Best Jigsaws of 2017

– Buyer's Guide
4 reviews
2759 words

Best Jigsaw - Reviews

Black & Decker Smart Select

Best value: Black & Decker Smart Select 5.0A Orbital Jigsaw Review

For a jigsaw that can do it all at an undeniably affordable price point, the Black and Decker Smart Select Orbital Jigsaw is the uncontested way to go. It’s ideal for the experienced saw user and beginning DIYers alike—the “smart select” tool that coined its name allows you to choose the material you’ll be cutting with the flick of a dial. Then, the machine optimizes the settings for you.

Its perfectly workable five amps of power are enough for most light- to medium-duty applications, although the heavy-duty user may find the power insufficient for metal or tile projects.

This jigsaw also has seven speed settings (up to 3,000 SPMs), putting it at the top of its class in the versatility department.

And, as a corded model, it saves money on batteries and is more reliable in the power department. The Black & Decker Smart Select is flexible enough to cut both straight and curved lines, making it ideal for everything from home décor projects to building endeavors.

Overall, with its wide range of bonus features (onboard blade holder and quick-release blades, just to name two), sturdy build, and mid-range price point, the Black & Decker is undoubtedly the best value jigsaw around.

Pros

  • Bevel adjustments up to 45 degrees make cutting at an angle a breeze.
  • Functional dust blower keeps your cutting space clear of debris.
  • It’s equipped for both u- and t-shank blades—no “either-or” necessary.
  • 7 pre-programmed orbit settings are ideal for both novices and experts.
  • It’s a definitively low-vibration tool, which is great for precision work.

Cons

  • The quick-release blade feature doesn’t “click” into place, so it’s difficult to tell when the blade is locked in.
  • It’s better at curved cuts than straight ones, and may not be the best choice for projects like shelves.
Makita 4329K

Also great: Makita 4329K Variable-Speed Top-Handle Jig Saw Review

Compact, light, and equipped with comfortable ergonomic grips, this great-value corded jigsaw is a steal for the price. With a name like Makita, you know you’re getting something built to last.

Three orbital settings and a variable speed dial that adjusts between 500 and 3,100 SPMs allow for a variety of applications. We’re big fans of the lock-on button, too. In short, it has everything you need for woodworking in an easy-to-understand, high-quality package.

So, why is it only the runner-up? It has less bells and whistles than the Black & Decker best-value jigsaw. Its motor is only 3.9 amps, which can limit the projects you can realistically tackle or force you to move more slowly than many woodworkers like. You also need a wrench to switch out the blades, which can be frustrating and time-consuming for many.

Despite its comparative simplicity, the Makita 4329K is one of the best jigsaws available for light use at an extremely competitive price point.

Pros

  • 3 orbital settings make customizing your cuts easy.
  • Its rubber grips and light weight make it comfortable for long-term use.
  • A counterweight balancing system is great for reduced vibration and increased safety.
  • The lock-on button saves your fingers fatigue for extended projects.

Cons

  • It uses u-shanks, not t-shanks, which are much harder to remove.
  • There is no dust collection system, so you’ll need to use external tools for that.
Black & Decker BDEJS600C

Budget choice: Black & Decker BDEJS600C 5.0-Amp Jig Saw Review

You don’t always have to sacrifice quality and features for the best price around. The Black & Decker BDEJS600C is proof of that. It’s the best price around by a time-tested name with the power you need for light- to medium-duty projects.

A variety of orbital settings, a variable speed feature, and a “wire guard” that encourages more precise cuts make the Black & Decker jigsaw a solid buy for an unbeatable price. While you won’t have many bells and whistles like LED lights and dust collection ports, you will have everything you need for basic projects with this high-quality budget jigsaw.

Pros

  • The variable speed feature goes up to 3,000 SPM, comparable to high-end models.
  • Adjustable bevel cuts provide greater versatility and ease of use.
  • Four orbital settings are great for a variety of cuts and materials.
  • It offers tool-free blade changes and accepts a variety of blades.

Cons

  • It’s very heavy and cumbersome for its size; so, while sturdy, it could be a hassle for some.
  • The variable speed is controlled by a trigger, and it can be tricky to find the sweet spot for the lower speeds.
  • Bosch JS470E

    Best-in-class: Bosch JS470E 7.0-Amp Top-Handle Jigsaw Review

    What could be better than finding the very best high-end jigsaw at a price that almost rivals its budget counterparts? Not much, as the Bosch JS470E proves. The Bosch name you trust has partnered with the power you need and all the bonuses you want to make this Bosch jigsaw truly the best around.

    Quality, a clearly well-designed and intuitive system, and everything the experienced woodworker needs (with the ease of use necessary for beginners) make the Bosch our best jigsaw pick.

    Top-in-class power (seven amps) and top in class SPMs (up to 3,100) pair up for unbeatable versatility. Its power, sturdiness, and speed combine to ensure you can cut just about anything, from firm steel to the softest wood and everything in between, with ease.

    We’re big fans of the Bosch’s circuitry system, which ensures unerringly consistent speed—no hiccups or slow-downs here. It’s very low-vibration for the cleanest cuts and a safe work experience.

    Orbital adjustments, tool-less blade change, comfortable and sturdy grip, comparatively quiet operation (even with all that power)—this jigsaw has everything you could need and most of what you could want at an amazing price, which is why we’ve given it the proud spot of our best high-end jigsaw on the market.

    Pros

    • Variable speed and easy-to-use accelerator trigger for instant adjustments.
    • Four orbital settings cover just about any cut necessary.
    • The comfortable, ergonomic grip is ideal for long-term use.
    • The adjustable dust-blower keeps your work area clean and safe.
    • A reliable lock-on button ensures perfectly steady cuts on large projects.

    Cons

    • It’s comparatively heavy, although the low vibration and comfy grips balance out the heft.
    • We do wish it had LED track lights for lower-light situations.

    3. Why to buy a jigsaw

    Your handy circular saw can do many things, but cutting curved lines isn’t one of them. The design isn’t conducive to crafty projects or those requiring more custom cuts. Jigsaws, on the other hand, are handheld saws with a compact blade capable of:

    • Both straight and curved cuts
    • Beveling (changing the shape of an edge so it’s not perfectly square)
    • Plunge cuts (varying depth)
    • Any other custom shape you can come up with

    Another bonus?

    Jigsaws can also cut a variety of materials, including:

    • Wood (their original purpose)
    • Plastic
    • Metal
    • Tile

    In essence, jigsaws can complete the work of a variety of more specialized saws, all in one compact, versatile package.

    Jigsaws are typically constructed with similar speeds and basic capabilities; the best jigsaw for your needs will depend more upon how you plan to use it and your budget than on speed and size (unlike many power tools).

    4. So how do jigsaws work?

    A jigsaw is powered by a motor connected to gears that move a small blade in an up-and-down pattern to cut materials such as wood. The base (called the shoe) of the jigsaw is pressed against your workpiece, and the blade cuts as it moves up.

    The mechanics may be simple, but there are many factors to consider when choosing the best jigsaw for your needs. Things like SPM (Strokes Per Minute), orbital settings, material accommodations (wood, plastic, and so on), and level of vibration will all determine the best jigsaw choice.

    5. Jigsaw power matters

    Jigsaw power is measured in either amps or volts depending on the type of jigsaw. Corded jigsaws are measured in amps, while cordless models are measured in volts.

    Predictably, power correlates directly to how hard of a material you can cut. Less power means you’re restricted to soft woods, while the most powerful motors allow for clean cuts on metal and tile.

    Available maximum power typically ranges from 4-7 amps or 18-20 volts. The small ranges here tell you something: power isn’t the most important factor in a good jigsaw.

    At least four amps or 18 volts will get the job done on wood and plastic projects. Heavy-duty users or pros should err on the side of greater power when it’s available.

    6. Jigsaw speed & speed settings

    Power and speed come into play for any power tool purchase. But jigsaws, mercifully, are pretty uniform in the speed department. Most jigsaws have a maximum speed of 3,000 SPMs, or Strokes Per Minute.

    Variable speed settings

    What’s more important here is the number of speed settings (variable speed settings) available on the jigsaw. Some lower-end jigsaw models don’t come with a variable speed dial, but these are only sufficient for woodworking rookies or those who need a jigsaw for a very specific application.

    Higher-end jigsaw models come with 4-7 variable speeds. Why is this important? The less dense the material, the faster speed you can use (and visa versa); so, if you’re cutting metal, you need the slowest available speed, but wood can be cut on the higher end of the spectrum. The more versatile you want your jigsaw use to be, the more speeds you’ll need.

    7. Look at jigsaw stroke length

    Speaking of strokes, there’s one other performance-related factor to consider: stroke length. That’s the distance the blade can move (vertically) to cut your workpiece. That length can range from about ¾’’ (18mm) to 1’’ (26 mm).

    Generally, the longer the jigsaw’s stroke length, the larger the workpiece you’ll be able to work with (comfortably). That’s because, the longer the stroke length, the faster the jigsaw can cut. 5/8’’ or greater is a good stroke length to aim for.

    The speed you can work at isn’t the only factor affected by stroke length
    • Shorter strokes tend to produce a smoother cut. They also (tend to) produce less vibration.
    • Longer strokes, on the other hand, are the ideal choice for thicker or denser materials.

    8. Corded vs. cordless jigsaws

    While the range of features, like speed, power, and accessories, doesn’t change much between corded and cordless jigsaws, they do have some fundamental differences that will appeal to (and repel) some people.

    • Corded jigsaws tend to be more powerful. They’re also better for extended use (since they can’t run out of juice) and are far more light-weight than their corded counterparts.
    • Cordless jigsaws are, predictably, more portable and easily maneuvered. But they’re also clunkier (batteries add weight) and aren’t ideal for large projects due to the possibility of them running out of battery power unexpectedly.

    9. Orbital action settings

    Jigsaw blades typically move up and down to cut. But orbital action causes the blade to move in an orbital (read: circular) motion to make its cuts. This is helpful because it allows the user more versatility, precision, and control. The blade still moves up and down, but will also move forward and backward slightly as it cuts.

    Different materials & cut styles

    Different orbital levels are necessary for different materials and cut styles. So, for the mid-level DIY-er or professional woodworker, a variety of jigsaw orbit speeds is essential. You want more orbit for straight cuts and porous materials, but less for curved cuts, dense materials, and precision (design) work.

    If you just want to complete simple cuts or don’t anticipate much variety in your projects, you can save a few dollars by skipping orbital action altogether (or cutting down on the amount of settings).

    10. Jigsaw vibration can ruin projects

    It’s harder to steer a bike with a flat tire because it’s vibrating, or bumping, against the cement. The same is true of power tools and especially of jigsaws. Vibration can ruin your accuracy and create uneven lines; too much can even become a safety hazard.

    Vibration reduction

    The best jigsaws usually boast a vibration reduction mechanism to avoid this, but some are naturally low-vibration tools. For precision-sensitive work, look for a jigsaw will low to no vibration.

    11. T-shank vs. u-shank jigsaw blades

    Another factor that plays a big part in your jigsaw experience—although, admittedly, not the quality of your results—is whether the jigsaw uses t-shank or u-shank blades. Shanks are the shafts that holds your blade in your jigsaw. Both options get the job done, but there are some differences.

    U-shank blades

    These are becoming less and less common, but are attached to the jigsaw via a screw. That means you need a special tool to remove the blade, which can be time-consuming and cumbersome.

    T-shank blades

    T-shank blades are the most common jigsaw blade. You can put away your Allen wrench for t-shank blades: these jigsaws usually have a quick-release feature that allows you to slip the blade out in seconds instead of minutes.

    T-shanks can also be a little stronger, although it’s unlikely that you’ll notice a significant difference.

    The bottom line?

    The only difference is time and convenience, so if you’re looking at two comparable products and the shank type is the only difference, you can probably save a few dollars by choosing the u-shank jigsaw if you don’t mind a little extra finagling.

    12. Bonus jigsaw accessories and features

    The basics are great, but sometimes you want (or need) a little something extra in a jigsaw to earn it the title of “best jigsaw” in your shop. There are a range of impressive, interesting, and helpful bonus features that can take your woodworking experience to the next level.

    1. Laser lines help you cut unerringly precise lines when perfection is key.
    2. Dual bevel: This feature lets you make angled cuts without actually moving your wood.
    3. A dust-collection port cleans up dust and chips as you go (although you’ll need to purchase a hose or connect your Shop Vac).
    4. Dust blowers are kind of like the leaf blower of the shop: they blow away the same debris that a port would collect to keep your table clean.
    5. LED lights illuminate your cut line, which is helpful in low-light situations.
    6. Quick-swap blades, as previously mentioned, allow you to remove blades without tools.
    7. Anti-vibration: This feature reduces vibration for more precise results and increased safety, as well as longer blade life.
    8. Comfortable handles: These are crucial for large-scale projects. Look for barrel grip or comfort (ergonomic) grip handles.
    9. Variable speed control: This comes in the form of either a gradual trigger or a dial. It allows for more versatility in cut quality, material, and project range.
    10. Lock-on button: Some jigsaws require you to compress a button to keep your jigsaw running. For extended cuts, lock-on buttons free up your fingers so you can focus on the task at hand.

    13. Jigsaw buying tips

    The great thing about jigsaws is that (most) aren’t inherently “good” or “bad”. Use your intended application, level of versatility required, and this checklist of basic must-haves to determine the best jigsaw for you, whether it’s a simple budget jigsaw or the best tricked-out professional tool on the market today.

    Must-have features in a budget jigsaw

    • Look for a jigsaw with at least 4-5 amps or 18 volts for simple wood projects.
    • Prioritize getting a stroke length of 5/8’’ or greater.
    • Either a low-vibration jigsaw or one with vibration reduction features is a must-have for a functional cutting experience.

    Good-to-have features for a stepped-up jigsaw

    • A variable speed dial with at least two speeds will allow for greater versatility.
    • Orbital action settings further broaden your woodworking range.
    • T-shank blades save time over their complex u-shank counterparts.

    Great-to-have features in a high-end jigsaw

    • Go all-out with 4-7 variable speeds to cut everything from wood to tile.
    • Don’t skimp on some kind of dust collection system, whether it’s a port or a blower.
    • Quick-swap T-shank blades will make your jigsaw prep experience nearly effortless.
    • LEDs will make the cutting experience stress-free for your eyes.
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