Jigsaw vs. Saber Saw: Is There a Difference?

BLACK+DECKER Smart Select Jigsaw

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With lots of tools in the market, hobbyists and professional woodworkers alike are having a hard time distinguishing the differences. This is especially true if the tools are commonly used interchangeably, just like with saber saws and jigsaws. 

To avoid confusion and incompatibility, our industry experts curated this jigsaw vs. saber saw comparison for an easy buying experience of tools:

Transformation of Jigsaws and Saber Saws (Past to Present)

From the scroll saw came the handheld power tool we now know as the jigsaw or saber saw. The traditional scroll saws was one of the first power tools made famous for its reciprocating blade that moves up and down, making cutting more powerful for most users. 

Back then, the toothed blade of a scroll saw was fixed on one side only, referred to as the jig saw variation. Since then, it has evolved into a handy and more portable reciprocating saw for users’ ease. 

BLACK+DECKER Smart Select Jigsaw

The evolution of the stationary jig saw did not end yet. Manufacturers still found an improvement which led to attaching knobs on the unit top to make it formidable for intricate sawing.

To avoid confusion, people started coining the blade-turning, known as the jigsaw, and the knob-less ones as saber saws, which explains the distinct difference between the two. 

What are Saber Saws?

Sabre saws are often called reciprocating saws because of their similar properties. However, a regular reciprocating saw is usually wider and has toothlike thicker blades used for other soft materials. 

The sabre saw is more powerful, but the trade-off is that it produces rough cuts instead of precise ones. This is the reason why we recommend using a sabre saw for demolition projects. It’s often a construction worker’s favorite, as the power of the saber saw is enough to tear down home walls. 

cordless saber saw parkside

It’s common for a saber saw to jump around a bit, especially when cutting oddly-shaped materials, but it’s best for tearing metal, wood, and even plastic. 

“Saber” or “sabre” means thicker blade, which is used for cutting heavy materials. Originally, the saber blade was mounted on scroll saw machines. 

The Delta company applied for a ‘scroll saw chuck’ patent in 1931 and was awarded in 1934. The scroll saw chuck can account for pin blades, jewelers’ blades, saber blades, and machine files. [1]

Pros

Cons

Characteristics of Sabre Saws

Motor

Like any other power tool, the motor is the powerhouse of a saber saw. The power and cutting action of the blade come from either the battery or the power outlet.

saber saw

Trigger Switch

Apart from the on and off feature of the switch, it also triggers and controls the speed control. If you press the trigger inwards, these tools will run in a speedier motion. 

Blade + Blade Guard

Saber blades are often 2 to 12 inches long and are coined the most important part of the saw. The blade guard, commonly called the shoe, keeps your hand safe as it acts as a footing material for making plunge cuts.

Speed Options

The speed feature is located close to the handle. It is used to lock a maximum speed range, and once selected, it cannot exceed the speed allotted even with the trigger switch in place. 

using sabersaw

Uses of a Saber Saw

Woodwork

The primary use of a saber saw is to cut through wood. It can cut through different materials and pieces, even on pins and screws.

Pipes

Sabre saws efficiently cut vertically, even straight lines on horizontal and diagonal cuts. This makes it easier for the saber saw to cut through copper, plastic, and PVC pipes to assist you in your plumbing tasks. 

It can also cut clean no matter how difficult the plumbing line’s position is. 

Bessey BPC-H34 H Style Pipe Clamp

Pruning

A corded saber saw is also used in pruning trees, shrubs, and bushes. The corded saber saw is equipped with more power in cutting thick branches, while the cordless ones are better for dense vegetation. 

Demo Jobs

Sabre saws are excellent and best known for impressive demolitions. The sabre saw can work efficiently even in awkward spaces, as it can slice through hardwoods and metal frameworks. 

What are Jigsaws?

Jigsaw is built differently and fills the drawback of using a sabre saw. It isn’t packed with as much power, but it’s made for circular and more intricate cuts and is straightforward to use. 

A jigsaw is a handheld tool that’s more portable and safer, even for a woodworking expert. 

TACKLIFE PJS02A Jigsaw cutting action lever

To make jig saws more comfortable to work with, it has a built-in handle at the top, which users can use as a guide when making precise cuts. It also has a reciprocating blade and is best for materials like wood, plastic, and thin metal. 

Beginner woodworkers will find jig saws easier to learn and handle rather than the sabre unit, due to their popular mechanics that are more comprehensible. 

Pros

Cons

Characteristics of Jigsaws

Trigger Switch

The Jigsaw’s trigger switch also controls the speed control of the saw, and similar to a sabre saw, it is also the on and off switch. 

CRAFTSMAN (CMES610) Jigsaw

Blade + Blade Guard

The jigsaw blade works reciprocally when you hold it in a vertical position. Thus it moves up and down when held horizontally. It is the most vital part of your jigsaw. 

There are also a lot of blades made for the different cuts you want to make. If you want a downstroke cut, install reverse teeth, then use the general-purpose blade cuts for the upstroke. 

Meanwhile, the blade guard is placed on the front side of the blade to keep your hand safe when sawing. The blade guard also deflects the debris from the material. 

LED Guide

Jig saws have LED lights to improve visibility when working. This helps the woodworker make more accurate cuts too. 

LED light of jigsaw

Footplate

When cutting material, keeping the jigsaw blade in place and locked at the same angle is essential. The Jigsaw’s footplate or shoe helps the blade carve at angles up to 45 degrees. 

Uses of a Jigsaw

Woodwork

Jig saws are best for cutting softwood as they have thin blades, making cutting more accurate even with circles and curves. There are also jigsaw models that have angling for beveled cuts.

Metals

With a jigsaw, you can also cut through metal. It is considered the best cutting tool for metal sheets. It makes better cuts than cutting shears and is also safer than a cutting torch.

Laminate Flooring

The jigsaw is also popular for making curved cuts used in laminate flooring. 

using jigsaw to cut laminate flooring

Features of a Jigsaw and Saber Saw: Which is Better?

Blade Type

While a jigsaw and sabre saw may look similar, the key difference lies solely in the blade. The saber saw is utilized for bigger areas when cutting, which is why its front portion is more exposed than the Jigsaw. 

A jig saw blade is also thicker, which is why it can cater through brute force.

Accuracy

Jigsaws come in a guide that makes it easier to cut wood, even with different lines and shapes. It also makes more precise and accurate cuts than a sabre saw. 

The jigsaw also comes with a soleplate, but a sabre saw does not, which explains its less precision.

BOSCH JSH180B Cordless Jigsaw

Power

A sabre saw and jig saw can run on either battery or a power source. Hence, with different types, the distribution of power is also different. 

With sabre saws, the power distribution is towards the whole tool. But with a jigsaw, the power is only through the blades. This makes Jigsaw blades more powerful since there’s power concentration. 

Size and Portability

Both saws are portable, but the sabre saw is relatively heavier than jigsaws. A jigsaw is an option if you’re looking for a lighter saw. 

Material and Project Type

A sabre saw is best for demolition works and projects requiring rougher tools. It also can get into tiny spaces and corners. 

Jigsaws, on the other hand, are the perfect tool for detailed cuts and tighter curves since it has thinner blades. It also has bells and whistles mainly designed for improved intricacy.

Our Handpicked Recommendations

1. SKIL 5 Amp Corded Jig Saw JS313101

The portability and easy set-up feature of the SKIL 5 Amp Corded Jig Saws make it a favorite amongst users. It has three different settings for various cuts and is cheaper than other models. 

SKIL 5 Amp is maneuverable and cuts like butter staying true to its promise of preciseness. 

2. Astro Pneumatic Tool 930 Air Body Saber Saw

The Astro Pneumatic Body 930 Air Body Saber Saw works perfectly for users working on exhaust work and rough projects. It has double the strength and cycles faster with less vibration, only about 50% of the transmitted power. 

It’s also made with six blades and two wrenches, and the best thing about this machine is its air power. 

Conclusion

This saber saw vs. jigsaw comparison showed that it could be time-consuming to pick one of the two since they are almost the same tool. Both are portable saws, and both blade moves in a reciprocating motion, making them more efficient than table saws. 

We recommend checking the detailed process of your projects to know which one fits you best, but both saws are valuable additions to the woodworkers’ workshop

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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