Power Tool Buying Guide for Jig Saw

A jigsaw is a power tool that has a thin blade that reciprocates, moves up and down.  A jigsaw 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 sources: cordless and corded.  A huge plus to a cordless jig saw is there isn’t a cord to get in the way.  A negative is runtime and they tend to be heavier than a corded jig saw.  A corded jig saw tend to have more power and a slimmer body than a cordless.  A corded jigsaw amp range is from 3.5 to 7. 

So should you buy a corded or cordless jig saw?  If you are using the jig saw for major projects, I am still a fan of the cordless version for power and weight.  However, I love the cordless jig saw for quick cuts and don’t have to worry about finding an extension cord to plug into.  Most manufacturers offer both options so you can always get a bare tool jig saw and use your existing batteries.

Jig Saw Features

  • Variable Speed – Variable speed is an important feature to look for when buying a jigsaw.  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 jigsaw moves the blade up and down in a straight line.  An orbital action jigsaw 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 Shoe – An adjustable foot or shoe 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 jigsaw 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 affected 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.