Router VS Jigsaw: Which One Is Right for You?

Woodworking can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing between a router and jigsaw. It is especially the case when you are starting with wood projects that need cutting often. However, you should not worry about whether it’s a daunting task or not. Below you will find a comprehensive review of these two woodworking power tools before deciding on which to use. As an extra, we also get to explore the differences that make these the router and jigsaw tools what they are.

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Now, before making that step, it right to start with the basics. When starting, you will need to understand each tool and its use. In our case, we are set to identify what each tool presents from an overall outlook. That means we will cover different areas in regards to Router and Jigsaw and help advance your knowledge on the same. So, here’s what you should get familiar with before deciding between a Router vs Jigsaw.

Comparing Router Vs. Jigsaw

·        Features

The jigsaw is perhaps the most useful in comparison to the router saw due to several functions. A distinct feature to start with would be the make of the jigsaw. Its a hand-held power saw that is useful when cutting woodwork projects and other materials like plywood.

The saw contains an electric motor that powers up the reciprocating saw blades and enables the wood cutting in different shapes and sizes. There are also jigsaw models that rely on a power outlet rather than a battery pack. You can find an excellent example of this in the corded Bosch To Handle jigsaw.

For the cutting, the jigsaw uses a horizontal blade that moves up and down as you guide your wood profile through it. The mechanism is almost like the scroll saw, and this saw people mistake them in the past.

On the other hand, a router is not a saw. In a real sense, it is a unique power tool with rotating bits to enable it to hollow out hard material such as wood, plastics, or metal. There are also handheld models with other routers needing fastening in a router table for use.

In the specification side, a router features an electric motor together with a collet on the shaft’s end. You will also find a flat sole plate that joins together with the fence at the base to brace the router against your wood profile and get your cut.

·        Application

A jigsaw is a perfect fit for woodworking on thick wood or plywood. With the right down-stroke cutting blade, you can make cut-outs, rough cuts, and scribe to walls. It is also an excellent tool when it comes to cutting curves, circles, and cross-cuts. The curve cutting is where the jigsaw use is most notorious since most professional woodworkers and turners use it.

Besides, some jigsaws are revolutionary makes in their application. Similar to a miter saw, some of the jigsaw designs have a beveling function on the slope to enable them to cut angles. The feature has given the saw an edge when deciding which saw makes the best miter joints between router and jigsaw.

A router’s application is not as a saw since it is not one. It is a specialized tool that is versatile enough to perform different curving and shaping operations

 with various bits. That means you get to make decorative edges, moldings, rounded edges, and hollow points on your woodwork.

Later on, you will further find out that with a router, the application options have a little limit. For the experienced woodworkers, the power tool is also useful in handling edge joints, joinery, pattern routes, and mortising. Its use in inlay woodwork sums up the application options you have with this workhorse in your shop.

·        Blades

A jigsaw is available with blades of varying sizes for different cuts. Each of the reciprocating blades provides a different cutting depending on the wood type and electric motor power. You will also want to consider that the blade size matters if you plan to cut through the stock. It is because a jigsaw motor might supply the right amount of power, but your blade does not match your woodwork operation.

But, in most circumstances, you will also have to consider that with a jigsaw, the blade can break. That would typically call for a replacement blade that you can install yourself. The proper tools will be necessary, however, if you plan to make an appropriate assembly or disassembly process. From my experience, this is unlike the process in routers. The features in the routers are complex, especially the cutting bits.

While on it, you will further realize that the cutting mechanism in a router depends on piloted bits. The bits are spherical bearings or beads that rotate to cut the wood surface accurately.

You may come across routers with a different bit arrangement in that they rotating bearings. For this design, a smooth surface that turns in line with the bit to enable cutting the wood. But, you will have to care since the piloted bits often leave marks that will need you sand before finishing your woodwork.

·        Cuts

The cutting aspect is the most formidable element when it comes to choosing between a router and jigsaw.

For the jigsaw, the cutting phase is available in two of the most common cuts: straight or curves. That is due to how the jigsaw is setup, the blades, and its rip attachment. All these features work to guide the jigsaw to make the cuts according to your woodwork project. You will only need to have the power tool on a clamp, draw a line for the cut, and align the wood to the blade.

Now, it might be two types of cuts for the jigsaw, but the routers offer more. The unique power tool allows for cuts you will not be able to make with the jigsaw. For instance, with a router, you can make rabbets, chamfers, and dovetail cuts. Not to mention, they make round cuts seem like a less daunting task, potentially eliminating the need for sanding.

If you are looking for more delicate cuts, you might also want to consider a router due to its features. The tool has a round bit, which can cut in any direction. That is the reason why a router does not necessarily have to cut in a gradual curve. Thus, it’s capable of cutting in one direction, moving 90 degrees from that direction, and change back. That is possible even if the cutting curve is sharp.

But the jigsaw is also impressive when it comes to getting the job done. With it, you get fewer cuts per your woodwork. In this, I mean, you will only need to cut through your wood once since the blade passes the entire depth of the material. The router cannot do this in one cut since it only removes bits of small wood one at a time.

·        Saw power

If you are too consider the cutting process, then saw power is also a vital aspect to determine between a router and jigsaw.

In both these power tools, there are varying amounts of horsepower available in the different models. But, our focus is on the power of the saw cut.

When considering a jigsaw cut power, the blade is an important feature to look at. In most circumstances, the jigsaw blades are much longer than the cutting bits present in routers. It enables jigsaws to have a much powerful saw cut that can cut more in-depth into your woodwork.

Despite the deeper saw cut, you can also count on a jigsaw to still produce fine thin cuts. Since the blades are small and flat, you won’t have to worry about shaving off too much wood when sawing. In short, the blade leaves distance off the project so your woodwork pieces would fit together.

Router bits, however, vary in their cut power. In most circumstances, you will have a router diameter being more significant than a jigsaw blade’s thickness. While this may mean a better saw power, it still leaves using a router at a disadvantage. Usually, the large saw router diameter has a power saw cut, which shaves off too much material from your woodwork.

·        Ease of use

For those who have had power tools for woodworking, you know how dangerous the equipment can be. The router and jigsaw are no different, and you will have to be extra careful when planning to make cuts or adjust the rigs. But you will have to consider that one is more dangerous than the other.

From experience, all woodworking power tools are not easy to use from the start. In this case, the router and jigsaw need a strong clamp set up to prevent any potential danger.

For instance, you have to remember that some routers can pack a powerful motor of over 2 HP or more. This is aside from the fact that the bits can also be rotating at over 16,000 RPM. Achieving a clean cut will take a strong jig or clamp setup and hand-grip to add stability.

In every way, I also consider the jigsaw a dangerous tool. But to a lesser extent, in comparison to the router. From my use of the machine, jigsaw blades are more comfortable to change in case one breaks. You will need to rotate the Allen screw a bit with the proper tools after powering off the saw. That unlocks the broken blade, and you can place a new one for your woodwork to continue.

·        Price

I would not mention price if were it not an important aspect when considering between a router and jigsaw. It all depends on your budget and the plan you have for the power tool. But let’s say you want one of the two. Which should you go for between the two?

The answer to that depends on several factors which the woodworker can only determine. However, in any case, you should know that routers count as expensive than jigsaws.

Earlier on, you read that routers are special cutting tools. That is a significant reason on why they are expensive jigsaws. Plus, the extra use of router bits, the machine seals the deal in having a high price tag.

But as you can tell from comparing the best sellers in routers and jigsaws, the matter of price remains unclear. There are jigsaws with advanced features enough to make them expensive than other router models. You can check them out here for a comparison.

·        Vibration and noise

As a knee-jerk reaction, it’s only useful if you pick a machine with less vibration and machine noise.

If, yet, it comes to picking between the two, you should consider several factors. These factors affect the vibration and noise levels between a router and jigsaw.

Generally speaking, the motor horsepower would determine the saw speed and cutting power. Ultimately, this would determine the transmission of vibration and cutting noise. That means you should consider the tool with fewer vibrations but appropriate speed and power. Some of the routers and jigsaws present come with a counter-balance mechanism to absorb the vibration and noise.

You should remember that with too much vibration or noise, it would be impossible to control the cut.


I know I may be out of line by even suggesting that we compare between a router and a jigsaw. But that is what it takes if you love woodworking and what the best tool for the job. And now that you have the essential beginner tips on the router and jigsaw, you are well off now deciding on what tool you want. Remember, it will take patience and dedication to understand how these tools work best. But once you do, you can recognize the unique similarities and differences they offer.

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