Home » Reciprocating Saw Vs Circular Saw | What’s the Difference & Which One For Your Project?

Reciprocating Saw Vs Circular Saw | What’s the Difference & Which One For Your Project?

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In a working station, there aren’t many tools as essential as the saw. The saw helps to cut wood, metal, and others down to the required sizes for your projects. There are several types of saws with varying functions available for use in your workstation. However, because of the space and money required, it is a lot difficult to have them all as a DIY or part-time woodworker.

One keenly contested topic when it comes to saws is the reciprocating saw Vs. circular saw argument. This is surprising considering that they do not even look the same, nor do they handle the same tasks. However, because they are two of the most popular types of saws out there, the comparison between the two is almost inevitable.

There’s always the issue of what each saw can and cannot do alongside which saw should be bought as many people cannot afford the two. Since the two saws are not direct competitors, the best one to buy would be based on your needs. These are some of the things that we’ll be looking at in this guide discussing the differences between reciprocating and circular saws.

Before we jump into the thick of things, you should know that these power saws do immense work on your workpiece, which led to this argument in the first place. Reciprocating saws and circular saws are all essential in woodworking, but they aren’t the same and should not have to replace each other.

Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating Saw

Also known as a saber saw or recip saw, the reciprocating saw is handheld and machine-powered to provide a back and forth blade movement for cutting.

This type of saw is held like a pistol with one hand at the end handle and the other behind the chuck area. This provides stability and control as the thin blades make their forward and backward movements at high speed. The movement of the reciprocating saw blade is similar to that of a jigsaw. The blade that is sharpened at one side cuts through your wood easily.

The reciprocating name describes the blade movement when cutting a piece of wood. Because of the nature of the blade and its positioning, this blade can be used at awkward angles. With the recip saw, you have the option of choosing different saw blade types and lengths depending on the material you want to cut. Because of its blade similarity with the jigsaw, most jigsaw blades will fit the reciprocating saw. The reciprocating saw is not used for only cutting wood. It can cut metal and plasterboard, and you can switch this functionality by changing the blade type.

Some types of reciprocating saws have LED light installed in them that allows the user to work in the dark. The variety of the recip saw doesn’t end here as you also have the option of choosing between cordless and corded saw options. The cordless option makes use of batteries or is rechargeable and is usually less powerful. It is, however, lightweight and is flexible as you’re not constrained by distance to the power source. When it comes to the corded option, it is powerful and allows you to work for a long time. It is, however, heavier with limited movement since you cannot use it far away from the power source.

Pros and Cons of Reciprocating Saw


  • Speed adjustments: you can change the speed of your recip saw depending on the task. The variable speed levels available allow you to have more control over the type of cut you can make
  • Versatile: this saw provides a lot of functionality as it can cut wood, plasterboard, and metal, and all you need to do is without changing the blades. The blade size and style, as well as the saw’s shape, make it possible to cut both vertically and horizontally at awkward angles.
  • Portable: reciprocating saws are typically compact and can be moved easily to different places. Cordless recip saws are more compact and portable than the corded variant as you don’t have to deal with cables.
  • Ideal for demolition: this saw can cut through old windows and doors you need to replace. It is a great tool for demolition due to the strength of its blade and shape.
  • Ideal for cutting curves: if you want to cut curves or shapes out of your workpiece, the reciprocating saw is ideal for such tasks. Its knife-like blade with reciprocating movements allows it to be placed at various angles.
  • LED option: some reciprocating saws have LED lights attached to them so you can use the saw in the dark.


  • Difficult to make rip cuts: making cuts along the grains or in straight lines can be difficult with a reciprocating saw as accuracy is greatly limited due to the lack of a fence or guide
  • Lacks a blade guard: protection is crucial when dealing with sharp blades, and the recip saw falls short in this regard. It has no blade guard, which means you need to pay extra protection when using the saw, so you don’t injure yourself.
  • Uncomfortable noise and vibration levels: the saw can produce high noise levels as well as vibrations that can make it uncomfortable for the user. The vibration can also make it unstable in the hands of the operator.

Also Read About: How to Build a Table Saw Workstation at Home ( 7 Easy Steps)

Circular Saw

Circular Saw

A circular saw is another machine-powered saw with a circular blade with sharp metal teeth. The saw can be handheld or attached to a table. When used as a handheld saw, you can also choose between a left-hand or right-hand handle position, depending on which is more comfortable for you. This variance allows you to make different types of cuts on your workpiece.

The blades spin in a circular motion to cut your workpiece. Different blade types allow you to cut different materials like wood, metal, concrete boards, and a whole lot more. Its versatility also allows you to make bevel cuts and adjust the blade height and, ultimately, the death of the cut.

There’s an arbor nut to hold the blade firmly in place and a blade guard to keep your fingers away from the blade when in motion. The saw makes clean, precise cuts on the workpiece and is easy to use due to its variable mode of usage. The types of cuts available with this saw include rip cut, plunge, cross-cut and angular cuts. These are some of the most popular cuts.

There are also different options when it comes to power sources, including battery-powered, electricity, and gas-powered. All the options have their pros and cons, ranging from power to cost of operation. This way, you can purchase the one most suited to your needs. When it comes to ease of use, the cordless and corded circular saw options come to the fore. The cordless option is less powerful but is not constrained to a limited area of use, while the corded option packs more power but can only be used close to a power source.

Pros and Cons of Circular Saw


  • Effortless angular cuts: because of their stability, this saw can make angular cuts without stress and with precision. The blade is perpendicular to the base allowing it to make angular and curved cuts.
  • Accuracy: circular saw provides clean and precise cuts across different materials. It also allows you to make quick cuts without affecting the accuracy, as you can set it on a table and run the workpiece over it with ease.
  • Versatile: this saw type can be used to cut wood, metal, and plastic, among other materials. It acts as a cutting tool for several materials in your workstation. Its versatility extends to different power sources and the option of a cordless or corded saw.
  • Easy to handle: because you have the option of mounting this on a table, this saw is easy to handle and use even if you’re a novice. You don’t have to be struggling with its stability.
  • Durable: circular saws are durable with the right maintenance. This saw type provides a long lifespan.


  • Too heavy: using this as a handheld saw will wear you out quickly as the saw is heavy.
  • Requires a flat surface: although it can be used as a handheld saw, this option brings a lot of other challenges. To utilize it more efficiently, you’ll need a flat surface in your workspace.
  • Overheats: circular saws can overheat quickly, which can lead to other safety issues if not handled properly

Reciprocating Saw Vs Circular Saw: What’s the Difference?

These saws may both cut your workpieces, but they are far from being the same. They spot several differences stemming from the more obvious to more subtle differences. Here are some of the ways these two saw types vary from each other:

1. Cutting Ability

Cutting Ability

The two saw types do not cut the same as they sport different blade types and cutting styles. The circular saw sports a circular disc-like blade that rotates in a circle, while the reciprocating saw sports an elongated knife-like blade with a serrated side cutting in a back and forth movement. This difference affects their cutting capacity.

Reciprocating saws make quick cuts through your workpiece but leave a trail of rough edges. Circular saws, on the other hand, take more time to cut but leave smooth edges.

2. Shape and Size

Shape and Size

The shape and size of the saw are also essential factors as they are connected to the available workstation space and even the accuracy you can get. Circular saws are typically heavier and sport a circular shape with a disc-like blade at the center of the saw. To hold the saw properly when used as a handheld, put one hand on the handlebar at the end and another on the other bar behind the blade.

When it comes to reciprocating saws, the shape is different as this saw is elongated like a rifle. It sports a holding grip at one end and a knife-like blade at the other. It is also lightweight and compact. To hold it properly, put one hand on the holding grip and the other behind the chuck.

3. Type of Blade

Type of Blade

Reciprocating saws and circular saws do not use the same blade type. The blade difference is one of the first things you notice when you examine the two saws. While reciprocating saws have elongated knife-like blades at the end of the saw, circular saws have circular disc-like blades.

4. Cost

After making several comparisons, one factor that has a huge say on the final decision is the cost of getting any of the saws. Price is especially important when you do not have an unlimited budget. Generally, a reciprocating saw is a more affordable option between the two as you can get a decent type for under $100.

For a circular saw, however, you’ll need upwards of around $200 to get a decent saw. The cost of the two sits at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Reciprocating Saws Vs. Circular Saws: Which one For Your Project?

These two saw types are both important, and instead of substituting one for the other, you can purchase the one most suited to your needs. They all have areas where they shine, and this is where you want to target for your project. So which saw type between the reciprocating saw and the circular saw should you choose for your project?

  • Use the reciprocating saw: use this saw for demolition and destruction activities as it can quickly cut through several materials. It is also perfect when working in tight corners and awkward angles. You’ll also find that they are effective for making flush cuts on trees.
  • Use the circular saw: when you need a clean and precise cut, the circular saw is the best option. It is also perfect for making straight and angular cuts, even in thick materials. This saw is great for construction activities.


Reciprocating saws and circular saws have remained a hotly debated topic with people looking for which is best. However, with a more measured approach, you can decide which is better for your project rather than an overall best in all categories.