Reciprocating Saw vs Circular Saw: Which One You Need (And Why)?

When you’re working on a job site, it’s important to have all the basic tools handy. You never know when you might need them. However, when it comes to demolitions and remodeling projects, there are two power tools you’ll need.

Any guesses what they are?

That’s right, a reciprocating saw and a circular saw.

What’s the difference?

For starters, they are both separate types of power saws with sporting different shapes of blades. What else?

We’ll get there and reveal which tool best suits your requirements in a bit. However, to understand the differences you’ll need to have basic knowledge about the tools themselves. So, let’s see what they are and how they operate then move on to their differences.

Reciprocating Saw vs Circular Saw

Blade Type

The style of blades is dramatically different in both these types of saws. With a reciprocating saw, you get a knife-like serrated blade. On the other hand, a circular saw features a circular disc-shaped blade.

Body Style

The form of both these saws is very different. Where reciprocating saws are bulkier and appear more like a rifle, circular saws are more circular centered around the disc blade.

Cutting Speed and Capacity

Given their noticeably different saying and, you’ll learn that reciprocating saws cut faster than circular saws. For example, if you cut through the same piece of wood using both the saws you’ll see that the reciprocating saw works much faster. You get a cleaner cut with the circular saw but it takes much longer to get the job done.


You’ll easily get a reciprocating saw for around $100. But circular saws are typically more expensive because of their precision and functionality. So if you need a circular saw, it’ll cost you $100-$250 approximately.

As you can see, reciprocating saws and circular saws come with different blades and body types. Another big difference is the price range and the cutting speed.

What is a reciprocating saw?

In simple words, a reciprocating saw is a powerful tool that uses a back and forth motion to cut through materials. It gets its name from the reciprocating motion it uses to make clean cuts.

To achieve this, the saw features a narrow knife-shaped blade on one side. Now, you should know that there are a variety of blades you can choose from when it comes to reciprocating saws. These blades are accustomed to cut through many tough materials like wood and metal.

Its body is shaped like a rifle and the back sports a trigger to fire up the saw. The blade, on the other hand, is found at the opposite end. The structure calls for a two-hand approach. One hand supports the weight of the saw near the chuck while the other is placed on the trigger and guides the saw across the material.

How to use a reciprocating saw?

The operation of a reciprocating saw is quite simple. These are the steps to cut through any material effortlessly with a reciprocating saw.

  1. Unplug the saw or remove its battery pack.
  2. Select a blade ideal for cutting the type of material you are about to slice through.
  3. Attach the blade by pressing the lever or the button on the saw’s chuck. (Release when the blade is inserted properly. To chuck give the saw a gentle tug.)
  4. Adjust the shoe so the blade is at least an inch larger than the material you’re cutting.
  5. Mark the area that needs to be chopped off with a pencil or marker.
  6. Stabilize the object using c-clamps.
  7. Put on your protective gear (safety glasses, gloves, and so on).
  8. Attach the power cable or the battery pack and press the trigger.
  9. When the saw reaches its maximum speed, begin cutting from one side.
  10. Use your hand to gently nudge the blade in the right direction based on your markings.
  11. Once done, disconnect the power supply and place the saw sideways to avoid bending or breaking the blade.

What are the pros and cons of using a reciprocating saw?


  • Portability

Reciprocating saws are mainly available in two types, corded and cordless. Regardless of the type you choose, they are mostly compact and travel-friendly. Of course, some precautions must be taken when carrying a sharp blade with you but other than that, reciprocating saws are easy to carry to job sites.

If you’re looking for a fully portable solution, the cordless variant will work perfectly. Just remember to charge it beforehand to save time on the site.

  • Speed settings

Depending on what you’re cutting, you can adjust the speed of a reciprocating saw. Different models come with variable speeds for easy use. The saw you pick mainly depends on the task at hand.

  • Versatility

With a reciprocating saw, you can cut vertically or horizontally. Both the variants (corded and cordless) are capable of providing the best cutting experience. However, cordless reciprocating saws are more convenient as there’s no cable to worry about.

When talking about the versatility of the reciprocating saw, it’s impossible to forget its ability to slice in confined spaces. This makes it a great tool for DIYers.


  • Not ideal for cutting accurately

Reciprocating saw is a rough tool so you won’t get extremely smooth cuts but it is still a good power tool. With practice, however, you can get fairly good results with a reciprocating saw too.

  • Unsafe

Keep in mind it is a heavy-duty saw. It is not safe to use given its protruding blade. While using a reciprocating saw, we recommend exercising extreme caution. Don’t avoid any of your safety gear when working with a power tool of such caliber.

Now, let’s see what a circular saw is and how you can use it.

What is a circular saw?

A circular saw is an important tool in every craftsman’s toolkit. It makes it easy to achieve clean and precise cuts. To operate, it rotates a flat round blade that cuts through any material easily depending on the blade.

These types of saws typically feature a single handle with an on/off switch, arbor nut, and guards to protect the user from touching the spinning blade. Additionally, you also get height/depth and bevel adjustment abilities with a circular saw. The process is fairly simple when using a circular saw as it is much more compact and easy to handle.

How to use a circular saw?

These are the steps to use a circular saw safely.

  1. Put on your safety gear. You’ll especially need eye protection.
  2. Make sure the saw isn’t connected to a power outlet. Remove the battery pack if you’re using a cordless circular saw.
  3. Select the appropriate blade for the job and attach it to the saw using the arbor nut.
  4. Once you’re sure the blade is firmly attached, adjust the soleplate for proper height and bevel.
  5. Support the object using c-clamps.
  6. Mark the area you’re cutting with a pen or marker.
  7. Plug the saw into the power outlet or attach the battery pack.
  8. Align the blade to the mark to be cut and press the safety switch.
  9. Turn the saw on and flow the lines slowly.
  10. While reaching the end make sure the end is well supported.
  11. After you’re done, turn the saw off and unplug it from the power supply. For cordless circular saws, remove the battery. Set it aside carefully in a slant position on a surface the sharp teeth can’t damage.

What are the pros and cons of using a circular saw?


  • Accuracy

Working with a circular saw is recommended when you need quick, precise cuts. You can guide it through the object you’re cutting effortlessly using a single hand (with experience).

  • Efficiently cuts complex shapes

Circular saws sport blades perpendicular to the base. This makes them perfect for cutting difficult shapes and curves on wood or metal.


  • Requires a flat surface

The biggest disadvantage of a circular saw, perhaps, is that it needs a flat base to work smoothly. It is great for DIY projects because of its user-friendly body. But only get it if you have a workspace where you can use it to its best potential.

That’s a quick summary of what the two power tools are and what they are capable of doing. By now you must be educated enough about their applications and operations. So, let’s look at the differences.

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