is where the jigsaw stands out. You can use it to plunge into the materials directly or start by drilling some holes in the stock.

Cons

  • Not suitable for cutting thick hardwood. If you are looking for a reliable power saw to cut shapes or angles in dense hardwood the jigsaw might not be a good choice. And this is because it will only work well for hardwood that is less than 3/4-inch thick.
  • Not useful for flush cuts. As versatile as the jigsaw might be, the design and nature of the blade mean that it will still not be helpful when you need to make flush cuts.

​The Bottom Line

Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw - infographic

If cost is not a factor for you, then it will be a good idea to get both the reciprocating and jigsaw. And this is because they are suitable for different applications and both are portable and will not take up any significant space in the workshop.

However, in most cases, you will have to buy one first. And when this is the case you need to consider which between the two will be the most useful to you.

If you are into the home improvement, renovation and remodeling business the reciprocating saw might be the best purchase for you. And this is because you will need to do a lot of demolition and cut various materials which are what it does best.

For the woodworkers looking for something portable, easy to handle and versatile for use in the workshop when they need to make various cuts and on different materials the jigsaw is a good option.

The jigsaw is also the best option when most of your projects will require you to make accurate curved lines, compound and bevel cuts.

Best Reciprocating Saws

#1. Black & Decker BDCR20B Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Black & Decker BDCR20B

This affordable reciprocating saw from Black & Decker is a good pick when you want something handy to use for your home improvement projects without spending much.

The cordless power saw runs on a long-lasting lithium battery that can handle a lot of work on a single charge. And like many other top notch saws, it features a tool-free blade change to make the blade easy and quick to change.

This reciprocating saw also has a variable speed trigger and a pivoting shoe to make it a convenient and easy-to-use tool.

And despite the basic look and compact size, this saw is still powerful enough to handle various rough cutting and demolition applications.

#2. DeWalt DCS380B 20-Volt Max Li-Ion Reciprocating Saw

DeWalt DCS380B

DeWalt DCS380B is a great reciprocating saw that will be handy to have in the workshop whether you are a professional contractor or hobbyist. And it also comes with a powerful motor and long-lasting battery.

This saw will cut through various materials with ease and more precision than most other reciprocating saws. It is a versatile tool that you can use for multiple applications, and it will work for carpenters, framers, remodelers, plumbers and even electricians.

With the 4-position blade clamp on this saw, you get keyless blade change, and it also makes flush cutting possible. Also, this feature gives the power saw the ability to reach into the tight areas to improve its performance and increase efficiency.

The DeWalt DCS380B has a variable speed trigger that generates 0 to 3,000 SPM for faster blade speed and to provide better blade control. And the pivoting adjustable shoe will make it easy to control the depth of the cut and also prolongs the life of the blade. 

Best Jigsaws

#1. Bosch JS470E Corded Jigsaw

Bosch JS470E 120-Volt 7.0-Amp Top-Handle Jigsaw

Bosch makes their versatile and high performing JS470E jigsaw for both hobbyist and professional woodworkers looking for an efficient and reliable power saw.

It runs on a powerful 7-Amp motor that will provide up to 3,100 SPM to ensure that you always get enough power and blade speed to handle various cuts in different materials. Bosch also uses a constant response circuitry on the saw to provide consistent performance and precision.

And besides, from being a powerful jigsaw, the Bosch JS470E will also allow you to adjust between 4 orbital-action settings so that you always get the right blade strokes for smooth an aggressive cuts.

Like most other top-notch jigsaws this one will also feature tool-less blade change that will eliminate the need to touch the hot blades when you need to eject them.

Also, this jigsaw comes with a large and sturdy die-cast foot and a precision-machined plunging system.

#2. DeWalt DCS331B Jigsaw

DeWalt DCS331B

You can always trust DeWalt to have a reliable power saw for you, and if you are shopping for a jigsaw, their model DCS331B will be a good pick.

DeWalt DCS331B features a 4-position orbital action that will give woodworkers more control over the cut quality and speed. And it will also offer an all metal lever action keyless blade that will make it easy to change the saw's blade.

There is also an all-metal keyless bevel shoe on this jigsaw with detents on the 0, 15, 30 and 45-degree marks to make bevel cutting easy.

The variable 0 to 3,000 SPM makes this a more versatile jigsaw that will be ideal for cutting various materials and for a variety of applications. And there is also an adjustable dust blower that will make cuts easy by keeping your line of cut free of wood chips.