Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw: Differences And Similarities Explained

Saws are common and integral power tools for just about any construction, renovation, or demolition task. Two of the most widely-used saws include the “reciprocating saw”, also known as the “recip saw” and the “jigsaw”

Both saws are handy, versatile, and make sawing remarkably faster and more effective. As similar as both saws are, they also differ in several ways. The major distinction between both saws is their specific function in a task.

However, there are also other differences between reciprocating saw vs jigsaw. This article will not only examine these differences but also, the strengths and weaknesses of each saw. When you are done reading this article, you will know the distinctions between both saws and you will be able to decide which of the two saws will best fit your task.

What is a reciprocating saw?

A reciprocating saw is a cutting power tool used to saw through bricks, wood, metal, trees, branches, and other objects. The saw uses a “push and pull” motion to saw through the toughest of materials.

It is relatively more powerful than any handheld saw including the jigsaw. The reciprocating saw comes in both corded and cordless variations.

What is a jigsaw?

A jigsaw is a power tool used for precise cutting. The jigsaw is used to make curves, bevel, line, and design cuts on a piece of wood, metal, or other objects.

The saw also uses a push and pull motion to cut through objects, but because of its size, shape, and moderate power when compared to the reciprocating saw, the jigsaw is more suited for lighter tasks than the reciprocating saw. The jigsaw also comes in corded and cordless variations.

Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw

There are diverse ways to tell the difference between the reciprocating saw and the jigsaw. The major distinctions between both saws can be identified through:

  • Their structural outlook or appearance.
  • Their specialized uses or functions.
  • Their strengths and weaknesses.

Factors to consider when picking a saw for your task

Before you get a saw for your task, you need to consider different factors such as:

  • The task at hand: if you need a saw for a small scale task or to make cuts on light materials like plastics and plywood, then you need to go for a jigsaw. If it’s on a much bigger scale or to make cuts on tougher materials like metal and concrete, then you need to go for a reciprocating saw.
  • Your level of experience: if you are a beginner, it is better to go for the jigsaw because it has moderate power and it is safer to use. The reciprocating saw is more suited for veterans and professionals.
  • The space between what you want to cut: if you are planning on cutting between tight spaces, a reciprocating saw is better suited. If you want to make cuts on a broad surface like boards or tables, then you can use the jigsaw. This factor is why most plumbers use the reciprocating saw because it can reach pipes the jigsaw cannot.
  • Your budget: because of its increased power, the reciprocating saw is more expensive than the jigsaw. The amount of cash you are willing to spend determines the type of saw you can go for.
  • The weight that is comfortable for you: the reciprocating saw is lighter than the jigsaw.

There you have it. The primary difference between the jigsaw and the reciprocating saw is their specific tasks. Asides from that, both saws are largely similar. 

What does a reciprocating saw look like?

The reciprocating saw is smaller and lighter than the jigsaw. On average, the reciprocating saw weighs between 3-5 pounds. The saw is shaped horizontally with the grip and trigger located at the rear of the saw. The reciprocating saw is structured like a big bread knife.

The blade of this saw is longer, thicker, and more aggressive than that of the jigsaw. The blade protrudes at the front of the saw and is guided by a metallic part known as the shoe of the saw. The reciprocating saw has its vent positioned on the side of the saw to allow heat to pass through.

What does a jigsaw look like?

The jigsaw has a more complex build. It is bigger and heavier than the reciprocating saw. On average, the jigsaw can weigh between 6-12 pounds.

The saw has a square-like shape with the grip and trigger located at the top of the saw. The shoe guiding the blade and the blade itself are located below the saw. The blade of the jigsaw is shorter, lighter, and thinner than that of the reciprocating saw. The vent of the jigsaw is usually located on the side of the saw.

The Functions And Uses of The Reciprocating Saw

The reciprocating saw is specially built for cutting through rough and tough materials. The shape and the blade of the saw don’t allow for precise or accurate cuts.

This is why the reciprocating saw is usually associated with demolition projects. If you are thinking of cutting hard materials such as steel, copper, concrete, and so on, the reciprocating saw would be your best bet.

It packs more power than the jigsaw. Woodworkers and Engineers use the reciprocating saw when tearing down buildings or before they start a renovation.

The Functions and Uses of a Jigsaw

The jigsaw has a more gentle touch while sawing. Though it is heavier and bigger than a reciprocating saw, the jigsaw doesn’t pack huge amounts of power.

The blade of the jigsaw is also finer than that of the reciprocating saw. The gentle nature and fine blade of the jigsaw allow it to be used for precise and accurate cuts. If you are thinking of cutting materials and objects like pipes, plastic, plywood, and so on, the jigsaw would be your best bet.

Woodworkers use the jigsaw when they want to make designs, bevel cuts, and curves on wood. The jigsaw is also used to make wooden models of larger buildings before construction.

In simpler terms, the jigsaw is used when building while the reciprocating saw is largely used when destroying.

The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Reciprocating Saw

Generally, the strength of the reciprocating saw is that it is very powerful.

  • The rough, larger, and more aggressive blades make it a suitable power tool for cutting objects and materials the jigsaw can’t cut such as concrete, large door frames, and beams.
  • The reciprocating saw can be used to cut trees and prune large branches because the steel protrudes at the tip of the saw. This makes it easier to use on ladders.
  • The reciprocating saw can be used to cut through any type of metal including steel, carbon, and aluminum.
  • It is lighter and smaller than the jigsaw.
  • It can be used to cut objects between tight spaces like pipes.
  • It is suited for almost any kind of woodworker, plumber, or handyman.

On the other hand, the reciprocating saw also has its weaknesses.

  • It is a rough power tool which means it cannot make precise and accurate cuts.
  • It cannot be used to make complex shapes, designs, and curves.
  • Its power and aggressive nature mean that it requires more skill and caution while being used.

These weaknesses don’t make the reciprocating saw any less important. They just make other types of saws like the jigsaw fancied when it comes to making smoother and precise cuts and designs.

What Are The Strengths and Weaknesses Of the Jigsaw?

Generally, the strength of the jigsaw is that it has moderate power.

  • The jigsaw can be used to make precise and complex cuts and designs.
  • It can be used to cut out edges and circles.
  • It is more suited for tasks like building models of buildings and artwork.
  • It is suited for beginners.
  • It is used to cut ceramic tiles to required shapes and sizes.
  • It is more suited for architects, tillers, and artists.

Just like the reciprocating saw, the jigsaw also has its weaknesses.

  • It is heavier than the reciprocating saw.
  • It can’t be used in tight spaces.
  • It is not as powerful as the reciprocating saw.
  • It is suited for simpler cuts on materials like plastic and wood.

These weaknesses do not make it any less suitable for tasks. They just make other types of saws like the reciprocating saw more preferred for tougher tasks.

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