A jigsaw gives you the cutting power and flexibility needed for many construction and craft applications. Jigsaws deliver both straight and curved cuts as well as crosscuts, ripping, beveling and plunge cuts. They can also be used on a variety of materials, including wood, light metals, plastic, ceramic tile, drywall and more.
Depending on the features, a jigsaw may be better suited to certain applications, types of cuts and materials than others.
Before you learn about all the available options, use the following questions to get yourself thinking about how you'll be using your jigsaw and what your needs are:
• How much freedom of movement do you need? Will you have access to power outlets?
• Will you use your jigsaw for extended periods of time, such as throughout a workday?
• Are you more likely to make slow, precise cuts, or do you need to make cuts quickly?
• How critical is convenience and ease of use in comparison to power and performance?
• Is weight, size or comfort an important consideration for you?
Power, Performance, Versatility and Convenience
When you shop for a jigsaw, you'll find a variety of features to choose from. Ranging in price from less than $30 to more than $200, jigsaws may include an assortment of accessories from storage cases to blade sets. Weigh the benefit of each feature in relation to your intended applications, and don't forget to consider long-term needs and benefits. Power:
If you will be using your jigsaw for work, heavy-duty home improvement projects or other big jobs, power is a primary concern. If you need to use your jigsaw for extended periods without losing power, corded jigsaws are your best bet for reliable, consistent performance.
Plus, because they don't require a battery pack, corded jigsaws tend to be lighter than cordless jigsaws, reducing fatigue. If you will be tackling long, demanding projects but need more freedom of movement than a corded jigsaw offers, consider a high-voltage cordless jigsaw or extra batteries for backup power.
• Corded jigsaws range from 3 to 8 amps with 5 or more amps providing optimal power for heavy-duty use
• Cordless jigsaws offer enhanced portability and eliminate the danger of cutting through the cord
• Orbital action uses a back and forth motion in addition to up and down movements for faster, more
aggressive cut Performance and Versatility:
All jigsaws are capable of handling a variety of materials and cuts, but they may offer features that make them better suited to certain applications. If you are using your jigsaw primarily for scroll cuts or crafting, look for features like a knob-style auxiliary handle for precision steering control or 360" rotating blade for intricate detail cuts.
If you intend to use your jigsaw primarily for straight cuts, such as ripping or crosscuts, look for features like a built-in laser line, which maximizes efficiency on straight cuts.
• Dual-bevel capability allows angled cuts in either direction without flipping the workpiece
• When there's no room for error, precision roller guides make accurate cuts easier
• Variable speeds and orbital action settings allow you to choose how fast and aggressive your cut is, so
you can tackle a variety of materials and applications
Some of the convenience options you can choose from include anti-vibration features to reduce fatigue and enhance precision, a dust collection port to clean up sawdust as you work and built-in lights to enhance visibility without separate work lights. For maximum comfort and control, you can choose from a barrel-grip handle or a D-style handle, as well as auxiliary handles and a variety of cushioned comfort grips.
• Dust blowers clear away sawdust, so you can see the cut line
• Quick-change blade systems allow fast blade replacement, often without the use of tools
• On-board tool storage keeps extra blades within easy reach
For most home improvement and do-it-yourself projects a light- to medium-duty jigsaw packs plenty of power and convenience. Professional-level applications are a different story. Be sure you know what types of tasks you plan to accomplish before making your final selection. The following chart provides some rough guidelines:
Typical Max. Cutting Depths
|Light- to medium-duty tasks (do-it-yourself projects)
||• Plastic housing
• Universal blade
|• 3 to 4 amps
• Corded and
|• Dial or trigger controlled
• Basic roller guide
• Single-bevel capabilities
|• Soft wood: 2-1/4"
• Hardwood: 1-3/8"
• Mild steel: 3/16"
• Aluminum: 1/2"
|Heavy-duty tasks (professional-level operation)
||• Metal gearbox
• Die-cast aluminum
• T-shank blade
|• 5 or more
• Corded and
|• Dial or trigger controlled
speed (dial sets max
• Multilevel blower
• Precision roller guide
• No-mar footplate insert
• Dual-bevel capabilities
|• Soft wood: 3-3/8"
• Hardwood: 3-3/8"
• Mild steel: 3/8"
• Aluminum: 3/4"
A jigsaw with a built-in laser projects a line on your workpiece for enhanced accuracy and efficiency on straight cuts. Tool-Less Bevel Adjustment:
While some jigsaws require tools to change the angle of a cut, some offer levers or other tool-less change options for faster bevel adjustments. Convertible Grip:
If you're having trouble deciding between a barrel grip and a D-style handle, a convertible grip may be the answer. It allows you to remove the top portion of the D-style handle, leaving a barrel grip. Speed Regulation:
Marketed under a variety of names, speed-regulating features maintain speed under load, so the saw doesn't slow down as you cut into the material. Metal Gear Housing:
A metal gear housing protects the motor during heavy-duty use to ensure long-lasting performance. Auto Stop Brushes:
Auto stop brushes prevent operation when the brushes are worn, protecting the motor from damage. Dust Port:
A dust port allows you to connect your saw to your dust collector or wet/dry vac, so sawdust gets sucked away as you work. Lighted Plug:
A lighted plug lets you know with a glance that the tool is live. Rubber Cord and Cord Storage:
Flexible rubber cords provide better maneuverability than plastic cords and cord storage keeps the cord neatly tucked away.