Tradespeople who have to make saw cuts – whether in wood or some other material – will often find themselves questioning whether a jigsaw or circular saw is the best tool for the particular task in hand. There is inevitably a great deal of crossover, since they both perform a vertical cutting process. But the fact that the jigsaw has an up-and-down blade movement, while the circular saw has a revolving blade, means they have rather different strengths.

Key characteristics of circular saws

Because a circular saw has a blade with a diameter anywhere between 85mm and 235mm, it is best suited to cutting quickly in a straight line, rather than round a curve.

A circular saw is designed to perform a straight cut very neatly. But using a guide accessory will give the best results. You should also ensure that your saw works at the best rpm (revolutions per minute) for the material you are cutting. Cabled circular saws from Bosch Professional are capable of up to 5900rpm, while the 18V cordless devices achieve up to 4250rpm. Depending on the material, faster may not always be better.

In addition to wood, circular saws can deal with ceramics, masonry, metal, plastics and other materials, so a specialist blade is required for each. Metal and masonry-cutting blades have no teeth. Plastic-cutting blades have a large number of teeth – up to 60. If you would like wood-cutting circular saw blades explained briefly and simply, just remember the following key facts:

  • Blades for ripping (cutting with the grain) have fewer and larger teeth
  • Crosscutting blades have more and smaller teeth
  • Carbide tips increase longevity

Weight is a relatively unimportant factor for circular saws since they move in a straight line while supported on a surface. Even a tool of 4kg plus will move through materials swiftly and smoothly. What helps this ease of movement is the grip handle positioned close to the centre of gravity of the tool. The Bosch Professional range does also include particularly small and light circular saws for jobs where you are moving the tool around a lot and do not require deep cutting.

Key characteristics of jigsaws

Jigsaws use a relatively narrow blade that predominantly moves up and down. This makes it very suitable for cutting complex or curved shapes. When jigsaws are used for this kind of cutting, it is important to take special measures to ensure neatness. Jigsaw accessories include guides for cutting curved and complex shapes with an even line. The relatively low weight of Bosch Professional jigsaws makes them even more suitable for work requiring careful movement.

However, jigsaws can also be used for making long, straight cuts rather like a circular saw. One feature that really helps with speed of cutting in this kind of work is a pendulum option. Available on many jigsaws, pendulum options make the blade move back and forth as well as up and down. The advantage is that only a small amount of blade is in contact with the material at any given time.

The Bosch Professional range of jigsaws includes tools with a top handle and tools which are meant to be guided by holding the body at two points. This latter type provides an extra degree of control, for example when you are following a curve.

A wide variety of materials can be cut with a jigsaw, given the right blade, including, metal, plastic, countertops and, of course, wood.

Jigsaw vs circular saw: different uses

The jigsaw vs circular saw question largely comes down to speed and neatness vs curves and complexity. But do not think that circular saws are limited to ripping timber for planks. Circular saw uses are quite diverse thanks to two adjustability features. Firstly, the tool can be tilted to the side enabling cuts of varying angles. Secondly, the depth at which the blade cuts can be adjusted.

This not only enables you to cut through thicker items but also the creation of notches part-way through your material. So, a range of carpentry tasks can be carried out with just a circular saw – creating the components for a timber frame building for example.

Although a jigsaw can be used for most of the tasks that a circular saw can perform, including straight cuts and cuts on a tilt, the jigsaw uses that really take advantage of the tool’s qualities are jobs such as kitchen fitting and joinery, with their frequent need for complex cuts. A good example would be fitting a work surface around a vertical pipe.

It should be remembered that certain usability features are common to both tools. That includes easy integration with Bosch Professional vacuum tools for removal of dust, but also features such as an LED light for better visibility of cutting lines.