Rotozip (Spiral Saw) vs. Jigsaw: Which to Use?

Rotozip (Spiral Saw) vs. Jigsaw: Which to Use?

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When it comes to building and renovating a home, one of the most important things of all is having the right tools for the job at hand. Two very popular types of saws out there are the spiral saw also known as Rotozip and the jigsaw. Today, we are here to figure out what both of these are, what makes them similar, and what makes them different.

Let’s jump into it and see which of the two is better for your task at hand.

Rotozips and Jigsaws: The Basics

Before we get to talking about the similarities and differences between spiral saws and jigsaws, let’s first figure out what both of them are.

What Is a Rotozip (Spiral Saw)?

Spiral Saw First, we have the spiral saw or so-called Rotozip, which is a type of saw that is mechanically powered. The main point of a spiral saw is to make accurate cuts into plywood, drywall, or other thin and solid materials, such as very thin wood. It works well for making cutouts into these thin materials that have already been installed.

Let’s just keep in mind that a spiral saw is the actual tool, whereas a Rotozip is a specific brand name, albeit the most popular. One of the main advantages that you get with a spiral saw is that it doesn’t require the drilling of pilot holes first.

In terms of the look, the spiral saw looks a lot like a small handheld wood router, and yes, there are various bits they can handle. The bits often look like those of an end mill or power drill. In other words, spiral saws use “blades,” a term we use loosely here, that look like heavily spiraled drill bits.

What Is a Jigsaw?

Jigsaw Next, we have the jigsaw, which is a small handheld type of power saw. The jigsaw features what is known as a vertical reciprocating blade, which means that instead of moving in a circle, the blade moves up and down at great speeds. Jigsaws usually have little guide legs or a base that helps guide them along their path.

Jigsaws are designed primarily for cutting curves and shapes into thin pieces of wood, such as plywood and solid lumber. Cutting straight lines with them can admittedly be a bit difficult. They can also be used to cut through plastic and metals, given that the right blade is fitted onto them.

Similarities of Rotozips and Jigsaws

Now that we know what both spiral saws and jigsaws are, let’s figure out what kind of similarities they share.

1. They Can Be AC or Battery Powered

Right off the bat, keep in mind that both of these tools are fairly small, and this means that they generally don’t require all that much power. For this reason both spiral saws and jigsaws may be either battery powered or AC powered. In other words, there are both corded and cordless models.

2. They’re Small and Handheld

Another similarity and advantage that you get with both of these types of saws is that they are both relatively small, lightweight, and handheld. They’re both extremely portable tools that can generally be used with a single hand.

3.  Both Are Ideal for Various Types of Walls

Another thing that stands out about both of these types of saws is that they can both be used for various types of walling, such as solid wood, plywood, particleboard, and drywall. When it comes to cutting these materials, both of these saws are tools of choice.

4. Good for Cutting Curves

Spiral saws have blades that look more like drill bits than anything else, and jigsaws have very thin blades. What this all comes down to is that both of these saws can easily make curved and irregular cuts. It’s keeping the cuts straight that is problematic with both saw types.

Using Rotozip

Differences Between Rotozips and Jigsaws

Now that we know what the similarities between these two tools are, let’s figure out what the differences between Rotozips and jigsaws are.

1. Blades and Their Motion

With a spiral saw, the blades look more like drill bits than anything else. With a jigsaw, you have a long and flat reciprocating blade. With a spiral saw, as the name implies, the bits move in a circular fashion, or in other words, they spin in a circle just like with a power drill. However, with a jigsaw, the blade moves up and down in a reciprocating manner.

2. Jigsaws Can Handle More Materials

Spiral saws are fine for things like very thin pieces of solid lumber, particleboard, plywood, and drywall. Jigsaws on the other hand can handle all of these materials, and much more, including plastics, metals, and more.

3.  Jigsaws Are Better for Big Jobs

The fact of the matter here is that jigsaws are real saws that can make fairly large cuts with relative ease. Although making very straight cuts can be difficult, you can cut large pieces of wood and other materials with a jigsaw. Spiral saws on the other hand, due to the shape of the blades or bits, are really only ideal for small precision jobs. You would never use a Rotozip to cut a large piece of plywood.

4. Rotozips Are Best for Small Jobs

On the other hand, performing small precision jobs with a jigsaw is not always a possibility. Sometimes you may only need to cut a very small hole or opening into a wall, which is not easily done with a jigsaw, especially because you will need to make a pilot hole first. Rotozips on the other hand are designed for this exact purpose, for creating small cutouts in materials without the need for a pilot hole.

Using Jigsaw

Rotozip vs. Jigsaw: Which of the Two Should You Use?

If you are working on large pieces of wood, engineered wood, plastic or metal, and you need to cut irregular shapes and curves, then a jigsaw is the way to go. If you are working on thin solid wood, plywood, particleboard, or drywall, and you need to just make a small cutout, such as for wiring, plumbing, or for other such purposes, then it is a Rotozip that you need.


Now that you know what the differences between spiral saws and jigsaws are, you can make an informed decision between the two.

How Do Jigsaws Compare with Other Tools?

See how jigsaws compare with: bandsaws | circular saws | circular and reciprocating saws | coping saws | oscillating multi-tools | reciprocating saws | rotary sawsrouters | scroll saws