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Reciprocating Saw Vs. Jigsaw

On the face of it, it might seem like reciprocating saws and jigsaws are pretty much the same thing. It’s an easy mistake to make. After all, a jigsaw is a form of a reciprocating saw. But they’re certainly very different tools. And each is much better suited to different tasks. Let’s have a look at what both of these saws are, what jobs they’re good for, and then you’ll be in a better position to know which one of them is the best for you.

What is a Reciprocating Saw?

closeup view of an electric reciprocating saw

A reciprocating saw is a power tool that has a blade at the front and a handle at the back. The length of the blade varies, depending on what task you’re using the reciprocating saw for. But it’s usually only a couple of inches or as long as 12-inches.

A reciprocating saw functions by using an internal mechanism. This causes the blade to move back and forth at high speed. This mechanism’s movement is often referred to as a ‘push and pull’ motion. You have to hold the reciprocating saw in front of you when you’re using it. And that makes it better for some jobs over others. You’ll need to find a way to stabilize the material that you’re cutting. This might be via standing on it or by leaning on it.

What is a Jigsaw?

construction tools electric corded jigsaw on wooden background

A mechanical jigsaw is another power tool that features a blade. But this blade doesn’t poke out from the front of the saw, as it does with a reciprocating saw. Again, these blades come in a wide range of thicknesses and lengths. They can be changed very easily. Like with reciprocating saws, you will use different blades for different tasks.

The placement of the blade on a jigsaw makes it a different type of tool to the reciprocating saw. Instead of you holding the saw in front of you, you’ll press down on a surface with it.

What Jobs Are a Reciprocating Saw Better For?

A person is cutting a board of wood next to a window with a reciprocating saw. Sawdust is flying around. Detail of a man cutting wooden board with strong back light to emphasize saw dust.

Reciprocating saws aren’t as versatile as jigsaws. But they are perfect for some tasks. You’ll use a reciprocating saw if you need a lot of power. They can cut through lots of very tough materials. Everything from metal to cement will be sliced through easily with a reciprocating saw. These saws are commonly used for tasks that are related to demolition. That’s because it’s hard to get them to cut an exact line. If you work in a trade like plumbing, then you’ll be used to using a reciprocating saw when you want to slice a pipe. And people in construction might use them when they want to break down structures or even walls.

The key to reciprocating saws is power. But not all reciprocating saws offer the same amount of power. So, you should always check what the power output of a reciprocating saw is before you purchase it so that you can be certain that it will be up to the demolition job that you’ve got lined up.

What Jobs are a Jigsaw Better For?

Carpenter done woodwork by sawing wood

It’s far easier to control a jigsaw than a reciprocating saw. That’s because of where the blade is placed. But the placement of the blade also means that you’ll be unable to use them in the same manner as a reciprocating saw, such as when you want to demolish something.

You can do a wide range of cutting with a jigsaw. If you want to do a perfect line or curve, then a jigsaw is the power tool that you need for it. They’re not ideal for hard materials like metal. But if you’re looking to do some woodwork, then you’ll need a jigsaw. They will cut through some metals. However, they won’t cut through heavy, thick, or particularly tough metals. Most jigsaws will offer enough power for cutting through ceramic, drywall, and plastic.

The main advantage of using a jigsaw is precision. You simply have a lot more control over movement, so you can maneuver the blade in the exact direction that you want it to go in. If reciprocating saws are all about power, then jigsaws are the alternative for precision. In fact, you’ll often find that jigsaws are loaded with extra features that can enhance the preciseness of your cutting, and a laser beam is a very common feature that will allow you to be more exact.

Some jigsaws will have a suction device built into them so that sawdust is conveniently sucked up. This doesn’t just make the whole process of cutting with a jigsaw cleaner. It also allows you to continue cutting in a fluid motion without needing to pause to blow away the sawdust to see where you’re cutting.

Does a Reciprocating Saw Cost More Than a Jigsaw?

It’s down to quality. It’s possible to find both reciprocating saws and jigsaws that fit into your budget, mid, and top price ranges. The quality that you get will be reflected by the amount of money that you spend. If you want to get a jigsaw that’s loaded with lots of extra features, such as a laser and sawdust suction, then it will cost more than a bog-standard reciprocating saw. But generally, these two types of saws cost around the same amount.


Reciprocating saws and jigsaws are both power tools that can be used for cutting. But they both have distinct advantages and disadvantages. The main difference between the two is that reciprocating saws are better suited to tasks that require power, whereas jigsaws are used for tasks that require precision. The type of saw that you choose will also depend on the types of materials that you intend to cut. The harder the material, the better a reciprocating saw will be, but you’ll also lose control when cutting through such a hard material. For woodwork, then a jigsaw is definitely a much better option. As a jigsaw will allow for a lot more control than a reciprocating saw ever could.

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