Three best jigsaws
A jigsaw is one of the most flexible cutting tools. You can use it in the workshop or on site. It will cut straight lines, angles, and curves. It's an essential part of any trade or DIY toolkit. Not surprisingly, there are lots of jigsaws to choose from. We've put together this concise guide to highlight the differences between models and to discuss the features you'll want to look for when making your choice. We've also made several product recommendations for jigsaws that deliver all the key benefits.
Considerations when choosing jigsaws
The big question is whether to go corded or cordless. However, comparisons are not easy due to the fact that corded jigsaws are rated in amps and cordless jigsaws in volts. Let's simplify.
Corded jigsaws range from four to seven amps. You'll probably prefer a minimum of five amps on a DIY model. But with these tools, more power is always better.
Cordless jigsaws are 12, 18, or 20 volts. We don't recommend a 12-volt tool for anything but the lightest of tasks. There's little actual difference between 18- and 20-volt cordless jigsaws. Some manufacturers quote a peak output of 20 volts, but normal operating output is 18 volts. Batteries have amp hours (Ah) ratings. Power delivery from a battery tails off as it runs down. A higher Ah rating means the power level is maintained for longer. The most common rating is 2Ah, but 4Ah batteries are more than twice as good.
Today's high-quality cordless jigsaws are often a match for their corded rivals. More often than not the only significant difference is cost, which is heavily influenced by the battery. An entry-level corded jigsaw can be under $40. The equivalent cordless saw will be $60. At the pro level, the gap is wider. Corded models might be $150, while a similar cordless model could be twice that price.
After you've decided between corded and cordless, there are some additional features to consider.
A solidly built jigsaw will invariably be more durable and provide greater accuracy. Look for as much metal as possible in the saw's construction.
The sawing action should be orbital as it's more efficient than a blade that cuts straight up and down. An adjustable orbit gives greater flexibility. You can rough-cut very quickly, or slow it down for a smoother finish.
All jigsaws have variable speed, usually measured in strokes per minute (SPM). On good models, a speed dial sets maximums so you don't need to maintain precise trigger pressure.
Depth capability can be a big deal. Some jigsaws have maximums of just a couple of inches. Others are over five inches, which you'll need if you frequently cut thick materials. Also, check the depth of cut with the blade at 45°.
The shoe, or the bottom plate, should be steel or aluminum for rigidity. The latter is lighter. A rubber or plastic overshoe may be supplied. It prevents you from scratching finished surfaces like kitchen countertops. All shoes can be tilted to the left or right, but some have detents, which are notches or pins that make it quick and easy to set common angles. Some need a wrench to adjust, while others don't.
Jigsaws have two types of blade fittings: U-shanks or T-shanks. Some jigsaws can use both, others can't. An equal range of blades is available for both, you just need to check for the correct fit.
Some jigsaws have blade ejection. This is useful because jigsaw blades can get very hot. With blade ejection, you can drop the blade out without burning your fingers.
A trigger lock means you don't have to keep holding down the trigger while you saw. Good ones can be operated left- or right-handed.
A dust blower is nice to clear debris from the line you're following.
Q. Does a universal blade cut different materials?
A. No. Universal is another name for U-shank blades. The name might give the impression they'll fit any jigsaw, but that isn't the case. Be sure to check the jigsaw's blade fitting.
To cut different materials, you should choose a specific blade that's meant for the material, whether it be metal, ceramic, or laminate. You'll also find numerous wood-cutting blades. The more teeth per inch, the smoother the finished cut will be. However, more teeth also means a slower cut.
Q. Which is a better saw: a jigsaw, bandsaw, or scroll saw?
A. There's no easy answer because you're not comparing like with like. A bandsaw has a greater depth capacity and can cut curves and angles, but the back of the saw prevents it from cutting large sheets. You take the material to the saw.
Scroll saws are for finely detailed and decorative work. They can cut very tight curves, but the material's size and thickness are limited. Again, you take the material to the saw.
A jigsaw you take to the material. While the depth of cut has limits, there's no restriction on the size of the material you can work on. You can also use a jigsaw to cut a hole in partition walls, for example.
Jigsaws we recommend
Best of the best: Bosch JS470E 7-Amp Variable Speed Jigsaw
Our take: This jigsaw boasts superb build quality and performance for those who will only accept the best.
What we like: It ticks every box on the jigsaw wish list, including power, accuracy, and flexibility that are second to none. A tool for the most demanding professional.
What we dislike: Nothing. The price, while not cheap, is very competitive at this level.
Best bang for your buck: Black & Decker BDEJS600C 5-Amp Smart Select Jigsaw
Our take: With this jigsaw, you get all the features you need for those DIY tasks at a budget price.
What we like: This saw has a reliable motor, four-step orbital control, 3,000 SPM maximum speed, and a dust blower. It takes both U-shank and T-shank blades. It sounds like an expensive saw, but in fact, it's a bargain.
What we dislike: You need to be realistic about its modest capabilities. It's not a pro tool.
Our take: A superior, comprehensive cordless jigsaw kit from DEWALT.
What we like: This jigsaw is the perfect example of a high-performance cordless saw that's equal to a corded tool. It offers excellent power, superb control, versatility, and precision.
What we dislike: It's a great saw, but it's a lot to pay for the freedom of cordless.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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