When to Use the Jigsaw vs Sabre Saw – Are They The Same?

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Having the right saw for the job is imperative to your cutting success. Sabre saws and jigsaws are two of our favorites because they are so similar and yet so different in their design, application, and operation.

We compared the sabre saw vs the jigsaw to give you a good look at each of these handheld power tools, so you can decide which one is right for you.

Find out how the jigsaw vs sabre saw stacked up here.

​Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers use the terms jigsaw and sabre saw interchangeably, even though technically they are not the same saw. Buyer beware!

​Jigsaw ​vs Sabre Saw Overview

It makes sense that there is a lot of confusion over the differences in the jigsaw and saber saw – they are very similar saws. Both saws fall into the handheld saw family, and both saws have thin blades that they use to make their cuts.

As we’ll outline more in detail later, technically a saber saw falls into the reciprocating saw family, whereas a jigsaw is commonly known as just a jigsaw (although still a part of the reciprocating family).

For the most part, nowadays when people refer to a sabre saw, they mean a ​reciprocating saw. (which could be a saber saw OR jig saw). But let’s dive into the details about the sabre saw vs jigsaw, and talk about how to use them.

What is a Jigsaw?

jigsaw is a very capable cutting tool that you can use in a variety of applications. It is really designed for more detailed work. Integral to a jigsaw is an electric motor and a reciprocating blade. The blade of a jigsaw is delicate and can easily break if the saw is unwieldy or losses control when cutting.

Jigsaws are typically used with two different types of blade fitments. Some jigsaws use a screw to hold the blade in place while newer models of jigsaws have a slot that locks the blade in place. The blades of a jigsaw come in a range of teeth counts from 7 to 25 or even more, depending on the application.

When you utilize one of the best jigsaws on the market, you get power and precision, in one saw. They are highly convenient and easy to work in tight spots on a job site. They can be used for a wide variety of cuts and, by switching out the blade, you can cut through a whole host of materials. Check this Bosch JS470E Jigsaw.

BOSCH Power Tools Jig Saws - JS470E Corded...
  • Convenient: Featuring a tool less blade change system and fast insertion with a blade ejection lever...
  • 4 in 1: 4 orbital action tool settings provide different blade strokes for smooth to aggressive cuts...
  • Control: Variable speed dial sets maximum speed and accelerator trigger controls operating speed;...
  • Secure: This Bosch tool includes a large, sturdy die cast foot with steel insert and on board bevel...

While jigsaws are very versatile and convenient saws, they do have control issues that can make them difficult for some users to operate. As the operator of a jigsaw, you need to literally steer the saw without forcing it along as you guide the cut. Keeping the jigsaw from swaying from side to side also ensures a more manageable and precise cut.

Situations to Use a Jigsaw

The primary function of a jigsaw is to cut intricate shapes by hand. Because it has a stand-alone blade, it can easily get into fine areas and cut with ease and accuracy.

A jigsaw is a good saw for when you need to cut detailed wood, metal, or plastic pieces in a specific shape. For finer cuts, you might want to consider picking up a ​scroll saw.

On the other side, if you need to make demolition types of cuts, opt for the reciprocating saw. Learn more about the differences in the jigsaw vs reciprocating saw in our review.

Because the blade of a jigsaw extends past the body of the saw, you can also cut internal shapes easily. The blade can be placed through a drilled hole to allow you to cut internal curved shapes.

Using a jigsaw will provide you with plenty of cut accuracy because these saws are typically variable speed. They cut at a slower speed than other saws, providing you with more control as you cut.

man using jigsaw on a piece of wood

​What is a Sabre Saw?

Saber saws are another handy saw that can cut through a range of materials. These saws utilize a thin blade that extends outward from the body of the saw.

It is often referred to as a reciprocating saw, or sometimes incorrectly spelled as a saber saw. Either way, it has some similar cutting abilities as its counterpart; the jigsaw. Check this Makita JR3050T.

Makita JR3050T Recipro Saw - 11 AMP
  • Powerful 11.0 AMP motor that delivers up to 2,800 strokes per minute
  • Variable speed trigger for precise cutting in a wide variety of applications
  • "Tool-less" blade change and shoe adjustment for fast blade installation and removal
  • Long 1-1/8" stroke for faster cutting

​A sabre saw is larger than a jigsaw, and uses a toothed blade for cutting. A sabre saw does not have a sole plate, like a jigsaw does. This means that sabre saws are a lot more difficult to control than a jigsaw.

Because there is no plate to guide the saw as it cuts, you have less operational control over the saw. This can result in misaligned and misguided cuts, but the applications that the saw is used in don’t typically demand a great deal of accuracy.

​Situations to Use a Sabre Saw?

In their best form, saber saws are used for demolition. You can also use ​these saws to cut leather, linoleum, plaster and drywall, metals, and wood. The saw has an uncanny ability to rip through virtually any material that is put in its pathway with the right blade attached.

For even more strenuous jobs, carbide- or tungsten-carbide-tipped blades can be used.

Don’t use a sabre saw for fine woodworking projects. It just does not have the accuracy.


​These saws could very well be cousins because of the similarities that join the pair. Both are handheld power saws that use long thin blades that can be equipped with a range of teeth options. They cut at slower speeds, and the blades need additional care as you work, or they could break easily.

Both ​saws are difficult to control as you cut, although the sabre saw is more difficult. Because as the operator you are doing the work of guiding the saw, it is up to you to make sure the saw doesn’t wiggle back and forth which can destroy the accuracy of your cut.


There are a variety of differences that separate the sabre saw vs the jigsaw.

First, we think it’s important to mention the multiple applications that you can use a sabre saw in. It seems that this nimble saw just has the flexibility to cut and rip when you need it most while a jigsaw provides more detailed work with its slower cut speed.

The jigsaw is supported by a table that helps you to give you more control as your work. ​On the other hand, sabre saws doesn’t have this table guide and for this reason, has less accuracy when cutting than the jigsaw.

If you are looking for cutting precision, you’ll want the jigsaw on your team. It can make those fine cuts and provide you the detailed saw lines you are looking for. ​Alternatively, sabre saws are a better tool for ripping through any material without the need for a precise cut line, such as demolition.

two men in construction

Final Verdict

When searching for the jigsaw vs sabre saw, most people are looking for the jigsaw. This is one of the most popular power saws, and can be used for a large variety of purposes.

The sabre saw, however, does have its place as a demolition saw. We wouldn’t use it for anything else, but you’ll find it works wonders in this capacity.

Every woodworker needs a jigsaw in their tool kit, whereas you might not have as much of a need for a sabre saw.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.