At first glance, a jigsaw and a saber saw seem to be similar devices that only look a bit different.
However, a jigsaw and a saber saw provide different functions, and they can’t be used as a substitution for one another.
To understand the exact difference between these two, we will have to dive slightly deeper into the details. Let’s see how it all started.
A Short History on Saws
A long time ago, well over a hundred years ago, to be exact, a craftsman in Germany invented the first narrow saw blade. A bit later, an unknown craftsman from France put this blade into an anchored setting in order to help create fine and detailed woodworking pieces.
It was called the Buhl Saw. A bit later, in the 1800s, Great Britain published a patent for the blade that moves in a reciprocating way, and people started to call it the Scroll Saw. However, since the blade moves up and down, some people started to call it jigsaw.
However, in the mid-1900s, some craftsman took off the top part so that the blade was only attached to the bottom.
Also, instead of the classic blade, a heftier one was used. Then, it was flipped around so that it seemed to be attached to the top instead. That’s how a saver saw was invented. However, for several more decades, both a jigsaw, a saber saw, and a scroll saw continued to be the same device.
At the end of the 20th century, scroll saws separated and became tabletop saws used for delicate woodworking. Saber saws fell out of use completely, and jigsaws became the jigsaws we know today. However, even today, some of us are not completely sure what is a jigsaw and what is a saber saw. So, let’s break it down.
Differences between a Jig Saw vs Saber Saw
A saber saw is also known as the reciprocating saw. It has a toothed blade used to cut wood or other similar materials. Most of them are not electrically powered, but nowadays, you can also find the ones with an electric motor.
On the other hand, a jigsaw can sometimes be considered as an advanced version of the reciprocating (saber) saw. It has an electric motor which movies a reciprocating saw in a fast manner. It can produce between 500 and 3,000 strokes per minute, depending on the power of the motor. It can make both straight and curved cuts while still being very precise.
So, what is the actual difference?
This is all good information, but when it comes to practice, what is the real difference? The fact is that both jigsaws and saber saws refer to a very similar item which is named differently in different countries, and even different regions in a specific country.
As already mentioned, in a period of only a few years, two tools came in two different regions and were named differently.
However, they were very similar, almost the exact same. Nowadays, both of them are handheld, electrical devices with sharp and thin blades used to cut through a specific material, usually wood.
Some companies added even more confusion by creating devices such as “Sabre Jigsaws”. Let’s see some of the features that jigsaws provide and some of the features that saber saws provide. This will help us understand the difference.
First, you should know that jigsaws are not meant to only cut wood, but also to cut different materials, such as metal and fiberglass. They can also make bevel cuts and be angled at 45 degrees, and there is no need for a table saw to achieve that.
Saber saws are commonly used for various woodworking projects for beginners, and they can also be used for cutting through different nails and pins, in case pulling them out is impossible. With a saber saw, you can just cut the heads of those nails and pins and leave the other part inside. They are also great for tight and small spaces, since they can reach some spots that jigsaws can’t.
Advantages of Each
Let’s take a look at the advantages that each saw has over the other.
When it comes to jigsaws, you should know that it can be cordless and that changing blades in a jigsaw is a fairly simple process. They are also very light and slim, and they are even kid-friendly! Jigsaws are basically the first power tools to be introduced to kids of any age.
They are also very easy to use, and you don’t have to master them to achieve their full potential. Finally, one of the advantages of jigsaws is that they don’t have to be installed and don’t take up too much space in the workshop.
On the other hand, the only advantage that a saber saw has over a jigsaw is that most of them are cordless, which is better while cutting tight crevices into a wood stock.
When to use a Jig Saw vs Saber Saw
Let’s take a look at the best situations where each of these saws can be used. When it comes to a jigsaw, the fact is that it can easily reach fine areas and make fine, precise cuts. If you need to cut a detailed wood, or even plastic or metal, the jigsaw is ideal for that occasion. However, for the finest cuts, you might want to consider a scroll saw.
You can also cut internal shapes very easily since the blade of this saw extends past its body. Also, they usually cut at slower speeds than other saws, which allows you to have better accuracy and precision.
The saber saw is most commonly used as a cheap power saw. It is usually the best tool for making quick and inaccurate cuts. Therefore, if you need any fine cutting to be done, you shouldn’t consider a saber saw. You can also use a saber saw for any type of demolition, since they can cut through almost anything, depending on the blade attached.
Now let's take a look at the main differences between these two saws. At first, it should be mentioned that a saber saw can be used on multiple occasions. For example, if you need fine, delicate work, you should use a jigsaw. For almost any other purpose, you can use a saber saw. Also, note that the jigsaw is supported by the table, so you will have more control over your work.
On the other hand, as you might have noticed, a saber saw will provide much lower accuracy and precision. Basically, if you are looking for the ultimate precision, you should aim for a jigsaw. However, if you are looking for a tool to rip through any material without feeling sorry, if you damage the cheap blade, then you should aim for a saber saw.
When buying a Saber Saw
If you are new to woodworking or haven’t even used a saw for any reason, then it might be tricky to buy the perfect saw, or more precisely, the saw that will perfectly fit your needs. Luckily for you, we have prepared this buyer’s guide to help you out. Be sure to check it out if you intend to buy a jigsaw or a saber saw.
First, let’s take a look at the basic features that a saber saw should provide.
The first thing to consider is the motor. The motor is definitely the most important part of the saw. There are various types of motors, and the most well-known and widely-used are brushed and brushless motors. A brushed motor is more commonly used when compared to a brushless one. Basically, it contains two parts, a brush, and a commutator.
However, carbon brushes can wear out over time, leading to decreased motor efficiency. Then, there is a brushless motor, which has no carbon brushes to be worn out. It doesn’t have a commutator, either. Instead, it is replaced by a small electronic circuit, which can use the appropriate amount of energy needed, so it won’t draw all the energy if it doesn’t need it.
Also, since the friction that brushes would create is removed, a brushless motor also provides a much better energy output and is usually a lot more powerful.
Another thing to think about is stroke length and stroke rate. When it comes to the stroke length, this simply means the total length that the blade will travel upwards and backward in one direction. Basically, the larger the stroke length is, the better will be the efficiency of the saber saw. When it comes to stroke rate, it is measured in strokes per minute, also known as SPM.
Those rates can vary depending on the model, and they usually range between 2,000 and 3,500 SPM. Basically, when looking for a perfect saw, you should look for the one that has as high a stroke length and stroke rate as possible. The higher these two are, the better value the saw will provide.
Among all the other things that a saw should have, you should consider a variable speed trigger, a blade clamp, an adjustable shoe, and an anti-vibration feature. However, note that even with the anti-vibration feature, you will still feel vibrations, but just not nearly as bad.
When Buying a Jigsaw
Now, let’s see what some of the important things to consider when it comes to buying a jigsaw are. Basically, there are similar things that you should consider with a jigsaw, too.
You should take a look at what power the motor provides. Also, don’t forget that the jigsaw should be lightweight and comfortable. You might even want to take it in your hands and try to feel what it would be like to work with that jigsaw. It may not be a problem to hold it for a few seconds, but a problem might occur if you have to work most of the day.
Battery operated or corded
Besides that, note that some jigsaws are battery-operated, and some have a cord. There are no advantages or disadvantages between these two, so you should choose the one that you prefer. However, if you have to move a lot and change workplaces frequently, you should buy a battery-powered one. The only thing to pay attention to is the battery size.
Another important thing to consider is the power rating of a jigsaw. It is usually used to determine the type and the thickness of materials that it can cut. A device of 350 watts power is good for small DIY projects, and those of 500 watts allow a cutting depth of 50-70 mm.
A 700 watts jigsaw can cut up to 100mm in wood, but also up to 10mm in steel and almost 40mm in aluminum. There are also jigsaws with the power of 850 watts. They basically offer the same possibilities as those with 700 watts power output, but they will make the job much easier.
There are also some additional features that a jigsaw might provide. First, some of the jigsaws come with a dust extraction system. Some of them also have a dust blower to improve the visibility of the cutting line. Some will also have an LED light that can perfectly illuminate the workspace, and it might also have a chip guard which actually surrounds the blade to eliminate any possible chipping.
This is very useful for laminates, for example. Another very useful thing is blade storage. It will ensure that the rest of your blades are always at hand while you work. Finally, you should definitely consider the model that is lightweight. They usually have a steel or alloy baseplate.
We hope that now you can see the clear difference between the jigsaw and the saber saw. You might have also noted that one can not be a substitute for the other, since they are used for very different tasks.
Depending on the work that you have to do, you should decide whether you need a jigsaw or a saber saw. However, we have provided you with a buyer’s guide that will definitely help you. Be sure to check it out!