Reciprocating Saw Vs. Circular Saw: Which One Is Better?

The number of power saws available on the market has increased exponentially over the past 10-15-years. No one could come up with the total number of power saws available on the market today, in such scenarios, getting confused about which product to purchase is not something to be worried or ashamed about.

Among all the power saws available on the market, circular saw and reciprocating saws are the ones that are used commonly. Both these tools offer several benefits and both of them have comes in different types. If you are a person who is confused about, which product to purchase and use. You must know that, when it comes to power saws, there is no such thing as the best tool. Each power saw offer advantages and disadvantages, to select a suitable type of power saw. You should first understand in detail about each. Here is everything you need to know about reciprocating and circular saws.

Difference Between Reciprocating Saw vs Circular Saw

Reciprocating saw –

To understand a reciprocating saw, you should first know the design and functionality of it.

What is a reciprocating saw?

A reciprocating saw is simply a machine-operated saw that moves the blade in forward and backward motion to cut the material that comes in contact with it. It is one of the most versatile power tools that could be used as they are lightweight and compact. Most of the reciprocating saw comes designed in such a way that it could fit in places that most other tools cannot reach.

A reciprocating saw is not a precision tool, in simple words, this type of saw cut materials without any precision or accuracy. One of the reasons for such a drawback is that these saws do not come with any guide rails or fences. However, on the front end of the saw, it has a shoe, which is a metal piece that juts forward to rest on the workpiece and hold it in place. While the jut/shoe holds the workpiece in place, the blade moves forward and backward through the piece to cut it.

The above-mentioned is the basic functionality of a reciprocating saw, however, a reciprocating saw is available in different types based on the design, power source, and motion of blades.

  1. Corded reciprocating saw
  2. Cordless reciprocating saw
  3. Compact or one-handed reciprocating saw
  4. Mini reciprocating saw
  5. HVAC and plumbing reciprocating saw
  6. Pneumatic reciprocating saw
  7. Pendulum reciprocating saw
  8. Orbital reciprocating saw

The difference in each type of reciprocating saw could be understood from the name itself. Each of these reciprocating saws is designed to serve the same function, but, the functionality could be different. They would also have specially designed to offer more efficiency in performing a specific type of cutting.

When to use a reciprocating saw?

A reciprocating saw is a versatile power tool, versatility, here means real and practical versatility. As already mentioned, a reciprocating saw lacks precision, but, the brutal power offered by this power tool makes up for the shortcoming. A reciprocating tool is most commonly used too in demolition projects. The brute force delivered by this power tool is unmatchable, no other power tools offer such a high power from a small tool.

The power delivered by this power tool could even cut through metal and plastic like cutting through a price of paper. A reciprocating saw could come handy while remodeling kitchens, restrooms, etc. This power tool could also prove useful for landscaping jobs as it could cut through iron rods and steel sheets with ease. The blades incorporated into reciprocating saw are typically small and therefore, this tool could reach tight spaces and cut through materials.

Here are some of the common types of blades that could be mounted on a reciprocating saw –

  1. Woodcutting blade – best for cutting wood, they come with five to ten teeth per inch.
  2. Demolition blade – best for cutting concrete, iron rod, etc. as it comes with more than 7 teeth per inch.
  3. Metal cutting blade – could cut dense and thick metal.
  4. Carbide tipped blade – best for cutting allows, cast iron, and stainless steel.
  5. Carbide grit blade – best for carving tiles.

Advantages of a reciprocating saw –

  • It is very powerful and designed for heavy-duty
  • A reciprocating saw is a rough tool with comparatively different length blades. The length of the blade depends on the type and model of the tool.
  • A reciprocating saw could cut things above the head and on the floor
  • A reciprocating saw could cut through dry walls, metal sheets, metal rods, PVC pipes, wood, plywood, and plastic with ease. 
  • Best for pruning trees, cutting doors, window frames, pipes, etc.

Disadvantages of a reciprocating saw –

  • A reciprocating saw is dangerous to use, if you do not use it with extreme caution it could lead to accidents.
  • A reciprocating saw no matter the brand, model, or type cannot offer precision.
  • A reciprocating saw cannot cut accurate curves and is not suitable for any finishing jobs.

Circular saw –

Circular saw is one of the most commonly used power tools today, here is everything you need to know about a circular saw.

What is a circular saw?

A circular saw is a type of power saw that comes designed in such a way that an electric or gas-powered motor or the engine would rotate a circular blade to cut the materials that come in contact with the blade. Depending on the type of material, the blade could be changed. Most commonly a circular saw could cut through materials like plastic, wood, and metal with ease. One of the best things about the circular saw is that they are designed to offer precise cutting, but it can cut only in a straight line as the blades are not flexible and they do not pivot or tilt at any angle. The blade in a circular saw is offset to a side, which might be an issue for some users, however, to solve this issue, circular saws commonly come with an aluminum guide, which indicates the position of the blade while cutting.

The most important benefit of a circular saw is that it is lightweight and they are available in different types based on the design and specific functionality. Here are some of the types of circular saws.

  1. Corded circular saw
  2. Cordless circular saw
  3. Mini or compact circular saw
  4. Sidewinder
  5. Cold saw
  6. Worn drive circular saw
  7. Hypoid circular saw
  8. Abrasive saw
  9. Cordwood saw

Each of these types of circular saw uses a rotating circular blade to cut through the material or cut the material that comes in contact with it. Some of these circular saws come with inbuilt jigs and some of them could be simply placed on the workpiece to cut it.

When to use a circular saw?

Most of the circular saws are portable by design, they could be carried around with ease. However, there is a large circular saw that cannot be moved. The basic purpose of all these circular saws would be the same. Portable handheld circular saws are most commonly used these days as they are lightweight and compact. If the right type of blade is used, a circular saw could cut through almost any type of board, sheet, or other material. If the size of the workpiece is too large and if it cannot be mounted on any other power saw, a circular saw could help cut it. 

One of the biggest benefits of a circular saw is that it could be used to plunge cuts in the material irrespective of the size and shape of the workpiece. Whatever a miter saw or table saw cannot do, a circular saw could do it. If the circular saw model you are using does not have guide rails, you could tilt the saw and make angular cuts on the material. Such angled cuts could come handy.

Different types of blades could be mounted on a circular saw.

  1. Metal cutting – does not have teeth, but could cut both ferrous and non-ferrous metal
  2. Crosscutting blade – best for cutting wood and deliver smooth and clean surface
  3. Finishing blade – a large number of teeth for a precise cut and extra smooth surface finishing
  4. Dado blade – best for making rabbet cuts, dado cuts, and grooves
  5. Thin kerf blade – best for cutting thin or dimensional lumber
  6. Masonry blade – made of fiberglass reinforced silicon carbide abrasive, does not have teeth, best for cutting masonry of any kind
  7. Ripping blade – best for making rough and fast cuts on wood

Advantages of a circular saw –

  • A circular saw could make rip, crosscut, plunge, bevel, and miter cut with ease
  • Best for masonry, wood, metal, plastic, and plywood work
  • Comes in different types based on the specific functioning
  • Offer better accuracy than reciprocating saws
  • Come designed in such a way that it is very versatile and portable
  • Comparatively cheaper than miter and table saws

Disadvantages of a circular saw –

  • To reap the maximum benefits offered by a circular saw, the user should be skilled and experienced. The level of precision depends entirely on the user’s experience.
  • A circular saw cannot cut tight curves
  • Circular saws with guide rails and a higher level of blade protection are difficult to use.

Bottom line, which one is better?

As you have seen, both the power tools are different, while a reciprocating saw is best for both demolition and construction projects, a circular saw is best only for a construction project. The functionality of each saw is entirely different.

Purchasing both the saws is a waste of money, however, if you are a person who needs a saw for construction work, which, needs precision, and finishing, then circular saw is the best option. On the other hand, if your requirement is demolition, rough cuts, no finishing or precision required, then reciprocating saw is the best option.

Reply