A jig saw is a power tool that has a thin blade that reciprocates. A jig saw is used for cutting arbitrary curves and custom shapes into wood and other materials. They are an extremely versatile tool. You can look at this tool as a portable band saw and scroll saw.
As with most other power tools there are two main power source jig saws: cordless and corded. A cordless jig saw is nice because there is no cord to get in the way. I personally own only a corded jig saw because I don’t really use it that much. The jig saw cord is always getting in the way or hanging up on the end of the wood. A corded jig saw is nice because it will cut through more than just wood and it is more powerful than the cordless models. The corded jig saws range is amps from 3.5 to 7.
If you don’t plan on using a jig saw that much I would go with the corded version for two reasons. First you have more power. If you need to cut through more than wood, you will be able to do it with ease. Second, companies are constantly upgrading there cordless power tools as new battery technology becomes available. Sooner or later you will make the upgrade and the jig saw will be left behind, only for you to have to upgrade the jigsaw, which you weren’t using that much. So either you will have to spend the extra money or keep the old jig saw and now have multiple chargers with different batteries.
Jig Saw Features
- Variable Speed – Variable speed is an important feature to look for when buying a jig saw. Variable speed allows the user to change the speed of the blade action depending upon what type of material you are cutting. Most saws range from 500 to 3500 strokes per minute or SPM.
- Orbital Action – Orbital action refers to the blade action. A jig saw moves the blade up and down in a straight line. An orbital action jig saw will allow the user to press a switch and the blade will not only move up and down, but front to back as well. This will cut through wood a lot faster than just the up and down motion.
- Adjustable Foot – An adjustable foot is the metal plate at the bottom of the saw which will pivot between 0 and 45 degrees. This will allow you to make angle cuts in the wood
- Vacuum or Blower – A blower is a very nice feature. As you cut your line with a jig saw, the wood particles tend to build up in front of the blade obscuring the cutting line. A blower will blow these wood particles away allowing you to see the cutting line.
- Blade Changing – Look for a model that has a tool free blade changing system. Some models require the user to use a tool to change the blade, but this can become a hassle. Most models have a tool free blade changing system that will hold the blade in the arm no matter how much pressure you put on the tool when using it.
- Blade Support – A blade support is a little roller on the back by the blade that helps support the blade while using the tool. This helps reduce flex in the blade which provides straighter cuts and longer blade life.
Jig Saw Blades
You can have the best jig saw money can buy, but if you don’t have the right blade you might as well try cutting the material with a butter knife. The blade does all the cutting and therefore knowing what blade to use for what material you are cutting is very important. Blades are classified by TPI or teeth per inch. The higher, TPI the smoother the cut. The lower the TPI, the faster the cut. Blade performance is also effected by the material the blade is made from.
High Speed Steel – Used for wood and light metal cutting
Bi-Metal – Also used for wood and light metal cutting.
Cobalt Steel – Tougher and lasts longer than Speed steel and Bi-Metal. Used for wood and metal.
Carbide Grit – Strictly used to cut masonry board.
Scrolling – Thinner than the regular jig saw blades and are used for tight turning cuts.