Best Jigsaw In 2020: A Complete Buying Guide

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Jigsaws create multiple straight and curved cuts so you can finish a wide variety of DIY tasks. If you’re planning on purchasing one, let this guide point you in the right direction. We’ve found and reviewed the best jigsaw, and broken it down by price point and feature set. Each of the options on this list are known for their quality, performance, and overall functionality.

If you’re looking for a top jigsaw that will last you for a long time, here is our list of the best jigsaws on the market. They have advanced features, powerful cutting speeds, and sturdy exteriors. And, they are built to last. You will find our top three picks, each in their own category:

A Bosch JS470EB jigsaw on a workstation

​Our Best​ Jigsaw ​Reviews

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

Brand
Best Overall
Bosch JS470E
Best for the Money
DEWALT DCS331B​
Best Cheap Pick
PORTER-CABLE PCE345​
Product
Bosch Power Tools Jig Saws - JS470E Corded...
DEWALT 20V Max Jig Saw, Tool Only (DCS331B),Yellow
PORTER-CABLE Orbital Jig Saw, 6.0-Amp (PCE345)
Motor
7.0 amp
4.0 amp
6.5 amp
Voltage
120 Volt
20 Volt ​​Max Lithium Ion
120 Volt
Rating
-
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
Bosch JS470E
Product
Bosch Power Tools Jig Saws - JS470E Corded...
Motor
7.0 amp
Voltage
120 Volt
Rating
-
Best for the Money
Brand
DEWALT DCS331B​
Product
DEWALT 20V Max Jig Saw, Tool Only (DCS331B),Yellow
Motor
4.0 amp
Voltage
20 Volt ​​Max Lithium Ion
Rating
-
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
PORTER-CABLE PCE345​
Product
PORTER-CABLE Orbital Jig Saw, 6.0-Amp (PCE345)
Motor
6.5 amp
Voltage
120 Volt
Rating
-

​1. Best Jigsaw Overall: Bosch JS470E Jigsaw

Bosch Power Tools Jig Saws - JS470E Corded...

The Bosch​ JS470E provides cut line precision control 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 saw comes with enough power to handle the vast majority of cuts you’ll need to make. This Bosch can run as low as 500 strokes per minute (SPM), and as fast as 3,100 SPM (strokes per minute) giving you a wide range for control over the jigsaw blade speed. 3,100 SPMs are great to make quick, clean cuts through any piece.

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 saw to last, and is probably the most durable of all the ​ones we’ve reviewed. The footplate can handle over 500 lbs of load.

​The Bosch JS470E has an ambidextrous lock-on button, making the power 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 power tool, which is a feature we love. The variable speed dial allows you to slowly start the saw, which helps to prevent hoping, skipping, and jumping as you begin your cut line. 

​The JS470E also ​has a dust blower and a dust port that aids in cut line visibility. This keeps the machine operating smoothly and give you smooth cuts while removing the sawdust that can block your cut line. 

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

Along with blade changing, The saw 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 precise 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 precise cuts. Ergonomically speaking, this Bosch fits really comfortably in your hands, thanks to its top handle grip.

​It allows for up to a 45 degrees bevel cut in either direction, although you will need another power tool to make bevel cuts. Another minor drawback is that it does not have an LED light. 

​Features
  • 7.0 Amp / 120 Volt Motor
  • 4 Orbital Action Settings
  • ​500 strokes per minute (SPM) – 3,100 SPM
  • ​Max Cut Depth of 5 7/8″
  • ​Dust Blower
  • ​Slow Start Feature
  • ​Bevel Cuts Adjustment (45 degrees)
  • ​Ambidextrous Lock-on Button
  • ​Tool-free blade changes
  • ​Blade Ejection Lever
  • ​No LED light
  • ​1 year warranty
Bosch Power Tools Jig Saws - JS470E Corded...
  • Convenient: Featuring a tool less blade change system and fast insertion with a blade ejection lever...
  • 4 in 1: 4 orbital action tool settings provide different blade strokes for smooth to aggressive cuts...
  • Control: Variable speed dial sets maximum speed and accelerator trigger controls operating speed;...
  • Secure: This Bosch tool includes a large, sturdy die cast foot with steel insert and on board bevel...

2. Best Jigsaw for the Money: DEWALT DCS331B​

DEWALT 20V Max Jig Saw, Tool Only (DCS331B),Yellow

Perhaps the most enticing selling point of a jigsaw is that it is such a convenient power saw. You can grab the power tool from your garage and be making cuts at the project’s location in no time. As such, it makes sense to have the best cordless jigsaw option 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 ​ that combines raw power with the best cordless jigsaw convenience.

The 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 saw sits at the top of our list. 

For increased versatility and ease of use, the Dewalt has a variable control speed ranging from 0- 3,100 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 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 setting action. 

Speaking of orbital setting action, this saw​ 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 the best cordless jigsaw version. Anything over 3,000 SPMs are great to make quick, clean cuts through any piece.

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

When we talk about bevel cutting, the Dewalt DCS331B is the best to make bevel cuts in its league. ​It can cut in multiple detents (0°, 15°, 35°, 45 degrees) for accurate cutting​. Compared to other top models that only offer 1 bevel setting, this is a huge plus. 

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. ​​This Dewalt jigsaw ​combines the convenience of a cordless jigsaw without any sacrifice of features​ – you’ll love this saw in the end. 

​Bonus: If you’re looking for the best professional jigsaw, the​ DEWALT 20V MAX XR Jig Saw​ is your best bet. Very similar to the Dewalt reviewed above, you get a powerful jigsaw that is portable to move from job site to job site. 

​Features
  • ​4 amp / 20 Volt ​​Max Lithium Ion
  • 4 Orbital Action Settings
  • ​0 SPM – 3,000 SPM
  • ​Cordless
  • ​Adjustable Dust Blower
  • ​Cordless
  • ​Bevel Cutting (0, 15, 30, 45 degrees)
  • No battery/charger included
  • ​Tool-free blade changes
  • ​Blade Ejection Lever
  • Trigger lock
  • ​No LED light
Sale
DEWALT 20V Max Jig Saw, Tool Only (DCS331B),Yellow
  • All metal lever action keyless blade
  • Battery and charger sold separately. All metal key less shoe level
  • 4 position orbital action
  • Battery & charger sold separately

​3. Makita JV0600K​

Makita JV0600K Top Handle Jig Saw, with Tool...

The Makita JV0600K is a wonderful option 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 a high quality power tool at a lower price point.

This option 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. ​These over 6 amps of power is only slightly less than our highest rated option, the Bosch JS470E jigsaw. And yet, it is substantially cheaper. Couple that with a variable speed range toping out at 3,000 SPM, and you have a very powerful and versatile jigsaw from Makita. 

One feature that ​we love is the saw’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. 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-free blade design, you can switch out blades from this device, utilizing t-shank blades. 

One downside is that ​it 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 ​it 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 ½ 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 models on our list.

The ​​Makita JV0600K​ is a fantastic option. At a price point that is typically 25-30% lower than the Bosch and Dewalt, 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. 

The best jigsaws on the market 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 ​need all the bells and whistles, this price range makes a lot of sense. And, there are still some fantastic options at this price point.

​ Makita JV0600K​ Features
  • ​6.5 Amp / 120 Volt Motor
  • ​3 Orbital Action Settings
  • ​500 SPM – 3,000 SPM
  • ​Max Cut Depth of 3 ½”
  • ​Adjustable Built-in Dust Blower
  • ​Cordless
  • ​Bevel Adjustment (45 degrees)
  • No battery/charger included
  • ​Tool-free blade changes
  • ​Blade Ejection Lever
  • Trigger lock
  • ​No LED light
Makita JV0600K Top Handle Jig Saw, with Tool...
  • 6.5 amp motor and 3 Orbital settings plus straight cutting deliver faster and more accurate cuts in...
  • Variable speed control dial (500-3, 100 SPM) enables user to March the speed to the application
  • Through-the-body dust port for use with a vacuum provides efficient dust management
  • Counterbalance system for reduced vibration

4. Best Cheap Jigsaw: PORTER-CABLE PCE345​

PORTER-CABLE Orbital Jig Saw, 6.0-Amp (PCE345)

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 jigsaw.

The Porter Cable is the best jigsaw under $100 because of its comfortable handle, ​4 orbital speed, and it’s 7 position cutting 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. A powerful 6 amp motor is great when you consider that some of the top options 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.

The 4 orbital speed allows this to be good for a wide range of materials, from thick, dense wood to plastic and metal to thin plywood. 4 orbital settings is the norm for the high end models 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 jigsaw by the handle. This wide range of cutting 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. 

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 degrees angles by adjusting the jigsaw’s shoe cover.

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

If you need to change blades, such as a metal blade to one designed for wood, you don’t need any power tools for easy blade changes. It also comes with a wrench that allows you to make adjustments to the shoe cover of the jigsaw. 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 ​one? Keep in min the reality is that the Porter Cable PCE345 Jigsaw 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.

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

​Porter-Cable PCE345​ Jigsaw Features
  • ​Powerful 6 Amp / 120 Volt Motor
  • ​4 Orbital Action Settings
  • ​0 SPM – 3200 SPM
  • ​Max Cut Depth of 4″
  • ​Tool-free blade change
  • ​​​Bevel Adjustment (45 degrees)
  • ​3 year warranty
  • ​7 adjustable speed settings
PORTER-CABLE Orbital Jig Saw, 6.0-Amp (PCE345)
  • 7 position speed dial integrated in the trigger
  • 6 amp motor for more power
  • 4 orbital settings for a variety of materials
  • Lock-on button for prolonged use

​5. Black & Decker BDEJS600C​ Jig Saw

BLACK+DECKER Jig Saw, Smart Select, 5.0-Amp...

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

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

This Black & Decker BDEJS600C​ Jigsaw features a 5 amp motor that gives you adequate power for most of your cuts, and a top-level 3,000 SPM means that you’ll have powerful enough blade speed to get through thicker material.

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

Black & Decker designed this saw for ​safety and user protection. For instance, the ​Black & Decker BDEJS600C​ Jigsaw has a wire guard that helps the user make a clear cut line of sight for improved cutting precision. Besides the wire guard, its adjustable shoe cover 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 cover. Unlike its competitors, the ​Black & Decker BDEJS600C​ Jigsaw can create cuts in both directions. This allows for more control on complex cutting jobs and is a great product for novice DIYers.

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 this Black & Decker jigsaw as your first jigsaw and get going. 

​Black & Decker BDEJS600C​ Jig Saw Features
  • ​5 Amp / 120 Volt Motor
  • ​4 adjustable speed
  • ​0 SPM – 3200 SPM
  • ​Max Cut Depth of 3″
  • ​Tool-free blade change
  • ​​​Bevel Adjustment (45 degrees)
  • ​2 year limited warranty
  • ​Built-in Dust Blower
Sale
BLACK+DECKER Jig Saw, Smart Select, 5.0-Amp...
  • Curve Control technology which allows you to adjust the saw's orbit in 1 of 4 customized settings
  • 5 Amp variable-speed motor; up to 3,000 SPM of cutting power
  • Can make 45 degree bevel cuts; with adjustable shoe for stability
  • New and improved Wire Guard

The Best Jigsaw Features

A jigsaw is a powerful tool that consists of a reciprocating saw blade and a electric motor. The best value of this tool is it can be used to make both curved and straight cuts. The best jigsaws on the market are handheld and highly portable, making them a highly versatile tool for any job site or DIY project. For many, it is the first power saw they buy. 

The best 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 it gives you the best value in your tool shed.

When compared to other power saws, the best jigsaws are not nearly as accurate in their cuts as the scroll saw or band saw, but much more versatile. It is also handheld, which means that it is much more convenient.

​It 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, stroke lengths range from 1/2″ to 1″. Generally speaking, shorter strong lengths produce a smooth operation but a 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 this saw, ranging from weight to power to construction. ​​We’ll go through some features you should know about.

Jigsaw Weight

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

Best jigsaw dewalt

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

You’ll probably actually prefer a one 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 jigsaw counterparts, as they have the additional weight of the battery. Many DIY’ers actually end up preferring a lightweight version and stick with it, even as their skills and projects progress.

Motor 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 option, depending on what you are planning on cutting.

More power means that your saw 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 jig. 

Corded jigsaws and cordless jigsaws have different power settings, as a corded jigsaw 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.

Using a jigsaw to cut through plexiglass

Types of Jigsaw (Corded or Cordless)

A corded jigsaw don’t need batteries and are best applied for continuous use or tough cutting jobs. Their motors range from 3 to powerful 6 amps of power. 6 amp of power delivers more and can cut through thin metals, thick woods, and other tough materials. Unlike a corded jigsaw, cordless jigsaws are the ultimate in convenience, meaning that you can just grab your jigsaw and quickly go to the job site to make a cut. Keep in mind, the battery should be charged.

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.

Vibration Reduction

Compared to other power saws, this specific one can produce quite a bit of vibration and “kick”. Vibrations can lead to mistakes and inaccuracies. The vibrations are also difficult on your hand and arm, leading you to tire easier and can actually cause hand-arm vibration syndrome.

Footplate and blade for jig saw

Every company has their own way of dealing with vibration. Makita uses a patented counter-weighted balancing system. While Bosch doesn’t publish any specifics, their unique design provides really good vibration reduction. You’ll want to do your own research depending on your specific requirements.

Jigsaw Components and Makeup

Footplate Platform

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 saws 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.

A Makita jigsaw that is cordless

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​ 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.

Barrel Handle or Top Handle

As with so many of the features we are discussing, you have your choice of a barrel grip or 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 jig 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 the best 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.

A close up of the speed settings on a jigsaw

Type of 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 ​the saw at. ​Virtually every option 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.

Jigsaw sawing wood

​Speeds and Movement

When we’re talking about speed, we’re talking about the variable speed that the saw blade cuts at. This is measured 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.

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.

However, so much of the work you do with this saw 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.

​These saws can power the 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 best jigsaws on our review allow for variable speed, allowing you to work all the way down to 500 RPM in some cases.

Soft Start

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 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 versions will come with orbital 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, the 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 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 attached

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.

​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​ blade is only attached on one end to the saw 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 is only attached at one end.

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

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

Changing blades on a Makita jigsaw

T-Shank Blades vs U-Shank

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 saw. 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.

Teeth

You’ll see a TPI rating when you’re reviewing these saws. 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. Jigsaw blades with a smaller TPI cut faster, but less smooth cuts. Here is a very general guide for what type of TPI you make sure you choose 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 operation finish, but is very slow and won’t cut hard or thick woods well​

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 appropriate​ate blades that are available and their uses.

Blade Material
Explanation
Bi-Metal BladesUsed for light metal cutting and wood
Carbide BladesUsed to cut masonry board
High Speed Steel (HSS) BladeQuick and durable blades that are used for wood and metal cutting
Cobalt SteelHarder than bi-metal blades and HSS blades and have a longer cutting lifespan – mainly used for wood and metal cutting
Scrolling bladesNarrower than the average blade – used to create tighter cuts.

Tool-less Blade Clamp

A tool-less Blade clamp on your jigsaw allows 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 blade changing time consuming and annoying.

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

Jigsaw thick wood cuts

Additional Features

Light

Many of these saws come with an LED light that projects on your cut. While sounding a bit ancillary, this is actually a huge help. Because a jigsaw is portable and handheld, you’ll make sure to use 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

Sawdust is always a problem when you’re using any saw. Due to the nature of the cut and the size of the saw, these saws don’t produce a tremendous amount of dust. However, it doesn’t take much sawdust to get in the way of your cut line. The dust blower and a dust port work in sync with the trigger and prevents sawdust from settling on your material as you make your cut line. We find it highly convenient, especially if you’ll be using it mostly​ wood cuts.

Laser Guide

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

We don’t put a high priority on a laser guide – if the one you prefer has it, that’s an added bonus. But we wouldn’t decide on one model or the other based on whether it had this feature or not.

Raised with a fix-it and improvement mindset, my wife and I completely restored our Craftsman-style home. Learning how to DIY a variety of home improvement projects, I started SawsHub with my father. He's the fine woodworker, I'm the DIYer!