Best Jigsaws: Make More Detailed Cuts
Cut through wood and other materials with these high-performance jigsaws
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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON October 9, 2019
A jigsaw is a handheld version of a scroll saw and allows you to cut at angles of up to 45 degrees. It's a must-have item in your garage or shop since it can help you accomplish complex cutting jobs that other saws can't tackle. Here's a look at some of the top jigsaws available.
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Benefits of Jigsaws
- Make perfect cuts. The laser guide found on some jigsaws helps you to cut perfectly by minimizing blade deviations. It marks the clipping line where the laser beam will work and is essential when working on curved surfaces. It prevents eye fatigue, as you don’t have to strain to see the sawing line. The guide is ideal for beginners who need to improve their cutting accuracy. But for it to work efficiently, the jigsaw blade must be sharp.
- Cleaner working area. Operating any kind of saw produces sawdust that flies all over the place. It may cover the cut line, making it impossible to see. This negatively influences the quality of your cuts, especially longer ones. A dust blower eliminates debris that collects in front of the saw as you cut. It enhances your visibility and keeps you safe as you work. The jigsaw’s motor speed usually determines the blower’s speed.
- Lets you see clearly. The LED light in jigsaws switches on when you engage the trigger. It provides bright light as you work, boosting your safety. It’s a very important feature if your workshop is dark or when you’re working in poorly-lit areas. An LED light makes it easier to see the blade and the cutting line.
Types of Jigsaws
These jigsaws are powered by electricity and can be connected to a power generator or a standard wall outlet. They have a 5-7 amp motor and are quite powerful. They can attain speeds of up to 3,200 SPM. They are usually designed with a reciprocating saw blade (a blade that cuts through a push-and-pull action). Corded jigsaws are lighter, cost less, and offer unlimited cutting time. They are ideal for cutting hard materials that demand continuous power supply. However, their power cords limit their portability.
These highly mobile jigsaws are convenient and versatile. They allow people to work on cutting projects anytime and anywhere. They are ideal for projects in areas where there’s no access to power. Each cordless jigsaw contains a lithium-ion battery that is interchangeable, and its voltage directly influences the jigsaw’s power. When fully charged, it can operate for several hours. Since cordless jigsaws have high precision, they can swiftly cut curves, holes, and hard-to-reach areas.
Raymond E. DeWalt started this company in 1923. It was acquired by American Machine & Foundry Co. in 1949, then later sold to Black & Decker in 1960. The company makes hand and power tools for manufacturing, construction, and woodworking. In 1992, Black & Decker used the DeWalt name to rebrand its high-end power and professional-quality tools. DeWalt developed an Android-powered smartphone in 2016 for the building industry. For your demanding cutting projects, get the DEWALT 20V Jig Saw with four-position orbital action.
Robert Bosch established Bosch in 1886 as the “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The technology and engineering company has headquarters in Gerlingen, Germany. It opened its first factory in 1901. It manufactures household appliances, power tools, hardware, software, energy products, and building technology products. The company became a corporation in 1917. Ninety-two percent of Bosch is still owned by Robert Bosch Stiftung, a charitable organization. The Bosch Corded Top-Handle Jigsaw will make a great addition to your toolbox.
This American company was founded in Syracuse, N.Y. It was established in 1906 by G.G. Porter, R.E. Porter, and F.E. Cable. In 1928, the company revolutionized the circular saw design with its helical, high-speed, gear-drive saw. Rockwell International bought the company in 1960 and changed its name. It was acquired by Pentair Inc. in 1981 and later by Black & Decker. Its headquarters is in Jackson, Tenn. The company makes some of the best jigsaws on the market, like the PORTER-CABLE Orbital Jig Saw.
- $50-$100: Most of the jigsaws in this price bracket are corded. They mostly have low-powered motors and low stroke rates.
- $100-$200: The high-quality jigsaws in this category are made by top brands like Milwaukee, BLACK+DECKER, Bosch, and DEWALT. They have unique features like LED lighting, tool-free blade change, and multiple orbital settings.
Modern blades are designed to reduce friction and come in different sizes and shapes. The blade is a crucial part of a jigsaw because it affects the device’s cut and speed as well as the finish. A blunt or bent saw burdens the engine, heating the material excessively. You can choose a jigsaw blade based on its material, number of teeth, shank type, or appropriateness for certain materials. The tooth size determines the machine’s cutting accuracy. Bigger teeth cut faster but roughly. A wider jigsaw blade makes it easier to cut straight.
Variable Speed Adjustments
A jigsaw’s speed is measured in Strokes Per Minute (SPM) or Rotations Per Minute (RPM). The cutting speed usually determines the materials a jigsaw can cut. Jigsaw speed is classified into two types: fixed and variable. Fixed-speed jigsaws are suitable for occasional use, while variable-speed jigsaws can cut materials with varying levels of hardness. With a variable-speed jigsaw, you can quickly adjust the blade’s speed, depending on how much effort you apply on the trigger. The jigsaw helps you to easily tackle demanding cutting projects.
The shank influences how the blade is attached to the jigsaw. A T-shank is commonly used because you don’t need extra tools to replace the blade. It has a tang located at the top that fits into the blade clamp. It is easy to install and is compatible with numerous jigsaws. T-shank blades operate excellently, even in jigsaws with U-shank blades. A U-shank blade has a unique U-shaped cut on the head. It is connected to the jigsaw using a screw, and to replace it, you’ll need an Allen wrench.
- Stroke Rate. This determines how fast and cleanly a jigsaw cuts. It’s better to get a machine with a higher stroke rate. The wider a jigsaw’s stroke rate adjustment range, the more materials it can handle. Modern jigsaws have a stroke rate of 500 to 3,500 strokes per minute (spm). You can also set a fixed stroke rate using a special regulator found on the jigsaw. The highest rate is for sawing wood, the medium one is for plastics and aluminum, and the lowest is for steel.
- Jigsaw Handles. Jigsaw handles are either top handle or barrel grip. The top handle is more common. It's usually located at the top of the jigsaw for ergonomics. The handle’s position enhances comfort and balance and reduces fatigue. Most top handles are rubberized to provide a better grip and to make jigsaws easier to handle. A barrel grip is located on the jigsaw’s back and may cause you to strain, resulting in wrist pain and fatigue. However, it’s better for inclined surfaces.
- Blade Material. This influences the jigsaw’s durability and suitability for diverse applications. High-speed steel blades are hard, durable, and resistant to heat. They can cut steel, aluminum, copper, and hard plastic. High carbon steel blades are the most flexible and affordable. They can cut different types of wood. Bi-metal blades are very durable and are made from a combination of metals. They can cut metal and hardwood. Tungsten carbide blades are the most durable and are used to cut ceramics, tile, and steel.
Best Jigsaw Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- If you hate the rattling sound when cutting through sheets of metal, you can sandwich the metal plate between two sheets of plywood. The wood will absorb the vibrations from the metal and keep it steady enough for a clean cut.
- When cutting through wood, cut with the good side facing down. The top side will be rougher and full of splinters at the cut lines, but the other side (the good side) will remain clean.
- If you are dealing with thick wood, you can use a power saw to cut through the wood and then use the jigsaw for intricate cuts. It’s okay to make a rough cut with a power saw since you will have the jigsaw for detailing.
Q: What's the maximum thickness of wood that a jigsaw can cut?
A: A jigsaw’s blades are about four inches long and have an effectiveness of about three inches. It cannot cut through anything that's thicker than the length of the blade. You will also have a hard time cutting through wood that’s the same length as the jigsaw blade. You should ideally cut wood that’s at least one inch smaller than the saw blade length.
Q: Are jigsaw blades universal?
A: If a jigsaw blade was universal, that would mean that it could cut through all types of materials besides wood. However, that's not the case. Jigsaws require different blade thicknesses, lengths, and construction when cutting different materials. Also, U-shank or universal blades aren’t universal as the name suggests. It only describes the portion of the blade that’s gripped by the clamp.
Q: Can I use multiple jigsaw blades to cut through thick wood?
A: If your jigsaw has the capacity to hold a number of blades, you can double up the blades to create a steadier cutting tool that can penetrate thick pieces. Just make sure to tighten the blade clamp to avoid making rough cuts or injuring yourself.
Our top pick is the Skil Orbital Action Laser Jigsaw. It has a built-in laser, a variety of other features, and it allows you to adjust the speed to your liking.
Our value option, the Tacklife Advanced Jigsaw, is also a great choice.