The Best Jigsaw In 2018: A Complete Buying Guide

Best Jigsaws In 2017: Buying Guide

For most woodworkers, there comes a time when you need to make a series of curved cuts. For this job, you'll need a jigsaw.

Jigsaws create multiple straight and curved cuts so you can finish a wide variety of DIY tasks. If you’re planning on purchasing a jigsaw, let this guide point you in the right direction. Each of the jigsaws on this list is known for their quality, performance, and overall functionality.

​We've found and reviewed the best jigsaw, and broken it down by price point. No matter which one you buy, you’ll have a useful jigsaw machine that has an extended lifespan decreases the time it takes to complete jobs.

best jigsaw bosch js470e

The Best Jigsaws Over​all

​If you’re looking for ​the best jigsaw that will last you for a long time​, here is our list of the top rated jigsaws on the market. They ​have advanced features, powerful cutting speeds, and sturdy exteriors. And, they are built to last.

The Best Jigsaws Under $100

​If you’re just starting out, take a look ​at our votes for best jigsaw​ under $100. ​While these jigsaws don't have the durability and feature set as some of the more expensive ones, they will perform wonderfully for the majority of tasks.

​Read below as we rate each of the five ​models that made our list of best jigsaw​ reviews:

Reviews of the Best Jigsaw O​verall

​While its possible to find a decent jigsaw for a cheap price, you won't get the power and accuracy that a top jig saw will have. When you're trying to make highly accurate cuts, such as for detailed woodworking projects or precise framing and molding, you need a well built jigsaw. And, the fully embrace all of the different materials that a jigsaw can cut, you'll need a model with power. 

Our top three jigsaws on the market span the popular brands, with a Bosch, Dewalt, and Makita making the final list. Two are listed as best corded jigsaw options, with Dewalt making an amazing cordless jigsaw option.

Winner: Bosch JS470E Jigsaw

​Features
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    7.0 Amp / 120 Volt Motor
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    4 Orbital Action Settings
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    ​500 SPM - 3100 SPM
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    ​Max Cut Depth of 5 7/8"
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    ​Dust Blower
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    ​Slow Start Feature
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    ​Bevel Adjustment (45°)
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    ​Ambidextrous Lock on Button
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    ​Tool-less blade change
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    ​Blade Ejection Lever
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    ​No LED light
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    ​1 year warranty

The Bosch Jigsaw JS470E provides cut precision that’s unsurpassed by its competitors. Bathroom installers, kitchen carpenters, and professional contractors all  like the device’s variable speed settings and 7.0 amp motor makes it a great choice for curve cutting.​

Speaking of the motor, at 7amps, this jigsaw comes with enough power to handle the vast majority of cuts you'll need to make. This Bosch can run as low as 500 SPM, and as fast as 3,100 SPM, giving you a wide range for control over the jigsaw blade speed.

Built with an insulated cover and an aluminum gearbox, the jigsaw comes with a Constant Response circuitry for steady speed under load. Bosch makes this jigsaw to last, and is probably the most durable of all the jigsaws we reviewed. The footplate can handle over 500 lbs of load. 5 

​The Bosch JS470E has an ambidextrous lock position, making the tool easy to use for left and right-handed users. Left-handed carpenters like this feature as it helps them hold onto the saw and easily shut it off the machine if it overheats. This might not sound like a big deal, and it isn't if you're right handed. However, for those that are left handed, Bosch makes it a lot easier. 

​The Bosch JS470E has a variable control speed setting placed on the back of the tool, which is a feature we love. The variable speed dial allows you to slowly start the jigsaw, which helps to prevent hoping, skipping, and jumping as you begin your cut. 

​The JS470E also ​has a dust blower that aids in cut line visibility. This keeps the machine operating smoothly while removing the sawdust you create from cutting. 

Bosch JS470E jigsaw side view.

source: boschtools.com

Probably the best feature of this jigsaw is it's tool-less blade change system. This allows users to switch T-shank blades without needing a tool. Combine this with Bosch's blade ejection lever, which allows to you eject the blade without having to touch it, saving your fingers from betting burned after the blade has been in use.

These two features are easy to use and helps users quickly change blades to help them complete their cutting projects. This is one of those features that sounds a bit overkill in convenience, but one of the biggest pluses of a jigsaw is its ability to cut so many materials. To do so, though, you need to change blades each and every time. Without the features, changing blades is an arduous and frustrating task.

The jigsaw has four orbital-action settings that give a different range of cutting speeds. This is really helpful because it gives you the capability to determine the speed of the blade for different types of cuts and surfaces. You'll use the slower cutting speeds for thicker materials and accurate cuts, and the faster cutting speeds for quick cuts through thinner material.

Bosch includes an updated low-vibration motor design on the JS470E. This not only helps with performance, but it can save your hand over the course of many cuts. Ergonomically speaking, this Bosch jigsaw fits really comfortably in your hands, thanks to its top handle grip.

This jigsaw allows for up to a 45 degree bevel cut in either direction, although you will need another tool to complete the bevel cut. Another minor drawback is that this jigsaw does not have an LED light. 

Still, we've found the ​Bosch JS470E Jigsaw to be the best jig saw in the market. You’ll like this tool if you want a device that’s easily adjusted to your cutting style and is sold at ​a very reasonable price


Runner Up: DEWALT DCS331B Jigsaw

​Features
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    ​4 amp / 20 Volt ​​Max Lithium Ion
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    4 Orbital Action Settings
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    ​0 SPM - 3000 SPM
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    ​Cordless
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    ​Adjustable Dust Blower
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    ​Cordless
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    ​Bevel Cutting (0, 15, 30, 45°)
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    No battery/charger included
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    ​Tool-less blade change
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    ​Blade Ejection Lever
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    Trigger lock
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    ​No LED light

Perhaps the most enticing selling point of a jigsaw is that it is such a convenient power saw. You can grab the tool from your garage and be making cuts at the project's location in no time. As such, it makes sense to have a cordless jigsaw, so you don't have to deal with the hassle of cords. That's where this Dewalt jigsaw comes into play - the best of both worlds - a jigsaw that combines raw power with cordless convenience.

The jigsaw’s 4 amp hour battery provides extended runtime, while the anti-slip ergonomic feature provides extra comfort. ​It’s 20-volt battery ensures that it will run for at least 8 hours before needing to be recharged. This combination of power and battery life are one of the reasons that this Dewalt jigsaw sits at the top of our list.

For increased versatility, the Dewalt Jigsaw has a variable control speed ranging from 0-3000 SPM. This speed control gives you more control over the cut and allows the device to handle a variety of applications and materials. 

​The efficiency of a jigsaw blade is determined in large part by its blade stroke length. The blade’s stroke length is at “1” which is taller than most models out there. Since it has a long stroke length, more teeth can come in contact with the workpiece, resulting in faster work. There is a feature that allows you to cut through soft materials like plastic or wood in orbital action. 

DEWALT DCS331B 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion Jig Saw.

source: dewalt.com

​​Speaking of this jigsaw's orbital action,  it has four additional cutting actions that include one straight and three orbital cuts so that you can create the aggressiveness of the cut. Again, it isn't typical to see this wide range of orbital actions in a cordless jigsaw. 

For enhanced performance and productivity, the jigsaw has a lever-action keyless blade change, accepting t-shank blades. Speaking of convenience, this jigsaw only weighs 6 lbs, and has a very nice anti-slip handle. 

When it comes to bevel cutting, the Dewalt DCS331B is the best in its league. The jigsaw can cut in multiple detents (0°, 15°, 35°, 45°) for accurate cutting​. Compared to other top models that only offer 1 bevel setting, this is a huge plus. 

Overall, the ​​Dewalt DCS331B Jigsaw is one of the most durable jigsaw power tools to have in your garage.  

We tip the scales to the Bosch jigsaw as the top reviewed one, but only slightly​, as it has a little bit more power. With that being said, it was neck and neck between these two jigsaws​. ​​This Dewalt jigsaw ​combines the convenience of cordless without any sacrifice of features​ - you'll love this jigsaw in the end. 

​Bonus: If you're looking for the best professional jigsaw, the ​Dewalt DCS331M1 20V Max Lithium Ion Jigsaw Kit is your best bet. Very similar to the Dewalt reviewed above, you get a powerful jigsaw that is portable to move from jobsite to jobsite. 


Alternative: Makita JV0600K Jigsaw

​Features
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    ​6.5 Amp / 120 Volt Motor
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    ​3 Orbital Action Settings
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    ​500 SPM - 3100 SPM
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    ​Max Cut Depth of 3 ½"
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    ​Adjustable Dust Blower
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    ​Cordless
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    ​Bevel Adjustment (45°)
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    No battery/charger included
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    ​Tool-less blade change
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    ​Blade Ejection Lever
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    Trigger lock
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    ​No LED light

​The JV0600K is a wonderful jigsaw and stood out as a fantastic alternative option to the ever-popular brands like Bosch and Dewalt. While Makita does not have nearly the market share of these two brands, they are known for making high quality power tools at a lower price point.

Makita makes a wide range of corded and cordless jigsaws, but we've highlighted this one as a really good jigsaw to add to your tool chest.  

This jigsaw has a wide range of stroke speeds and a strong motor. With over 6.5 amps of power, you can cut through woods up to 3.5 inches thick. ​This 6.5 amps of power is only slightly less than our highest rated jigsaw, the Bosch JS470E. And yet, it is substantially cheaper. Couple that with a variable speed range toping out at 3,100 SPM, and you have a very powerful and versatile jigsaw from Makita. 

One feature that ​we love is the jigsaw’s vibration reduction. The large trigger, internal counterbalances, and its ergonomic grip makes the device really easy to use. And if you have to cut larger pieces of material, the saw has a lock-on button that prevents your hand from getting tired. 

Makita certainly invests in a high quality frame build on this jigsaw, as the body is built from a die-cast aluminum housing base.

Makita JV0600K jigsaw set.

source: makitatools.com

​While the device’s steel cutting capacity is at ⅜ inches, it has a maximum wood cutting capacity of 3 ½ inches. With its tool-less blade design, you can switch out blades from this device. ​The jigsaw utilizes t-shank blades. 

One downside is that this jigsaw only has 3 orbital action settings, whereas the Bosch and Dewalt have 4. If you're not planning on cutting a wide variety of materials you won't notice this reduction, but pay attention to it if you're using this jigsaw for a lot of material cuts. 

You'll also notice that it does not have the same cut depth, coming in at a modest 3.5 inches. Don't worry - that is still a very adequate depth for cutting, and will handle the majority of your cuts. But it is less than the other top jigsaw models on our list.

The ​Makita JV0600K Jigsaw is a fantastic option. At a price point that is typically 25-30% lower than the Bosch and Dewalt jigsaws, but with hardly any noticeable difference in features, this Makita makes a great option if you're trying to save a few bucks but still get a top level jigsaw. 


Reviews of the Best Jigsaw Under $100

Jigsaws in the sub-$100 range are not going to have the same functionality and range of features that more expensive models do. However, for a beginner, or an intermediate that does not put a priority on the jigsaw, this price range makes a lot of sense. And, there are still some fantastic options at this price point.

​In recent years, power tool brands have introduced jigsaw models that have ​quite a few of the features that their more expensive models have. In this sub-$100 category, the biggest difference you will see is actually in performance. However, there are a few jigsaws that make the cut and still deliver relatively accurate cuts for a cheap and affordable price.

Winner: PORTER-CABLE PCE345 Jigsaw

Porter Cable leads the way when it comes to affordable power tools, and their PCE345 Jigsaw is no exception. We'll dive into all the reasons we absolutely love this entry level saw.

This brand has listened to customer's demands for high quality saws and drills, and has come up with an amazing set of features for a very model price in this jig saw. 

​Features
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    ​6 Amp / 120 Volt Motor
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    ​4 Orbital Action Settings
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    ​0 SPM - 3200 SPM
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    ​Max Cut Depth of 4"
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    ​Tool-less blade change
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    ​​​Bevel Adjustment (45°)
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    ​3 year warranty
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    ​7 adjustable speed settings

​The Porter Cable is the best jigsaw under $100 because of its comfortable handle, ​4 orbital speed settings, and it’s 7 position speed dial. ​​We'll go through each, but know that you can't find this range of features in any other model at this price point.

For starters, Porter Cable features a powerful 6 amp motor. This is really powerful when you consider that some of the top jigsaws on the market (and most expensive) feature motors that are not much powerful at 6.5 amps and 7 amps. This jigsaw has the power to cut through a wide range of material.

Ok lets, talk about some of our favorite features on the PCE345. The 4 orbital speed settings allows this jigsaw to be good for a wide range of materials, from thick, dense wood to plastic and metal to thin plywood. 4 orbital speed settings is the norm for the high end jigsaws we feature too, so Porter Cable doesn't skimp on this category.

This cheap jigsaw also comes with 7 speed positions, easily adjusted on the side of the saw by the handle. This wide range of speed settings allows you to control how fast you cut your material, which has several effects. For starters, slower speeds work better through thicker materials, and a slower cut speed will give you better cuts.

​These 7 speeds on the Porter Cable give you an SPM (strokes per minute) range of 0 - 3,200, which is flat out amazing for its price point. This is one of the main reasons we find the Porter Cable PCE345 to be the best jigsaw for the money. 

PORTER-CABLE PCE345 jigsaw.

source: portercable.com

​The jigsaw has a 13/16 inch stroke length and a max cut depth of 4 inches. Additionally, the saw is capable of cutting at 45° angles by adjusting the saw’s shoe.

The saw has a large overmold placed on the front and rear of the saw to aid the user’s comfort and control. Additionally, Porter Cable provides a really nice 3 year warranty on the saw.

If you need to change blades, such as a metal blade to one designed for wood, you don’t need any tools to swap them. It also comes with a wrench that allows you to make adjustments to the shoe of the saw. Thus, allowing you to customize the device according to your preferences.

​You might be asking why this jigsaw is so inexpensive, given all of the features. Or, why buy a more expensive jigsaw? The reality is that the Porter Cable model is feature-rich, and is not a bad option. However, it just isn't made with the same precision as more expensive models, and won't give you a highly accurate cut. It also isn't designed for heavy use.

If you're just starting out, or don't need to use a jigsaw very frequently, then buying the best cheap jigsaw is a good idea. But don't think that this power saw replaces the Bosch, Dewalt, or Makita models we reviewed above. ​​​

​The Porter Cable PCE345 is a great orbital jigsaw for ​beginners. ​Frankly speaking, it is the jigsaw we wish we had started on when we first got started with woodworking projects. 


Runner Up: Black & Decker BDEJS600C Jigsaw

​The Black & Decker BDEJS600C Jigsaw is a highly versatile and fairly powerful ​jigsaw given its incredible price. It has a 5 amp motor speed runs at a speed of 3,000 SPM.

We call this model the "best of the rest"... when it comes to jigsaws under $100, we highly recommend the Porter Cable. ​And, its easy to see from the feature set why that it is. 

​Features
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    ​5 Amp / 120 Volt Motor
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    ​4 adjustable speed settings
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    ​0 SPM - 3200 SPM
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    ​Max Cut Depth of 3"
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    ​Tool-less blade change
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    ​​​Bevel Adjustment (45°)
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    ​2 year limited warranty
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    ​Dust Blower

​However, if you are looking for the very top entry-level jigsaw on the market, we give the nod to the Black and Decker. You will save a few bucks on this model, and it will still do an adequate job.

A 5 amp motor gives you adequate power for most of your cuts, and a top-level 3,000 Strokes Per Minute means that you'll have enough blade speed to get through thicker material.

The device’s Curve Control helps users rip through harder materials when needed. It also features the option to create bevel cuts at 45° and 90° angles. You can adjust the speed settings via rotating the Curve Control dial on the side of the jigsaw.

BLACK+DECKER BDEJS600C Jigsaw.

source: blackanddecker.com

Black & Decker designed this jigsaw for ​safety and user protection. For instance, it has a wire guard which helps the user make a clear line of sight for improved cutting precision. Its adjustable shoe helps users adjust the saw to make it a stable cutting platform.

Another thing that sets this device apart from its competitors is its beveling shoe. Unlike its competitors, it can create cuts in both directions. This allows for more control on complex cutting jobs and is a great product for novice DIYers.

Again, just like we mentioned with the Porter Cable, jigsaws in this price range lack cutting stability. The jigsaw is unable to make straight cuts on some occasions; meaning that it requires some practice to cut correctly. ​

Due to its multiple features, the ​Black + Decker BDEJS600C Jigsaw is a really ​popular choice for ​home owners and those working on DIY projects. It is a no-brainer when it comes to price, and makes it really easy to pick up your first jigsaw and get going. 


What Is a Jig Saw Exactly?

A jig saw is a powerful tool that consists of a reciprocating saw blade and a electric motor. It can be used to make both curved and straight cuts. ​Jigsaws are handheld and highly portable, making them a highly versatile tool for any jobsite or DIY project. For many, it is the first power saw they buy. 

Jigsaws can cut through multiple types of wood material in various density and thickness. When the correct blade is placed, they can also cut through drywall, metal, steel, and fiberglass. This increases the device’s versatility and makes it more valuable in your tool shed.

​When compared to other power saws, the jigsaw is not nearly as accurate in its cuts as the scroll saw or bandsaw, but much more versatile. It is also handheld, which means that it is much more convenient. It also takes up a lot less space than either the scroll or band saw. 

Difference Between Jig Saw And Miter Saw

It's not uncommon for people to confuse a jigsaw with a miter saw.

​Typically, jigsaws are used for curvature patterns and small cuts. Miter saws are used to create diagonal angled and compound angled cuts. Usually, advanced woodsmen use miter saws when they have to make designs on baseboards.

Jigsaw sawing Wood

Moreover, jigsaws have a thin blade that users make to create intricate cuts. They have an average teeth length of 12 inches. Miter saws have finer teeth that’s about 18 inches long. For coarse cutting use a jigsaw; use miter saws when you need to make fine cuts on your material.

Why Should You Choose Your Jig Saw Carefully

Jigsaws are very handy tools with a multitude of cutting speeds and directions. They combine the advantages of a scroll saw and a band saw, into one small, yet effective package. With all the choices and features, getting the right jigsaw might take some time.

That’s why it's important to choose your jig saw carefully. While you can opt for a cheaper jigsaw, chances are it won’t perform or meet up to your expectations. Take time researching your desired jigsaw before buying it and invest in one that fits you the most.

General Jigsaw Features

A jigsaw works by making up and down motions with its blade, otherwise known as reciprocating motions. A jigsaw almost always cuts on the upstroke. It is most often thought of for cutting wood, but can be used to cut a wide array of material, provided you have the right blade.

The stroke length is the distance that the blade of the jigsaw travels up and down while it cuts. Typically, jigsaw stroke lengths range from 1/2" to 1". Generally speaking, shorter strong lengths produce a smoother but slower cut.

If you’re focused on cutting wood exclusively, you’ll prefer a longer stroke length closer to 1”. You want shorter stroke lengths for cutting metal.

​Stroke Length

​Attributes

​LONGER

​Faster Cut Speed


​Good for Thicker Materials

​SHORTER

​Slower Cut Speed


​Good for Metal

There are a variety of features that you need to be aware of in a jigsaw, ranging from weight to power to construction.

Weight

When it comes to weight, there are basically three classes of jigsaws:

  • Lightweight jigsaws, weighing only a few pounds. Any jigsaw that weighs under 5lbs is more than likely on the cheaper end.
  • Jigsaws that weigh in the 5-10lb range. There are many high quality jigsaws that are in this range, made out of very high quality parts but with a focus and emphasis on still being lightweight.
  • Heavier jigsaws that weigh over 10lbs. These are generally your rugged, heavy duty jigsaws. They are typically on the more expensive side, and typically best reserved for professionals.

So how does weight come into play when using a jigsaw? You want a jigsaw that is light enough that your hand and arm won’t tire too quickly from use. And yet, you also want a jigsaw that is heavy enough to be sturdy through the cuts, and not bounce all over the place while working.

And, this is the balance that you need to strike. For first time users, we suggest that you get a get a lightweight jigsaw. These saws are easier to use and can cut through wood and other materials without getting stuck.

Once you become more accomplished, you’ll probably actually prefer a jigsaw with a bit more weight. You’ll get a lot more sturdiness as you navigate through more complicated cuts and different material.

Cordless jigsaws are generally slightly heavier than their corded counterparts, as they have the additional weight of the battery.

Many DIY’ers actually end up preferring a lightweight jigsaw and stick with it, even as their skills and projects progress.

Power

One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a jigsaw is the amount of power the motor has. You don't always need the most powerful jigsaw, depending on what you are planning on cutting.

More power means that your jigsaw will push its way through the material quicker and easier. Harder materials, such as thicker wood or metal, require more power. Depending on what you are cutting, you might not need a high powered jigsaw. 

​Corded jigsaws and cordless jigsaws have different power settings, as corded models will show power in amps, and cordless models will show power in volts. This is because one is battery powered and the other isn't.

Corded Jigsaws

Corded jigsaws don’t need batteries and are best applied for continuous use or tough cutting jobs. Their motors range from 3- 6 amps of power. Higher amps deliver more power and can cut through thin metals, thick woods, and other tough materials.

Corded jigsaws gives you the freedom and flexibility of never running out of battery power. If you have larger jobs that might take awhile, a corded jigsaw is probably the best option for you.

Also, corded jigsaws typically will have more power than their cordless counterparts. If you'll be cutting through tough material, a corded jigsaw is definitely your best option.

All things being equal, a corded jigsaw is going to be more powerful than a cordless jigsaw. However, that doesn't mean there are not some really powerful cordless jigsaws on the market.

Cordless Jigsaws

Cordless jigsaws are the ultimate in convenience, meaning that you can just grab your jigsaw and quickly go to the jobsite to make a cut. That is, provided the jigsaw battery is charged.

Cordless jigsaws have a power rating between 12-18 volts. The higher the voltage, the longer the battery life. For those wanting a mobile jigsaw, cordless jigsaws are both handheld and mobile, so you can carry throughout your work area.

If you're buying a jigsaw to have handy for little cuts here and there, a cordless jigsaw will minimize the time it takes and make it ultra-convenient for you. They’re best for cutting through wooden materials. While they can cut through tough materials, it takes a toll on the device’s battery power.

​Even if you have larger jobs that require longer use, you can buy a cordless jigsaw and multiple batteries. This way, you can be charging one battery while using another.

Not having to deal with a cord makes life a lot simpler, so looking at the best cordless jigsaw is worthwhile!

best jigsaw dewalt

Vibration Reduction

Like all power tools, there is an amount of vibration that occurs every time the jigsaw is turned on. Compared to other power saws, a jigsaw can produce quite a bit of vibration and “kick”. This can effect you in several ways:

  • The vibrations cause the jigsaw to bounce, skip, and hop around as you make the cuts, leading to mistakes and inaccuracies.
  • The vibrations are difficult on your hand and arm, leading you to tire easier and can actually cause hand-arm vibration syndrome.

Some jigsaws put an emphasis on reducing the vibrations. You’ll notice it is typically a feature they broadcast and promote. Generally speaking, vibration reduction is achieved through the construction, material, and ergonomics of the saw.

It isn’t a feature that the saw either comes with or doesn’t, nor is it a feature you can turn on and off.

Every company has their own way of dealing with vibration. Makita uses a patented counterweighted balancing system. While Bosch doesn’t publish any specifics, their unique design provides really good vibration reduction.

Bevel Cutting

Jigsaws come “out of the box” ready to cut at a 90 degree angle, or perpendicular to the material. This means that, as you hold the saw up to the material, the blade sits at a 90° angle to the material.

This is the most common of cuts that a jigsaw makes, but there are times when you need to make a beveled cut, such as when you a building a picture frame. In this instance, most jigsaws allow for tilting of the shoe (or plate) in order to achieve this cut.

Most jigsaws allow for this tilting, and most require a tool to perform the tilt, such as an allen wrench. There are several brands that allow for tool-less tilting, such as Milwaukee, Dewalt, and Bosch.

Jigsaws typically aren’t as accurate when they are cutting at an angle, and its important to pay attention to this. Some are better than others at these angled cuts.

Some jigsaws come with notches that have already been set at common angles, allowing you to quickly set the blade at a 45° angle, for example. This is a really nice feature, and helps make the cuts more accurate and a lot quicker.

For the most part, you won’t be making many angled cuts with a jigsaw. Frankly speaking, it just isn’t the best tool for that. However, its nice to know that your jigsaw has the capability, and some do it better (and quicker) than others.

footplate and blade for jig saw

Footplate

Every jigsaw comes with a footplate. It is the flat, platform that you rest on the material as you make your cuts. It wouldn’t seem that there is much in a footplate, but there are a few considerations to take into account.

Different footplates are rated for different rates, making some jigsaws more durable than others.

Each brand makes their footplates a little different, but you want to pay attention to the material of the footplate. Some brands, like Festool, make theirs out of alloy, while others use rougher metal.

Some brands will even include attachment bases for their footplates, which gives you a lot of versatility. Festool, for example, supplies 4 bases on some of their jigsaw models, ranging from a steel base for metal, a phenolic resin base for smooth wood and plastic, a dimpled base for rough wood, and a Velcro base for material that already has a finish on it.

Either way, you want to make sure that you can cut delicate materials without scratching them. Ensure you have an insert to go over your footplate for delicate cuts.

Jigsaw Handle and Trigger

Handle

As with so many of the features we are discussing, you have your choice of a barrel handle vs top handle, or also known as a D handle.

A top handle is exactly as it sounds – it allows you to hold the jigsaw from the top, naturally applying a downward pressure on the material while simultaneously giving you leverage to push the saw forward.

Top handles are by far the most common and popular for jigsaws. They are more comfortable than the alternative barrel handle, and usually are made of a slightly soft material to absorb some of the vibration. The top handle makes it a lot easier on your hands, allowing you to work longer on your project.

Barrel handles are harder to use, but those who love this style will tell you that have great control and accuracy in your cuts. Your hand is a lot closer to the blade, and you are naturally applying pressure in a forward motion, so this makes sense.

Barrel handles are especially handy for tight cuts, awkward angles, and reverse cuts. You can get a bit of a better hold of a barrel handle, but it is a lot harder on your hands.

Trigger

While it might seem a bit ridiculous to be discussing the trigger of a saw, it is vitally important to the operation of your jigsaw.

For starters, different brands make different sized triggers. Larger triggers are better, at least in our findings. The larger the trigger, the better control you’ll have, and the less it will wear away at your finger.

The size and feel of the trigger plays into how you use the jigsaw’s variable speeds. We’ll discuss variable speed and its importance later, but know that the trigger goes hand-in-hand with the speed you’re able to operate a jigsaw at.

Virtually every jigsaw on the market comes with a trigger lock, which is great when you’re making long cuts and don’t need to have your finger on the saw trigger the entire time.

Variable speed on jigsaw.

Jigsaw Speeds

When we’re talking about speed, we’re talking about the speed that the jigsaw blade cuts at. This is measure in Strokes Per Minute, or SPM, and is the number of strokes made in one minute.

Stroke speeds start as low as 500 SPM and move up as high as 4,000 SPM.

Strokes per minute isn’t synonymous with power, and higher isn’t necessarily better. So, don’t fall victim to thinking that you want the highest SPM possible – you might not.

We’ll dive into stroke speed, and how it affects the cuts you are making. We’ll also talk about the different speed options available to you in a jigsaw.

Variable Speed

A variable speed jigsaw allows you to adjust the amount of power, and thus speed, that the blade cuts your material at. There are certainly times when it makes sense to go full power at cut at speed, which is where you wouldn’t need variable speed settings.

However, so much of the work you do with a jigsaw requires an element of precision. Intricate cuts, curves, and corners benefit from slowing down, both in the speed that you move through the cut, and in the saw blade itself.

Faster speeds are great for cutting quick, rough cuts on lightweight material. Slower speeds are better for cutting heavy, dense material, or where you need an accurate, fine cut.

We consider having variable speed in your jigsaw a must. Most decent models incorporate it into their saws now, so chances are you’ll have it.

Jigsaws can power the saw blade up to 4,000+ RPM, which is why a variable speed saw comes in handy. Without one, you have only one power option: full power. However, most of the jigsaws on our review allow for variable speed, allowing you to work all the way down to 500 RPM in some cases.

Soft Start

We consider this to be a powerful one-two punch: a jigsaw with variable speed settings and soft start capability. Soft start motors slowly start the motor speed when you press the trigger, rather than kicking the blade off a full speed.

The soft start feature helps prevent the saw from skipping and bouncing right when you start your cuts. This is especially relevant when your blade is already inserted into the material, usually when you’re part way through a cut.

No doubt, some people find this feature annoying. If you are particularly experienced, you might not like to wait for the jigsaw motor to come up to full power.

For beginners or newbies, though, we highly recommend it. It will save you at least one or two mistakes during your first few projects.

Orbital Action

Higher-end jigsaws will come with orbital action blade movement. Sometimes referred to as oscillating action, a jigsaw with orbital action will have more sophisticated blade cutting and movement, allowing for greater control of the cuts you make.

Without orbital action, a jigsaw blade simply moves up and down through the material as it cuts. Orbital action creates more of a weaving, in-and-out cutting motion.

With orbital action engaged, the jigsaw blade moves forward slightly on its own during the upstroke cut, which creates a stronger cutting action. Also, on the downstroke, the orbital action pulls the blade back slightly. This allows the blade to clear the kerf, which decreases the wear on your blade (making them last longer).

If all of that seemed like technical mumbo-jumbo, here is the down and dirty version: orbital action gives you a greater control of your cutting, and allows you to adapt your jigsaw more so to the specific type of material you are cutting.

Jigsaw Blades

If the jigsaw is akin to the surgeon, then the jigsaw blade is the surgeon’s tool of choice. There are a wide array of blades to choose from, each focused on performing a specific type of cut on a particular material. Blades come in all shapes and sizes, and picking the right blade for the job is essential.

We recommend reading our in-depth article on jigsaw blades, but here is a brief overview of the essentials.

jigsaw blades attached

Blade Overview

Jigsaw blades are not large. The typical blade is only about 1/4 “ wide and extremely thin. Their small size allows them to make tight cuts, giving you the flexibility of quickly turning and moving intricately through your material as you cut it.

However, this small blade has its drawbacks too. They can break when you put too much torque or pressure on them. They can also warp if you try and turn too quickly with the cut.

Keep in mind that the jigsaw blade is only attached on one end to the jigsaw itself. This is one of the main differences between a jigsaw vs a scroll saw. Whereas a scroll saw blade is attached to the saw at both ends, a jigsaw blade it only attached at one end.

This is one of the features that gives the jigsaw so much flexibility. However, it also makes the blade fragile.

Jigsaw blades are inexpensive, fragile, and typically wear out quickly. However, there are dozens of different kinds of blades, with each having a particular use. This is both the beauty and drawback of the jigsaw.

Types of Blades

Blades come in all different shapes and sizes. Lets be clear – one size does not fit all when it comes to jigsaw blades. You will really missing out if you only have 1-2 jigsaw blades for all of your cuts.

Instead, you can match up correct blade for the material you are cutting, what type of cut you are performing, and how thick the material is.

With other saws, the type of blade you use doesn’t matter as much. With the jigsaw, it is everything.

T-Shank vs U-Shank

You’ll see this a lot when you read jigsaw reviews. It isn’t complicated to understand:

U-shank blades are less common these days. The end of the blade looks like a “u”, with the end having two ends that extend into the jigsaw. They require a tool, like an allen wrench, to insert into the jigsaw.

T-shank blades are the most common nowadays. The end of the blade whittles down to a slightly rounded flat end… they don’t look like a “t”. These type of blades are much easier to switch out quickly.

Most of the jigsaws we’ve reviewed can actually accept both types, so the only concern you have is how quickly you can interchange the blades.

Teeth

You’ll see a TPI rating when you’re reviewing jigsaws. TPI stands for teeth per inch, and it is a measurement that relates the speed and finesse of cut that the blade can cut.

The lower the TPI, the thicker of material the blade will cut, but the rougher the cut will be. You’ll also won’t be able to turn as well with lower TPI blades. ​Jig saw blades with a smaller TPI cut faster, but less smooth. ​Here is a very general guide for what type of TPI you should chose in your blade:

  • 6 TPI: best for coarse lumber; will give you a very rough cut
  • 10-15 TPI: best for harder word; you’ll be capable of making slow, gradual curves in your cuts
  • 20 TPI: a good all-around number of teeth; you can make tighter cuts
  • 36 TPI: makes tight cuts and leaves a smooth finish, but is very slow and won’t cut hard or thick woods well

​Material

T​he material of the blade affects its cutting performance. As you can imagine, tougher construction blades cut thicker material better. Specialty blades can be purchased for cutting a specific type of material. The options are virtually endless.  

Here is a table explaining the appropri​ate blades that are available and their uses.

Blade Material

Explanation

Bi-Metal Blades

Used for light metal cutting and wood

Carbide Blades

Used to cut masonry board

High Speed Steel (HSS) Blade

Quick and durable blades that are used for wood and metal cutting

Cobalt Steel

Harder than bi-metal blades and HSS blades and have a longer cutting lifespan - mainly used for wood and metal cutting

Scrolling blades

Narrower than the average jigsaw blades - used to create tighter cuts.

Tool-less Clamps

Like we said earlier, you’ll want to be switching out your blades depending on the material that you are cutting, and the type of cut you’ll be making. Blades will go dull or break fairly frequently too.

Tool-less clamps on your jigsaw allow for you to quickly remove and insert a new blade quickly, without the need for any tools to do so. Older and cheaper jigsaws require tools to switch the blade, usually an allen wrench, which makes changing the blade time consuming and annoying.

No doubt, tool-less interchangeability is a nice-to-have, not a necessity. However, you’ll quickly see how nice it is to have. It will also reinforce how important it is to use the right blade for the material you’re cutting, and changing the blade won’t be a hindrance.

Additionals

There are a few additional features that you might find on a jigsaw. None of these are essential, but each is worth mentioning. You might find a preference for one or several of these additional features.

Light

Many jigsaws come with an LED light that projects on your cut. While sounding a bit ancillary, this is actually a huge help.

The nature of a jigsaw and the way it sits on your material means that it typically blocks a good deal of light. Because a jigsaw is portable and handheld, you’ll end up using it in a variety of lighting circumstances, and having the handy light that turns on whenever the trigger is engaged is a huge help.

Dust Blower

Sometimes known as a sawdust blower or dust collector, some jigsaws come with a dust blower. This is designed to keep sawdust off of your material, specifically in the area in front of your cut.

Sawdust is always a problem when you’re using any saw. Due to the nature of the cut and the size of the saw, jigsaws don’t produce a tremendous amount of dust. However, it doesn’t take much sawdust to get in the way of your cut.

The dust blower works in sync with the jigsaw trigger and prevents sawdust from settling on your material as you make your cut. We find it highly convenient, especially if you’ll be using your jigsaw for mostly wood cuts.

Laser Guide

Depending on who you talk to, the laser guide is either a favorite, or a useless aid. The laser extends in front of your cut, helping you to stay straight as you make your cut.

Advocates will argue that a jigsaw is difficult to make straight cuts with, and the laser helps the handheld saw be more accurate. Dissidents will point to how the laser isn’t nearly as accurate as you need, and you’re most making curved cuts with jigsaws anyways.

Either way, this is not an essential feature at all. We don’t put a high priority on it – if the jigsaw you prefer has it, that’s an added bonus. But we wouldn’t decide on a jigsaw based on whether it had this feature or not.

The Verdict

​The best overall jigsaw on the market, in our review, is the Bosch JS470E. 

Do you have any experiences using any of the jigsaws above?

Share in the comments below.

​Jigsaw FAQ

​While we've tried to cover the jigsaw in depth above, we realize there are some common questions that are best answered in an FAQ style. Below, we cover the questions we tend to get the most. If we missed your question, please feel free to submit in the comments below!

​Is the Jigsaw really best for curved cuts? 

​Yes and no.... it all depends. A jigsaw is probably the best handheld saw for making curved cuts. The way its blade is set up makes it a very versatile saw for cutting curves with. Having a jigsaw with orbital settings will make the curved cut more accurate as well.

The scroll saw is better at making detailed and intricate curved cuts, but is not a handheld saw.

​What is SPM?

​SPM is an abbreviation for Strokes Per Minute. While you might be more familiar with a more common measurement of engine power RPM (revolutions per minute), the jigsaw motor is evaluated on the number of strokes per minute that it can handle. 

You'll find a high quality jigsaw can top out just above 3,000 strokes per minute. The addition of variable speed allows for you to control just how fast the saw cuts, which helps with different types of materials.​

​What additional features are actually important?

​We think the dust blower and LED light are pretty darn convenient. They still fit into the category of "extras", meaning they aren't essential. But, they really make your job a lot easier. 

​As you cut, the sawdust has to go somewhere. If you're cutting a thin material, or moving really slowly through the material, you probably won't notice the dust building up. However, thicker materials can produce a lot of sawdust, and the build up makes it hard to continue an accurate cut. A dust blower helps solve that problem.

An LED light is actually very helpful. Because of the jigsaw's portability, you'll end up using the saw in all sorts of situations around you house, and not all of them will be well lit. In addition, just by the nature of how the jigsaw sits over top of the material as you use it, it will case a shadow onto the surface. A light that turns on when you engage the motor helps solve these issues.

We have used jigsaw models with a laser to help you keep a straight cut, but don't find it to be very beneficial. If you take care to measure and mark your material ahead of time, then you should be fine on a straight cut. Also, the laser isn't always accurate and straight anyways, which pretty much defeats the purpose of it in the first place.

​What is the #1 reason to own a jigsaw?

​Versatility. This is the most versatile saw you'll own, and having one on hand allows you to cut a variety of materials in a variety of different ways. 

The jigsaw isn't the most powerful saw, nor is it the most specialized. But it is highly versatile and can be used for a whole host of cuts. It is handheld and can travel around your home or jobsite for each cut you need. With the right blade, you can cut almost any material, ranging from wood to plastic to metal.

The jigsaw can cut straight or curves. You can can start your cut in the middle of the material if required. By and large, the #1 reason to own a jigsaw is that you can do so much with the saw.

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