Reciprocating Saw vs Circular Saw | Things you Should Know About

Reciprocating Saw vs Circular Saw

When you first encounter a reciprocating saw and a circular saw, you may be wondering what they are used for? As both these tools are meant for cutting through materials, how are they different from each other? If you have thought about these questions, then you are on the right track as well as in the right article! 

A circular saw is a cutting tool that is designed to make precision cuts on a variety of materials. The blade moves in a circular motion, hence its name. These saws are ideal for most woodworking or DIY projects as they are handy, portable, easy to use, and offer a wide range of functionality. Visually, the body of the tool looks very small compared to the large sharp circular blade at the end of it, which can be controlled using the trigger on the handle. 

A reciprocating saw, on the other hand, is primarily designed for power and speed where the blade moves back and forth in a reciprocating motion. And because of their power and speed, reciprocating saws are best suited for demolition, home renovation, backyard, and some light heavy-duty work. If you look at it up close, these saws look a lot like rifles with bayonets at the end. The sharp straight knife is what moves forward and backward to cut through materials. If you want to know more about how a reciprocating saw works, then you can check out our dedicated article on it!

That is just the tip of the iceberg when comparing a reciprocating saw to a circular saw. It should go without saying, you will find plenty more differences depending on the brand, model, and features. This article will mostly cover the basics between the two. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

Reciprocating Saw vs Circular Saw

Reciprocating saws and circular saws differ from each other in various aspects, as you will see in a bit. However, it would be ideal to have both of these tools in your arsenal as they both serve distinctive purposes. 

Type of Blade

It should come as no surprise that one of the main differences between a reciprocating and circular saw is the type of blade they use. A circular saw uses a disk-shaped blade that spins at a very high velocity. Also, the teeth of these blades are coated with either carbide or diamond. Whereas, a reciprocating saw uses a serrated knife-like blade to pierce and cut through materials. Because of the type of blade these saws use, their applications vary as well. 

Cutting Ability

As these saws use different blades with their own unique cutting motion, their cutting ability also varies from one another. For instance, a reciprocating blade can easily cut through a piece of wood in a very short time. But the downside is it will leave a rough edge across the border. In comparison, a circular blade can make very fine and precise cuts. However, it can take a lot of time to get the work done. Overall, reciprocating saws are used in tasks that do not require much accuracy. Whereas, circular saws are primarily used for projects that need detailed finishing. 


Before you start using a reciprocating saw, keep in mind that it has a lot of kickbacks. That is mainly because of how it moves and operates. So, make sure to use both of your hands to hold it in place while maintaining a strong grip. Additionally, reciprocating blades are quite thin and designed to be flexible. This can cause it to bend over time if you don’t handle it properly. Luckily, you don’t have to face such issues with a circular saw as it provides a much more refined cutting experience with very little kickback. However, it’s important to maintain safety by using both of your hands at all times and wearing protective gear like gloves and goggles. 


Last but not least, let’s talk about the pricing. Generally speaking, circular saws cost a bit more than reciprocating saws because of their performance, versatility, and cutting capability. Reciprocating saws can cost anywhere between $40 to $160, whereas circular saws have a price tag between $90 to $240. Do keep in mind that this is a vast generalization and the price can change depending on the product. 

Pros And Cons Of Using A Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating Saw vs Circular Saw

Advantages Of Using A Reciprocating Saw

  • Portability: When looking for a reciprocating saw, there are plenty of options available in the market. All of them can be categorized into two types: corded and cordless reciprocating saws. Both of these types are quite compact and easy to carry. However, if portability is one of your primary requirements, then a cordless reciprocating saw would be the best option for you.

  • Speed: Another great feature of reciprocating saws is that you can change its speed according to your need. Some materials are easy to cut through at a slower speed while others require a faster pace. A reciprocating saw allows you to have full control over its speed and vibration, making it very convenient to cut through all kinds of materials.

  • Maneuverability: Although this specific advantage mainly applies to cordless reciprocating saws, it’s still worth mentioning. It can be tough to cut through materials in enclosed spaces. This is where cordless reciprocating saws work best as you are able to maneuver them in really tight spaces with relative ease. 

Disadvantages Of Using A Reciprocating Saw

  • Rough edges: As mentioned previously, reciprocating saws are not the best choice when trying to make precise cuts. They end up leaving really rough edges which can be a detriment to your task.

  • Limited usage: Another drawback of using a reciprocating saw is its limited usage. By that we mean – these saws can only cut either vertically or horizontally. Hence, it is very difficult to cut through materials at specific angles using these saws.

  • Risky operation: Be warned, it is not a good idea to use a reciprocating saw if you don’t know what you are doing. Its protruding blade can end up injuring you if you’re not careful. Thus, make sure to wear protective gear every time you use these tools.

Pros and Cons Of Using A Circular Saw

Reciprocating Saw vs Circular Saw

Advantages Of Using A Circular Saw

  • Precision: The best thing about circular saws is the amount of control, flexibility, and precision it provides while you work. And with some experience, you can seamlessly guide them through any material using just one hand. However, don’t attempt to do that unless you’re a professional.

  • Versatile: Another great aspect of circular saws is their excellent versatility. You can use them to cut complex shapes and make elaborate curves. Hence, if you are making straight, angular, cross cuts, or rip cuts, circular saws are perfect for these kinds of jobs. 

Disadvantages Of Using A Circular Saw

  • Requires a flat surface: One drawback that you should know about before investing in a circular saw is that they require a flat surface to operate smoothly. This can be a significant issue if you are working with uneven or coarse materials.

  • Heavy: Compared to reciprocating saws, circular saws are much heavier. So, carrying them around can be a hassle. Also, because of their weight, your hands may become fatigued if you use them for too long.

  • Other issues: There are a few other issues with circular saws that are worth mentioning. For instance, using them requires a lot of time and effort. Also, these saws aren’t the best for heavy-duty demolition work. Lastly, some circular saws have overheating problems which you need to keep your eye out for. 

Final Verdict

If you have read up to this point, then you should have a pretty good idea about what both of these saws specialize in. So, the final question is, which one should you go for? To put it briefly, a reciprocating saw is the best choice when you are attending to backyard work like cutting branches or hedges.

They are also excellent for demolition jobs because precision is not a point of concern in those circumstances. As for circular saws, they are a DIYer’s best friend thanks to the level of precision it provides. Also, they are a very handy tool to have around construction sites as you can use these saws to cut really tough materials like metals, plexiglass, granite, and many more. 

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