Reciprocating Saw Vs. Jigsaw

Reciprocating saw goes by many different names: Recipro saw, sabre saw, saws-all, even the Milwaukee-brand coined name of “Sawz-all”. Whatever name you choose to call it, this is a powerful and versatile handheld tool that can cut through wood, metal, masonry, fiberglass, and more, and is an essential tool for many contractors and DIY workshops around the world, known as the every-day handyman’s “weapon of mass de-construction.”

Reciprocating saws have a powerful motor and can be used to cut fast, and cut deep when necessary. But how is a reciprocating saw different than other saws? Actually, in layman’s terms, a jigsaw is a type of reciprocating saw, although technically, they are different saws… But since they do about the same thing they can be interchangeable… However, for this article, we will outline the fine differences.

Circular Saw Vs. Jigsaw Vs. Reciprocating Saw

When choosing the right saw for a project, especially if you are still a self-described novice at cutting, sawing, or any type of construction work, it can be a bit daunting of a process, even with lots of reading and due-diligence. But, once you know the differences between these three main work saws, then you can move on to make an informed decision on which type of saw will fit your own personal needs. Let’s break it down:

Jig Saws – Function And Flexibility

For many craft and construction projects, jig saws will definitely offer the cutting power that is needed. In addition to delivering both straight and curved cuts, these versatile saws will do crosscuts, ripping, beveling, and plunge cutting on a variety of materials such as wood, light metals, plastic, as well as for cutting ceramic tile and drywall. Every jig saw can handle a variety of cutting projects, but each may offer a different set of features that will better suit them for specific applications.

For example, if you are using your jigsaw for scroll cuts or crafting, you will want one that has a knob-style auxiliary handle for more precision cutting and steering control. Or, if you need to use this primarily for straighter cuts, look for a built-in laser line that maximizes the efficiency.

Other convenient options of a jigsaw can include anti-vibration that enhances precision cutting, a dust collection port to maintain a cleaner cut as you work, and built-in lights for greater visibility. There are also handles that offer a more comfortable, ergonomic grip for greater comfort and reduced fatigue.

Reciprocating Saws – Rough Cutters

As the most commonly used saw in construction, plumbing, and electrical work – reciprocating saws, also called recipro saws, sabre saws, or even saws-all, are more of a demolition – style saw that is used for cutting down materials. They deliver a lot of power to the blade that enables the saw to quickly slice through materials such as metal, masonry, ceramic, wood, fiberglass, stucco, drywall, and composites.

If you want to use your reciprocating saw for more demolition work, look at its power capabilities. Cordless models will lose power as the battery drains, while the corded saws remain reliable and consistent through the entire job, with unlimited run time. Corded reciprocating saws range from less than five amps to 15 amps or more. A reciprocating saw with 10 amps will provide optimal power for heavy-duty use.

Circular Saws – Most Conventional

Circular saws are tools used for precision-cutting many materials such as wood, masonry, plastic or metal and can be hand-held or machine mounted. Each circular saw blade is specifically designed for which material it is being used. These types of saws are used for relatively straight cuts, and they are designed so that they don’t readily brake or bend, providing an accurate, reliable cut.

Is A Reciprocating Saw The Same As A Sawzall?

Yes. A Sawzall® (or just sawzall) is actually the brand name of the reciprocating saw made by Milwaukee tool company, and was invented in 1951. A revolutionary tool, this was claimed to be the “first portable electric hacksaw”, as the Milwaukee site puts it. Today, the name sawzall has been made into more of a colloquial term and has become a household name that means reciprocating saw in general.

Reciprocating Saw Uses

A reciprocal saw is a very versatile tool that can be used in many different ways. For instance, a tear-down project that would normally take many hours of blood, sweat, and tears to rip down and break apart with a crowbar, is so much easier with a reciprocal saw that just cuts through all the materials instead in a quarter of the time. Tear down windows, walls, plumbing, doors, etc. – it’s easy with a reciprocating saw – just cut away and toss.

You will wonder where this magical little tool has been all of your life. This is what you will own when you finally graduate to a Serious DIY’er and have been around the hard knocks block a few times. This is the tool that sets you apart from the novice wannabes. A reciprocating saw is not for fine crafting. It is used for breaking down and tackling the bigger projects. It is designed for getting into those tight areas with an exposed blade and different positioning for precision angle cutting.

Jigsaw Blade For Reciprocating Saw

A jigsaw, or a saber saw, is actually a type of reciprocating saw, only jigsaws are more for delicate work, while reciprocating saws are more for demolition work. Reciprocating saw blades are made for more horizontal action for rough, multiple angle cutting to rip and tear away material fast. Jig saws offer more flexibility and can cut straight or curved, as well as crosscuts, ripping, beveling, and purge cuts.

That said, there are different crossover blades for reciprocating saws that can do more precision work that have longer, slimmer blades that will emulate the work of a jigsaw, and they are labeled as reciprocating/sabre saw blades, made out of high carbon steel, bimetal, or tungsten carbide (for cement board, brick, and concrete). These blades are found in different shapes, thicknesses, and TPI (teeth per inch).

About the Author

Bob Robinson has been a tool enthusiast and lawn care expert for the past 11 years. First working with John Deere to reduce their impact on the environment, whilst building his love for writing in his spare time. Now, Bob runs the editorial team at BestofMachinery and tends to his garden in his spare time.

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