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. 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.
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.