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Reciprocating Saw Vs. Circular Saw- Differences & Similarities

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The purpose of a reciprocating saw and a circular saw is almost the same (cutting through different materials). Still, they have unique features that make them more suitable for specific tasks. But how can you determine which saw best aligns with your cutting needs? To determine that, we’re here comparing reciprocating saw vs. circular saw. 

We will explore the similarities and differences between the reciprocating and circular saw, highlighting their features, uses, advantages, and prices to help you choose the right saw for your project needs.

Reciprocating Saw vs. Circular Saw – In-depth Comparison

Construction & Design

The construction of a reciprocating saw and a circular saw is different.

As you can see in the image below, a circular saw features a disc-like blade and a handlebar to hold it while you use it. Some circular saws have two handles so that you can hold the saw with both hands.

What is a Circular Saw?

The reciprocating saw is entirely different in design, as it is slender (horizontal design). As you can see in the image, it looks like a rifle, with a narrow knife-shaped blade on one end and a handle on the other. 

What Is a Reciprocating Saw?

Read More — Best Budget Reciprocating Saws

Working Principle 

As the name suggests, A reciprocating saw is a powerful tool that uses a back-and-forth motion (of the blade) to cut through materials. 

On the other hand, the working of the circular can also be guessed by its name: it works in a rotary motion (of the blade) that spins around the support. 

Read More — How To Use A Reciprocating Saw To Cut Metal?

Which One is Faster? – RPM & SPM

RPM (rotation per minute) measures how fast a saw is. With a high RPM, a saw blade rotates quickly, cutting through tough materials easily. As we’ve already outlined, the movement of the blade in the circular saw is rotational, while the reciprocating saw is to-and-fro. So, we’ll see RPM for the circular saw, and for the reciprocating saw, we’ll see SPM (strokes per minute). Below we’ve outlined the SPMs and RPMs of both types of saws (having the same voltage and ampere rating).

Reciprocating Saw

SawsSPM (No load)
DEWALT (DWE305) – Corded 12 amp2900 SPM

Circular Saw

SKIL 12 amp Circular Saw5800 RPM

So, it’s clear that circular saws are faster than reciprocating saws. But, in reciprocating saws, you can adjust the speed according to your requirements. 

Outcome Results Quality 

A circular saw is a winner if you want neatness and clean edges. The reason is that most of the blade covers an area on the surface. 

On the other hand, reciprocating saw blades cover much less surface area, and the movement gives jerks on the surface. So while working with a reciprocating saw, you should expect rough edges. 

Weight / Portability 

Regarding weight and portability, the reciprocating saws are much more compact and lightweight (most of the time). On the other hand, circular saws are heavier because of their shape, blade, and design. You may also find specific models of circular saws lighter than circular saws, but there will be a difference in power and other features. 

Both can be portable, but the circular ones are still heavier most of the time. 

Applications & Object Material Type

The reciprocating saw is used for cutting concrete, ceramic tile, and glass. You can also use this saw to rip the material, saw through nails, and metal sheeting. The material on which it works well is wood, fiberglass, and metal. ( choose the right blade to cut through the material).

In contrast, the circular saw is best for DIYers. It mainly works for cutting straight lines on the object. You can use this saw on metal, wood, and plastic. 

Price Comparison

The prices of both saws depend on the capacities and models you choose. But most of the time, the circular ones are a little expensive. Let’s see the prices of our saws:

Reciprocating Saw

SawsPrice (USD)
DEWALT 20V MAX (DCS380B)$140
DEWALT 20V MAX* XR (DCS367B)$200
DEWALT (DWE305) – Corded 12 amp$129

Circular Saw

SawsPrice (USD)
DEWALT 20V MAX (DCS565B)$200
DEWALT 20V MAX* XR (DCS574B)$250
SKIL 12 amp Circular Saw$139

So, it’s clear that circular saws are a little bit more expensive than reciprocating saws (you may expect a difference of $50-$100). The 12 amp saws from both categories have a difference of $10 because we’re comparing Dewalt with SKIL, and Dewalt is an expensive brand compared to SKIL. 

Read More — Best Small Circular Saws

Read More — Best Electric Circular Saws

Pros and Cons of Circular saw


  • It has stability that allows easy, precise, and neat cutting. 
  • It cuts quickly with accuracy. 
  • The circular saw is versatile and can be used on any wood, metal, or plastic material, which is a suitable blade choice. 
  • It is easy to handle saw because of its mountain option
  • It is durable and has a longer lifespan. 


  • Although it makes complex cutting easy, it needs a flat surface. 
  • The saw gets overheated with continuous usage. 
  • The saw is heavier than the reciprocating saw. 

Pros and Cons of Reciprocating saw


  • The reciprocating saws are more compact and travel-friendly. 
  • The speed of the reciprocating saw is adjustable 
  • It has versatility: cutting in both horizontal and vertical directions. 
  • The blade strength allows cutting through old windows or doors: demolition. 
  • It is also great for curve cuts


  • There are better choices for neat and clean edge cutting. As it cannot cut in straight lines or along the grains. 
  • The blades have no protection or guards around them. Injury is a must in any carelessness. 
  • It vibrates a lot, which makes the hand unstable.

Read More — How To Use Circular Saw To Cut Concrete Blocks?

So, Which one Is best for you?

Both saws have their areas to shine: we recommend choosing based on your needs. 

You should choose a reciprocating saw if you work on tight sides or challenging corners because it works best in those fields. It is best for straight cuts on metal, wood, etc.

In comparison, the circular saw is the best if you want to have precise or different angular cuts. So, first, determine what you want to do with your saw and get the one accordingly. 


What is a reciprocating saw best used for?

Reciprocating saws are best for rough cuts and demolishing purposes. It can cut through wood, metal, drywall, or fiberglass.

Read More — Different Types of Reciprocating Saws?

What are the two types of circular saws?

The Two types of circular saws are gear-driven or worm-driven, and the other is a direct-drive sidewinder (its blade is mounted on the right side). 

Is a reciprocating saw good for cutting wood?

Yes, it works on wood. Although it does the rough cutting, it can be best for cutting through the wood. 

What is a Circular Saw good for?

A circular saw is good for making straight cuts through wood, metal, and other materials. You can also use it for other applications, such as making neat and precise cuts for woodworking projects. 

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We’re a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

The Tool Geeks Team

We're a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

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