The reciprocating saw goes by many different names: recipro saw, sabre saw, and saws-all – even Milwaukee coined the name of “Sawz-all.” But whatever name you choose to call it, this is a powerful and versatile handheld tool. It can cut through wood, metal, masonry, fiberglass, and more, making it an essential tool for many contractors and DIY workshops worldwide. As a result, it’s known as the everyday handyman’s “weapon of mass construction.”
Reciprocating saws have a powerful motor, cutting fast and deep when necessary. But how is a reciprocating saw different from a jigsaw? Actually, a jigsaw is a type of reciprocating saw. Although technically, these saws are different, they do about the same thing, meaning they’re interchangeable at times. However, for this article, we’ll outline the differences.
Circular Saw Vs. Jigsaw Vs. Reciprocating Saw
When choosing the right saw for a project, especially if you’re 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, you can make an informed decision on which type of saw will fit your personal needs.
So let’s break it down:
Jigsaws – Function and Flexibility
For many craft and construction projects, jigsaws offer all the cutting power you need. In addition to delivering straight and curved cuts, these versatile saws will do crosscuts, ripping, beveling, and plunge cutting on various materials. These include wood, light metals, plastic, as well as ceramic tile, and drywall. Every jigsaw 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’re using your jigsaw for scroll cuts or crafting, you’ll 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 jigsaw options 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. Some handles 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 are more of a demolition-style saw used to cut down materials. They deliver a lot of power to the blade, enabling 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 corded saws remain reliable and consistent throughout 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 ten amps will provide optimal power for heavy-duty use.
Circular Saws – Most Conventional
You can use circular saws for precision-cutting many materials such as wood, masonry, plastic, or metal. They’re usually handheld or machine mounted, and each circular saw blade is specifically designed for the material used. These types of saws make relatively straight cuts. As a result, they won’t readily break or bend, providing an accurate, reliable cut.
Is a Reciprocating Saw the Same as a Sawzall?
Yes. A Sawzall is actually the brand name of the reciprocating saw invented by the Milwaukee tool company in 1951. A revolutionary tool, Milwaukee claims this to be the “first portable electric hacksaw.” Today, the name Sawzall has been made into more of a colloquial term. It’s become a household name that means reciprocating saw in general.
Reciprocating Saw Uses
Reciprocal saws are very versatile tools that you can use in many different ways. For instance, a tear-down project that would normally take many hours of blood, sweat, and tears is so much easier with a reciprocal saw. It cuts through all the materials 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’ll wonder where this magical little tool has been all your life. This is the tool that will set you apart from novice wannabes. A reciprocating saw is not for fine crafting. You can use it to break down and tackle bigger projects. It gets into tight areas for precision angle cutting.
Using a Jigsaw Blade for a Reciprocating Saw
A jigsaw, or a saber saw, is a type of reciprocating saw. However, jigsaws are for delicate work, while reciprocating saws are more for demolition work. Reciprocating saw blades are perfect for rough, multiple-angle cutting to rip and tear away material fast. Jigsaws offer more flexibility; they can cut straight or curved and indulge in crosscuts, ripping, beveling, and purge cuts.
That said, different crossover blades for reciprocating saws can do more precision work. They have longer, slimmer blades that emulate the work of a jigsaw. They’re usually labeled as reciprocating or sabre saw blades, made out of high carbon steel, bimetal, or tungsten carbide (for cement board, brick, and concrete). You’ll find these blades have different shapes, thicknesses, and TPI (teeth per inch).