Router vs Jigsaw – What Are the Differences?

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Using a Jig Saw

Routers and Jigsaws are two very useful woodworking power tools, but which one is better for different situations? Is one tool better and more useful than the other? Which one should you buy to expand your range of DIY power tools? Here are some advantages and disadvantages of both.

Don’t miss our articles on jigsaws and routers for a detailed introduction to both types of tools in case you are not yet familiar with these tools.

What Are the Differences between Jigsaws and Routers?

Jigsaws and routers are different types of tools. They come with their own respective characteristics, pros and cons.

A Dewalt Router.
Find this one and other models on Amazon.
A Bosch jig saw.
Find this one and other models on Amazon.

The 8 main differences are:

  1. Jigsaws are saws but a router is not;
  2. Jigsaw power tools are easier and quicker to set up and use than Routers;
  3. Jigsaws can cut curves but Routers can make sharp-angled turns;
  4. Jigsaw blades can cut thinner cuts than router bits;
  5. Routers are more dangerous than Jigsaws;
  6. Jigsaws can cut deeper;
  7. Jigsaw Blades are easier to replace than Router Bits are;
  8. Routers can char wood.

Read on to learn the details of each of these aspects.

1. Jigsaws are saws but a router is not!

If you want to cut through some wood, cutting the wood into two pieces, a standard straight saw may be used. However, jigsaws allow wood to be cut with curves.

A router is designed to cut part of the way into wood and not right through. Yes, the router blade could be lowered enough for it to cut deep into the wood right through to the other side but this is not what a router is designed for.

The router blade can cut curves into wood the same as a jigsaw, but normally only part of the way through the wood.

2. Jigsaw power tools are easier and quicker to set up and use than Routers

Using a jigsaw is straightforward. Just draw a line on some wood and with the wood held secure, simply use the jigsaw to cut the wood following the line. The jigsaw only cuts in one direction so it won’t stray off the line as long as you guide the jigsaw properly.

However, using a jigsaw requires more preparation. The correct rotating bit should be selected for the required hole shape and the hole depth needs to be set using guides on the router.

When using a router, it is easy for the blade to wander off your line because the blade can cut in any direction. Therefore, it is recommended to set up a jig or guide for your cut.

3. Jigsaws can cut curves but Routers can make sharp-angled turns

Jigsaw blades can cut curves in wood but normally not very tight. Some jigsaws have a rotating knob that moves the blade and permits tighter curves to be cut but if the curve is too tight you will risk breaking the blade.

Routers have a rotating bit instead of a flat blade and therefore can cut in any direction. A router can be directed to cut straight, then be immediately moved 90 degrees left or right, creating a right-angled cut that the jigsaw simply could not do. No matter how sharp, the router bit will not break even if the angle is too sharp.

4 Jigsaw blades can cut thinner cuts than router bits

Jigsaw blades are thin and flat and cuts through wood without removing too much waste. Only an amount of wood the same thickness as the blade is removed as sawdust, typically around 1 to 2mm.

There are many router bits available but they have to be a minimum size to retain strength and to ensure they won’t break or distort when used. So even the thinnest router bit is mich thicker than the width of cut a jigsaw bit makes.

5. Routers are more dangerous than Jigsaws

Any power tool can be dangerous if not used properly and in a responsible way, but it is safe to agree that some power tools are more dangerous than others and need more care.

Jigsaws have a blade that has teeth only on one side but a router has a high-speed rotating blade that is dangerous from every angle. Router bits move much faster than jigsaw blades, typically up to 24,000 rpm controlled by a powerful motor. Should a malfunction occur with the router, that is a very fast-spinning blade that could inflict a lot of damage. Whereas should a jigsaw blade break, the safety guard on the jigsaw stops it flying off anywhere dangerous.

Routers are also much louder than jigsaws and to use one, eye and ear protection should be worn for safety. If you try to cut off too much wood with a single sweep of a router bit, pieces of wood may split and fly out in a dangerous manner.

6. Jigsaws can cut deeper

Jigsaw blades are available in a variety of sizes however they are generally all longer than a standard router bit. This means jigsaw blades are able to cut deeper into wood than router bits can.

Even if an extra-long router bit was attached to a router, the extra length may mean the router’s motor simply doesn’t have enough power to be able to drive the router bit deep into the wood. Similarly attaching an extra-long jigsaw blade may not mean it can cut deeper as the motor may have insufficient power. But under normal circumstances, even though the jigsaw has less power than the router, the smaller blade can still cut deeper than a larger router bit.

7. Jigsaw Blades are easier to replace than Router Bits are.

To replace a broken or incorrect size jigsaw blade, either a single Allen screw or some sort of quick-release lever need to be moved.

But replacing a router bit takes a little longer. You will first need to lock the spindle to stop the bit from rotating, then you need a spanner to loosen the collet or the bit holder. The bit can then be pulled out from its holder and a new bit inserted, re-attaching and tightening the collet and then finally unlocking the spindle again.

This may not sound like a big deal, but if you are working on a project that requires different sized blades and bits, it can take time to constantly swap from one to another.

8. Routers can char wood

Router bits are designed to rotate extremely quickly to aid in the cutting process. However, this speed can create friction against the router bit and the wood which creates charring. This problem can be worsened if the router bit is not sharp, or with certain types of wood. To minimize the chance of charring, increase the speed of your pass through the wood with the bit.

Using two or three shallow passes is better than trying to cut one deep pass into the wood which could cause unwanted black charring marks that take time to remove afterwards.

Conclusion

Jigsaws and routers come with their own yet different strengths and weaknesses. Both types of tools are therefore an essential equipment of most workshops.

We hope that this article has shed a light on the differences and helped you identify the tool that meets your requirements.

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