The Best Jigsaw
DIY enthusiasts on the hunt for a jigsaw are in for a tough time. The market is teeming with cheaply-made products that putter-out after a few months of laborious work. You need something reliable, tested and precise when talking about a jigsaw.
After all, it must be able to deliver precise crosscuts, inside openings, plunge cuts, socket holes, and straight lines without splintering the material you’re working with.
The JS470E is has been one of Bosch’s bestselling Jigsaws for the past few years and for good reason. It is fast, cuts clean, is easy to use and maintain.
There is minimal vibration when operational, allowing you to use it for fine woodworking and other tasks that demand immaculate precision in the cuts.
This is a top-handled jigsaw with a very compact and ergonomic design. The handle has a soft molded grip that gives you a firm, but comfortable grip. There are four orbital-action settings ranging from mild to aggressive which are well within your finger reach.
The adjustable dust blower allows you to keep the cutting line clean at all times. If you are making a long and continuous cut, you can activate the lock-on button which prevents the need for the trigger to be pressed. You can use both hands for better control.
Operating speeds can be changed at the rotation of a dial that’s rightly positioned on the rear of the housing.
We love the tool-less blade change mechanism that allows you to replace the T-shank blade without coming into contact with it or without using tools. That’s very convenient when you have a red-hot blade to handle and are looking for a quick change.
Powered by a 7.0-amp motor, there’s no dearth of power with the JS470E. You can easily work with both general stock as well as thicker ones with ease. It can cut up to 5 7/8 inches of wood, 7/8-inch aluminum and 3/8-inch of mild steel.
One of the best parts is that you can start slow and then increase the speed with the accelerating speed trigger. The Constant Response Circuitry ensures that there are no discrepancies in the speed of the cuts.
A long 12.5-foot cord allows you to work freely without hindering movement.
- Pros: Variable Speed Trigger. 4 Orbital Action Settings. Ambidextrous lock-on button for long cuts.
- Cons: Customers note that there is a very small amount of undercutting, especially during curves. This isn’t a deal breaker though and it’s fairly easy to work around.
From one of the most reputed brands in the woodworking business comes the 4329K by Makita, a medium-power, compact jigsaw that offers a very reliable and smooth cutting performance.
It is built like a brick but at 4.2 lbs., is effortless to handle and maneuver.
Variable speed controls allow you to alter the blade velocity on-the-fly depending on the application. Also, it features three orbital settings that let you adjust the stroke with ease.
The 4329K features a counterweight balancing system which significantly reduces vibration. You’ll fully appreciate this feature when you work all day on denser stock. Hand fatigue is minimal.
The intuitively placed controls also allow you to control the cuts better. For example, you can engage the lock-on button with your thumb. Sadly, the button is not ambidextrous and can be engaged this way only if you hold the saw with your right hand.
Also, the 4329K is a lot quieter than some of the other jigsaws that we have tested.
Changing the bevel or swapping the blade is accomplished with a hex wrench that comes with its own dedicated on-board storage slot.
Dust management is a breeze, literally. There’s an on-board dust port that you can plug your vacuum into making it extremely easy to clean.
Powered by a 3.9 Amp motor, the Makita delivers plenty of power and speed to your cuts. The stroke is 11/16-inches and the blade won’t bend as you near the end of a cut, something that’s commonly seen with cheaper jigsaws.
We love the stability that the die-cast aluminum base brings to your projects. You can adjust this to 45 degrees right or left or use the positive stop at 90 degrees. Any potential chance of a wobble is eliminated with this. Not to mention that it further reduces noise.
The cuts are as precise as it can get with a tool at this price point.
- Pros: Budget-priced from a reputable brand. Three orbital speed settings. Die-cast aluminum base plate.
- Cons: If we could change anything, it’d be a slightly wider handle for a more comfortable grip.
The SKIL 4495-02 is a pocket-sized corded jigsaw that packs a very impressive performance behind its unassuming design. It can handle both straight as well as curved cuts smoothly and comes with an integrated laser guide for finer cuts.
It has four position orbital cut controls that lets you pick from slow to aggressive strokes depending on the density of the materials. Also, there’s a variable speed trigger to work up the speed. The package includes two blades which is excellent value considering the shoestring price tag.
On the table, the SKIL 4495-02 really shines with its ability to make short work of a variety of materials. After all, the heavy lifting is done by a powerful 6.0 Amp motor.
That’s a lot of juice for a jigsaw this size. So, when you are new to it, handling does seem a little intimidating.
However, the intuitive layout, the custom molded tool rest design and the adjustable bevel settings make it a breeze to use no matter what the application.
Swap over your U-Shank blade for a T-Shank one and the SKIL 4495-02 goes from a woodworking tool to an efficient all-purpose cutting tool that can work through a variety of materials like ceramic, metal and plastic. Blade replacement is tool-less and you can swap the blades in minutes.
Vibration is almost absent irrespective of what material you are working with. Despite the minuscule form factor, it surprisingly weighs 5 pounds. But the well-rounded design, the easy grip handle, and the stable performance make it easy to use.
- Pros: Pocket sized corded jigsaw. Accepts both U and T-Shank blades. Little vibration.
- Cons: It does tend to stray slightly off especially when you are handling denser materials.
The Porter Cable PCE345 has beenb around for a while and it has undergone numerous iterations and upgrades during this time. The upgrades have mainly been aimed at ironing out some of the minor problems that users faced with handling the jigsaw.
The latest iteration is pretty close to what most users expect from a jigsaw at this price point. It is fast, accurate and can handle both straight cuts and curves with equal élan.
It features four orbital settings which allow you to increase the oscillation for denser materials or a smoother cut and go full steam ahead for thinner materials.
The speed dial that’s positioned close to the trigger allows you to scale the speed up to 7 levels with a gentle, but responsive twist. There is some amount of feedback which prevents the speed setting from being changed accidentally.
A lot of manufacturers these days add a little extra bulk to the handle of their saws. The Porter-Cable is no different. This over-sized handle allows for a firmer grip on the jigsaw allowing for better control while performing intricate cuts.
Powering the PCE345 is a powerful 6-amp motor which keeps it going even during demanding applications. Irrespective of whether its steel, aluminum or wood stock, the performance is consistent.
- Pros: Budget-priced. 7-speed dial with lock-on button. Key-less blade change.
- Cons: No on-board storage for the blade.
The Black & Decker JS670V is a beginner-friendly jigsaw that takes the guesswork out of tasks like selecting the right orbital setting and speed for different materials and cuts.
It features a Smart Select Dial that allows the user to select the type of cut they seek and the material and it automatically adjusts the speed and orbital action.
Behind the rugged PE casing is a beautifully engineered product that will cut clean and smoothly for all types of cuts. Rectangular, curved, straight, no matter what you throw at it, the blade stays steady, the motor doesn’t cringe and the wood doesn’t chip.
Precision seeking woodworkers might also be interested in the line-finder feature. A black marker is included in the pack which is used to create a reference line on the stock. You then need to power on a black light on the JS670E. The marker line gets highlighted. Now, this does help a little especially if you are making really intricate curves that are difficult to see as you rotate the saw.
You get a stable base to work on thanks to the all-metal shoe that comes covered with a plastic plate that protects your stock from being accidentally marred. At 5 lbs, the saw feels solid in your hands and gives you great control.
Adjusting the angle for bevel cuts just got easier thanks to the flip lever with pre-calibrated incremental angles. The Black and Decker JS670E features four orbital-action settings and a variable finger controlled speed dial.
- Pros: Smart select dial for automatically selecting the right orbital setting and speed. Accepts both T and U shank blades. Line-finder for using an integrated black light for precision-based cuts.
- Cons: A little louder than some of the others on this list.
Factors to Consider in a Jigsaw
What’s The Right Motor Size?
Buying a jigsaw with the largest motor is recommended by many review articles. It’s true that to cut through most hard materials, such as thick wood and metal, you need all the power you can get. However, you need to consider the added cost and weight associated with the larger, more powerful motors. Consider going with a smaller motor if you intend to use it to cut compressed plastics or sheet wood. As a result you’ll shave off some of the additional weight and cost.
While the most powerful models designed for professional use can cut through 5.5 inch thick boards comfortably, household models can cut through boards with a maximum thickness of around 2.7”. Generally, less powerful models are much lighter because of the smaller motor.
Barrel and top-handle are the two main types of handles found on jigsaws.
Most jigsaws are designed with a top handle. Users use one hand to hold the jigsaw. This jigsaw design can be used in a variety of situations.
On the other hand, you have to use both hands when holding a barrel grip jigsaw. While one hand is positioned at the body, the other is positioned at the top. If you intend to saw through objects on an incline, this is your best option. This design keeps the user from placing their hands too close to the cutting blade, making it a great choice for inexperienced users. Since both of the user’s hands are occupied, the object being cut must be secured to a workbench or table to keep it from moving around.
Do I Need an LED Light?
Only available in some models, an LED light, in our opinion is a highly useful addition to a jigsaw. To make the most accurate cuts, the light ensures that the user can clearly see the area being cut as well as any markings guiding their cuts.
Even though we don’t really find it as a necessity, some people love laser guides. Jigsaws are great at cutting curves and angles; this being their main strong suit.
As such, there are some instances laser guides may play an important role, in others they won’t as they work best in straight lines.
When sawing through various materials, including wood, a lot of dust is produced. You can see the blade more clearly if you have a blower clearing away all of the dust being produced. As a result you’ll create more accurate cuts with this feature.
Some models have a short protruding pipe at the back of the jigsaw referred to as a vacuum attachment. Instead of blowing the dust all over the place you can vacuum it away. This feature allows you to attach a vacuum hose to the jigsaw. This minimizes the mess. However, to use this feature, you need to have an industrial vacuum on hand as well.
Types of Jigsaws
The different types of jigsaws will influence your final buying decision. Corded and cordless are the two main types of jigsaws available.
The delivery of power is one of the main advantages of corded models. You can start sawing away after connecting the saw to a power outlet. You don’t have to worry about a drop in performance over time or having to re-charge midway through the project. However, you need to have a power outlet nearby every time you need to use the tool, whether outdoors or indoors; thus limiting your mobility.
Battery Powered/Cordless Jigsaws
You get to enjoy increased mobility with cordless jigsaws. All you need to get started is a battery. The battery does need to be fully charged however. This being the main disadvantage of this type of jigsaw.
Types of Blades
For starters, the tooth size will determine how the precision of your jigsaw cuts. Smaller teeth make smoother more accurate cuts than larger teeth. Wider blades are better at making straight cuts through thicker materials than smaller blades.
The material used to make the blade also plays an important role. Here’s a brief description of some of the commonly used materials:
- For better flexibility and enhanced durability, BIM blades combine the hardness of steel and elasticity of carbon.
- To cut through porcelain and ceramics effortlessly, DIA blades are made of a diamond sprayed steel material.
- To cut through soft items, including chipboard and softwood, HCS blades are made of a flexible carbon steel material. You can cut through laminated chipboard with reverse tooth versions of these blades.
- To cut through aerated concrete, ceramic tiles and fiberglass, HM blades are made using solid steel.
- To cut through a variety of metals and hard materials, including aluminum, steel, hard plastics and copper, HSS blades are forged from hardened steel.
Frequently Asked Questions About Jigsaws
1. For Certain Cutting Work, Do I Need Specific Jigsaw Blades?
Of course. You need blades in different sizes and designs to saw through different materials. To cut curves and angles using your jigsaw you need to use a blade that is both flexible and thin. The above description of different types of blades will guide you.
2. Once the Blades Become Dull, Can They Be Sharpened?
There is no reason for you to sharpen blades that can no longer cut. Furthermore, sharpening these small blades can be quite tedious since, instead of being straight, they have teeth on the cutting edge.
In addition to being quite durable, replacement jigsaw blades are relatively cheap. It’s a better option for you to get new ones.
3. What Type of Extension Cord Do I Use With a jigsaw?
You can use any extension cord provided that it is built to accommodate your tool’s Amp rating. To ensure that there’s room for any extra load, choose one with an Amp rating that exceeds that of your jigsaw.
Jigsaws are all fairly similar, but when looking you need to first decide if you want a corded or cordless option. All the options listed above feature cords so if cordless is more your speed then consider paying extra for one or use an extension cord.
The next thing to consider is power (measured in amperes); a range of 3 – 7 amps is fairly standard in order to cut through nearly all materials.
The next thing to consider is “accessories.”Items like LED/guide lights, large grips for vibration reduction (barrel, Top, and D-handle grips), and blade types (U and T shanks).
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