The Tool Geeks

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

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Their design might be different– but there are a lot of people who don’t know the difference between a circular saw vs reciprocating saw. And that’s fine. Here’s the difference: 

The main difference between a circular saw and a reciprocating saw is the purpose. The reciprocating saw is mostly used to cut tree branches, while the circular saw is made to cut thick wood. The design is also different, and circular saws are faster. 

But, there are more differences than just these two. Down below we have included a lot of other things, check it out.

What Is a Reciprocating Saw?

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. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Reciprocating Saw?



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.


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.


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?

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.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Circular Saw?



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.

Reciprocating Saw vs Circular Saw: Head to Head


The weight plays a big role when it comes to handheld power saws. If you compare circular saws with reciprocating saws, then circular saws are heavier. 

There are reciprocating saws that you can hold with one hand only, and these are the lightest saws. But, there aren’t circular saws that you can use with one hand. 

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. Thanks to the blade the reciprocating saw can be used to cut trees.

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.

The body factor plays a big role when it comes to the purpose. Reciprocating saws can be used in tight spaces, while the circular saw can’t.

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 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.

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