Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw: Which is Best for the Job?

Reciprocating Saw Vs Jigsaw

When it comes to useful tools for home projects and renovations, two often come up: reciprocating saws and jigsaws. But knowing which one is best for what job is less clear for many homeowners.

And for both reciprocating saws and jigsaws, markets are booming–and so is innovation.

If you’re wondering why reciprocating saws and jigsaws are becoming progressively popular, first look at the home improvement industry in general.

Last year, home improvement costs exceeded three hundred and ninety billion dollars in the United States alone. In 2017, over half of homeowners made some sort of renovations, however large or small. But though trends are pointing to more and more Americans taking on home improvement projects, something is changing.

Americans are now more likely to set budgets for their projects than they were in previous years, although over thirty-one percent of Americans tend to go over budget. 

Saws, in general, are highly useful for a variety of home renovation projects, whether you’re starting from scratch or trying to improve upon something you already have. While saws in their entirety have a wide variety, perhaps among the best known are jigsaws and reciprocating saws.

Yet many do not understand the difference between the two, and many do not know what each is best for. It’s not so much of a question as which one is better than the other, so much as which one is best fitted for the task at hand.

In this article, we’ll go through the pros and cons of a reciprocating saw vs a jigsaw for a variety of tasks and help you make the best decision possible so you don’t waste your money and can work as efficiently as possible on whatever projects you have in store.

Main Differences Between Reciprocating Saws vs Jigsaws

The Main Differences Between Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw are:

  • Reciprocating Saws were designed based off on hacksaws, whereas Jigsaws have a more complex design.
  • Reciprocating Saws features what is called a ‘hog nose’, whereas Jigsaws are more compact and layered vertically.
  • Reciprocating Saws weigh an average of three to five pounds, whereas Jigsaws weigh an average of six to twelve pounds.
  • Reciprocating Saws can make both horizontal and vertical strokes, whereas Jigsaws can also make bevel and compound cuts.
  • Reciprocating Saws are the prized saws for demolition projects, whereas Jigsaws are prized for precision work.

What Are Saws Used For?

While at its most basic sense, this seems like an overly simplistic question, it’s an important one. Saws are useful for a wide range of projects, including but not limited to:

  • Undercutting
  • Cutting out plates and studs
  • Demolition
  • Carpentry
  • Replacing flooring
  • Trimming

Most saws are equipped to work with a few different surfaces. Basic saws, of course, work with wood, and some drywall. Other materials some saws can be used with include tile, metals, and even other materials like ceramic. In short, it’s good to have a saw, or actually a few types of saws on hand if you intend to pursue home improvement or even maintenance projects on your own.

Reciprocating Saw and Jigsaw Power Saw

What’s a Power Saw, and When is it Used?

As you can probably guess, a power saw is any saw that is generated by electric, whether it is corded or battery-based. Power saws are more powerful than hand saws and are ideal for cutting through harder material and also for longer projects.

While you can cut through a material look wood by hand, the problem is a power saw is far quicker and also sometimes more precise. For small projects, such as working on a single piece of furniture, you may be able to get away with a hand saw. But with larger projects, a power saw will, at very least, prove helpful.

What Are Some Examples of Power Saws?

There are enough different varieties of power saws that it’s easy to become confused. In fact, one of the reasons people fail to begin home renovations or stick with hand saws is because they don’t know how to distinguish different power saws, which is perfectly understandable.

While many varieties of power saws exist, the most common include: table saws, circular/ orbital saws, miter saws, chop saws, radial arm saws, chainsaws, band saws, scroll saws, panel saws, rip saws, track saws, tile saws (also known as tile cutters) and, of course, reciprocating saws and jigsaws.

What Factors Need to Be Considered, Regardless of Whether You Are Selecting a Reciprocating Saw or Jigsaw?

Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw

Whether You’d Rather Have a Jigsaw or Reciprocating Saw, Some Things Will Hold Consistent. You’ll Need to Consider:

  • Weight (smaller tend to be easier to use but less powerful)
  • Corded vs Cordless (corded is more powerful but more difficult to maneuver)
  • Blade size and type
  • The design and reviews
  • Battery type and life
  • Voltage/ Power
  • Speed, or cuts per minute
  • Multiple speed adjustment
  • How easy is it to switch out blades?
  • Does it leave swirl marks, and is that important to me?
  • Other features, such as ergonomic handles
  • Does it come with a warranty?

What Factors Should I Consider When Deciding What Kind of Power Saw to Purchase?

When it comes to buying a power saw, whether you end up deciding on a reciprocating saw, jigsaw, or maybe even both, you need to have some criteria in mind to guide you.

The good news is, even if you have never purchased or even used a power saw before, you can use this guide to make your decision. Deciding between power saws really isn’t so difficult when you know what to look for:

  • What kind of materials does it work best with? This is one of the most important questions you need to answer. A tile saw, for instance, as the name implies, is designed specifically for cutting tile, a task other saws would not be appropriate for. While you’ll find that many powers saws are multipurpose, you want to find out what that saw is best with.
  • What’s my budget? This may not direct you towards the specific kind of saw, but it at very least will help you make decisions for that type of saw. If you have a tight budget, for instance, and a variety of home improvement projects, sometimes you’re better off selecting a saw that is more multipurpose.
  • What kind of cuts (and how long/ large) can it make? Horizontal, vertical, circular and angled cuts are the most common different types of cuts a saw can make. Depending on the variety, certain saws can make deeper cuts or smoother cuts than others.
  • Is it better for precision work or larger projects? Some of the most powerful saws, for instance, are excellent when it comes to projects that require a great amount of force, such as demolition, while other saws can make more precise cuts.
  • How many times will I use the saw? If you plan on using the saw for a long time to come, you want something durable, and you may be willing to buy a more powerful saw (and likely more expensive), but if you’re instead looking for a saw for an individual, specialized project than that also might sway your decision.
  • What other features are important to me in a power saw? Common features you may prize in a power saw, depending on the projects and purpose, include: the degree of flexibility, versatility, control, and comfort.

How Do I Decide Between a Reciprocating Saw vs a Jigsaw?

What Are Saws Used For

Now let’s get into everything you need to know in order to distinguish between a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw. Both are power saws that work for a variety of projects and are relatively popular for DIY and more.

What is the main difference in design?

Reciprocating saws and jigsaws are both power saws. But did you know that they are in the same family? While different forms of saws, a jigsaw is technically is a type of reciprocating saws. The design is the first difference you’ll notice.

  • Reciprocating saws were originally designed based off of hacksaws. Reciprocating saws feature what is called a ‘hog nose’ front. They consist of an external blade, followed by a shoe, front grip, orbital setting, vents, trigger and rear handle. Though there are different types of reciprocating saws, the general, most used variety is horizontal and fairly plain. They also will include some form of dust collection and a clamp.
  • Jigsaws actually look complex in comparison. Rather than a longer, horizontal design, jigsaws are in some ways more compact and layered vertically. Jigsaws consist of around sixteen different parts: the blade, clamp mechanism, blade guard, blade roller guard, footplate or shoe, handle, lock-on button, laser guide (in some models), on and off switch, and sometimes orbital action button.

Both are fairly similar in design functions, but do look rather different; different features are located differently based upon the more vertical compact vs horizontal design.

How do they move?

Both jigsaws and reciprocating saws operate with a pushing and pulling motion, with variable speeds. The back and forth is different than other saws in that it has the advantage of being able to cut both horizontally and vertically, and are both considered versatile.

How heavy are they?

Both reciprocating saws and jigsaws can be more lightweight and portable than some other saws. Reciprocating saws weigh an average of three to five pounds, while jigsaws weigh an average of six to twelve pounds, making them a bit heavier but still relatively lightweight.

How much does a jigsaw cost vs a reciprocating saw?

Both can vary in price, but as a general rule, a jigsaw runs anywhere from thirty dollars to one hundred and eighty dollars, with a median price of around sixty to seventy dollars.

Reciprocating saws range from under twenty dollars to over a thousand, but most fall from seventy to one hundred and twenty dollars. There is such a wide variety in prices that you could easily get a decent jigsaw for around the same price, if slightly cheaper, than a reciprocating saw.

What kind of strokes does a reciprocating saw make vs a jigsaw?

We’ve already mentioned how their general movement has similarities, but some differences result in different strokes made by a jigsaw vs a reciprocating saw.

  • A reciprocating saw, depending on the version, can make both horizontal and vertical strokes, but also short, blunt cuts depending on the stroke length. Reciprocating saws with longer strokes are ideal for demolition projects, but also not as precise for detail work.
  • A jigsaw can also make bevel and compound cuts. Jigsaws tend not to have as long of strokes but can make circular cuts, parallel cuts, and work on curved edges. As is the case with a reciprocating saw in general, the speed at which the saw operates greatly impacts the cut.

What materials does a jigsaw vs a reciprocating saw work on?

Both reciprocating saws and jigsaws can be used a variety of materials–which explains why they are considered so useful.

  • Jigsaws can be used on ceramic, wood, particleboard, plywood, plastic and metal.
  • Reciprocating saws can be used on lumber, wood, plywood, and nearly any kind of metal, which includes steel, aluminum, copper, cast iron, and of course, wood with nails in it.

What are the most common uses for a jigsaw vs a reciprocating saw?

Both reciprocating saws and jigsaws are fairly useful, but they certainly have different specialties. The main differences can be chalked up to differences in layout design and their ability to move in different ways.

  • Reciprocating saws are the prized saws for demolition projects. Due to their ability to cut through metal, combined with powerful long struck, they are especially useful for taking down walls. They also are excellent for cutting through lumber, and overall when you need power behind your task, and for it to be done as quickly as possible.
  • Jigsaws, on the other hand, are prized for precision work. Jigsaws are still powerful, or can be, but rather than nails and bolts, jigsaws perform the best working with wood and other materials, like plastic. They can cut through metal, but shorter strokes make them less efficient at demolition projects. On the other hand, the ability to cut on curved and parallel lines makes jigsaws especially useful for working:
    • Along with odd or tight spaces
    • Making straight edge cuts on wood or laminate
    • Cutting into plasterboard to make holes for electrical outlets
    • Bevel cuts for molding

Differences Between Jigsaws and Reciprocating Saws

While both jigsaws and reciprocating saws are considered fairly useful for a number of renovation tasks, reciprocating saws are more powerful, less precise, and useful for demolition projects and getting tasks done quickly. Jigsaws, on the other hand, are more useful for precise and detailed work.

As a reminder, a jigsaw is a specific type of reciprocating saw. A reciprocating saw is a general category; a jigsaw is a specialized version.

Differences Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw

Which is More Useful?

That depends. If you do a lot of demolition work, of course a reciprocating saw would be more useful. In many ways, a jigsaw is actually a bit more versatile, in that it can cut into a variety of materials as well, but it is also better at detail work.

If you can only purchase one, and you want it for general use, arguably a jigsaw is going to give you more bang for your buck. If you can afford both or are specifically buying for demolition purposes, then it’s definitely wise to add a reciprocating saw.


Now let’s look at just a few options for jigsaws and reciprocating saws that will give you the features you need, including dust collection systems, easy use, versatility, power, multi-speed settings, and blade clamp positioning.

Regular Reciprocating Saws

DEWALT Reciprocating Saw, 10-Amp (DWE304)

DEWALT Reciprocating Saw

This reciprocating saw is not exceptionally powerful compared with some models, but it’s a nice overall value if you’re looking for multipurpose at an affordable price point.

The 10 amp is powerful enough for heavier tasks, and it features four positions on the clamp blade. With up to twenty-eight hundred strokes per minute and a stroke length of one and one-eighth inch, plus speed trigger control, it’s up to general cutting tasks.

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Reciprocating Saw Kit, 5 Amp-Hour Battery (DCS387P1)

If you’re looking for a heavier duty saw suited for demolition and other heavy-duty projects, consider this one. Despite its power, its compact design means it weighs just seven pounds. It can make up to twenty-nine strokes per minute and also features speed control with an easy to operate the trigger.


PORTER-CABLE PCC650B 20-volt MAX Lithium Bare Jigsaw


This affordable jigsaw is powerful and has a number of great features. You’ll get three different settings for making curved cuts, and easy blade release, a variable speed trigger, up to twenty-five hundred strokes per minute, and a dust blower.

BLACK+DECKER Jig Saw, 6.0-Amp (JS670V)


This jigsaw by Black and Decker is another affordable option, with the ability to make up to three thousand strokes per minute. A special Smart Select feature automatically adjusts your settings for you, and there’s a no-fuss tool-free blade change.

FAQs About Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw

Can you use a reciprocating saw to cut wood?

Yes. Reciprocating saws are really powerful tools that can cut through wood, metal, mansonry, drywall, fiberglass and many more materials and if you want to make the perfect cut, you will have to find the right blade.

Can I use a reciprocating saw to cut tree limbs?

Yes, you can use a reciprocating saw to cut tree limbs and even small trees with great precision, just be cautios, as these machines are working better with objects that are stationary.

Can a reciprocating saw cut bricks?

In short, yes. The only addition you will need is the right blade that is made for cutting through a material like bricks and concrete. These blades have 2 teeth per inch and are very aggressive, so always operate with caution and proper equipment.

Why is my jigsaw not cutting straight?

Jigsaws are tools that are a bit tricky to operate, and it takes a bit of experience in making the perfect cut. If you want to do so, you have to clamp a straight strip of wood with a G-clamp to the piece you want to cut, and the guide the jigsaw through it.

What are the different types of jigsaw blades?

Jigsaw blades are divided into 2 categories: U-shanks or T-shanks. T-shanks are universal blades that are more popular these days and can fit other jigsaws as well, rather than just one brand, and can be changed faster, whereas U-shanks belong to an old shank style which is rarely used these days as they are slower to change and don’t work as precisely as T-shanks.

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