Checked and updated on April 8, 2021 by Aaron Barnett
What is a jigsaw used for?
A jigsaw is a form of the electric saw which is designed to cut curves in hard materials. Jigsaws can be used to cut through a range of materials ranging from wood to plywood, metal, plastic, and even ceramic.
Jigsaws are particularly effective at cutting complex shapes in materials, but they are not as effective at making fast, long, and straight cuts. Consider them a tool used as a large circle cutter.
What is a circular saw used for?
Circular saws otherwise known as a skill saw, is a handheld tool, typically used in woodworking, and are great for cutting through materials quickly and accurately. You can purchase either a cordless or corded model depending on your needs and preferences.
Circular saws, although usually associated with woodworking, can cut through a variety of materials including concrete, metal, tile, brick, and asphalt with the right blade.
You should never attempt to cut a curve with a circular saw as the saw will kick back, presenting a serious risk to your safety.
Circular saws should ideally be used with a table or a clamp to fix your cutting materials into place to prevent accidents and injuries. Circular saws are particularly effective at cutting and ripping timber in straight lines however, the best table saw is even better for ripping repetitive and accurate pieces.
What’s better? Jigsaw vs Circular saw
Deciding which saw is better for you can be a complex question. Ultimately, you should remember that the functions performed by each saw vary, and as a result, each saw has its own pros and cons and different uses.
Deciding whether to choose a jigsaw or a circular saw will depend on the task you need to perform. For example, if you are looking to invest in a saw that can cut complex shapes into materials, you would be better off opting for a jigsaw.
However, if you are simply looking to cut straight lines and fast then a circular saw would be a better investment.
Circular saws have thicker blades and can cut through tougher materials than most jigsaws, without the blade bending under demanding jobs.
What’s the best tool for beginners and kids?
If you’re a beginner who’s just starting out or you’re looking for a saw that’s kid-friendly, you’re better off opting for a jigsaw.
When it comes to size, jigsaws are typically a lot smaller than circular saws making them easier to operate.
Jigsaw blades are usually smaller too; not only is this safer for less experienced users but it’s also easier, and less intimidating than handling a larger blade.
For the cheapest option go for a Makita or Dewalt corded jigsaw.
For a safer and more convenient tool go for a cordless jigsaw.
Although a cordless Festool is an option for serious woodworkers it’s a bit expensive, the Makita cordless jigsaw is just as easy to use and a bit cheaper.
Circular saw vs. Jigsaw vs. Reciprocating saw
Reciprocating saws, sometimes known as saber saws, are handheld saws primarily used in demolition work.
When manual tools such as crowbars and hammers fail to do the job, reciprocating saws take over to rip out materials and cut nails and even bigger bits of steel.
Reciprocating saws are also compatible with a variety of different blades meaning they can cut through many materials ranging from plasterboard to metals and woods. Just like jigsaws, the blades in reciprocating saws move in a backward and forward motion and the two also share similar mechanisms.
The blades in reciprocating saws are also compatible with some jigsaw blades which is convenient and cost-effective for straight cuts.
Reciprocating saws can produce unpredictable results due to the ‘push and pull’ motion of their blades, which makes circular saws and jigsaws more reliable tools for creating precision cuts.
Can a jigsaw be used to cut metal or just wood?
Jigsaws can cut through both metal and wood however, the efficiency with which this is performed will depend on the blade you choose. You can purchase several blades to use with your jigsaw and most will be specifically designed to handle certain materials.
Regardless of what material you need to cut through, you should be sure to factor in the length of the blade you’re using. Make sure that your blade is around an inch thicker than the material you need to cut to prevent it from catching.
You should also consider the number of teeth on your blade as the TPI (teeth per square inch) will determine how well your blade can cut your material.
Generally, the more teeth on the blade, the harder your material will be to cut. Blades with a high TPI can make much smoother cuts whereas blades with a lower TPI tend to make rougher cuts but cut faster for you.
Can a jigsaw cut a straight line?
If you’re wondering how to cut a straight line with a jigsaw, it can be a difficult task.
Most jigsaw blades tend to bend on thick cuts and can be much slower than circular saws, making them more unreliable for straight cuts.
However, it can be done if you have a straight cutting line and a thick blade. You should also use reverse tooth blades and clamps to help give you a cleaner finish and ensure your materials stay firmly in place throughout the process.
Can a jigsaw cut miters?
Yes, Jigsaws can cut miters however, you should make sure you have an adjustable foot to help with the job. Simple miter cuts can be performed with the jigsaw blade facing straight down or if it is mounted into a sawing table.
However, if you’re wanting to cut a miter, miter cuts with a circular saw tend to be more accurate. You could even consider investing in a miter saw which is specifically designed to handle fast and accurate miter cuts.
What are the different options for circular saws?
As corded models are plugged directly into the mains, they are more suited to tougher materials and longer jobs. They are durable, easy to maintain, and perfect for the occasional DIY job however, they are probably not best suited for commercial tasks.
Despite being corded, most sidewinders are affordable and low maintenance making them a convenient choice for most users.
Corded worm drive saws are not recommended for beginners. They are usually heavier, more powerful, and more expensive than other circular saws making them more favorable amongst old school professionals than beginners or DIY enthusiasts.
However, they have a larger maximum cutting capacity and can make faster and more reliable cuts, using in-line motors that produce more balanced and accurate cuts.
Cordless Circular saw
Cordless circular saws tend to be the best option for beginners. They are also the most convenient option, especially if you’re looking for something portable, as they don’t need to be plugged into a power source and run on batteries alone.
However, cordless models are generally better for cutting through the wood rather than tougher materials as their battery life can be limited, meaning that for tougher materials (which can take longer to cut) you’re probably better off with a corded model.
Again a cordless circular saw is safer and more convenient than a corded saw if you don’t need to do heavy ripping of timber.
Go for either a Makita or a Dewalt cordless cirular saw.
What are the different options for jigsaws?
Cordless barrel grip
Instead of having the jigsaw handle above the motor, barrel grip jigsaws use their motor housing as the tool’s handle.
This provides the jigsaw with a lower center of gravity which can help to improve accuracy, making it easier for you to follow your cutting line.
D-handles, otherwise known as top handles or bow handles, tend to be more popular amongst beginners and DIYers. These handles sit directly above the jigsaw rather than on it, like barrel grip models.
The positioning of the handle can make it easier to cut through dense materials however, it can also impair the visibility of your cutting line making it tougher to cut accurately.
Cordless 12v small craft jigsaw
These jigsaws are specifically designed for artistry and cutting small, intricate designs in materials. These jigsaws are small and lightweight making them easy to handle and less intimidating for beginners too.
If you’re a hobbyist or a model maker then a small craft jigsaw may be better suited to your needs than a larger jigsaw tool.
Corded barrel grip
The functions of corded and cordless barrel grip jigsaws are identical; the only differences are in the power of the models.
If you’re looking for something lightweight and portable, then a cordless model would be better for you.
However, if you’re tackling tougher materials and bigger jobs then you might want to consider a corded jigsaw; corded jigsaws tend to be more durable and will eliminate concerns over battery run time.
Corded D handle
As with corded and cordless barrel grip jigsaws, the functions of corded and cordless d handles tend to be the same.
However, the general rule of thumb is that if you’re looking to tackle rougher materials, you should opt for a corded model, so you don’t have to worry about battery life.
Deciding which saw is right for you doesn’t always have to be a challenge. However, when it comes to choosing between a jigsaw or a circular saw, you need to be mindful of the job you’re performing and invest in one that can specifically handle the challenge.
The functions of these two tools are not always interchangeable so make sure you know your stuff before making an investment, as you ultimately want both tools for different types of cuts.
For beginners you should start off with a cordless jigsaw tool, you can get more information here. Ideally, you want to get the same brand cordless circular saw as well so you can use the batteries on both tools.
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