Best Jigsaw 2018
Choosing The Best Jigsaw 2018
Jigsaws have been a staple in woodworker’s shops for decades. The versatile tool has many uses outside of the shop as well. It’s not uncommon to find them in tool bags on job sites as they come in all types from industrial to budget-friendly.
When looking for the best jigsaw, you obviously have to consider power and speed. On modern tools, several other areas come into play, and our experts are going to break those down for you below. We have also included several options to choose from including models for every price point.
|#3||Black & Decker Smart Select||4.5|
Considerations before buying a jigsaw
If you plan on using your jigsaw on construction sites or do more remodeling that DIY projects, you will want more horsepower. The power is a great place to start narrowing down the field, and jigsaws generally fall into one of two categories.
Homeowners or consumers that want a light-duty tool can shoot for a jigsaw with a lower amp motor. Anything from three to four amps should do the trick. Some of the best jigsaws aren’t high-powered at all as it comes down to what you need to cut and how often you use the tool.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the professional models. You can find pro-grade tools up to 7 amps which is what you’ll want for the job site more often than not. They are ideal for woodworkers that stay busy in the shop or consumers that need a lot of horsepower out of the box.
Speed is directly tied to power but not in the usual sense. Almost every jigsaw on the market will provide you with variable speeds. There are a few exceptions to that rule, but it is generally a common feature on many types of saws.
How high or low it allows you to go is what matters and speed is measured in SPM which stands for strokes per minute.
On the low end, you can find tools that let you dip down to around 500 SPM while 3,000 is common for your top speed. Pay close attention to the trigger as well if you plan to use the jigsaw on a daily basis. Some models have larger triggers that can accommodate two-fingers and are very comfortable to use. Trigger lock is another feature to keep an eye out for. It should be standard by now but is not.
We’ll keep this one simple. Stroke length refers to the distance the blade travels in and out of the saw. There is no fancy measurement for stroke length, but we feel 5/8” is a good average range.
The longer the stroke length, the larger the stock you can work with – always keep that in mind.
This is another feature we wish were more common on a jigsaw tool, but something you will only find on a handful of options. That would be the dust port.
If you cut vertically or don’t use your jigsaw that often, it’s not something you will want to worry about at all. Consumers that are heavy jigsaw users will feel differently however as a good dust port can keep your work area clean of dust and debris.
Blade guide and Orbital functionality
As the name implies, a blade guide helps keep you on track while you cut. That said, they are considered an “extra” by some manufacturers so they aren’t something you will find on every tool.
It’s the opposite with orbital functionality however as it has become common. That’s a good thing considering we think it’s a “must have” feature if you want the most from your tool. Instead of a straight stroke, jigsaws with this feature put an upward swing to things.
Some of the best jigsaws allow you to adjust this action as well. Top models can have up to four settings, which is great for some, but could be considered overkill for others.
It’s safe to say nobody buys a tool with the intention of it dropping dead after a few weeks. Unfortunately, that can happen with a low-quality tool – especially jigsaws. Due to the constant motion, this tool can experience some heavy wear and tear. That is why build quality is very important.
Look for a jigsaw with a metal gear housing if it will be your workhorse as that alone can extend its life considerably. The foot is important as well, so consider an aluminum cast or stamped steel foot. In a nutshell, go metal when durability is a concern.
When considering the build quality, you also have to consider the price.
If you want a jigsaw with more metal than plastic, you’ll need to pony up a few more bucks. The weight can also be a concern with some metal tools, but shouldn’t be with jigsaws. Unless you go cordless, that is…
Corded vs. Cordless
Next to horsepower, this will be a “make or break” area for a lot of folks. Corded vs. cordless is a major decision to make and one we’re going to try and help you with.
Cordless tools are versatile, and when you consider the flexibility a jigsaw gives you already, well… it may be an easy decision. Leaving the cord behind can let you get into some tricky spots. It also means you can work in areas where there is no wall socket and will never have to fire up a generator.
On the downside, you do have to charge up those batteries eventually. They can also be expensive to replace, and you have to think about the charger. Those are two additional areas to worry about, and two that will never be a concern on corded models.
Before we had lithium-ion batteries, we had to deal with power cords on our tools. While it may sound like a drag if you’ve never owned a corded tool, they typically have more power overall. They also give you unlimited power as long as you have access to a power socket.
Weight is a toss-up between the two styles as larger batteries can actually add weight to a tool. This is another area where you seriously need to sit down and think about your needs as buying wrong here can be a costly mistake.
It’s safe to say most people don’t use their jigsaws in the dark. That would be dangerous, but there are times when you will have to deal with dimly lit locations. That’s where a built-in LED light can lend a hand, and it’s one of several extras you can find on the best jigsaws.
While not nearly as common, some models have blowers that can shoot a stream of air towards your stock to keep it clear. If you’ll use a corded drill, be sure to check out the length of the cord beforehand.
A short cord can leave you stuck or looking or an extension cord. Last but not least would be the bevel setup. Every saw on our list has one, but some allow for a wider degree of adjustment than others.
Jigsaw buying guide
Before we get to our top choices for the best jigsaw, we felt it important to point out a few things about this particular tool. If you have owned one (or more) jigsaws in your lifetime, feel free to jump ahead to our main section for the best jigsaw overall.
How to use a jigsaw
No matter what you intend to cut, you will always use the jigsaw in the same fashion.
The first thing you need to start with is the blade. If you choose the wrong one, you’re shooting yourself in the foot before you even power on the saw. For metal, use the proper blade and be sure to adjust the speed accordingly.
The next step would be to check and prep your work area as needed. The process will vary depending on what you will cut, but anything that’s not “attached” needs to be locked down. Clamps are your best friend and can be found in every woodshop for a reason.
Be sure to mark your cut lean cleanly and ensure there is no debris on your work area. You also need to make sure your measurements are correct as saws are built to take material away – not add it.
When you finally start making your cut, slow and steady is the way to go. You can speed up once you are comfortable and into the stock but never go full blast straight away.
If you happen to feel the blade bind or the saw bogs down, slow down. You can back out of cuts sometimes, but want to prevent your blade from snapping at all costs. They are cheap to replace, but can still cause damage to you or your project.
What can you use a jigsaw for
Now that you know how to operate a jigsaw, you may be wondering what it can do. Sure, it can cut a line through wood or metal, but there are better tools for that purpose. We will get to one of those soon enough, but for now, we want to talk about some interesting uses for jigsaws.
An obvious use for a jigsaw is wood, but it can deal with metal as well. Plaster and other materials are no match, especially things like PVC pipe.
Their main draw lies in its ability to cut curves, however, and it’s something it can do with ease. It is the only tool we can recommend for making any type of wavy cut and is right there with a bandsaw in terms of versatility.
Jigsaw vs. Circular saw: Which one do you need?
These tools are two completely different animals, but the jigsaw vs. circular saw debate is still alive and kicking today. That’s because they can both whiz through various types of material, and both can cut a very straight line.
The main difference between these two is power and speed. Well, that and the fact you can’t cut perfect curves or circles with a circular saw unless you are a true magician. If you can, feel free to send us a video.
On the flipside, a circular saw can smoke a jigsaw when it comes to long straight cuts or ripping boards. There is no comparison if you need to make a quick straight cut through thick stock.
Last but not least we are going to talk about jigsaw safety.
The same rules apply here that apply to using any power tool. Common sense is your guideline here, and remember to wear safety glasses at all times.
Loose clothing isn’t nearly as much of a concern with a jigsaw, but you will still want to keep long, loose sleeves or bracelets in mind. Things that can snag are typically bad news in the tool world regardless.
Whether you are working with wood or metal, keep your hands out of the way, and we highly advise you to invest in a good set of gloves.
|#3||Black & Decker Smart Select||4.5|
Best Jigsaw overall
Our top overall choice for the best jigsaw comes from a company you’ll get to know very well if you follow our site. That’s DeWalt, and this is the bare tool version of the popular DC330B Jigsaw. This one is cordless, but have no fear as it has plenty of horsepower under its diminutive hood.
Power and capabilities
The DeWalt DC330B runs off an 18-volt battery. While you will have to pick one of those up yourself if you don’t have one handy, trust us when we say it’s powerful.
This tool is also variable speed so that you can take things from a dead stop to 3,000 strokes per minute in a matter of seconds. It has a 1-inch stroke length, which is longer than many models. We also like the fact it has a 4-position orbital action switch for when you need a little more power.
Build quality and extra features
All-metal is the theme for this one. That’s because it has an all-metal keyless blade change system and a metal shoe bevel as well. The latter gives you four angles with 0, 15, 30, and 45-degrees. It’s easy to adjust, and worth the price of admission when combined with the quick blade change setup.
Remember what we said about the dust blower being an exotic feature? Well, you’ll find one on the DeWalt DC330B. It is actually adjustable so you can find the perfect angle, and we think you’ll dig the anti-slip grip as well.
As with all DeWalt power tools, you will get an outstanding warranty. That includes a one-year free service guarantee and a three-year limited warranty. In other words, you should be covered for a while unless you cause the damage yourself.
The only true drawback in our eyes to the DeWalt DC330B is the fact it’s a bare tool. While that’s great if you are invested in DeWalt’s cordless lineup, but not so swell when you have to snag an 18-volt battery. Obviously, you will need to buy a charger as well unless you can find a combo pack.
Aside from that, we think the DeWalt DC330B is an amazing option for both hobbyists and professionals. If you want something budget-friendly you’ll want to keep reading, otherwise, you should seriously give this one a look.
If you don’t mind cords and want a powerful, but affordable jigsaw we have a surprise for you. The Porter-Cable PCE345 is one of the fastest saws to make the cut although it is not due to the motor.
This saw has a 6-amp motor which can draw unlimited power from a wall socket. That’s a huge advantage over its cordless rivals, and so is its overall speed. The Porter-Cable PCE345 has a 7-position speed dial built into the trigger. From here, you can kick things up to a whopping 3,200 strokes per minute.
We also like the “lock-on” button and the fact it has orbital power. There are four settings in that department which is even better when you factor in that variable speed trigger system. Hate changing blades? You won’t dread it on the Porter-Cable PCE345. It has a keyless system for ease of use.
This is a top rated jigsaw, but not without a few flaws. While the DeWalt is a “bare” tool, this tool is barebones compared to other models. You aren’t going to find many standout features or bells & whistles on the Porter-Cable PCE345. You will get a considerable amount of bang for your buck, however, and it is very affordable.
Black & Decker Smart Select
The Black & Decker Smart Select is right behind the Porter-Cable when it comes to affordability. It’s not quite as powerful, and it’s safe to say the build quality isn’t as good either. So what makes this one stand out? That would be ease of use…
The Smart Select is a great tool for DIY’ers and people that need a light-duty saw. At 5-amps, it has enough power to get through metal and wood. It can also hit speeds of up to 3,000 RPMs, or you can cut the power back to 800 RPMs for metal.
Not sure of the speed or type of cut you need to make? That’s where the “Smart Select” dial on the side comes in handy. There are photos on the side that match each setting which is a great reference for beginners. The Accu-bevel system is slick as well – it is very simple to setup and use. Another cool perk of the Smart Select is the fact it accepts T and U-shank blades.
This corded tool is affordable, but the build quality is a little underwhelming compared to other models in this range. While it does come with a 2-year warranty out of the box, it’s not the type of tool you want for heavy-duty use.
Best Jigsaw for the money
While our top three options provide plenty of pop at different price points, we feel these jigsaws offer up the best value or your money.
Top pic: Black+Decker BDEJS600C
This saw from Black + Decker shares plenty in common with the Smart Select. It has a dial on the side, and you’ll also get a 5-amp motor to boot. The design is very different, and there are a few other features that put this one squarely on our list.
Black + Decker gave the BDEJS600C a modern look, and to say it feels good in the hand would be an understatement. It feels great, even when you’re using it for long periods of time. The groovy grip has a little something to do with that, but the jigsaw is also very light.
You’ll get a variable speed motor on the Black + Decker BDEJ600C which can hit speeds up to 3,000 strokes per minute. The standard bevel system is present, and you’ll get a 4-position orbital setup as well. Last but not least is a built-in dust blower and a new wire guard for increased accuracy.
We hate to beat a dead horse, but again we’ll have to mention the build quality. It’s far from bad but not on par with tools built for heavy usage. The trigger can feel a little “off” as well, something you can read more about in our full Black + Decker BDEJ600C review.
Runner-up: SKIL 4495-02
While we gave the SKIL 4495-02 the “runner-up” moniker, it was only beat out by the slightest of margins. Its price is right in line with other budget-friendly jigsaws, and the motor is a little more powerful than the one on the VDEJ600C.
We’re going to start with the features this time around, and the SKIL 4495-02 has a doozy. Despite its price tag, there is a laser built-in which allows you to make accurate cuts without straining your peepers. Pencil lines can be difficult to see, and you won’t even need one with the 4495-02.
As mentioned, this jigsaw has a strong motor which is rated at 6-amps. The variable speed settings can be accessed through the trigger while the 4-position orbital provides plenty of versatility. Overall, the jigsaw is easy to access, but the dial is a little less user-friendly than we’d like.
It’s not often we use the word comfortable with jigsaws, but we feel confident using it with the SKIL 4495-02. It’s designed to keep your hands fresh, and aside from the orbital adjustment, it’s a well-built machine. Unfortunately, the warranty is very short as you’re only getting 1-year out of the box and it’s for “home” use only.
Best corded jigsaw
We love cordless tools, of this there is no doubt. Millions of others agree with that sentiment, but some of the best corded jigsaws can run circles around their cordless counterparts. With that in mind, here are our favorite corded jigsaws.
Top pick: Bosch JS470E
It may have taken us a while to get to Bosch, but it was well worth the wait. The Bosch JS470E is a beastly tool with a top end of 3,100 strokes per minute and a 7-amp motor. There is one drawback, but the positives far outweigh the negatives this time around.
Whether you need to cut a bevel at 45-degrees or simply saw through a piece of sheet metal, the Bosch JS470E can do it all. The motor allows you to get through stock other saws would have trouble with and the variable speed system is top of the line.
Bosch did a great job with the construction as well. It has a die-cast foot with a steel insert so that vibrations will be minimal on the JS470E. If you’d like to learn more about this particular model, be sure to check out our full review.
Who is the Bosch JS470E best suited for? Professionals, although homeowners will get plenty of use from this one as well. The build quality gives it a leg up over the competition, and it is certainly among the top of the ranks when it comes to the best jigsaw. The downside is the warranty, which is short at only 1-year.
Runner-up: DeWalt DW331K
The DeWalt DW331K may look a lot like another jigsaw on our list. It’s a dead ringer for the DC330B aside from the fact it’s not cordless. There are a few other differences as well, but this one is a great alternative to our top overall option if you need a cord.
You already know what to expect from the design on this one if you’ve made it this far on our list. It’s built to last and comes with the company’s great warranty to boot. As for the tech specs, the DeWalt DW331K has a 6.5-amp motor with a stroke rating of 500 – 3,100 SPM.
There are four settings for bevel indents on this model so you can choose between 0, 15, 30 and 45-degrees. The variable trigger system is top notch, and we dig the orbital action as well. That’s a common, but welcome addition to any model.
Running out of power will never be a concern with this tool and neither will durability. The top handle design makes the DeWalt DW331K easy to use as well. Throw in a sturdy plastic carrying case, and you’re getting a tool that provides a lot of bang for your buck.
Best cordless jigsaw
Our picks for the best jigsaw have included a mix of both corded and cordless tools. We briefly touched on the corded powerhouses; now we want to take a minute to cover the other side of things.
The best cordless jigsaw needs to have two things above all else. That would be power and battery life. While the two are tied to each other, the batteries in cordless models range from 12 to over 20-volts. A larger juice box will add weight to the tool, so keep that in mind as well.
You also need to think about the amperage of the battery – not just the voltage. Amperage is your runtime, so a battery that’s 20-volts but only 2.0Ah is not going to last long. You will get plenty of torque, but you may end up running for the charger.
If you want more tips to help you find the perfect cordless jigsaw, give our guide a look where we break down all the key areas.
Best jigsaw blades
Jigsaw blades can come in many forms. While we already covered the styles and what you should look for, it’s worth noting again.
That’s because the best jigsaw is useless if you have the wrong blade. Pay close attention to the material you plan to cut and the blade in your jigsaw. Don’t try to tackle metal with a blade built for ripping through wood.
Jigsaw blade price is something to consider, but shouldn’t be that much of a concern. Our biggest tip here is to simply keep in mind how often you will use the tool along with the type of blades you need. Multipacks are a great way to go and can save you a considerable amount of money if they have a good mixture of blades in the package.
We feel like a jigsaw is a tool that belongs in everyone’s shop. While they aren’t as handy as a drill around the house, they can be used to for a wide variety of tasks big and small. If you are serious about woodworking, it’s a tool you will definitely want to have on hand.
When stuck between two models or if you’re in the corded vs. cordless debate, just keep our tips in mind. You will also want to keep safety in mind as well. They may be small tools, but their blades can do some damage.