Reciprocating Saw VS Jigsaw: Which is Accurate?

Not sure whether you need a jigsaw or a reciprocating saw for some work you’ve got planned? Don’t worry, because this article will tell you everything you need to know. 

Reciprocating saws and jigsaws can seem similar to people who are not familiar with them. They both cut with the same back and forth blade action and can be used on a wide variety of materials. The key thing is that, while they are similar, they are better at their own unique cuts.. 

Jigsaws are far better at fine and intricate work and reciprocating saws are much better at fast, rough cuts in tough material. 

Reciprocating Saw VS Jigsaw Overview

  • Jigsaws are designed for making precisely curved and shaped cuts in timber. They can also do the same cuts in other materials and can do other cuts which require neatness and accuracy. 
  • Jigsaws can be used to do the same jobs as a reciprocating saw. 
  • Reciprocating saws excel at making quick work of rough cuts in a variety of materials and can handle tough jobs. 
  • While reciprocating saws tend to be used for rough work, they can be used to do some jobs that would normally be done with a jigsaw. While this is true, they are not as interchangeable as jigsaws. 

What is a Reciprocating Saw Used For?

Reciprocating saws are small but powerful saws that are held in both hands while they cut. The blade can quickly be changed with blades available for all kinds of materials and of all different sizes. 

Reciprocating saws are used to make fast, inaccurate cuts which are done by eye. If something just needs to be cut quickly without there being much worry about what the cut looks like, then a reciprocating saw is often best. 

They’re a reliable point and cut tool where neatness isn’t a concern. 

The classic job for a reciprocating saw is demolition. If you are dismantling a kitchen, for example, a reciprocating saw could be used to cut all of the materials that you would come across. With a reciprocating saw, you would be able to demolish a kitchen in no time flat!

Benefits of a Reciprocating Saw

  • Reciprocating saws can cut tough materials. They’re often used in construction to cut steel girders, for example, and can do this job quickly. 
  • Can cut a variety of materials. Wood, metal, plastic, plasterboard, felt, ceramic, and pretty much anything you can think of can be cut with a reciprocating saw. 
  • Cuts are fast and the blade can be changed quickly for different materials. 

Downsides of a Reciprocating Saw

  • Inaccurate cuts. While it is possible, it is challenging to do neat cuts with a reciprocating saw. Time and care are needed.
  • Less interchangeable than a jigsaw. It is harder to get a reciprocating saw to do jigsaw jobs than it is to get a jigsaw to do reciprocating saw jobs. 

What is a Jigsaw Used For?

A classic job that is done with a jigsaw is cutting a shape (such as a circle) in a piece of plywood. After drawing a line on a piece of timber, a jigsaw can be used to precisely trace the line to perform a neat, shaped cut. 

While this is their primary function, the blades are interchangeable which means that they can be used for a variety of materials. They can also make other accurate cuts, such as straight, mitered, and beveled cuts. 

Jigsaws are smaller than reciprocating saws, usually being held in one hand, and have less powerful motors. 

While it is possible to use a jigsaw to do the same jobs as a reciprocating saw, they are likely to struggle in tough materials owing to the smaller motor. On top of this, the blades are usually smaller meaning that they won’t be able to cut material of the same size. 

Interested in buying a jigsaw? Check out our recommended Jigsaws on our buying guide.

Benefits of a Jigsaw

  • They’re great at making curved and shaped cuts. 
  • Accurate cuts can be made and the interchangeability of the blade means that a variety of materials can be cut.
  • It’s easier to use a jigsaw as a reciprocating saw than to swap the other way. 

Downsides of a Jigsaw

  • The motor is smaller, meaning that tough jobs can overstress them.  
  • The blades are smaller, meaning that they can only make smaller cuts and break more easily.  
  • Parts of the saw are more easily broken. 

When to Use a Reciprocating Saw Over a Jigsaw

If you are planning to do demolition and rough kinds of work, then a reciprocating saw is the saw for you. If you think that the kind of cuts you have planned will be heavy-duty, destructive, and rough type cuts, then a reciprocating saw is far more likely to stand up to the stress than a jigsaw. It will also be a faster job.

If you think that you might need to do the occasional neat or accurate cut, then this (with a good amount of care) is possible with a reciprocating saw. It is worth checking that the saw you buy has an adjustable speed if this is your intention. 

When to Use a Jigsaw Over a Reciprocating Saw

If your main intention is to do neat cuts in a precision woodworking style setting, then a jigsaw is the one to choose. Accurate and neat curved, mitered, and beveled cuts are all usually possible with a jigsaw. On top of this, they can be used with a wide variety of materials. 

If you are planning to occasionally do some rough or heavy work with it, which would normally be more suited to a reciprocating saw, this will be okay. Too much of this kind of thing, though, is likely to stress or damage your saw. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re planning on doing a large amount of both rough and neat work, it is likely that you will need to buy both a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw. While they are interchangeable, this is only really viable on occasions. 

One point worth considering carefully is that it is often quite difficult to do accurate and neat cuts with a reciprocating saw. While it is possible to do them, it does require a good amount of care and it may be necessary to spend time creating guides and jigs to help you in the process. 

About Roy Cohen

I'm Roy, founder of Hack My Garage. I started out like most not knowing how to hammer a nail, but now I know more than most people about home improvement and DIY. I want to spread my wealth of knowledge with the world and hope to make it a better place.