Both wood routers and jigsaws have their specific uses. Finding the right one for your needs starts by understanding what each saw is, how it works, and what they are used for in cutting wood.
What is a Wood Router?
A wood router is a unique type of power tool. It is defined by its flat base and rotating cutting bit which extends downward from the base. An electric or pneumatic motor drives the spindle and the router bit which routs a shape into the wood below. This type of device is most often used with wood, although some can be used for other materials such as plastic.
You’ll find wood routers used for decorative work, which is why they are a popular choice for cabinetry. While they can cut the wood into separate pieces, their primary job is to create slots, routes, lines, or shapes into the wood that achieves a decorative function.
What is a Jigsaw Tool?
A jigsaw is a cutting tool that uses a reciprocating blade. The blade moves up and down and its thin design means that you can cut straight or curved lines into wood, metal, and other materials. Jigsaws have been around since the 19th century. However, it is the portable jigsaw which was first released in 1947 that is used in woodworking shops, factories, and homes.
Interesting Fact: Do you know that Albert Kaufmann, the man who invented the first power jigsaw was inspired by his wife’s sewing machine?
The name “jigsaw” may come from its ability to cut materials into irregular shapes, much like you find in a jigsaw puzzle. The blade itself is quite thin and the tool itself can be turned to create all sorts of shapes from the wood.
Jigsaw Vs Router Comparison
What’s the difference between a router and a jigsaw? A plunge router is mainly a woodworking tool. The most obvious difference between a jigsaw and a router is that the jigsaw uses a reciprocating blade to cut through the wood while a router uses a rotating bit. The wood router has adjustable cutting depth whereas the jigsaw cuts through the thickness of the wood.
There is a substantial difference between the jigsaw and router when it comes to the type of cutting tool.
A router uses a rotating bit while a jigsaw has a reciprocating blade. This is arguably the most striking visual difference between both tools. And it is this difference that makes them distinct and complementary in some ways, but quite different in others.
Depth of Cut
A would router gives you the ability to set the depth of cut by adjusting the router bit protrusion. This enables the router to do blind pockets and slots that a jigsaw cannot do.
However, the router bits usually have limited cutting flute length. So, if you want to cut through a thick wood plank, you may need to do multiple passes.
On the other hand, a jig saw blade is much longer and is often longer than the thickness of the wood board. For those looking at which tool makes the deeper cut, the jigsaw is the one to select. The jigsaw offers the ability to cut deeper into the wood compared to the Router. This provides more versatility when looking for a tool that can make cuts into different sizes of wood.
If you want to slice through a very thick piece of wood, consider getting a bandsaw instead of a jigsaw.
Cutting Circles Router vs. Jigsaw
If you want to cut circles, then the router is the better tool for the job. However, the jigsaw can get the cut started depending on its location in the wood. It is common to use a jigsaw to begin a circular cut, especially in the interior of the wood. And then switch to the router to complete the circle.
Type of Cuts
Another stark difference between the tools is the types of cuts that are being made. A router can cut steps and slots into the wood with relative ease. While it cannot cut as deep compared to a jigsaw, you can get greater control over the depth of the cut. The result is that you can create different shapes easier with a router.
Power tools are inherently dangerous, so you should always be careful when using any powered device. This means wearing the proper safety gear, including protective glasses or goggles. However, while the jigsaw presents the obvious danger from its reciprocating blade, the router is one of the more dangerous tools in woodworking.
This is because the router’s bit spins at such a high speed, 24,000 revolutions per minute, that it creates a loud noise in addition to the sawdust. Eye and ear protection are recommended, but more importantly, you must maintain firm control, or the router can get away from you fairly easily.
Although setting up both tools is relatively simple, the jigsaw is arguably easier to use. All you need to do is draw a line for the jigsaw to follow and you can begin. At worst, you may need to clamp the wood or material down so that it does not move.
For the router, you will need a separate guide to keep the device on track. This is because of the router’s design which makes cutting along lines only quite difficult depending on the circumstances. You will need to use a guide with the router which physically keeps it on the intended track.
A jigsaw is designed to cut through most types of wood. The main purpose is to separate the pieces of wood with a precision cut by the jigsaw as opposed to cutting into the wood to create steps or slots.
Changing Out Blades and Bits
If you need to change out a jigsaw blade or router bit, the bit is going to be harder to change out. This is because the jigsaw blades are secured to the device using a clamp controlled by a screw. A single Allen wrench or screwdriver is all that is needed to loosen and then remove the old blade so you can insert a new one. Just tighten the screw with the Allen wrench and you are set.
With the router, the bit will need to be locked first followed by the loosening of the collet for the bit. Once that is achieved, you can now remove the bit and put in the new one. Tighten the collet which holds the bit and then double-check to ensure it has a firm grip.
Is a Router or Jigsaw More Useful?
Choosing between a router and a jigsaw will depend mostly on the type of cut you wish to make. Both types of saws have their specific purposes, which means that you should start by choosing the right one for the job.
A jigsaw is designed to cut through the wood while a router is designed to cut shapes into the wood. You can cut through the wood with a router, but a jigsaw is better for the job. If you want to cut shapes, then a router is probably the tool of choice.