jigsaw

Best Jigsaw Reviews and Buying Guide 2019

Best Jigsaw Reviews 2019

Whether you are a homeowner with a few projects, a 9 to 5 professional laborer, or a master craftsman woodworker, a jigsaw is one of the most useful power tools that virtually everyone should own. However, the jigsaw market is definitely more stratified than some of the other power tool markets because it is asked to do far more different things than many other power tools. To help you make sense of this useful and versatile tool, we have put together a list of the best jigsaws on the market as well as a thorough buyer’s guide.

Comparison of the Picks
The jigsaw market is a bit difficult to judge because most jigsaws are made for professional laborers or inexperienced homeowners, even though the jigsaw is ostensibly designed for woodworking. In this regard, the only jigsaw we found suitable for its intended purpose is the Bosch as all the others have too many issues with cut precision to be reliably used for high-skill projects.

Beyond precision, there are a couple of solid options for rougher cuts, but the DEWALT and PORTER-CABLE definitely top the list. The DEWALT is definitely the better performing of the two and is even cordless, but it is also prohibitively expensive unless you use a jigsaw all the time. The PORTER-CABLE, on the other hand, offers excellent cutting power, but it tends to be a bit too imprecise for even some rough cuts.

Our runners up are both inexpensive jigsaws that have some serious question marks about their use or build. The BLACK+DECKER is criminally underpowered and will take significantly longer to make the same cut as the other jigsaws–if it can. The SKIL is more powerful than the BLACK+DECKER but it is noted for being extremely imprecise and not that durable either.

Bosch Power Tools Jig Saws – JS470E Corded Top-Handle Jigsaw – Best Seller

bosch jigsaw js470e
https://www.amazon.com/Bosch-JS470E-120-Volt-7-0-Amp-Top-Handle/dp/B004323NPK/
Bosch is one of the most respected and prestigious power tool manufacturers in the world and is one of a handful of brands which are almost always considered professional-grade outside of a select few products. Anyone who knows about the power tool market is unsurprised to see that Bosch occupies the bestseller position. This is because Bosch has built its reputation on the back of precision both in the construction of their products as well as its performance. While the Bosch leads our list in a number of important categories, it also happens to be the most expensive jigsaw we reviewed.

Precision Defined
With power saws in general, the precision of the cut will generally determine how skilled of a user and careful of a cut the power saw is defined for. Many types of power saws are made almost exclusively for rough cuts, while others may offer a range of different finishes. The more precise the jigsaw, the more likely it is able to be used for high-level woodworking projects made by master craftsmen–though they generally tend to stick with hand saws. Still, the Bosch JS470E goes above and beyond what most manufacturers do and use precision machined internal components so that the motor generates less vibration. To double up on this principle, the Bosch also features an anti-vibration design as well as an accurate and precise straight cut setting.

Power to Match
One area where Bosch is not really known to be the best is in terms of the mechanical power their tools generate. In fact, Bosch is usually one of the least powerful professional-grade brands–though the fact that it is professional-grade means they at least provide the industry standard. That said, for the Bosch jigsaw, this is actually the most powerful jigsaw on our list with a 7 amp motor. On top of that, the Bosch also has the second-fastest cut rate that we saw at 3100 maximum SPMs, though this is a modest increase and will have similarly modest effects. Finally, the Bosch also understands that though they may make an incredibly precise jigsaw, that does not mean even master craftsman will need every cut to be painstakingly precise. That is why the Bosch jigsaw also features a total of 4 cutting patterns with a number of aggressive orbital cutting actions.

Pros

  • Has precision machined internal components
  • Has 4 different orbital settings
  • Has a die-cast steel foot
  • Has a 7.0 amp motor
  • Has a maximum SPM of 3100
  • Has an ergonomic design

Cons

  • Is a more expensive jigsaw
  • The heaviest jigsaw reviewed

DEWALT DCS331B 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion Jig Saw – Top Pick

dewalt jigsaw dcs331b
https://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DCS331B-20-Volt-MAX-Li-Ion/dp/B007NVSSFS/
To be clear, the DEWALT is not our top pick because it is the best-performing jigsaw in most circumstances but because it will be the most useful jigsaw for more people. On the other hand, DEWALT is currently trying to regain its good standing in the community following a buyout by BLACK+DECKER. Still, DEWALT is mostly making good on this resurrection from the ashes, and the DEWALT DCS331B is a prime example of why. While this is not the most precise jigsaw saw reviewed, it is not nearly the least precise either. The biggest issue with this jigsaw is that it is significantly more expensive than a better performing competitor.

Excellent Build
One of the big differences between the DEWALT and many of the other jigsaws on the market is the build quality. Simply put, the DEWALT jigsaw is more durable and longer lasting than most of their competition–even if most of their competition is technically part of their parent company. Still, the all-metal keyless change combined with the durable steel base plate means you do not have to worry about wasting time or dropping the DEWALT as much as you would other jigsaws. On top of that, the DEWALT also features a powerful 20v motor and can cut along 4 different orbital patterns for a more or less aggressive cut.

Mostly Convenient
One of the more notable qualities of the DEWALT is the fact that it is the only cordless jigsaw on our list. This is important because it means that you can take and use the DEWALT in places and situations where most other jigsaws cannot go. That said, the cordless feature is also responsible for a huge portion of this jigsaw’s cost as it does not come with batteries which can almost double the cost. Another potential concern is that fact that this is also one of the heavier jigsaws which will increase hand fatigue when using for extended periods of time. That said, the DEWALT has one of the better dust blowers we encountered which helps keep the sightline clear and the cut smooth.

Pros

  • Is a cordless jigsaw
  • Has a 3 position bevel
  • All-metal keyless blade change
  • Has a 20v motor
  • Has 4 different orbital positions
  • Has a solid dust blower

Cons

  • The most expensive jigsaw reviewed
  • A heavier jigsaw

PORTER-CABLE PCE345 6-Amp Orbital Jig Saw – Best Value

porter cable jigsaw pce345
https://www.amazon.com/PORTER-CABLE-PCE345-6-Amp-Orbital-Jig/dp/B00OZEUL7Y/
PORTER-CABLE is another American company that was once considered professional-grade but decreased in quality and reputation following its acquisition and offshoring of production to China. That said, PORTER-CABLE definitely fared better than most of the companies to go through this process. This is likely because PORTER-CABLE was always considered a mid-tier brand before with an excellent tool action but little else to entice the consumer. While PORTER-CABLE has improved in this regard, it is still not leading the way. However, it is also a solidly built jigsaw that is durable and more than capable of extended use.

Serious Power
As is the general philosophy of PORTER-CABLE, this jigsaw features a solid 6 amp motor that generates more than enough torque for virtually any job. On top of that, this jigsaw also has the fastest cutting speed of 3200 SPMs which gives it a slight edge when cutting incredibly hard and dense woods. Also, the PORTER-CABLE comes with 4 different cutting patterns including a straight pendulum cutting action. However, the PORTER-CABLE is definitely lacking a bit in the precision category, even with the straight pendulum cutting action.

Bang for the Buck
It is important to remember that value is judged by a ratio of cost to function, so the best value is rarely the best performing. However, one way that a manufacturer can increase the value of their product is by adding extra features that increase the product’s convenience or ease of use. With the PORTER-CABLE, this shows up in a couple of ways but the most relevant is the inclusion of a built-in LED work light. The PORTER-CABLE is also a reasonably lightweight jigsaw, though it is not the lightest that we reviewed. The one downside, in this regard, to the PORTER-CABLE is that the trigger and handle are designed such that it is easy to accidentally start the jigsaw when picking it up or carrying it around.

Pros

  • Has a 6 amp motor
  • Is a less expensive jigsaw
  • Has a maximum SPM of 3200
  • Has 4 different orbital patterns
  • Has an LED work light
  • Has a 3 position bevel

Cons

  • Not the most precise
  • Not ergonomically designed

BLACK+DECKER BDEJS300C Jig Saw, 4.5-Amp – Runner Up

black decker jigsaw bdejs600c
https://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-BDEJS300C-Jig-4-5-Amp/dp/B00OJ72L84/
These days, BLACK+DECKER is better understood as a tool conglomerate rather than a company or brand. A big part of this has to do with the fact that BLACK+DECKER merged with Stanley, the largest and most successful hand tool manufacturer in the world. Then, BLACK+DECKER purchased most of the US brands of power tool manufacturers to corner the market and shipped all production offshore to China to cut overhead costs and pass on those savings to their customers. Unfortunately, there is a minimum amount that you can save on production costs before you begin to impact the performance and every BLACK+DECKER affiliated brand has seen this issue hurt their respective reputations–some of them which were sterling at the time.

Costly Value
BLACK+DECKER made sure to reserve the lowest price for their own brand which is still one of the best-selling in the world, mostly because it can be up to 3 times less expensive than the next closest competitor depending on the market. For jigsaws, the BLACK+DECKER BDEJS300C is by far the least expensive product we saw and half as expensive or less than the overwhelming majority of the competition. Of course, the low cost corresponds to a similarly low power rating and lower overall cutting power in general. This makes using the BLACK+DECKER a bit more time-consuming than some of the other models as it cuts slower.

Easy to Use
Though this jigsaw is not suitable for professional-grade jobs, it is more than capable of handling the occasional DIY project with light stock workpieces. For one, this is by far the lightest jigsaw that we reviewed which makes using it for long periods of time easier and controlling it somewhat easier. The BLACK+DECKER also features one of the better sightlines on our list, though it is unaided by a work light. The quick-clamp blade change means you do not have to worry about using a tool and taking time to change the blade just to get back to work.

Pros

  • Is the least expensive jigsaw reviewed
  • The lightest jigsaw reviewed
  • Has a good sightline
  • Has a quick-clamp blade change
  • Can make a bevel cut
  • Has a solid dust blower

Cons

  • Not the most powerful
  • Only has a single cutting action

SKIL 4495-02 6.0 Amp Orbital Action Laser Jigsaw – Also Consider

skil jigsaw 4495
https://www.amazon.com/4495-02-Orbital-Action-Laser-Jigsaw/dp/B00APL6RR4/
Decades ago, SKIL was considered one of the premier professional-grade power tool manufacturers, but these days it is considered more of a mid-tier brand mixed with a consumer-grade brand. As such, many of their power tools have fallen out of favor recently, and this drop in reputation followed an acquisition by BLACK+DECKER and an offshoring of production to Chinese factories–a trend that continues to shake the power tool market to its core. What is interesting is that SKIL was once known for being a no-frills brand that focused on quality craftsmanship and mechanical function, but these days they seem more interested in bells and whistles.

Fairly Convenient
It seems as though SKIL targeted this jigsaw almost squarely at the consumer who does not often use a jigsaw. One area where this is most notable is with the built-in laser sightline with the SKIL being the only jigsaw we found with that feature. While it is a good idea, in theory, you need to understand how to properly align the laser guide, because even the jostling from transportation can knock it off-kilter. The SKIL is also one of the more ergonomically designed jigsaws on our list with a handle and trigger designed that is less likely to result in an accidental start.

Up and Down
The SKIL is a runner up on our list not because it is a truly terrible jigsaw but because it is far more limited than some of the others we reviewed. One flaw with the SKIL that is shared by most of the jigsaw market at large is that it is not the most precise cutting jigsaw which precludes it from high-level woodworking cuts. However, this is also one of the least durable jigsaws on our list with a base plate known for bending and stripped screws. On the other hand, the SKIL does provide a 6 amp motor which is able to generate comparable cutting power compared to the rest of the competition. On top of that, this jigsaw also features the standard 4 cutting patterns, including the straight pendulum cutting action, so it is not poorly performing for rougher cuts.

Pros

  • Has a 6 amp motor
  • Is a less expensive jigsaw
  • Has a built-in laser sight
  • Has 4 different orbital positions
  • Easy to adjust
  • Is ergonomically designed

Cons

  • Not the most precise
  • Not the most durable

Best Jigsaw Saw Buying Guide

Type
When choosing a jigsaw, the first thing you need to consider is what type of jigsaw you want to purchase. There are two general types of jigsaw: the corded and cordless models which can be equally good for different things. For one, cordless jigsaws are obviously unencumbered from being tethered to a power outlet. This extreme portability, when compared to a corded model alone, makes it a great choice for professional laborers. That said, cordless jigsaws do come with some inherent flaws, but all pretty much center around the necessary battery pack to power a cordless model.

First, the battery pack of a cordless jigsaw is rarely included in the price and will generally start at around $80 but can get upwards of $200 if you buy a multi-pack and the charger–something you will almost certainly need if you are a working professional. On top of the extra cost that a cordless jigsaw entails, the jigsaw will begin to decrease in cutting power as the energy is consumed from the battery pack. Finally, cordless power tools, jigsaws included, generally cannot generate quite as much torque as a corded model can and thus ultimately less cutting power.

Power
Though the types may differ based on their power source, the actual power of the jigsaw is also one of the more vitally important qualities to consider when choosing one. This is because the power of the motor will directly correlate to the cutting power that the jigsaw has. Even more than that, the power of the motor will also help determine how precise the jigsaw is while cutting based on how much torque it can generate at different speeds. Though, the trend of more being better does not apply to the jigsaw, because it also needs to be far more precise than most of the other power saws.

As such, jigsaws will rarely have motors with amps in the double digits and cordless models all cap out at 20V anyway. That said, there are definitely jigsaws made which would be considered underpowered for a professional application, so make sure you get a jigsaw with enough juice to meet your demands. This is especially relevant for a jigsaw which is inherently intended to be an exceptionally versatile power tool in the first place. Some people may be purchasing a jigsaw just to make intricate cuts with woodworking projects, but others may appreciate its ability to cut a wide range of materials including metal and plastic.

Cutting Action
The cutting action refers to how the blade of the jigsaw actually cuts into the wood and there are two main types of cutting actions. The first, and original, jigsaw cutting action is the pendulum cutting action which rocks the blade a bit as it reciprocates up and down. This cutting action is especially useful for making incredibly precise cuts that require the highest levels of woodworking skill. That said, the pendulum cutting action is also notoriously difficult to master with the blade often either bowing or catching in the workpiece while using the jigsaw. The other major cutting action of a jigsaw is the orbital cutting action which is actually borrowed from other power tools.

The orbital cutting action uses the pendulum motion of the original cutting action but also allows the blade to move ever so little from side to side as well. This generates a much more aggressive cutting action and prevents the blade from catching or bowing, but it also has the problem of making the cut a bit less precise and increasing the size of the kerf–sometimes significantly. Because of this, jigsaws with only orbital cutting actions without a pendulum setting are generally not used by craftsman of the highest skill.

SPM
The SPM, or strokes per minute, is likely one of the most over-hyped specs on a jigsaw, but that is not to suggest it is unimportant. Instead, most manufacturers hover around 3000 no-load SPMs with a few going a bit above that. What is far more important than the maximum no-load speed is the ability to control the speed of your jigsaw’s blade. This is because different materials are better cut at different SPMs with softer material requiring lower SPMs to prevent tearing and harder materials requiring higher SPMs to prevent burning. This is especially relevant if you are using the jigsaw to cut metal or plastic as these materials are softer and require slower jigsaw blades.

In this case, an infinite variable speed control is preferred but uncommon with the more likely scenario being a variable speed control with a handful of stops. Even if the jigsaw’s speed can be controlled by the trigger, chances are that the motor runs along a driven transmission progression. On top of how fast the blade should reciprocate depending on the material, the SPM will also impact the overall cutting speed of the jigsaw. Again, since the speeds are relatively the same across the board, this will not matter as much except for rare exceptions.

Base Plate
Though this component is not actually involved in the cutting action of the jigsaw in any way, it is easily one of the more important considerations. This is because the base plate will impact virtually everything about using the jigsaw as well as how precise it can cut. In this regard, we generally judge the base plate of a jigsaw on two primary qualities: the material and the alignment. Ultimately, the alignment is more important than the materials in terms of precision, but the materials will often determine how long and how well the base plate retains its proper alignment.

When it comes to the materials, there are a number of options, but there are three general philosophies that manufacturers use. The first is to make the base plate as durable as possible which makes sense since it is the point of contact with the workpiece. These base plates are made of steel. The next approach is to try and cut down on the overhead and production costs as much as possible which generally means using a softer metal. This is a common practice with consumer-grade and budget-minded jigsaws. The final approach attempts to bridge the gap between durability and a lightweight design. These base plates are generally made of magnesium or tungsten, but they are also much more expensive.

Sightline
The sightline is a bit difficult to judge for a jigsaw largely because so few manufacturers are actually bad enough to make it impossible to see the blade. That said, some manufacturers are better than others at anticipating, and presumably testing, the sightline of their products. The first and most important thing to look for in this regard is that the jigsaw’s blade is clearly visible from a comfortable user position. If you cannot naturally see the sightline while you are holding the jigsaw, no adjustment is going to make it more comfortable or easier to do so.

Still, with the bar for entry set so low, a number of manufacturers have decided to up the ante a bit by improving upon the base sightline of a jigsaw. One of the more common ways to do this is by including a built-in work light like an LED to help see the sightline even when the workspace may be a bit dark. Another improvement on the sightline, though far less common than a built-in work light, is a laser guide. This is a laser beam that lays out the cut line in front of the jigsaw, but laser guides will regularly need to be recalibrated due to the vibration of the machine.

Ergonomics
The ergonomics of a jigsaw relates to how the power tool feels to use, both in the short term and over a longer period of time. This will either be an incredibly important consideration, or it will not matter at all–there is not much in between in terms of prioritizing this quality. This is because ergonomics are all about convenience and ease, but it also often comes at a steeper price. Basically, if you intend to regularly use the jigsaw for long stretches at a time, then you will want to pay attention to the jigsaw’s ergonomics. As such, professionals and high-volume craftsman should seriously consider paying extra for a jigsaw which is ergonomically designed.

In terms of the actual ergonomic qualities of a jigsaw, the weight is likely the most important aspect to consider. This is because the weight will generally determine how quickly your hand fatigues and tires while using the jigsaw. The handle can be designed such and use non-slip materials to mitigate this as does the inclusion of lock-on function–though you need to be extremely careful if using a lock-on feature rather than the trigger start which stops when you take your finger off the trigger.

Bevel
This is one of the least common types of cuts made with a jigsaw, largely because it is fairly difficult to use this feature for a functional purpose. If you are using a jigsaw, then chances are you need to make some curved or otherwise organic cuts. Unless you are incredibly skilled and experienced, you are unlikely to replicate the inverse of the initial cut to be able to use it functionally. This means that the bevel on a jigsaw is meant to be used to create a decorative bevel instead of a functional one. As such, this places the bevel feature almost squarely in the woodworker’s wheelhouse since professional laborers are rarely hired for the artistic finishing touches.

While pretty much all jigsaw bevels will be able to cut at a 45-degree angle, some jigsaws are able to cut other common bevel angles as well. These jigsaws will often be able to cut bevels at 30-degrees and 15-degrees which is even more of a clue that this function is meant for decorative woodworking. Of course, if you need to make an organic cut with a bevel, the jigsaw is pretty much the only power tool in town with band saws and scroll saws usually not able to cut a running bevel like that and an oscillating multi-tool requiring a complicated setup to properly brace it.

FAQ

How do I Make a Plunge Cut using my jigsaw?

One of the best things about a jigsaw is that it easily allows you to make plunge cuts that you otherwise would not be able to make. That said, there are a couple of ways to accomplish this, though the most common is to simply use a drill to cut a pilot hole and start cutting from there. Of course, if you do not have a drill, then you will place the shoe edge up on the workpiece and tilt the blade to the wood. Then, you will cut into the wood while slowly pulling the jigsaw towards you to prevent the blade from breaking. In fact, you actually use this technique when making a corner cut, except you join the plunge cuts together at a vertex.

Conclusion

The best performing jigsaw may work for everyone, but not everyone needs the best-performing jigsaw–or its price. That said, if you have to get one jigsaw for the myriad of tasks that it can accomplish, we definitely recommend the Bosch. It is the only jigsaw on our list we feel comfortable can complete the most precise of jigsaw cuts. Of course, not everyone needs to make the most precise jigsaw cuts which is where the DEWALT and PORTER-CABLE come in. The DEWALT is incredibly expensive but it is also the most durable jigsaw and the only cordless model reviewed while the PORTER-CABLE is just an all-around great value.