Both spiral saws and jigsaws are handheld power tools used for design and construction. Depending on the nature of the job, one often may be substituted for the other. However, there are certain applications that benefit from the use of a spiral saw, such as cutting exact shapes. Jigsaws have existed about 25 years longer than spiral saws, and, as a result, are more widely used.
The most noticeable difference between a spiral saw and a jigsaw is the shape of the blades these power tools use. As the name suggests, a spiral saw uses a rotary blade. The rotary blade spins vertically while it cuts and doesn't have a sharp tip. The jigsaw uses a more common shaped blade, with one non-cutting edge and the other shaped with sharp jagged teeth. Jigsaw blades make a repeated forward and backward motion as they cut and are typically better at cutting through a variety of material of varying thickness. By comparison, rotary blades are ideal for thinner materials.
Vertical and Horizontal Cutting
The job at hand determines whether you should use a jigsaw or spiral saw. If you're cutting into drywall at shoulder height, it's possible to use either type of saw. However, for use at extremes heights (high or low), it can be awkward to use a jigsaw. This is because a jigsaw is designed to be held the same way you would hold a clothing iron, which makes it ideal for cutting into flat horizontal surfaces. Alternatively, a spiral saw's body is cylindrical, allowing more versatile handling, particularly when dealing with vertical cutting.
The common jigsaw can be outfitted with blades of various thicknesses and strengths, which allows you to pick a blade best suited for the material you're cutting. The same is true for spiral saws. Likewise, both the jigsaw and spiral saw are adept at cutting large, sweeping curves, but because of a spiral saw's motion, it is more effective at making tighter, more precisely shaped cuts. Spiral saws are often used as a multi-tool because the blade and body can be altered with a variety of attachments for specific applications, such as cutting a perfect circle or operating a circular blade.
Spiral saws are associated with Rotozip, the company that pioneered the device, thanks to Bob Kopras, the man behind the tool's design. For this reason, Rotozip is the most commonly sold spiral saw, although spiral saws are also made by Craftsman and Bosch, among others. There is less brand identity associated with the jigsaw power tool, because it was invented in 1947 and has been produced by many companies since.
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