Reciprocating Saws Vs Jigsaws

There are many power tools available for you to choose from, and it can become overwhelming at times to spot the differences based on your needs, especially if you’re unsure.

Even more so when there are different types of that particular tool, as we see today with both reciprocating saws and jigsaws.

So what is the main difference of both a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw? Well, it’s simple. The cuts that are made, and the applications they are used for.

I’ll explain in detail throughout this comparison for you the differences between both saws, and what is better suited for you and your needs.

An Overview Of The Reciprocating Saw & Jigsaw

A jigsaw is type of saw, and is in many ways apart of the reciprocating saw family.

However, there are some large differences between the two, which is essential for you to know before you purchase either one of these.

Firstly, let’s look into the nitty-gritty of the reciprocating saw.

Reciprocating Saw

Known as a ‘recip saw’, or a ‘Sawzall’ (which is Milwaukees’ branded term for reciprocating saws), a reciprocating saw has its’ name derived from the motion of the cutting stroke itself.

Moving backwards and forwards in a ‘push, pull’ motion, the reciprocating saw focuses upon power and comes in both a corded and cordless form.

Reciprocating Saw Cuts & Uses

As you know now, reciprocating saws cut using a backwards and forwards motion.

You won’t be using a reciprocating saw for inch-perfect cuts, as these saws are used for their power, with demolition, and finishing work some examples of what you would use one for.

However, that isn’t to say that you can’t use a reciprocating saw to perfectly cut through some wood for a home project – as you definitely can. In comparison to a jigsaw, a reciprocating saw is power-oriented.

With reciprocating saws, cuts are made in straight lines. In many high-end reciprocating saws, a feature known as a four-position blade clamp is included.

The four-position blade clamp allows users to attach blades into the clamp in four separate positions – upside down, normal insert and in both left and right directions.

This allows for more sides you can cut from, as well as allowing for flush cuts to be made, all whilst retaining the straight cutting motion.

Main Features Of A Reciprocating Saw

Each power tool has a set of main features you’ll find across all models, regardless of brand.

In the list below we’ll look at these main features:

Of course, there are multiple features which you can find on a reciprocating saw.

Yet if you’re looking at the core of the tool, these three features are what you’ll commonly be seeing noted within the descriptions of reciprocating saws.


A jigsaw is table-top operated, and like the reciprocating saw, come in both corded and cordless options.


If you find similarities between a jigsaw and a sewing machine aesthetically – don’t worry, you’re not alone in this train of thought.

Jigsaws originated from the sewing machine, when an engineer by the name of Albert Kaufmann replaces the needle of his wifes’ sewing machine with a blade.

Fast forward from this innovation in 1946, and the jigsaw is a popular power tool, used by the average joe and the seasoned contractor.

Why is it so popular?


Jigsaw Cuts & Uses

Unlike the reciprocating saw, a jigsaws’ primary cutting shape is a circular motion, cutting as it oscillates.

Jigsaws cut with more accuracy than a reciprocating saw, and are used for tasks where accuracy is key – if you were aiming to carve a perfect shape from wood for some furniture, you would be using a jigsaw as the tool for the job.

They are not as powerful as reciprocating saws – yet you’re able to cut through the same materials with more accuracy (woods, metals, aluminium, drywall)

If you’re cutting through materials in a non-linear motion, a jigsaw is what you would be using.

Main Features Of A Jigsaw

Like the reciprocating saw, a jigsaw includes a set of basic features you’ll notice when browsing through either online or at a hardware store.

Here are these features to become familiar with:

  • Blade
  • Motor
  • Stroke Length

As you can see, both a reciprocating saw and jigsaw are similar with their main features.

There are many additional features that you can find on jigsaw models, which are designed to improve visibility, adjust and control speeds, to name a few examples.

It’s always best to judge what your use of a power tool would be and the work you’re undertaking when looking at additional features – as you don’t want to be paying a higher cost for something you may use once every year.

That’s where your experience and judgement comes into play.


I hope this had made it easier for you, and you can now decipher the differences between a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw – as well as apply this to any future work you’ll be doing.

As I’ve made heavily aware throughout this article, it’s vital you look at how often you’ll use either saw, and what exactly for.

If you have overhanging branches that need cutting back, you’ll be using a reciprocating saw, as a jigsaw will not effectively work in this situation.

This is the same with a jigsaw – if you were cutting specific shapes on plaster, drywall or wood, this is what you’ll be using, as a reciprocating saw would not have the accuracy to make these cuts.

You can find reciprocating saws with an additional jigsaw feature – yet it entirely is upon you and the use you’ll get out of either power tool

If you’re unsure – leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to assist,

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the price differences between a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw?

You can find both power tools at similar prices, from lower quality models within an $80 price range, to higher-end models by respected brands around the $300-$700 range.

Both tools have options to appeal to all people, regardless of your budget.

Plan to your needs and usage, and you’ll find a cost-effective price for both a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw.

Should I just buy both a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw, to cover all bases?

If it’s within your budget and you work in conditions where both models with their separate cutting designs are a necessity, then go for it.

I can’t advise you on what/what not to buy, as it entirely depends on your needs – but if you want to cover all bases, then why not buy both.

If you have any additional questions, or have any tips for our readers – leave your comments and thoughts below.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

2 thoughts on “Reciprocating Saws Vs Jigsaws”

  1. Hi, James! I just finished your wonderful article about Reciprocating Saws Vs Jigsaws. it gest me more knowledge about Reciprocating Saw Cuts & Uses. I love to learn more about Reciprocating Saw. in this article, theCuts & Uses is really helpful for a beginner.

    Thank you again for such an informative article.

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