Reciprocating Saw VS Jigsaw

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Having worked extensively with both, I’ve noticed one has a horizontal blade, while the other operates vertically. If you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional like me, you’ll find both the jigsaw and the reciprocating saw indispensable. Wondering which one to get without regretting your purchase later? Let me walk you through the differences between the jigsaw and the reciprocating saw.

Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw

What is a Reciprocating Saw

A reciprocating saw, or the one that has a horizontal blade, was originally designed based off of the basic hacksaw. A reciprocating saw can be used to cut a variety of materials, but I would recommend doing so out in the open or in a spacious area as there tends to be lots of debris and dust.

They are called reciprocating saws for a reason, and the reason is their movement. These saws are able to cut in a push pull or back and forth motion, or in other words, reciprocation. 

You can use these saws for more intricate cuts compared to a circular saw, and their implementation is very diverse. You can even use a reciprocating saw to cut something overhead!

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Purpose of a Reciprocating Saw

I stressed the importance of the reciprocating saws range and versatility, but what exactly is it meant for? Any type of reciprocating saw is an excellent choice for not only demolition work, but also smaller remodeling jobs, DIY home projects and more. Reciprocating saws are more of an all-in-one tool.

reciprocating saw uses

Reciprocating saws like MAKITA JR3050T or the Makita XRJ07ZB unit can cut through more materials such as ceramic, wood, and is better for touch and more complex work such as plumbing and electrical jobs. Even if you’re looking at outdoor projects that require immense cutting power that can go through tree branches; the reciprocating saw is the way to go. 

How Does a Reciprocating Saw Work?

As I mentioned, a reliable reciprocating saw blade is placed in a horizontal position and utilizes reciprocating motion to operate. Modeled after the hacksaw and operates similarly to a chainsaw, the motor on the reciprocating saw moves the blade in a backwards and forwards motion.

The blade is a few inches long and usually has variable speeds. If you want to use a reciprocating saw for different materials, the blades can be exchanged for ones that are better suited to the material on hand.

What is a Jigsaw

To put it simply, a jigsaw looks like a reciprocating saw but it is angled vertically. The jigsaw blade is positioned vertically and the motor moves the blade in an up and down motion. It’s not as powerful as the reciprocating saw, so you should only think about using a jigsaw for thinner materials such as plywood, plastics and thin sheets of metal.

how to use jigsaw

These saws are usually lighter weight than the reciprocating saws, are more suited for intricate cuts, and feature corded and cordless types of saws.

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What I Don't Like

Purpose of a Jigsaw

To sum up in one sentence, jigsaws including high-powered Skil 4495-02 are great for precision cutting. Unlike the reciprocating saw, jigsaws complete a job with more finesse, all thanks to the thinner and smaller blade and up and down movement. Any small job you have in mind, a jigsaw can most likely carry out. They are also the type of saw to go for with stencil cutting. In fact, many jigsaws will come stencil guides just like a circular saw will most likely come with a blade guide.

Like a circular saw they also have replaceable and switchable jigsaw blades, making them a great tool to keep on hand for a variety of tasks. While they might not pack as much punch as some other saw varieties available, I’ve found jigsaws to be equally invaluable for a myriad of projects. These projects could include metalworks, wood, installing new countertops and remodeling smaller areas, and sometimes jigsaws can even cut through concrete, just like how circular saws can cut through concrete.

(If you are looking for related product, here is a list of top-performing budget jigsaws I found) 

How Does a Jigsaw Work?

The mechanism of other saws versus the jigsaw are a little bit different, but how do jigsaws work? and what is it about this tool that gives it such a wide variety of cutting abilities? The blade is installed in a vertical position, which is fed into the shaft that is controlled by the motor in an up and down movement.

Man operating the TACKLIFE 6.7 Amp 3000 SPM with Laser & LED

If compared to any other saw to the jigsaw, the jigsaw such as the cordless Dewalt DCS331B possess variable cutting speeds that can reach up to 3200 SPM. Of course, the lower the speed, the less power the tool has to cut through thicker materials. So for items made of metal, wood, and thick plastic make sure you crank up the power. There are also blade replacements suited for different cuts. When swapping out the jigsaw blades used for wood with one used for metal, you can get more strenuous jobs done quicker.

Main Differences Between a Reciprocating Saw and Jigsaw

I rely on a jigsaw when precision is paramount in a project, as it enables accurate cutting using appropriate jigsaw blades. On the other hand, for larger and more heavy-duty projects, a reciprocating saw is preferred due to its superior power and durability.

They can both cut through a selection of materials and offer alternative blades for different projects, but the reciprocating saw can always cut through thicker and tougher materials. The reciprocating saw is used as a handheld tool, while the jigsaw requires a level surface to operate.

I do not recommend the type of saw like a jigsaw to be used for flush cuts, just like I wouldn’t recommend reciprocating saws for precision cutting. Instead of angling the material to suit the position of a saw like the jigsaw, reciprocating saws allow you to angle the saw to suit the cuts because of the handheld design. This greatly increases the versatility and convenience of using reciprocating saw compared to a jigsaw.

how to use recip saw

Like the jigsaw, reciprocating saw is so lightweight, like the Dewalt DCS369B model, compared to other full-sized saws or circular saws, but the reciprocating saws have a bit of an edge as it’s usually a few pounds lighter. Don’t underestimate the significance of a few pounds, because that’s all it takes to guarantee a longer operation. 

The differences between jigsaws vs reciprocating saws go further than what’s on the surface and what’s underneath. The discrepancies also extend to the pricing of both products. Like most other saws, many factors contribute to the final pricing, as well the warranty [1]. Considerations such as quality of materials, versatility and extra features will affect the price, so you are looking at a wide range in this aspect. 

You can choose to spend however much you wish depending on your budget, but on average, jigsaws will cost less than reciprocating saws. This is also a competitive advantage of jigsaws over scroll saws, as the former is a less expensive option. Both jigsaws and reciprocating saws can make quite a mess in terms of dust particles, so make sure you have a speedy dust collection system to help with the cleanup. 


Can you use a reciprocating saw as a jigsaw?

Yes, you can use a reciprocating saw as a jigsaw; Reciprocating saws encompass a wide variety of saws that operate with the up and down or back and forth movement. A jigsaw is just a more specific type of reciprocating saw moving in the up and down fashion. If needed, a reciprocating saw can also mimic the same movements, although they cannot perform with the same attention to detail as their counterparts.


Which one is better when it comes between reciprocating saws and jigsaws? They are both geared towards different projects and have a specialty performing different tasks. A jigsaw is best used for precise cutting jobs while the reciprocating saw is used to cut tougher and larger materials. To decide on which is the best choice for you, consider the project you have at hand. Do you need a saw used for intricate and detailed cuts or one with more power for larger cut jobs?

Leave a comment, and tell us what kind of saw you prefer.

For other related articles, read our comparison between Jigsaw vs Circular saw here. Read next!

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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