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Jig Saw Buying Guide - Best Jigsaw Tool For DIY

Jig Saw Buying Guide - Best Jigsaw Tool For DIY

Specifications Summary - Jigsaw Tool

  • Variable speed with up to 3,000 SPM
  • Adjustable shoe
  • Orbital action with 3-4 positions
  • Tool less blade change
  • Corded, unless you are willing to pay the cordless premium

Product Recommendations - Jigsaw Tool

What is a jigsaw used for?

Some people will debate which type of saw is the best to start with if you are new to wood working projects or renovations.  In my opinion, a jig saw is an extremely versatile cutting tool that can be used on virtually any project you will ever have.  Of course, there are other saws that are a much better choice for certain applications.  However, the focus of this blog is for people who are new to the DIY world and I think that a jig saw is not only a great tool to learn the basics with, but also provides a great value (budget-wise) since it can be utilized for so many different cutting functions.  

A jig saw can make cuts across the grain of the wood (cross cut), with the grain of the wood (rip cuts) and is ideal for making curved or circular cuts.  Furthermore, most jig saws are adjustable such that bevel cuts can also be made.  Not only that, with the proper blade, the jig saw can cut metal, PVC and of course, wood of all types.  This is what makes this saw so great.  If you need to rip a sheet of plywood into strips, this saw will do it (although not as fast as a circular saw or table saw).  If you need to cut some 2x4’s for the dog house you are building the jig saw has you covered.  Need a bevel cut for that box you are making?  I think you are getting the point.  Again, are there other saws that could some of these jobs much faster or make a straighter bevel, yes.  However, the point here is that this is a great tool to learn with and is budget friendly as it can handle so many different jobs.  This is why I consider this a must have power tool for homeowners.

Jigsaw features

While shopping for a jig saw you are going to see several features advertised.  These include variable speed, strokes per minute, adjustable shoe, orbital action positions and ‘no tool’ blade change.

- Variable Speed -

Variable speed refers to how fast the blade moves which is measured in strokes per minute.  A variable speed jig saw allows you to control the speed of the blade to match the material you are cutting which gives you more control through your cut.  There will typically be a control switch that allows you to increase or decrease the speed.  Typically, variable speed jig saws will be listed as 0-3000 strokes per minute (SPM).

- Adjustable Shoe -

The shoe or base plate of the jig saw is the metal piece that rests on the material that you are cutting.  If the shoe is adjustable, it means that the blade can be adjusted so that a beveled cut can be made.  Generally, you will see specifications noted as the bevel capacity being 45 degrees.  This implies that the maximum angle of your bevel cut will be 45 degrees.  Of course, you can set it for a smaller angle but you will not get anything more than this.  You may also see product descriptions stating detents at 0, 15, 30 and 45 degrees.  This means that there are built in stops for the shoe so when you are adjusting the angle, the shoe will automatically stop at these pre determined settings.  

- Orbital -

The number of orbital action positions refers to the stroke position of the jig saw blade.  You can adjust the blade so that it only goes straight up and down or you can give it an orbital type motion where the blade goes up and down while also going forwards and backwards.  This orbital action cuts more aggressively and will help you get through those tough pieces faster and with less effort.  Jig saws with 3-4 orbital action positions are the most common and either of these will make a great tool.

- No Tools Required -

The tool-less blade change feature is similar to having a keyless chuck on your cordless drill/driver.  All it means is that you can change the blade on your saw without needing any special tools to do so.  This is very convenient and makes changing blades fast and simple.  This feature is very common among these tools and does not really add to the cost.

Cordless Jigsaw

- Cordless vs. Corded -

You will find both corded jig saws and cordless jig saws on the market these days.  Now, I love cordless power tools and the thought of having a complete set of cordless tools that I can interchange batteries with is very appealing.  The biggest issue with going in this direction is the cost.  I’ve said previously that it is well worth the cost to go cordless on your drill/driver.  However, it’s harder for me to justify going cordless on your jig saw just because there is a fairly sizable price difference between the corded and cordless versions.  

In summary, here is what I would look for in a jig saw.

  • Variable speed with up to 3,000 SPM
  • Adjustable shoe
  • Orbital action with 3-4 positions
  • Tool less blade change
  • Corded, unless you are willing to pay the cordless premium

To help make your decision easier, I have provided a few recommendations below.

Jigsaw tool prices

As I have mentioned previously, I lean toward buying a tool that comes with a carrying case or bag as this makes storage much easier.  You should be able to purchase a jig saw meeting the above specifications with a carrying case for about $80.  If you want to go with an 18 volt cordless jig saw, you should expect to pay $130+ for a bare tool.  This means you are only getting the tool and there are no batteries, charger or carrying case.  If you already have an 18 volt tool with a couple batteries and a charger and these batteries will be compatible with your jig saw, then you may only need to buy the bare tool.  However, if you do not have compatible batteries keep in mind that a Li-ion battery can be $80+ and a charger will be another $70-$80.  This is why buying a kit for about $240 is more economical than buying the individual pieces.  It is now pretty obvious why I recommend a corded jig saw as a cordless version is nearly 3x the price of a comparable saw.

Jigsaw brands

The major retailers all carry multiple manufacturers of jig saws.  In fact, most of these manufacturers compete with each other in just about every category of power tools.  Some of the manufacturers cater to the professional craftsman but offer product lines geared toward homeowners and those interested in do-it-yourself projects.  Other manufacturers focus primarily on the homeowner market and try to offer a tool that is as inexpensive as they can possibly make it.  When it comes to tools, I am a strong believer in the old adage “you get what you pay for.”  I am not saying that the cheap product will not work or will break after a couple uses.  What I will say is that I would not have high expectations that the product is going to last for the long haul or survive being dropped off a workbench or put through fairly heavy use. If you are in a pinch and need something right away and you are just not ready to commit to spending $80, then by all means get what you can.  But, I have spent the extra money on the premium brands and I have used tools of the lower end brands and I can say that I notice a difference in quality.

Here is a list (in no particular order) of what I consider to be the brands that offer the best quality, selection and durability of a jig saw while also providing products that are affordable for users like us.

  • Milwaukee
  • DeWalt
  • Bosch
  • Ridgid
  • Hitachi
  • Makita

I personally own tools made by Milwaukee, DeWalt, Hitachi and Ridgid and I have been extremely happy with their performance, durability and price.  I do not own any Bosch or Makita tools yet but I have read in many forums that people are very happy with these brands as well.  

If you are big on “Made in the U.S.A”, unfortunately you will not have any options for jig saws.  DeWalt has a “Made In The USA With Global Materials” emblem on products made here but I do not see any jig saws labeled as such.  Makita is the only other company that mentions manufacturing in the U.S as they do have a plant in Georgia but they do not specify which products are produced there.

Jigsaw attachments

The most common accessory for your jig saw will be a blade set.  You can get a set of 10-15 blades for about $15-$20.  The blades will come in different lengths (for cutting materials of various thickness), different tooth configurations (fine cuts, fast cuts, etc) and different material applications (wood, metal).  

You could also buy a guide that can be attached to your saw to assist in cutting straight lines or perfect circles.  If you need a very straight cut or want to cut an accurate circle, then buying one of these guides is recommended.

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