Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a jigsaw and a circular saw and which one you should get first? You are not alone.
These two power tools seem to perform similar tasks and are handheld tools, yet there are enough differences between them.
After you’re done with this article, you should be able to tell all the differences between jigsaws and circular saws and pick the right saw for you. Let the ‘circular saw vs jigsaw’ battle begin!
Jigsaw vs Circular Saw Comparison
Both circular saws and jigsaws are handheld power tools used for cutting stock; but they are used for different purposes. A circular saw has a rotating round blade that cuts hardwood and softwood along a straight-line. Whereas, a jigsaw has a reciprocating blade that cuts straight, curves and intricate internal and external shapes. While a circular saw cuts through quickly and enables you do bevels, the jigsaw is a more versatile and safe power tool.
|Blade Design||Round saw blades with teeth on periphery.||Thin straight blade with teeth on one side.|
|Working||Rotating circular saw blade is fed agaist stock.||Reciprocating jigsaw blade is moved across the work.|
|Cuts||Straight cuts (rip, cross cut, miter) and bevels.||Straight cuts, curves, scribe cuts and complex profiles.|
|Depth||Adjustable depth||Cuts through the thickness|
|Strength||Cuts through stock very fast.||Versatile tool that can perform variety of cuts.|
|Safety||Dangerous power tool||Relatively safe.|
|Uses||Ripping and sizing wood stock||Cutting insternal profiles, installing countertops etc.|
|Recommended||Dewalt DWE575SB Saw
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|Bosch PJS470E Jigsaw
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Key Features of Circular Saws
Circular saws have large blades with diameters ranging anywhere between 85mm and 235mm. This means that they’re meant to perform straight cuts rather than curved ones.
If you want the cleanest straight cuts, you can’t go wrong with a circular saw. Some accessories make the job easier, such as guides that help with precision. Furthermore, you need to make sure that the circular saw is working at the adequate rpm (revolutions per minute) for the material you’re cutting.
You can use circular saws to cut wood, ceramics, metal, masonry, plastic, and a variety of other materials. With that said you need a specific circular saw blade for each material. For example, if you need to cut metal, you’ll need to use blades with a high number of teeth. Blades that are meant to cut wood usually have fewer but bigger teeth.
The last thing worth adding is that weight doesn’t play a big role when it comes to the speed and effectiveness of a circular saw. No matter how heavy or light it is, it should be able to do its job quickly and efficiently. However weight is an issue when it comes to handling the tools since these kinds of saws are handheld power tools that you may have to hold for a long duration of time.
- Speed: Given that a circular saw combines a spinning blade and a motor, you can expect it to be powerful. This is probably the biggest advantage. Being able to spin the blade quickly is what allows it to be so effective
- Straight cuts: As we mentioned before, circular saws are good cutting tools if you need straight cuts. It’s almost vital to have one in your workshop. Having a rotating blade is what gives you the ability to perform straight cuts with or even without guidelines. However, if you want the smoothest results, you’ll want to use a guide rail or a straight edge.
- Materials: numerous blades can be used with circular saws. Each blade is suited to cut a certain material. You need to make sure you have the right blade for the right material.
- Different cuts: Circular saws allow you to make various cuts such as rough rips, smooth angle cuts (miter cuts), bevels as well as right-angled cuts.
- Loud: Circular saws are very loud.
- Heavy: When it comes to the other types of saws, this is among the heavier ones.
- Rough edges: While circular saws can make straight cuts quickly, they tend to leave out some rough edges which are also called tear cuts.
- Curved cuts: Due to the size and overall design of circular saws, they are not the best saw to use if you need to make curved cuts.
Jigsaw – Key Features
One of the major differences between jigsaws and circular saws is the fact that the former type uses a narrow blade that moves up and down. This allows it to make precise angled and curved cuts. With that said, there are some measures that need to be taken into account to ensure the best results.
Additionally, you can also use jigsaws to make straight, long cuts just like you would with a circular saw.
Modern jigsaws are equipped with options such as the pendulum action which can help speed up the cutting process. The pendulum stroke allows the blade to move back and forth as well as up and down (reciprocating) which minimizes how much of the blade is in contact with the piece at one time.
During the upwards stroke which is the cutting stroke, the blade also moves forward. And during the downward stroke, the blade also moves backward resulting in less contact and more chip clearance. In short, the jigsaw blade moves in an elliptical orbit during the cutting process.
Similar to circular saws, jigsaws can also be used to cut a wide variety of materials but you’ll need the appropriate blade and configuration.
- Versatility: When it comes to jigsaws, versatility is the name of the game. You’ll be able to make a wide variety of different cuts on different materials with ease.
- Internal Patterns: This is my go-to tool for installing a kitchen sink on a countertop or to cut out internal shapes from a wood or plastic board. All you need to do is drill a start hole for the blade to enter easily. The other power tools that can do similar operations are vertical band saws and scroll saws.
- Safe: Safety should always be your top priority and this couldn’t be more relevant for when you’re handling saws. Thankfully, jigsaws are relatively safe.
- Price: When compared to circular saw blades, jigsaw blades are more affordable.
- Powerful: While jigsaws might lack the power of the circular saws’ motors, they are still quite powerful. They can be used to cut through a wide variety of materials with a high level of precision.
- Compact: Jigsaws are relatively compact. Consequently, you shouldn’t run into any trouble finding a place to store them in.
- Plunge cuts: One of the biggest strengths of jigsaws is how easy it is to make plunge cuts with them. There’s no better alternative for making this kind of cuts. You can use a circular saw to do a plunge cut with the help of a track saw, but it only does straight cuts.
- Scribe cuts: Another useful feature is the ability to do scribe cuts. Tilt the bevel shoe of your jig saw to 10 to 15-degrees and cut along the marking on the top.
- Clean: Unlike circular saws, jigsaws do not create a lot of dust when using them.
- Accuracy: Being a handheld saw, jigsaws are only as accurate as the one holding them. It can be quite difficult to produce clean and precise cuts without having a lot of experience on one’s belt. However, it is a lot easy to handle.
- Bounce: Bouncing happens frequently when you’re using jigsaws which can make performing long and straight cuts very difficult.
Jigsaws versus Circular: Which Saw for What Cut?
The answer to the circular saw vs jigsaw dilemma eventually boils down to which type of cuts you want to make. If you’re going for complex and curved cuts, you might be better off using a jigsaw. For long and straight cuts, circular saws are the better options.
However, each type of saw can be used in many other scenarios and types of cuts. Thanks to the wide variety of options and tilting base features of circular saws, they can be used to perform complex cuts too. Another key feature to consider is the ability to adjust depth. On a circular saw, you can set the depth of cut to machine slots; whereas on a jigsaw this is not possible.
Jigsaws can also be used to perform long straight cuts too (though not effective), so both types of saws can be used interchangeably.
If you are a DIY enthusiast looking forward to purchase your first saw, go for the jigsaw. It is a very flexible power tool that is very versatile and relatively safe for a beginner.
Having read through the article, you probably noticed that there is no clear winner in the ‘Circular saw vs Jigsaw’ debate. Both saws can be used interchangeably but circular saws are better for straight long cuts while jigsaws are better for complex and curved cuts.
- Circular Saw: For anyone whose job involves a lot of ripping and long straight cuts on wood. For best results, I recommend this plunge circular saw from Makita.
- Jigsaw: For DIYers and hobbyists who want to do a wide variety of cuts such as curves, holes, profiles, etc. My vote goes to this Bosch variable speed jigsaw.