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Puzzled by Jigsaws?

We sort through the newest and most useful options available on these essential tools.

classic top-handle jigsaw
Photo by Mark Weiss
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It won't zip through stock like a circular saw, and it isn't as brawny as a reciprocating saw. But a jigsaw combines versatility, portability, and finesse to do something those other tools can't: cut straight lines or sweeping curves in all sorts of materials, including wood, metal, plastic, ceramic tile, stone, and leather.

That's why it's a great first saw for a home workshop and, after the ubiquitous drill/driver, the most popular power-tool purchase.

In addition to making scroll cuts, jigsaws can also plunge cut — saw into the middle of a sheet of material — or making sink cutouts in countertops or holes in walls for electrical outlets. With skinny blades that piston with a short, stabbing motion, these tools are great for precise cuts in tight spaces.

Jigsaws come in two basic types — top-handle or barrel-grip — and with dozens of options, including variable speed, 360-degree scrolling ability, laser and LED lights, and new cordless models.

CLASSIC TOP HANDLE
This basic jigsaw is equipped with all the standard features: orbital action, which moves the blade slightly forward on the upstroke, for a quicker and cleaner cut; a blade-speed dial; and a splinter guard to minimize chip-out. $140; Hitachi

BARREL-GRIP
This saw forgoes the top grip for a graspable motor housing. Like most jigsaws, the shoe can be angled for a beveled cut, as shown. $189; Metabo

KEYLESS CORDLESS
To change blades on this 18-volt cordless model, just flip the handy quick-release lever in front. Also has a dust blower, three orbital cut speeds, and a variable-speed trigger. $250, DeWalt

BRIGHT LIGHT
A white LED light comes in handy for plunge cuts (as shown) or any other cut. This top-grip model has straight up-and-down and orbital blade settings. $150; Matika
It won't zip through stock like a circular saw, and it isn't as brawny as a reciprocating saw. But a jigsaw combines versatility, portability, and finesse to do something those other tools can't: cut straight lines or sweeping curves in all sorts of materials, including wood, metal, plastic, ceramic tile, stone, and leather.

That's why it's a great first saw for a home workshop and, after the ubiquitous drill/driver, the most popular power-tool purchase.

In addition to making scroll cuts, jigsaws can also plunge cut — saw into the middle of a sheet of material — or making sink cutouts in countertops or holes in walls for electrical outlets. With skinny blades that piston with a short, stabbing motion, these tools are great for precise cuts in tight spaces.

Jigsaws come in two basic types — top-handle or barrel-grip — and with dozens of options, including variable speed, 360-degree scrolling ability, laser and LED lights, and new cordless models.

CLASSIC TOP HANDLE
This basic jigsaw is equipped with all the standard features: orbital action, which moves the blade slightly forward on the upstroke, for a quicker and cleaner cut; a blade-speed dial; and a splinter guard to minimize chip-out. $140; Hitachi

BARREL-GRIP
This saw forgoes the top grip for a graspable motor housing. Like most jigsaws, the shoe can be angled for a beveled cut, as shown. $189; Metabo

KEYLESS CORDLESS
To change blades on this 18-volt cordless model, just flip the handy quick-release lever in front. Also has a dust blower, three orbital cut speeds, and a variable-speed trigger. $250, DeWalt

BRIGHT LIGHT
A white LED light comes in handy for plunge cuts (as shown) or any other cut. This top-grip model has straight up-and-down and orbital blade settings. $150; Matika
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More Jigsaws

 

More Jigsaws

classic top-handle jig saw
Photo by Mark Weiss


360-DEGREE SCROLLING
The blade on this jigsaw can be turned 360 degrees with a dial on top of the saw, perfect for making sharp turns in tight spaces. Also features a blower to keep the cut line clear of sawdust. $60; Black & Decker

CORDLESS POWER
A beefy 24-volt battery pack gives this cordless maximum power per charge, which takes just one hour. Also features a spring-loaded blade ejector and variable-speed trigger. $270; Boschtools

CONVERTIBLE GRIP
A removable handle turns this saw from a top grip to a barrel-style, while a red laser line helps keep your straight cuts straight. $90; Sears

VACUUM READY
In addition to a dust blower, this jigsaw has a port in the rear to attach to your workshop vacuum. Also has a four-speed orbital cut dial and built-in white LED light. $50; Ski

Blade Explainer

While all jigsaw blades have upward-angled teeth for cutting on the upstroke, the number and size of teeth dictate what can be cut. The higher the tpi (teeth per inch) count, the finer the cut. Blades attach to the saw with a T- or U-shaped shank, depending on the manufacturer.

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classic top-handle jig saw
Photo by Mark Weiss
Where to Find It

Hitachi model #CJ120V:
Hitachi USA, Atlanta, GA; 800-448-2244
www. hitachipowertools.com

Black & Decker model # JS700K 5.5 Amp Scrolling and Orbital:
Hampstead, MD; 888-678-7278;
www. blackanddecker.com

Metabo model # STE 135 Plus 720-watt Electronic Orbital:
Metabo USA, Westchester, PA; 610-436-5900;
www. metabousa.com

Dewalt model # DC330K Heavy Duty XRP 18-volt Cordless:
DeWalt, Hampstead, MD; 800-433-9258
www. dewalt.com

Makita model #4340FCT, Top-handle jigsaw with LED light:
Makita USA Inc., LaMirada, CA; 714-522-8088;
www. makita.com

Bosch model #52324 24-volt Cordless:
Robert Bosch Tool Corp., Mt. Prospect, IL; 877-267-2499;
www. boschtools.com

Skil model #4390:
Skil, Robert Bosch Tool Corp.; 800-349-4358;
www. skil.com

Craftsman model #27245 Laser Trac Orbital:
Sears, Hoffman Estates, IL; 800-349-4358
www. craftsman.com
 
 

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