Reciprocating Saw vs. Jigsaw

Reciprocating Saw vs. Jigsaw

Most people confuse reciprocating saws vs. jigsaws, especially in their uses. Both can handle most professional and DIY tasks you throw at them, and both come in corded or cordless models. However, how they are designed and used differently. So, here we will put them head-to-head to see how they compare. So, let’s get to it!

What Is a Reciprocating Saw?

The reciprocating saw has a horizontal blade referenced from the hacksaw. It is perfect for cutting numerous materials; however, we recommend using it in the open as it produces dust and debris. Their movements involve a back-and-forth motion, hence the reciprocating saw. It is usable in diverse ways, such as an overhead cut.

Purpose of the Reciprocating Saw

The reciprocating saw comes with versatility and range; this makes it a fantastic choice for most jobs. Whether DIY home projects remodeling or heavy-duty jobs such as demolition work, the reciprocating saw can work for you. It has impressive cutting power and can cut through almost anything.

How Does It Work?

We mentioned earlier that to use the reciprocating saw, you put it in a horizontal position to operate in a reciprocating motion. The motor on the saw will move the blade back and forth. The blade speeds can be varied, and you can choose your blade depending on the material you are cutting.

What Is a Jigsaw?

A jigsaw is like the reciprocating saw, except it is angled vertically. The jigsaw blades are situated vertically; thus, the motor motions the blade up and down. Jigsaws are not as powerful as reciprocating saws when compared side by side. For this reason, they are suitable for thin materials like plastic or plywood.

Purpose of a Jigsaw

Jigsaws are popular with carpenters or individuals who specialize in woodwork because they can precisely cut. They have thin and small blades that move up and down. They can handle most small projects and DIY ventures and are perfect for stencil cutting; most jigsaws come with stencil guides.

Even though they are not as robust and powerful as the reciprocating saw, they can still handle as many jobs, including wood, metal works, remodeling smaller areas, or even cutting through concrete.

How Does a Jigsaw Work?

A jigsaw does not work as many other saws; they are unique; for instance, they have various cutting abilities. First, the blade is inserted into the shaft; the motor moves the shaft in an up and down movement.

Most jigsaws have variable cutting speeds, so you should consider the speed depending on what you are cutting. More speed means more power; the lower the speed, the lower the jigsaw’s power to cut through thick materials. So, when cutting metal, thick plastic, or any other rigid material, we recommend cranking up the power.

You can use different blade replacements. For example, when you use a blade designed for cutting metal for one that cuts wood, you can get through rigid materials quickly.

Differences Between the Reciprocating Saw and Jigsaw

The reciprocating saw is preferred for general projects, cutting pipes, and remodeling, but the jigsaw is the way for a carpenter or a woodworker. Let us look at some of the details these saws have that will help distinguish between the two:

  • The reciprocating saw has a horizontal hognose look, while the jigsaw is compact and vertical
  • A reciprocating saw is larger than a jigsaw. It is a tool that requires both hands to operate, one at the back handle where the trigger is and the other closer to the blade. The blade is usually unshielded and in line with the body. It protrudes from the end. On the other hand, a jigsaw has its blade from underneath near the front. It has a transparent shield that acts as a safety feature.
  • Reciprocating saws make cuts anywhere at any angle, while a jigsaw is functional when your foot offers stability against the cutting surface
  • One reciprocating saw benefit is that it is usable anywhere. As long as safety precautions are followed, you could use it above head height or ground level. It can saw anywhere—flat, on curved surfaces, horizontally, or vertically. You can go for a pivoting shoe against the workpiece for stability, but they are used freehand on most occasions. On the other hand, jigsaws come with a sole or foot which is a plate on the bottom for stability during cutting. The plate should contact the workpiece during cutting; this is very important. Lifting the jigsaw usually causes you to lose control and may cause wrist injuries. It happens when the blade bounces out of the cut, breaking or bending it.
  • You can cut a large diameter with the jigsaw, but you must be careful. The convenient thing about the plate is that it can be fixed at different angles and adjusted to allow for accurate bevel cutting.
  • Reciprocating saws are most preferred for demolition and heavy-duty cutting, whereas jigsaws are perfect for curves and intricate cuts
  • Even though reciprocating saws are relatively lightweight, they are powerful and robust tools, perfect for cutting thick materials. For example, a reciprocating saw would be preferred when demolishing drywall or studying partitions. They can even cut through concrete and masonry when using the correct blade; this is why contractors prefer them. In addition, the blades on a reciprocating saw are long, have a deeper profile, and give great capacity. Cutting thick materials like metal pipework and plastic gives you more support.
  • On the other hand, jigsaws are a carpenter’s tool. They can cut through sheet metal and plastic with the right blade; however, their limited length makes them suitable for sheet material or boards. The jigsaw is terrific when looking for intricate details; it can make rapid cuts in a straight line. It can also be cut in circles or curves using a slender blade.
Reciprocating Saw vs. Jigsaw

Similarities Between the Reciprocating Saw and the Jigsaw

Here are the things that these saws have in common:

Both Use Blades to Do the Cutting

The reciprocating saw’s motor uses the blade to cut through materials by moving it back and forth or in a push or pull motion, and so does the jigsaw. Therefore, choosing the right blade for the job is critical for desired results.

These include blades for cutting wood or metal for jigsaws. Wood blades can also cut plastic. Reciprocating saws have the same choices as jigsaws and have blades for cutting through materials like trees, fiberglass, or concrete blocks.

Variable Speeds

Both have variable speeds; however, they are different in terms of control. A reciprocating saw has a variable speed trigger; the harder you squeeze it, the more the blade speed. It is easy to operate but difficult to control and thus unsuitable for precise cutting.

A jigsaw has a variable trigger and even more speed controls; this can be through selectable ranges or dials. They have this to ensure the speed is within precise ranges for different cutting materials.

Pros and Cons of the Reciprocating Saw and the Jigsaw

Reciprocating Saw


  • It comes in corded and cordless models
  • Lightweight and portable
  • It can be used vertically and horizontally
  • It comes with variable speed adjustments
  • Useful on a variety of materials
  • It is equipped with components that aid in stability
  • Perfect for most jobs


  • The cuts are usually rough
  • It cannot be used for an intricate type of work



  • Perfect for precise cutting
  • Can produce curved cutting, cross-cutting, and plunge cutting
  • Have corded and cordless models
  • Versatile and lightweight
  • Easy to use


  • They don’t provide perfect flush cuts
  • Not suitable for heavy-duty jobs

Can a Reciprocating Saw Substitute a Jigsaw?

You can use the reciprocating saw in almost every scenario since they can operate in both back and forth and up and down movements. For example, Jigsaws are a specific saw type that moves up and down. A reciprocating saw can mimic the movements the jigsaw does. However, they cannot do it with the precision of a jigsaw.


If you are looking into purchasing the reciprocating or jigsaw or are curious about their differences, we hope this article has shed light on the topic. These saws are fantastic tools with impressive capabilities that will provide the desired results whether you are doing home renovations or at-home DIYs.

A reciprocating saw is the perfect choice for heavy-duty jobs and can work in most environments. The only downside is they are not suitable for accurate cuts. Jigsaws are your go-to if you want rapid cutting or desire greater control to give you more accuracy in your work.

Whatever you choose, make sure that it will work in your favor and make work easier in your next project.

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