In this jigsaw buying guide, we’ll take a look at why you need a quality jigsaw in your workshop.One of the most versatile tools in my shop is a jigsaw also known as a sabre saw. With the right type of blade, it can cut many different types of material. It makes precision straight and curved cuts quickly and easily to complete a wide host of DIY projects. Jigsaws allow you to cut just about anywhere and in any direction. This makes them perfect for craft projects as well as most other woodworking projects.
The typical jigsaw is a handle, a motor, and a straight fairly narrow blade which has an up and down motion (reciprocates) to allow the jigsaw to make straight and curved cuts. The large selection of blades available for a jigsaw (wood, metal, ceramic, plastic) makes the jigsaw a very versatile tool for your woodworking.
Because a jigsaw is light and can easily be held with one had it makes it less intimidating for a beginner woodworker to learn to use.
Jigsaws are powered in one of two way. A corded jigsaw is plugged into a 120V outlet or a cordless jigsaw which uses lithium or nicad batteries as the source of power.
How You Can Use a Jigsaw
The most often use of a jigsaw is to make curved cuts or intricate cut patterns in wood, plastic, ceramic and sheet metal. Though jigsaws are excellent at making curved cust they can also be used to make plunge cuts, bevel cuts and of course straight cuts.
Due to the thin blades found on a jigsaw, their light weight and maneuverability making curved cuts on various types of material is a breeze. The thin blades allow the jigsaw to cut along tight spaces and can follow curve lines easily. Circles of just about any size can be cut freehand or you can use an circle cutting guide.
Making straight cuts with a jigsaw can be done by using a slightly wider blade and guiding the jigsaw along a straight edge. You can cut either along the grain or across the grain.
Making plunge cuts in the middle of the word surface rather than having to start from the edge is a unique advantage of a jigsaw. For example to make a box cutout for an electrical outlet is easy with the jigsaw.
Jigsaws are outfitted with an adjustable bevel that lets you make 45-degree or fewer angle cuts on your work surface.
Parts of a Jigsaw
DIY, Light To Medium Duty Tasks
- Plastic outer housing
- Stamped-steel foot
- Universal blade
- Corded or cordless at about 3-4 amps
- Features typically y include, trigger or dial variable speed, single-bevel capabilities, basic roller guide
- Cutting depths – Softwood 2 1/4 inch, Hardwood 1 3/8 inch, Mild steel 3/16 inch, Aluminum 3/4 inch.
Pro, Heavy Duty Tasks
- Plastic housing with metal gearbox
- Die-cast aluminum foot
- T-shank blade provides more choices and better performance.
- Cord or cordless at 5 amps or more.
- Trigger or dial variable speed control
- Blower adjustment
- Precision roller guides
- Dual bevel capable
- Cutting depths: Softwood: 3 3/8-inch, Hardwood: 3 3/8-inch, Mild steel 3/8-inch, Aluminium: 3/4-inch.
Jigsaw Features To Consider
- A corded model will provide more power than a cordless jigsaw.
- Corded jigsaws are typically rated somewhere between 3-8 amps. Anything over 5 amps is optimal power for heavy-duty work.
- Consider a jigsaw with orbital action, which is a back and forth motion, along with the up and down motion to provide faster, more aggressive cuts.
- For scrolling, cuts consider a knob-style auxiliary handle for better precision. You can also get a 360-degree rotating blade for detail cuts.
- For straight cuts and ripping consider a jigsaw with a built-in laser line.
- Cordless models are heavier than corded due to the weight of the battery pack.
- Dual-bevel will along you to make angled cuts in either direction without you have to flip the workpiece.
- Reduce wear and tear on your hand with a jigsaw that has anti-vibration.
- Some jigsaw feature a dust collection port and/or a dust-blower clear sawdust for better visibility.
- Illuminate your cut with a built-in light.
- For added comfort consider a barrel grip or D-style handle.
- Quick-change blade feature allows you to change blades without the use of a tool.
Jigsaw Cutting Techniques and Tips
- Standard jigsaw blades – these blades cut on the up-stroke. This keeps the jigsaw tight against the wood and minimizes vibration. Tear-outs will likely occur on the top of the cut. Keep the good face down if you need a clean cut.
- Reverse-tooth blades – these blades cut on the down-stroke. Place your good face up. You should turn-off orbital action if using a reverse blade. To reduce jigsaw jump add downward pressure when cutting.
- When cutting consider the width of the blade. If you need a precision cut place the blade on the waste side of your cutting line. you can file or sand to your perfect measurement.
- Safety is key. Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry. Use eye and hearing protection. Do not rush the blade when cutting. Give it ample time to do its job.
Corded or Cordless Jigsaw
The majority of jigsaws sold are corded jigsaws. This means they are connected to a power source (wall outlet) thus can run for an unlimited time. Corded jigsaws are more powerful than their cordless counterparts so it can cut more effectively and efficiently through tough materials.
No need to interrupt your work since you don’t have to stop to change a battery. Another advantage of a corded jigsaw is the weight. They are lighter thus if you are going to be cutting for an extended period of time it will be less tiring.
The biggest disadvantage of corded jigsaws is they are limited by the length of the electrical cord you use. Even with a long extension cord you still need to be near a power source. You also need to be aware of the cord either getting in the way of the blade or in your way.
If you are looking to buy an excellent corded jigsaw we recommend the PORTER-CABLE PCE345 6-Amp Orbital Jig Saw
The biggest advantage to owning a cordless jigsaw is portability. Provided the battery is charged you can use a cordless jigsaw anywhere without being concerned about a powerhouse. This makes cordless jigsaws ideal for work on a job site that may not have electricity readily available.
With the advantage of mobility comes the disadvantage of a limited power supply (the battery). The battery can drain fast if the jigsaw is being used on tough materials. That’s why its handy to own several batteries that will fit your jigsaw. If you do purchase a cordless jigsaw buy on with an 18, 24, 0r 36V battery pack. These will give you the most running time and the most power.
If you are looking to buy an excellent cordless jigsaw we recommend the DEWALT Bare-Tool DC330B 18-Volt Cordless Jig Saw with Keyless Blade Change
Jigsaw Maintenance Tips
Just like any other tool in your workshop proper maintenance will extend the life of the tool. Here are several maintenance tips to keep your jigsaw in good working condition.
- Before using your corded jigsaw inspect the power cord. If the power cord is nicked or frayed it’s unsafe to use and the cord should be replaced.
- Avoid dropping your jigsaw as a bent blade or shoe is dangerous to use.
- Every once in a while apple a drop of oil to the blade roller guide. This prevents it from jamming when in use.
- Keep your jigsaw clean. Use a small vacuum to get dust out of the ventilation vents. Clean the handle so you always have a firm non-slippery grip.
- Keep your jigsaw in its protective case. If you do not have a case for your jigsaw keep it in an enclosed moisture free cabinet if possible.
- The motor in your jigsaw uses carbon brushes. They wear out if you use your jigsaw for extended periods of time. Replace them if needed. Often times those brushes last for the life of the tool under normal use.
- On your cordless models keep you battery charged and don’t use it if the battery power is so low it will create an unsafe condition.
Beginners Guide To Using a Jigsaw
Jigsaw Buying Guide Summary
Having a quality jigsaw in your woodworking shop is obviously something you need to consider. They are versatile, affordable, and most have quality features you can use almost daily. Thank you for reading our jigsaw buying guide.
Check out our review of the best cordless jigsaw right here.
Last update on 2018-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API