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Tool Test: Cordless Jigsaws

These handy curve-cutting saws are going cordless. This Old House readers tried out four of the latest 18-volt lithium-ion versions. Here's what they found

TOH Reader Tool Test

Photo by Mark Weiss

Over the years, these handy curve-cutting saws have acquired a number of cool advances:

keyless blade changing, trigger-finger speed controls, and orbital sawing action for faster cuts through wood. Now they're starting to lose their cords and rely on battery power. This Old House readers tried out four of the latest 18-volt lithium-ion versions. Here's what they found.

DeWalt DC330K

Tool Photo Mark Weiss

Highlight: Comes with a wide blade that cuts flush with the front of the shoe.

Tester: Kevin Fowler, Concordia, Mo.

Skill level: Professional ("I've remodeled homes for the past 10 years.")

Used tool for: Plunge cuts into 2x log siding for electrical boxes.

Verdict: "The motor did not slow down much, even when pushed hard and fast. Flicking on the

orbital switch really increased the cutting efficiency."

Tool stats: 7.5 pounds; variable speed to 2,200 strokes per minute; 1-inch stroke length, four-position orbital setting; keyless blade change and shoe adjustment.

Price: About $279; DeWalt

Have you used this tool? Review this cordless jigsaw

Hitachi CJ18DL

Tool Photo Mark Weiss

Highlight: Built-in LED illuminates area ahead of blade.

Tester: Robert Clark, Arlington, Va.

Skill level: Professional ("I'm a licensed contractor.")

Used tool for: Cutting decorative scroll work out of plywood and pine boards.

Verdict: "I was surprised at how strongly the battery performed, even after hours of constant work."

Tool stats: 5.5 pounds; variable speed to 2,400 strokes per minute; 1-inch stroke length, four-position orbital setting; keyless blade change; shoe adjusts with Allen key.

Price: About $233, Hitachi

Have you used this tool? Review this cordless jigsaw

Ryobi P521

Tool Photo Mark Weiss

Highlight: Ruby laser projects a cutline ahead of the blade.

Tester: Stuart Charlton, Ypsilanti, Mich.

Skill level: Seasoned DIYer ("I remodeled my entire kitchen, top to bottom.")

Used tool for: Cutting receptacle box holes in a plaster wall.

Verdict: "I liked the orbital action, but I'd trade its long battery life for more power."

Tool stats: 5.5 pounds; variable speed to 2,100 strokes per minute; ¾-inch stroke length, four-position orbital setting; keyless blade change; shoe adjusts with Allen key.

Price: About $79 for jigsaw, $129 for battery and charger, Ryobi

Have you used this tool? Review this cordless jigsaw

Ridgid R883

Tool Photo Mark Weiss

Highlight: Works with both 18- and 24-volt NiCad or lithium-ion batteries.

Tester: Tim Lambert, North Yarmouth, Maine

Skill level: Seasoned DIYer ("I've designed and built outdoor decks.")

Used tool for: Cutting hole for a new cooktop in a laminate counter.

Verdict: "This tool has plenty of power; it didn't bog down at all."

Tool stats: 7.75 pounds; variable speed to 2,200 strokes per minute; 1-inch stroke length, five-position orbital setting; keyless blade change and shoe adjustment.

Price: About $119 for jigsaw, $150 for battery and charger, Ridgid

Have you used this tool? Review this cordless jigsaw