Electric chainsaw vs. reciprocating saw: What’s the difference?

Approx Reading Time: 13 minutes

Whenever the cutting of woods comes up, the tool that easily comes to our mind is the chainsaw. You are not alone if you assumed so, nearly all my friends made the same mistake as well.

Many saws used in woodworks and pruning trees exist and the reciprocating saw is a good example.

Electric chainsaw vs. reciprocating saw: What’s the difference?

The reciprocating saw uses the push and pulls motion for cutting material, while a chainsaw uses a rotating chain. The chainsaw is more for outdoor garden work, the reciprocating saw has a much thinner blade and is more for demolition and construction projects.

While there is no straight forward answer as to the best between an electric chainsaw and a reciprocating saw, your purpose and the job you are doing will determine the one to use.

Electric chainsaw vs. reciprocating saw: What’s the difference? 1

However, in this guide, we will take the time to list the major difference between the two (electric chainsaw and reciprocating saw). Please note that the differences between them are based on when to use one over the other.

Power

In terms of power, electric chainsaws are the most powerful of the two. They are perfect for cutting down bigger trees, unlike the reciprocating saws that are used for demolition and construction projects.

While the electric chainsaw is perfect for cutting bigger trees, the reciprocating saws are ideal for smaller trees.

Reciprocating saws are, however, less risky to handle as the power goes off immediately you remove your hands from the power button. 

Maintenance

Maintaining the electric chainsaw is more complicated than the reciprocating saw. The simplicity of the reciprocating saw allows for just sharpening but on the other hand, the electric chainsaw requires regular maintenance—the change of oil, sharpening of the blade, cleaning of the bar, etc

To enjoy your electric chainsaw, you have to ensure the filler is not overheated and that there is enough oil in the engine.

Price

When it comes to a pocket-friendly tool that is cheaper and affordable, the reciprocating saw beats the electric chainsaw hands down. The electric chainsaw, due to its complexity and purpose of use is more expensive to afford and maintain. 

Buying one demands that you have an immediate need for it. But then, if your daily routine is a mild cutting of wood, the reciprocating saw is the answer you seek. You also don’t need to spend more money on buying any oil or fluid since the reciprocating saw uses battery.

The Noise

One key feature that sets the electric chainsaw apart is the noise it makes. The noise is a symbol that everyone easily recognizes. On the other hand, the reciprocating saw is more silent in terms of noise.

Due to the noise, the electric chainsaw is more ideal to be used in an outdoor setting or when the kids or neighbours are not available to avoid noise pollution.

Advantages of Using the Reciprocating Saw over the Electric Chainsaw

Both types of saws are very powerful tools for the cutting of woods and pruning of trees. Basically, as a lumberjack, you can’t do without one or even both. However, the reciprocating saw apart from its portability and cost-efficiency has other advantages over the electric chainsaw. These advantages can’t be ignored.

The reciprocating saw is light-weight, handy and inexpensive, thus making it the ideal tool for demolition, pruning, electrical, and cutting jobs. If you’ve been underrating it before, it is time to do away with such sentiment.

Below, we give you a full breakdown of the advantages the reciprocating saw has over the electric saw.

Reliability

There is no better way to describe how reliable the reciprocating saw is. It is suitable and ideal for a variety of tasks. From cutting through woods to the pruning of shrubs, pinning nails during construction, plumbing work to the cutting of branches, the saw will serve you beyond your expectations.

Safety

The reciprocating saw is safer than other motorized saws. The power goes off immediately you remove your hands from the switch thus making it a safe tool to use. The fear of ending up with blisters after use is eliminated because the handle is well coated with rubber.

Apart from this, the blade is protected and the wires insulated. It also comes with a full safety manual to ensure your DIY maintenance and other safety tips.

Versatility

In terms of versatility, the reciprocating saw is superior to the electric chainsaw. From horizontal to vertical cuts, it allows you to use it for a variety of purposes during construction. Irrespective of where you will use it, there is always the type to serve your purpose. For example, the cordless reciprocating saw is perfect for outdoor construction works where there is no need for a socket.

Portability

Regardless of the type of reciprocating cord you buy, they are all portable. The compact design gives it an edge over the electric chainsaw. It doesn’t occupy space and is very easy to transport to various locations without any problem. Between the cord and cordless reciprocating saw, the latter is better because it does not need an extension cord before it can be operated.

Handy and Convenient

The tool is handy and convenient to use. You can conveniently use it to cut through woods, cardboards, plywood, walls as well as a variety of other tasks without hassle.

Also, using the cordless type of reciprocating saw ensures you can work anywhere without worrying about the availability of electricity.

Also, it removes extra pressure from your hand while handling it because it is portable and handy to use. The cordless reciprocating saw is ideal for contractors who work in different locations.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Reciprocating Saw

If you are going through this page right now, the chances are there that you are on the verge of buying a reciprocating saw but need more information before parting with your hard-earned money.

Reciprocating tools are handy tools for carrying out various functions such as cutting of woods, drilling of holes into walls, etc. Even if you haven’t heard of the reciprocating saw before, it doesn’t matter. This post is specifically made for you and others like you.

Above, we succinctly outlined the advantages of choosing a reciprocating saw over an electric chainsaw to help with your decision making. However, we are taking the post further by letting you know some of the key things to consider before buying a reciprocating saw.

Here are some of the important tips to consider before buying a reciprocating saw;

The Cutting Action

There are many cutting actions but the best amongst them is the orbital cutting action. It comes out the best because it makes cutting materials faster than any other kind of cutting action. It is best when you let the shoe of the saw on the surface you are cutting.

Blade Type and Size

The types of work you do or going to do will determine the type of blade and size to choose. There are different blade sizes—ranging from 4,6 and 12 in length. However, the shorter the blade length, the easier it is to handle. Another factor that should determine your choice of blade is the type of blade it has. There are metal, the hybrid, and the wooden types. 

Warranty and Brand

Buying a reciprocating saw that serves your purpose is not enough, you should consider the warranty of the products you are buying. Is there a warranty to cover the product when things go wrong? Some brands offer a full warranty which includes a change of product while some cover a time frame, a year, 6 months e.t.c

Also, the brand matters. Some brands are more efficient than others. Some offer discounts and warranty more than others. Go for the best brand that offers efficiency, durability, and affordability.

Price and Quality

It is true that price does not equal value but then, breaking the bank to get a tool that ends up not serving its purpose is not worth it at all. There are different types of reciprocating saws and their prices vary according to the brands. There are many pocket-friendly types you can afford and they will still serve you efficiently.

Do not be too keen on the price alone. Also, consider the quality of the products you are buying. A costly and quality product will serve you better in the long run than one of inferior quality of low price.

Ease of Blade Replacement

Like everything in life, nothing lasts forever, and the reciprocating saw is not an exception. Wear and tear will happen and your blade will get dull and blunt. No matter how much you take care of it after each use, it is bound to happen.

To ease things up, ensure you get a reciprocating saw that is easy to use. The blades are easy to replace anytime without stress.

Types of Reciprocating Chainsaws You Should Consider

As you already know, reciprocating saws are handy tools used for various tasks ranging from cutting of tree branches, pruning of ornamental plants, drilling of holes into walls, etc.

There are many types available in the market depending on your needs. Irrespective of your need and budget, there is one out there for you. The types are mostly based on size, use, power, and value.

To ease your decision making, we present to you the different types of reciprocating saws. Take your time to go through the features as well.

1. Cordless Reciprocating Saws

The cordless reciprocating saws are portable and easy to carry about. They run on their own through the battery pack. For most outdoor tasks, they are the best since you won’t be restricted by a power cord. They are the perfect tool for you whether you are working on a ladder or scaffold.

Electric chainsaw vs. reciprocating saw: What’s the difference? 2

Advantages

  • It is the best for outdoor works
  • It is very convenient to have and work with.
  • Portability adjusts it to any place.
  • A new model with lithium-ion batteries gives more performance.
  • Brushless motors are more compatible with outdoor work.

Disadvantages

  • The use of a battery limits its running time.
  • It is expensive when compared to the cord type
  • Charging costs for batteries are expensive.
  • The extra weight of the battery makes it heavier.
  • Downtime of charging the battery

2. Compact/ One-Handed Reciprocating Saws

As the name suggests, the compact/one-handed reciprocating saws are designed to be used with one hand. They are light and suitable for working in a compacted space. The size and design make it a perfect tool for people who prefer lightweight tools.

Electric chainsaw vs. reciprocating saw: What’s the difference? 3

Advantages

  • Ideal for working in tight places
  • Where both hands are not fitting this saw type can fit.
  • Wall interiors, plumbing closets, crawl spaces are the working place of it.
  • Its size makes it easier to handle than other types.

Disadvantages

  • Due to its size, using the compact saw with both hands can give you a tough time.
  • Due to its smaller motor, what it can do is limited.
  • The small motor gives conflict in working time.
  • Long-time running is not possible.
  • Smaller blades make it not ideal for cutting large amounts.
  • Need more support due to the smaller size.

3. Corded Reciprocating Saws

The corded reciprocating saws are used with the cords plugged into a wall socket. That’s where it draws its power from.

This tool is perfect for you if you are continuously working. Since it is powered by electricity, you don’t need to worry about changing or charging any battery.

Electric chainsaw vs. reciprocating saw: What’s the difference? 4

Advantages

  • Reliable power (You don’t have to worry about charging any battery)
  • Widely available in the marketplace.
  • Relatively inexpensive and budget-friendly.
  • Wide range demanding.
  • Have a reliable chance.
  • Getting a consistent power facility.
  • The motors are more powerful

Disadvantages

  • The limited cord makes working outdoor impossible
  • Higher risk of hazards occurring in the workplace.
  • The saw can accidentally cut through the power cord.

4. Pneumatic Reciprocating Saws

The Pneumatic reciprocating saws are also called saws, largely due to the fact you will need an air compressor to power them on.

The Pneumatic reciprocating saws are not common for individual uses but are mostly used in heavy industries such as refineries, gas utilities, chemical plants, etc.

Electric chainsaw vs. reciprocating saw: What’s the difference? 5

Advantages

  • Simpler internal construction
  • The motorless design makes it more durable and reliable.
  • Ideal for industrial environments.
  • They have self-cooling capability
  • Runs quieter
  • Much lighter

Disadvantages

  • Limited to only environments where the compressor air system is available
  • Requires a portable air compressor before you can use them anywhere
  • We need to have an air compressor supply facility.
  • The manufacturing industries are limited

Types of Electric Chainsaw

The electric chainsaw is smaller than the gas-powered ones. This gives it an advantage as it is portable and easy to operate. Even as a beginner, its simplicity makes it an ideal tool for your trimming, pruning and cutting purposes.

It is easy to start and operate, and everything can be done with one hand. There are different types of electric chainsaws out there in the market. Before going to make a purchase, pause for a moment and go through the guide we made for you below.

Cordless Electric Chainsaw

The cordless electric chainsaw is designed as your ideal tool if you work outdoors. Just like the cordless reciprocating saw, you don’t need it to be plugged to a power source before you can operate it. It comes with a battery pack that makes mobility easy when you are working outdoors.

Electric chainsaw vs. reciprocating saw: What’s the difference? 6

Advantages

  • Perfect for outdoor operations
  • Easy to work with
  • Portable
  • New models with lithium-ion batteries perform more
  • The brushless motors work better for outdoor tasks

Disadvantages

  • Charging the battery leads to time wastage
  • It can be heavy due to the extra weight of the battery
  • Charging the batteries come with an extra cost
  • When compared to the corded type, it is quite expensive

Corded Electric Chain Saw

This type is not battery-powered. It requires being plugged to a power outlet before you can use it. The greatest demerit is the presence of the cord. It is such that the cord limits you to just 100 feet from the operation base.

But then, having a corded electric saw means you don’t have to worry about charging of batteries.

Electric chainsaw vs. reciprocating saw: What’s the difference? 7

Advantages

  • It is available in most tool stores.
  • A reliable and consistent power facility  
  • It is budget-friendly
  • A very reliable piece of equipment
  • The motors are more powerful than the cordless type
  • Wide range demanding.

Disadvantages

  • The cord length confines you to a particular working space.
  • Higher potential of hazards occurring in the workplace.
  • The saw can accidentally cut through the power cord.

Other Features to Lookout for in an Electric Chainsaw

  • It comes with an automatic oiling system for the hands-free chain maintenance as well as easier cutting.
  • Brushless motor offers longer motor life, efficient operation and a bigger torque
  • Comes with extra rear handles for better handling of the tool
  • Bigger batteries and power capacities offer more operating time.

Conclusion

Irrespective of the saw type you are operating; ensure you adopt the best safety features peculiar to the saw to avoid injuries. Take a chainsaw safety class where and when applicable if need be.