Jigsaw vs Circular Saw [Tool Choices for DIY Woodworking]

Deciding on the perfect tool for the job if you’re looking for a jigsaw or circular saw is never easy for most amateur woodworkers. After all, both are powerful tools capable of cutting wood, and they both can be found in both cordless and wireless models. It’s hard to understand the subtle differences if you’re not familiar with the specific features of the cutting patterns and the limitations of each saw.

Fortunately, with just a bit of information you can make the right decision on your own without having to go to a store and hope that the guy arranging products on shelves is somewhat familiar with these products. There are a few features to look for which can determine whether or not a jigsaw or a circular saw is needed.

This article will touch on the strong suits of both power tools as well as their main weaknesses. There will also be some examples of projects you can take on with the saws and some recommendations for power tools that we’ve tested and are guaranteed to get the job done. We have written some very good jigsaw reviews that should guide you in the right direction before purchasing a jig or circular saw.

Jigsaws

The jigsaw is also known as a sabre saw due to its long and thin serrated blade. This blade that well resembles a serrated knife cuts in an up and down motion. Depending on which way the teeth are pointing, you can also achieve a finer finish on your cuts and cut through a wider variety of material sizes. 

cutting particle board with a jigsaw

 

The versatility of jigsaws is without question very impressive which is what makes them a staple of almost any amateur woodworker’s shop. They are designed mostly to handle cutting curves and angles. That doesn’t mean they don’t perform well at crosscuts and ripping, they just don’t have the same power and speed as circular saws for large projects. Simply put, it’s just faster to rip a piece of wood with a circular saw and sand the edge afterwards than getting it perfect on the first go with a jigsaw.

Jigsaw blades are either U-shank or T-shank. Most jigsaws on the market today come with T-shank blades, but some of them can both types of blades. The length and thinness of jigsaw blades make it hard enough to handle the wobbling that the extra support and safety you get from the T-shape locking mechanism is almost essential.

When it comes to jigsaw and circular saw blades, the shape is obviously different but the variety in the number of teeth is similar. You can buy different serrated blades for your jigsaw that have anywhere between 24 to 80 teeth. The recommendation is to use a blade with high TPI rating to get a smoother finish on your curved, beveled, and cross cuts.

Circular Saws

Circular saws are an excellent tool for cutting fast along or against the grain into large pieces of wood. They don’t offer a fine finish like jigsaws even when you use a 60 TPI circular saw blade, but the speed isn’t up for debate.

straight circular saw cut with fence

There are also more blades available for circular saws that let you work on a wide range of materials. The common 24 TPI blades are used by most woodworkers for solid wood while high TPI carbide-tipped blades will work on piping and thin metal sheets. You can even do masonry work with a circular saw if you own a diamond-tipped blade.

Circular saws won’t work on curved cuts. The blades are simply too big and the one-directional cutting motion also doesn’t help. What they will do is let you rip through solid wood at record speeds and perform very accurate bevel cuts. The support you get on a circular saw from the higher quality beveling shoe and the superior balance of the power tool is what makes it ideal, even though it doesn’t leave the smoothest of edges.

While typically circular saws are larger, there has been a recent main stream push for mini circular saws such as the rotorazer. The woodworking community has varying opinions on the rotorazer which seem to be hit or miss.

Jigsaw vs. Circular Saw Overall Utility

It should be clear by now that jigsaws and circular saws are each best-equipped to handle different projects. However, one argument could be made that the circular saw is more versatile. Because of the disk-shaped blade, with a bit of ingenuity you could turn a powerful circular saw into a table saw.

In fact, you can make most of the cutouts with a circular saw, which you can then attach to your very own homemade workbench. This will give you more stability and the ability to work with larger pieces of wood or sheet metal if you wish. Here are some additional spruce tips for operating a circular saw.

The jigsaw doesn’t share this transformational feature as its blade’s design and lack of rigidness doesn’t make for a good table saw setup. If you do plan on performing all the previously mentioned cuts including cutting curves, then you will most likely need both tools. While the jigsaw can perform all the cuts a circular saw can make, it is just not worth it most of the time due to how slow it is and how quickly the blade deteriorates when performing hard tasks.

Conclusion

There are two main differences when comparing a jigsaw to a circular saw in terms of what they can do. A circular saw is fast and stable while the jigsaw is better at finesse and curved cuts. Even though a jigsaw can theoretically do every cut a circular saw can do, which can’t be said of the reverse, it doesn’t make it a better overall choice as it only has one unique cut in its arsenal, the curved cut.

If you want a lot of variety in your woodworking projects, you’ll more than likely end up owning both types of power tools as most woodworkers do. If you’re only looking to rip through material fast and dabble in masonry or even some metalworking, then the circular saw is the better one for the job. Remember that there is also a difference in difficulty when using them, because the long serrated jigsaw blades will give you more feedback than a disked blade.

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