Jigsaws are versatile, maneuverable power tools that can make both straight and curved cuts. Like a bandsaw, a jigsaw makes a saw kerf square to the face of the work piece, making it useful for cutting notches where you don’t want the over-cut you’d see with a circular saw. Jigsaws also can make plunge cuts to start a hole in the middle of a surface — as in cutting out a countertop for a sink, for example.
There are two basic designs: barrel grip and top handle. Both have ardent proponents. A barrel-gripped model is grasped around the body of the tool and pushed through a cut. Slide-type on-off switches and rear-mounted speed controls on these saws may not be convenient for everyone. Top-handle jigsaws have on-off switches within easy reach, making it easy to turn the saw off quickly, and some incorporate speed controls with the power switch. A variable-speed feature makes it easy to regulate the speed of the cut. It’s probably a good idea to handle both types of saw before choosing one to get a feel for how the tool’s ergonomics suit you.
Saws that offer tool-free blade changes are more convenient than older designs that require an Allen wrench or other key that can easily be lost. Manufacturers have come up with a variety of approaches, some better than others. Another important feature is orbital cutting, a feature available on most jigsaws. As the name suggests, this turns the straight up-down stroke of the blade into an orbital motion. The more pronounced the orbital setting, the greater the cutting speed but the rougher the cut. Having several settings makes the saw more versatile.
Vibration remains a key consideration. A jigsaw that jumps around is harder to control and won’t make as smooth a cut as one that transfers power smoothly.
Best Bare Tool Jig Saw: DEWALT DCS331B 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion
DEWALT DCS331B 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion Jig Saw Review
- Variable speed control with 0-3000 SPM range allows you to match speed to the material for superior results. Also features a 4-position orbital action for control of both cut quality and cut speed
- Keyless blade changes works very well and make blade changes fast and simple, using all standard T-shank blades.
- Removable non-marring shoe plate. Keep an extra one in your carrying case and use one for delicate finish work and one for utility use, so you’ve always got a clean one for those really important jobs.
- Excellent adjustable surface blower so you don't get sawdust piling up on the line as you're trying to cut. The one on the DEWALT DCS331B is very effective and easy to use.
- Would benefit from a spring loaded blade, so that it is pushed out when you release the lever.
Best Corded Jig Saw: Bosch JS470E
Bosch JS470E 120-Volt 7.0-Amp Top-Handle Jigsaw Review
- Tool-less blade-change system, fast insertion, blade ejection lever eliminates need to touch hot blade
- All the power you could ever need - cutting capability on wood up to 5-7/8-inches, on aluminum up to 7/8-inch, and 3/8-inch on mild steel.
- Comes with a robust cast aluminum footplate for standard use plus a non-marring overshoe for delicate work
- Extremely smooth making it easier and more comfortable to use for prolonged periods
- Some users have experienced a slight undercut in some circumstances.
More top-quality jigsaw reviews
PORTER CABLE PCC650B 20-volt MAX Lithium Bare Jigsaw Review
- Easiest tool-less blade change mechanism that I have ever used on any jigsaw, using T-shank type blades
- Features a 3 mode Oscillation feature which controls whether the saw cuts very fast but not as clean, medium speed and medium cleanliness, or slow but very clean
- True variable speed trigger. The trigger on the PCC650B is the perfect combination of sensitivity and responsiveness. You have the ability to fully press the trigger for max speed, but you can also slightly press it for slow speed operation.
- Lightweight and easy to control making it very comfortable for extended use.
- The baseplate would benefit from being a bit more substantial