Two of the most versatile tools a woodworker should have are circular saws and jigsaws. Both saws are suitable for different cutting styles, and professional woodworkers should have these power saws in their tool arsenal. Yet, even if you have both these power saws but do not know when and how to use them well, you might fail to maximize the use of these tools.
So, if you’re just a beginner trying to figure out the best usage of each of these tools, it will be best to differentiate one from the other. It will also help if you know the projects and tasks you can best engage in using these tools. Besides, knowing the pros and cons of their usages might help you decide which power saw is best for a particular task.
As mentioned above, knowing the pros and cons of using the jigsaw and circular saw will enable you to figure out which saw is best for a particular job. Hence, below are the short descriptions of the circular saw and the jigsaw:
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The circular saw comes in various sizes depending on the diameter of the saw blade. The most common circular saws are 6-1/2″ and 7-1/4″ circular saws. Additionally, the size range of circular saws is from 3-11/64″ to 14″. The circular saw, of course, is perfect for making straight cuts instead of curved cuts. You will also get the best straight cut results if you use a guide when cutting using the circular saw. It will be best to know the maximum RPM of the circular saw model you would buy and the tooth count of the saw blade.
You can use the circular saw to cut masonry, ceramics, wood, plastics, metal, and other materials. You only need to figure out the appropriate saw blade for cutting a particular material.
Besides, if you make a rip cut, you need a saw blade with larger and fewer teeth. You also need a saw blade with smaller teeth when making a crosscut. You should also choose a durable saw blade, something with carbide tips.
Moreover, when choosing a circular saw, you should also go for something with an ergonomic design. Plus, you should also consider the center of gravity of the circular saw because it is critical to how convenient the grip handle is.
On the other hand, the jigsaw uses a narrow saw blade that moves up and down reciprocally. Because of this, the jigsaw can make complex cuts and curve-shaped cuts. But before you make these intricate cuts, make sure that you measure precisely and make accurate cutlines. You should also follow these cutlines faithfully.
It will also help if you use jigsaw accessories to create perfect curve shapes. Moreover, you should go for something relatively lightweight to allow for careful and precise movement.
You can also use the jigsaw for making straight cuts. Many jigsaws also come with the pendulum feature. This feature enables the saw blade to move back and forth and up and down. This option allows the saw blade to have minimal contact with the workpiece you cut. You can also find jigsaws equipped with tools that provide an extra level of control when you are cutting a curve.
You can cut a wide array of materials using the jigsaw. You only need to use the right saw blade depending on the material you cut. Besides, you can cut plastic, metal, wood, and many other materials using the jigsaw.
The Main Differences Between the Jigsaw and Circular Saw
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the general characteristics of the jigsaw and the circular saw, it will also help to know the following main differences between these two power saws:
One succinct difference between the jigsaw and the circular saw lies in their saw blades. The circular saw blade is circular and appears like a disc. They also come in various sizes ranging from 3-11/64″ to 14″. The circular saw blades also have a retracting guard for protection against injury.
Circular saw blades also feature a different number of teeth and tip compositions. However, the material you would cut should determine the number of teeth of the saw blade you should use.
On the other hand, the jigsaw blades are not circular. They are long and come in either U-shank or T-shank designs. These two shank types refer to how the saw blade gets attached to the jigsaw.
Many professionals prefer the T-shank saw blades. The reason is T-shank blades are easy to install. Besides, you only need to flip a button to get the saw blade installed.
The base plates of jigsaws are somewhat similar to those of circular saws. Moreover, the jigsaw’s base plate has several functions. First, it enables you to make a straight cut with its markings. It also allows you to adjust the angle of the jigsaw, letting you make beveled cuts.
It will be impossible for you to adjust the cut’s depth of the jigsaw. The reason is that the blade’s length determines the depth of the cut. However, with the circular saw, you can adjust the cut’s depth by adjusting the depth of the saw blade.
Meanwhile, the base plate of the circular saw also performs almost the same functions as that of the jigsaw. You can use the base plate’s edge to make straight cuts. You can also build your guide or buy straight-edge guides for cutting straight. Besides, the base plate also comes with reference points, and you can also adjust this base plate to create bevel or angled cuts.
The jigsaw offers a wide array of applications. You can use it to make straight cuts, plunge cuts, and beveled cuts. However, the jigsaw excels most in making curved cuts. It can easily make arches and circles. For this reason, it is somewhat similar to the scroll saw and bandsaw when it comes to capabilities. So, if you are the type of woodworker who constantly engages in cutting circles or curves, you would indeed find the jigsaw valuable.
On the other hand, the circular saw thrives in making a straight cut. You can use it to make long straight cuts on your materials like plywood. It is an excellent alternative to a table saw and miter saw for cutting materials.
However, it takes more time to set up the circular saw. Nevertheless, compared to the miter and table saw, the circular saw is lighter and easier to carry around to where you need to make straight cuts.
Should You Should Jigsaw or Circular Saw?
Having read the abovementioned similarities and differences between the jigsaw and circular saw, you are now in a better position to decide which is best for your needs. Yet, if you are still a bit confused as to which one to use between these two tools, you can read on.
When making straight cuts, you will find the jigsaw less precise. It will surely make broader cuts than that of the circular saw. Hence, the jigsaw is best for projects not requiring high accuracy. Moreover, you can use it when making improvement projects and decorative pieces. Its capability to cut excellent curves with ease is perfect for such task.
On the other hand, the circular saw offers high precision when cutting. It also comes with higher cutting power. Besides, the circular saw is helpful if you don’t have a table saw to rely on.
You can make precise long straight cuts using the circular saw. It is also a hardworking saw and can withstand the most challenging demands of construction sites and other commercial production sites. Hence, if you constantly make long straight cuts, you should go for a circular saw.
If you are a woodworker—who would like to complete your woodworking tool arsenal and raise your level of woodworking activities a notch higher—you should not dilly-dally in investing in a quality circular saw and jigsaws. There will be instances when you would surely need any of these two tools. So, if budget isn’t an issue, it will be best to invest in these two tools.
As a beginner in woodworking, you will sometimes ask yourself whether to buy a jigsaw or a circular saw. Yet, after reading the above descriptions of each of these tools, you will readily understand that each saw has its forte. Each excels in its own turf. As such, it will be best to have both these power tools in your workshop to enjoy the benefits they both offer.
The flexibility of the jigsaw in cutting curves and arcs will surely come in handy in many instances. The capability of the circular saw to make long straight cuts will also often come in handy when you are making long and straight cuts on plywood sheets. So, both tools will be helpful and valuable to you in your woodworking tasks, and it will be best to have both tools in your tool arsenal.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker and carpenter who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.