Jigsaw – All You Need To Know About This Tool

History of Jigsaw

About 60 years ago, Albert Kaufmann, who worked for the Swiss company Scintilla AG, invented the principle of the electric jigsaw. The inspiration for this came from his wife’s sewing machine: the very fast up and down action of the needle.

By clamping a saw blade in this sewing machine, the inventor was able to produce extremely attractive curved cuts in wood. This represented the birth of a completely new tool. In 1947, Scintilla began series production of what was called the “Lesto jigsaw”, the first electric handheld jigsaw in the world. Six decades later, the Power Tool Division of Robert Bosch GmbH, who became majority shareholder of Scintilla in 1954, is celebrating the jigsaw’s anniversary.

 

The jigsaw enjoyed resounding success at the end of the 50s when professional tradesmen recognized the huge benefit offered by this technology. Since then, jigsaws have become powerful and versatile machines. They are also very popular with DIY enthusiasts. Based on the number of units sold in the past year, they rank in the fourth position after cordless screwdrivers, impact drills and one-hand angle grinders.

The saw blade teeth are milled or ground, wavy set or side set often tipped with tungsten carbide for special applications. Special blades with progressive tooth pitch enable work on thin and thick materials. The blade material is high carbon steel (HCS), high speed steel (HSS), bi-metal (BiM) or tungsten carbide (TC). The inventor and market leader of jigsaws, therefore, offers the perfect saw blade for any application.

“With its narrow blade that cycles up and down like a carousel horse, a jigsaw can cut all kinds of curves and circles — square or beveled — as well as scroll cuts fancy enough for any gingerbread decoration.” So writes Sandor Nagyszalanczy in his book Power Tools. In this excerpt from Part 1, Sandor examines a variety of jigsaws and their features.

Inside jigsaw. Source: https://hiveminer.com

Inside jigsaw. Source: https://hiveminer.com

The variable speed and orbital-blade action found on most jigsaws make them extremely versatile tools capable of cutting cleanly and accurately a wide range of materials, including wood, metal, plastics, cardboard, and leather.

One particularly handy jigsaw trick is plunge cutting into a surface to start a cut in the middle of a panel – say, to saw out an electrical outlet in a wall or to cut out a countertop for a kitchen sink. To add to its versatility, you can pick a jigsaw that’s powered by household current, batteries, or compressed air. Or you can choose a bayonet saw that’s compact and powerful enough to tackle the most demanding carpentry chores.

Types of jigsaws

Corded jigsaws
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Corded jigsaws, clockwise from top left: DeWalt DW321, Porter-Cable 9543, Fein Aste 638, and Bosch 1584AVS.

Clockwise from top left: DeWalt DW321, Porter-Cable 9543, Fein Aste 638, and Bosch 1584AVS.

The modern corded jigsaw is a sophisticated curve-cutting machine with a multitude of features that enable it to accomplish all kinds of cuts in all kinds of materials. The most powerful corded jigsaws can cut wood up to 2-3/4 in. thick, 3/4-in.-thick aluminum, and even 1/4-in.-thick mild steel.

The biggest difference among corded saws is their body/grip style. Barrel-grip saws, preferred by Europeans, such as the Bosch 1584AVS and the Fein Aste 638, are held by wrapping one hand around the motor housing; top-gripped D-handled saws, such as the DeWalt DW321 and the Porter-Cable 9543, are preferred by American craftsmen.


Cordless jigsaws
Makita VJ04Z 12V MAX CXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Jig Saw. Source: Amazon.com

Makita VJ04Z 12V MAX CXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Jig Saw. Source: Amazon.com

Snip the power cord from a traditional jigsaw, fit a battery, and you have a truly portable saw. Now you can cut rounded shingles for your daughter’s treehouse or cut a shapely curve on your sailboat’s transom without long extension cords or the worry of electrocution.

Although they’re less powerful than corded saws and need recharging, cordless saws, like the Makita 4332DZ, pack some impressive features. The 14.4-volt Makita sports variable speed, a tilting baseplate, a blade-orbit selector, and an electronic brake that stops the blade the instant the trigger is released.


Pneumatic jigsaws

While air tools are fairly common among portable sanders, it’s a fairly new concept among jigsaws. Connected to a good-sized compressor, the Bosch 7561 118 is just as versatile and cuts just as powerfully as similarly featured corded models but weighs about a third less.

Bosch 7561-118 Orbital Action Pneumatic Jigsaw. Source: Amazon.com

Bosch 7561-118 Orbital Action Pneumatic Jigsaw. Source: Amazon.com

Lacking a cord also makes it safe to use in wet or damp places, where running an AC-powered tool would be unsafe. The pneumatic Bosch is activated by a paddle-trigger air control beneath its narrow barrel-grip body.


Bayonet saws

Developed in the mid-1950s by Porter-Cable, the bayonet saw is a slightly different animal than the other jigsaws featured in this chapter.

PORTER-CABLE 548 Bayonet 4.5 Amp Jig Saw. Source: Amazon.com

PORTER-CABLE 548 Bayonet 4.5 Amp Jig Saw. Source: Amazon.com

The low-profile Porter-Cable 548 saw uses a worm gear to transfer power to the blade-reciprocating mechanism. The saw’s sturdy, nontilting base and large 7/16-in. blade orbit makes it great for square cuts in metals, plastics, thinner woods, and laminates.


Features

Quick-release blade change

To make blade swapping quicker and less tedious, the best jigsaws incorporate some kind of quick-release blade-changing device, which does not require any tools to operate. To change blades on models like the Skil 4470 and Porter-Cable 9543, you simply press or pull a lever or flange located on the end of the blade carrier itself.

The blade-changing mechanism is more integral on jigsaws like the Bosch 1584AVS and DeWalt DW321; the top handle on both saws rotates to lock or unlock the shanked blade below. Even though the Fein Aste 638 jigsaw doesn’t have tool-free blade change, it offers a great time-saving feature: The saw’s top handle unscrews to reveal an Allen wrench that is used to lock or loosen the blade.

Blade action and speed control

Inexpensive jigsaws that simply thrust their blades up and down get the job done, but they don’t cut aggressively and they wear their blades down quickly. Premium jigsaws offer varying degrees of blade action: straight line or orbital.

Orbital action uses an oscillating mechanism to move the blade in a slight circular motion as it reciprocates. The blade moves forward on the upstroke (the direction the teeth cut in), helping it to cut more quickly and aggressively, then moves back on the return stroke, keeping the teeth clear of wear.

Since different kinds of cuts in different types of materials require varying degrees of orbit, jigsaws such as the Freud FJ85 have a selection lever to let you choose the amount of orbit: more for straight, super-fast cuts or energetic cuts in porous materials; less for curved cuts, tight scroll work, or slower cuts in dense materials like metals.

Electronic Variable Speed

For a jigsaw to wear its crown of versatility, it must cut many different materials with the same alacrity. Variable speed is as important to that goal as choosing the right kind of blade. Deep cuts in dense hardwoods require high speed, while hard steel demands much slower blade reciprocations. The Fein Aste 638’s variable-speed control is at the end of its motor housing, while the Bosch 1581AVS has a dial mounted on the trigger itself.

Bases: While a jigsaw’s blade spends much of its time set square to its base, most saws allow the saw to be tilted for bevel cuts. Typically, loosening a single screw allows the base to tilt up to 45° in either direction. While many saws provide an onboard Allen wrench for base adjustments, the DeWalt DW321 and Porter-Cable 9543 do one better: A built-in lever loosens and tightens the base to allow tilting.

The bases on these saws slide back and forth and lock at 45° or 90°, eliminating the need for a square or protractor to set these commonly used angles. And by sliding the bases backward and locking them, you can saw right up to a wall or other vertical surface – handy when working inside a cabinet or closet. Many premium saws also have a smooth plastic cover or insert on the metal baseplate that won’t scratch delicate surfaces, such as veneers or plastic laminates.

Anti-splintering insert

Although many jigsaw owners use their saws to cut metal, plastic, rubber, leather, and even paper, most use their saws to cut wood. Because a jigsaw cuts on the upstroke, it has a tendency to tear out wood fibers on the top side of the cut. This is bad because it obscures the line of cut and results in a rough, splintery edge.

Therefore, better-quality jigsaws like the Festo PS2 E-Plus have a slot at the front of the base for mounting an anti-splintering insert. Made from plastic, the removable, replaceable insert fits close to the cutting edge of the blade, thus supporting the wood fibers at the point of cut and significantly reducing tearout.

Blade guides

When it comes to cutting thick materials without twisting or bending, the narrow reciprocating blade of a jigsaw can use all the help it can get. Many models offer help in the form of a blade guide: a grooved disk that supports the back edge of the blade.

This keeps the blade running straight and helps it resist deflection, which improves the accuracy of the cut and reduces blade bending and breakage. On orbital jigsaws like the Makita 4332DZ, the blade guide serves a double duty: The arm to which the guide disk is mounted swivels back and forth, thus initiating the orbital action.

Accessories

Blades

The failing of many early jigsaws were cheap blades that compromised the saws’ cutting performance. Fortunately, modern jigsaw blades employ as much advanced technology as the jigsaws themselves. The shape, size, and spacing of teeth on a blade affect its performance as well as the material from which it’s made.

Good general-purpose wood-cutting blades, such as the Metabo and Bosch blades, have precisely machined taper ground teeth, while the DeWalt cobalt-steel blade has a reinforced tooth design. Bosch’s savage-looking Progressor blade features a variable tooth size, for aggressive cutting and less splintering.

The Bosch bimetal blade has hardened carbon-steel teeth bonded to a high-speed-steel back. The durable teeth stay sharp while the flexible blade body resists breakage, making bimetal blades ideal for demanding tasks.

Stationary table
Can't afford a bandsaw? Turn your jigsaw into a stationary tool with a table accessory

Can’t afford a bandsaw? Turn your jigsaw into a stationary tool with a table accessory

Routers aren’t the only portable tools you can mount in a table. When inverted and attached to a stationary table, a jigsaw is very useful for sawing small or delicate workpieces. Made from cast aluminum, the Bosch stationary jigsaw table conveniently clamps to the edge of a table or benchtop. A pair of cleats and a locking plate secure the jigsaw to the underside of the table but allow quick removal when it’s needed for portable duties.

Edge guide and circle jig

Because they are light and portable, jigsaws excel at freehand cutting of curvy parts. Still, there are times when a jigsaw is the best tool for making a straight cut. To assure an even rip or square crosscut, fit the saw with an edge guide.

Like other jigsaws, the edge guide on the Metabo STE105 Plus attaches near the front of the baseplate, adjusting in or out to set the distance between the fence and the blade. By flipping the edge guide over and mounting a pivot knob, the Metabo’s guide serves double duty as a circle jig.

Dust control

All the jigsaws and other electric portables with built-in dust collection have spawned a whole generation of sophisticated shop vacuums designed to work in tandem with power tools. The German company Festo offers an entire line of compact shop vacuums, with natty green-striped hoses that connect directly to their portables.

The fine dust-trapping Festo CT 33 E vacuum has a built-in electrical outlet for the power tool and circuitry that turns the vacuum on and off automatically in concert with the tool.

Dust Blowing
The Metabo STE105 PLUS chip deflector and chip guard.

The Metabo STE105 PLUS chip deflector and chip guard.

Getting chips and dust out of the way not only makes using a jigsaw a cleaner proposition. It’s essential if you’re trying to see the line you’re cutting! Early jigsaws often kept the sight line clear with a built-in dust blower that piped a small stream of air in front of the blade.

Nowadays, premium jigsaws have built-in dust collection, which pulls air from behind the blade to draw vision-obscuring dust away from the line of cut. To enhance collection and to block chips from flying into your eyes, the Metabo STE105 Plus encloses the blade in a transparent, removable plastic guard. Chips are drawn through the base of the saw to a vacuum hose, which attaches to a port at the rear of the motor housing.

Best Jigsaws for Woodworking – Top Picks & Reviews

It is always difficult when it comes to shopping decision, especially for something to be used in long-term like jigsaw or woodworking tool.

There are a lot of options available on the market which may cause confusion for you when it comes to decision-making. In case that you want to know more about jigsaw or learn more about other woodworking tools, follow the link and you will find another article picked for you!

However, in this article, to cut short and save you some research, below are detailed and honest jigsaw reviews for your preferences

Bosch JS470E – Top Pick

This German-standard model is one of the best-corded jigsaw available now. Bosch has been a long-term favorite brand in Europe and North America for their engineering products, and once again, this corded-electric Bosch JS470E proves its name. Weighting at 10.1 pounds of 15.8 x 14.4 x 4.6 inches, the jigsaw has an effortless blade change method.

As you might already know, each blade serves a different purpose and changing blades can sometimes be an actual pain. Bosch allows you to change blades by just push the ejection button, releasing the blade. Also, all universal blades work well with this model so it is a plus point.

The model offers a four-way orbital-action setting for choosing the different type of strokes. This helps ease your use when you need a stronger cut through thick materials. Another system supporting your cut is the two-way speed control, operated by a dial pad to set the speed limit and an accelerator trigger to regulate the speed. This is adjustable to utilize your power of cut.

The best thing about this saw probably is its low vibration design that makes the dream come true. There is a small shortcoming that it doesn’t have a LED light, which we think can be compensated by its high level of precise operation.

Pros

  • Tool-less blade changing system
  • The auto blade ejection system
  • Easy insertion
  • Various speed setting
  • Low-vibration design

Cons

  • No LED signal

This product is perfect for your DIY and heavy duty jobs if it must. It may sound costly in the first place, but in the long-run, it works truly as a steal!

Bosch 120-Volt 7.0-Amp Variable Speed Top on Amazon

DEWALT DCS331B – Great Cordless Pick

DEWALT brand has been operating since 1924, which mean you can expect some real values in this model. The cordless DCS331B is a bit different from the corded BOSCH model, meaning there is less power and a good battery is recommended. In case you prefer portability, this is good to go.

Weighing at 13 pounds by 11.2 x 11 x 3.9 inches, this saw has an all-metal lever-action keyless blade changing system for an easy blade replacement. Make sure you use the right blade to serve your purpose. It also comes with some speed control settings that help you increase from 0 to 300 strokes per minute (SPM). Not bad at all, is it?

This model has an incorporated dust blower that helps reduce the particles in the air. This jigsaw is made out of steel so you are free to use in one week before your first replacement. The disadvantage of this saw is that only T-shank blade is applicable, which decrease its level of flexibility.

Pros

  • 4-position orbital action
  • 3 years limited warranty
  • Comfortable grip
  • High precision
  • Durable steel build

Cons

  • No battery and charger in the package
  • The absence of a light laser
  • Compatible with only T-shank blades

This jigsaw is not as high-grade as our top pick, but it still has features that get the job done.

DEWALT DCS331B 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion Jig Saw on Amazon

PORTER-CABLE PCE345 – Best Jigsaw for the Money

This PORTER CABLE PCE345 weighs at 6.25 pounds with measures of 9.5 x 3.2 x 8.5 inches is such as steal! This corded model provides a 6 amp motor that produces up to 3,200 SPM. It also comes with a seven-position dial system and four orbital settings that help it adjustable to your various projects, which definitely makes this saw even better.

This jigsaw offers protracted grips which give you the comfortability that you can work for hours tirelessly. There is a LED light attached to guide you through. There are shortcomings though, where the speed control knob and the trigger are too close to each other resulting in troublesome speed control. And no onboard blade storage is included so you might need to work with extra care.

Pros

  • High power
  • Easy blade replacements
  • Wrench for fast adjustments
  • LED Light

Cons

  • The close proximity of speed control knob and trigger
  • No onboard blade storage

PORTER-CABLE PCE345 6-Amp Orbital Jig Saw on Amazon.com

Black & Decker BDEJS300C – On a tight budget

This model is a good enough jigsaw offering the basics when you are on a budget. It weighs 4.32 pounds with measures of 11.5 x 3.4 x 9.2 inches. It comes with a 4.5 amp motor, which can produce up to 3,000 SPM. Of course, it is not as powerful as the 6 amp motor above, but considering its price and other specifications, it still owns some real values there.

It offers a ¾ inch- stroke-length that create a sharp cut line look. Its wire guard sightline gives you the best precise cuts you need. The adjustable blades are easy to use since it’s automatic and tool-less. There is also magnetic blade storage that provides easy access and protects you from injuries.

The jigsaw is considerably durable so you can be sure to use on wood or metal material. However, it is only compatible with U and T-shank blades, no secure clamping system and it’s single bladed so you may need to get a backup.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • High level of precision cut
  • Open options for speed settings
  • 2 year limited warranty

Cons

  • No casing
  • Limited blade choice

This jigsaw is good and recommended for household use, not on heavy duty jobs.

BLACK+DECKER BDEJS300C Jig Saw, 4.5-Amp on Amazon.com

SKIL 4230-01

Although SKIL Power Tool is a leading name for some industrial tools, this time, they don’t do so well with SKIL-4230-01. That’s why this model is at the end of the list where it fails compared to the above-mentioned products.

This corded model weighs at 3.9 pounds with measures of 3.4 x 9.7 x 11.7 inches. It has one good point is the on-tool attached blade storage, but still the Black & Decker beat this far away.

There is a number of reasons why we do not recommend this model. First, the blade is so loose that it is not firmly attached and may fall separately while using. We mean, there are actual cases that it got detached while operating at high speed. Scary enough? Not to mention, the saw comes with a 3.2 amp motor. Now we know you think 4.5 amp is slow, why is there such a thing like 3.2 amp? Trust me, there is and you don’t want to bother trying it. It works fine with curves lines, but definitely not with a straight line.

Lastly, it delivers low power so it works ok with wood, but you are surely going to have problems with metals.

Pros

  • On-tool blade storage

Cons

  • Low power delivery
  • Performs poorly with metals
  • Weakly attached blades
  • Poor with straight lines
  • Slow delivery

SKIL 4230-01 3.2 Amp Single Speed Jig Saw on Amazon.com

The Verdict

Congratulation, you have made through all five reviews! Have you found your perfect jigsaw yet?

The Bosch JS470E is our winner after all this judgment of the features compared to other saws. Its great ability of power delivery is just perfect for both your household work and even heavy duty jobs. Next time when you find it hard to cut through hard metals, you know what jigsaw to go after.

If you are searching for a good deal, the PORTER-CABLE PCE345 is just right there. It offers a decent quality without hurting your wallet, what could it be even better?

All of the brands listed are prestigious names in the industry with leading years of experiences and credited products that have been widely used by millions of customers worldwide. You can count on this list, even though SKIL fails a bit this time. So next time shopping for a new jigsaw, we hope these review may help you make that decision.

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