It is easy for you as a woodworker or DIYer to identify the tool you need between these two. The chosen saw will depend on the kind of task you intend to carry out and the types of cuts you will often be making.
Below is a detailed outline of each of these tools, their uses, and their differences.
What is a Jigsaw?
A jigsaw or sabre saw is a saw that has a long thin blade that resembles a serrated knife which cuts up and down. It can be used for various types of cuts as well as materials, depending on the blade that is put in place.
The different types of jigsaw blades as per their classification include U shank or universal shank and the T shank as per shark type. In terms of material, there are the high-speed steel, bi-metal blades which are a combination of high speed and high carbon steel, and tungsten carbide blades.
In terms of teeth per inch (TPI), there are blades with a TPI of 14-36 and those with a TPI of 6-20. You will also find blades for special purposes including reverse tooth blades, plunge cut blades, flush cutting blades and scrolling blades.
What is a Jigsaw used for?
The jigsaw is popular for its versatility in making all manner of cuts including long cuts, straight cuts, curved cuts, bevelled cuts, and centre cuts.
Here, ranges of materials it can cut with the appropriate blade for each material include hardwood, plywood, metal, ceramic, countertops, plastic, and particleboard.
The high-speed steel can be used in cutting reinforced plastic, metal, or hard, high carbon steel which generally cut wood, bi-metal blades.
These are a combination of high speed and high carbon steel, which can be used for hardwoods and metals, and tungsten carbide blades which are useful for cutting ceramics, fibreglass, or steel.
Reverse tooth blades point downwards to be able to cut on the down stroke, and are used on materials prone to splintering.
To avoid damaging them, plunge cut blades have a sharp tip for piercing the working material before commencing cutting and are used on softer materials, e.g. softwood.
Flush cutting blades have a wider body that does not extend past the blade, and can, therefore, be used to cut vertical surfaces, and scrolling blades are narrower and used to cut tight curves.
Basically, blades with large, few teeth cut fast and produce rough edges, while those with many small teeth are slow and give smooth cuts.
What is a Circular Saw?
The circular saw uses a cutting disc that speedily rotates to give long, straight cuts. It can cut through wood, metal sheet, other types of metals, masonry, and pipes. Quality cuts will also depend on the type of blade you choose.
There are 24 teeth blades which are the standard blade size and 50-60 teeth blades that are used for making smoother cuts. There are also diamond blades, carbide blades, and metal blades that can be used with the circular saw.
Uses of a Circular Saw
A circular saw is also quite versatile in terms of the cuts it can make as well as the materials it can handle. Wood cuts can be done using the 24 teeth blades, masonry using diamond blades, carbide blades for piping, and metal blades for cast iron.
Cuts that can be made using a circular saw include bevel cuts, miter cuts, cross cuts, long, short, and straight cuts.
Unlike a jigsaw, it cannot be used to make centre cuts or complicated patterns. The circular saw has the con of producing rough, splintery edges or tear-outs.
This can be avoided by using a blade with finer teeth, using masking tape over the cut line before you cut it, or putting a piece of scrap wood underneath the cut.
Differences Between a Jigsaw and a Circular Saw
There are several differences in the uses of a jigsaw as well as a circular saw. These are outlined below:
Types of cuts
A circular saw is a pro in cutting straight cuts as it has large and deep blades compared to a jigsaw’s. The jigsaw can cut curves, circles, and other complex patterns which the circular saw cannot. A jigsaw is ideal for making cuts that will require you to start at the centre of the material.
Other cuts that the jigsaw can make include intricate cuts, and slanted slices, while the circular saw can make angle cuts and bevel cuts.
Type of blade and operation
A circular saw has a circular blade that spins at high speed. To cut more, push the saw gently into the material. A jigsaw has a straight flat blade that moves up and down.
Depth of cuts
A jigsaw cuts all the way through the material, while a circular saw can be set to cut to certain depths.
The circular saw blade is much sharper than that of a jigsaw, and extra care should, therefore, be taken when handling it. The jigsaw is generally much safer to use than the circular saw.
Blade styles and sizes
The most common types of jigsaw blades include U shank and T shank, TPI blades, and speciality blades such as reverse blades. The most common circular blade is the 24 teeth for wood, but we also have the 60 teeth, diamond blades, carbide, and metal cutting blades.
The jigsaw has a shoe that fixes the blade at a right angle. The blade protrudes from the metal base and its teeth angle upwards. There’s a roller guide at the above the shoe that supports the blade.
The circular saw has a retractable guard that adjusts the rotation blade and exposes part of it. Circular blades also come with a laser guide to guide you through when cutting.
Size and ‘cleanness’
Jigsaws are smaller, lighter and do less damage in terms of producing a lot of dust. The circular saw is heavier, more expensive, and produces a pile of dust.
Frequently asked questions
Which one between a jigsaw and a circular saw should you use for laminate flooring?
A circular saw is considerably faster than a jigsaw, but you will need to use a 60-80 toothed blade to do the cutting. It is also much smoother in cutting, but you will need additional tools like a square and a work table.
Pros are that you will be able to cut multidirectional parallel and perpendicular cuts. A jigsaw is much slower though it is easier to use and can cut through any shape such as curves but difficult to use for straight lines.
When should you use a jigsaw and when will a circular saw be more appropriate?
A jigsaw is ideal for small pieces of wood or metal, small projects, for reaching tight spots that are difficult for other saws to reach, and also if you are doing a lot of crafting work. For larger projects such as building a garage, use a circular saw.
What is the main difference between a circular saw and a jigsaw?
A jigsaw is primarily for decorative cuts, the likes of curves and patterns, while a circular saw is good for long, straight cuts.
If you are looking to make long, straight cuts, pick a circular saw. When you need to make patterns, circles, and to cut through the centre of materials, then use a jigsaw.
Otherwise, the two saws are quite diverse in the materials they can be used to cut when the right blade is used.