We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
A good jigsaw is probably the most versatile cutting tool you could own. It can cut all kinds of materials, from wood to ceramic. It can cut in straight lines or curves, and it can cut at different angles. Every home workshop should have one. If you’re shopping for a new jigsaw, you may be wondering which one should you buy.
There are dozens of jigsaws to choose from. Take a look at the market’s offerings, and the feature lists on the various jigsaws for sale will make your head spin.
Jigsaw prices also run the gamut, ranging from a few dollars to a couple hundred dollars. It’s hard to know where to even start.
Helping you make an informed purchasing decision is what BestReviews is here for. We have our own testing facilities where we put tools and other products through their paces. We talk to experts, and we survey actual owners for their feedback.
Importantly, we never accept free samples from manufacturers. Instead we go out and buy products ourselves, the same as you would.
Our goal is to be the unbiased source of honest reviews and recommendations you can trust.
The five jigsaws in the above product matrix made it through our strict evaluation process, and we're happy to recommend them. If you’d like to learn more about them, please click on the links for additional information. If you’d like more background information about jigsaws and what we looked at when we evaluated them, please continue reading our comprehensive buying guide.
In essence, a jigsaw is a rather simple mechanism.
An eccentric gear is connected to an electric motor. This changes the circular motion of the motor into an up-and-down motion. A blade carrier is attached, a blade inserted, and voila! You’re ready to saw.
On the lower end of the blade mechanism, there's a guide to keep the blade as straight as possible as you work.
You have a handle with a trigger to start the jigsaw and a fan to keep the motor cool.
There's a base plate (also called a sole plate or foot) that supports the motor-and-blade mechanism and allows you to guide the saw across the surface of the material being cut. Usually, the base can be adjusted left or right for angled cuts.
Jigsaws can do straight lines, curved lines and everything in between, which makes them perfect for the home improvement and DIY enthusiast.
Although all kinds of gadgets and gizmos have been added to refine the jigsaw, the only major development of the cutting mechanism came with the addition of orbital motion.
Instead of just going up and down, the blade follows an elliptical path. Not all of the blade contacts all of the material at the same time. It's like when you use a hand saw — you start at an angle, which is easier, smoother, and allows you to be more accurate. An orbital jigsaw is just the same. Some jigsaws offer several orbits, giving greater versatility on different materials.
So the jigsaw has changed little since its inception, but numerous refinements have been added over the years.
Let's look at each component in a bit more detail.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Bosch 20-Volt, 7.0-Amp, Top Handle
The Bosch JS470E is is an extremely versatile cutting tool. It comes with four orbital action settings which are simple and easy to adjust. The Bosch handles slow speeds better than most jigsaws, and at higher speeds, its performance is off the charts. A dial controls the maximum speed, and an accelerator in the trigger controls operating speed. The soleplate bevels for angle cuts up to 45 degrees. This Bosch jigsaw is an excellent choice for almost all heavy-duty applications, yet it is also easy to control and steady when doing light and detail work.
Jigsaw power is usually rated in amps. A three- or four-amp motor is sufficient for general DIY tasks. Professional-grade models run as high as seven amps. You will also see a rating of strokes per minute, or SPM, on a jigsaw. Anything over 2,500 SPM is enough for virtually any cutting task. Control is key; you don't always need full power.
With basic jigsaws, you just pull the trigger to make it go, squeezing harder for more speed. Some jigsaws give you the option of preset speed ranges (often using a dial by the trigger) and progressive speed within each range. It takes a little practice, but these options can lead to cleaner, faster cuts.
There are two types of jigsaw grips. A top handle that arches over the motor is most common. Some models have a barrel grip, where you hold the outside of the motor. The type of grip you prefer is a matter of personal preference, though some experts believe the top-handle configuration offers a more secure hold and better control.
If you’re new to jigsaws, you might enjoy a model that has pre-programmed settings for different materials. Then it’s just a matter of plug and play.
The complexity of the technology and the cost of batteries is such that cheap jigsaws are invariably corded. Even at the upper end of the market, corded jigsaws cost considerably less than cordless jigsaws.
Some retailers will make cordless prices look similar by selling "bare tools,” but don't forget you have the cost of a battery to add to your tab.
The portability of cordless tools is quite appealing, particularly if you do a lot of site work where power is not available. However, not everyone likes the balance of a cordless jigsaw with the battery on the back. Waiting for the jigsaw to charge can also be frustrating.
With corded models, the cords can get in the way from time to time. But then, a corded power tool is a reliable solution that we're all accustomed to.
Clean, accurate cutting depends on a combination of elements: a solid platform so the jigsaw runs smoothly, the right blade, and the right cutting speed.
Cheap jigsaw sole plates are made from pressed steel. They are light and fairly durable. However, they are easily damaged if dropped. When damaged, they can be difficult to straighten.
Cast aluminum sole plates are more expensive to produce, and they’re heavier, but they retain their shape better and won't rust. They tend to dent rather than twist if dropped. Minor damage can be sanded or filed out. However, cast aluminum sole plates can wear more quickly than steel, and if damage is serious, replacements are expensive.
On some premium models, the aluminum base has a steel insert in high-wear areas. It's an ideal solution but not a cheap one.
The attachment point between sole plate and main body is where you set cutting angles. Locking and unlocking is by spanner or Allen key, which is usually housed on the saw.
Maximum angle is usually 45 degrees, and better jigsaws have detents — easy locating stops — at commonly used angles. They make it quicker to set up the saw.
Always check to make sure you’re using the right blade for the job. There are different blades for wood, metal, PVC, and other materials.
Jigsaws are mostly intended for cutting sheets, boards, and rails. During our research, we found jigsaws that claimed to cut over five inches into softwood.
Indeed this is possible, but if you're cutting a lot of material of that thickness, another type of saw would probably be more appropriate for the job.
The problem is that the lower end of a jigsaw blade is unsupported. As you cut into material, there's resistance — and that results in a tendency for the blade to veer to the left or right. With a good jigsaw and short- or medium-length blade, the effect is so small that it has no real impact on accuracy.
Never try to cut material thicker than the maximum for the blade. If you do, you could get “blade bounce,” which will throw off the accuracy, damage the blade, and possibly cause serious injury.
However, as blade length increases, the veering effect is exaggerated. You'll still be able to follow a line adequately, but when you look at your material in cross-section, you'll find the cut hasn't stayed vertical. It's possible to counteract this effect by slowing down, but even that is not always successful — and it will definitely try your patience.
In general, a maximum cutting depth of two or three inches in softwood or particle board is a reasonable expectation for a jigsaw. That’s more than enough for floorboards, siding materials, wall panels, kitchen worktops, etc. Note that cutting depths will be reduced when making beveled cuts.
With a top-quality jigsaw and a fresh blade, you can tackle common framing lumber, too. But if you're doing a lot of 2x4 work, a circular saw would probably be more efficient.
Jigsaws can be used to cut aluminum and even steel. Their capacities in these cases will be considerably less than they are for wood. Each manufacturer gives their own figures, but around 3/4-inch for aluminum and 1/4-inch for steel are average estimations.
Jigsaws can cut material ranging from plastic to wood to metal and more, depending on the number of strokes per minute (SPM) of the machine.
Jigsaw blades are relatively low in cost, but you shouldn't underestimate their importance. They play a vital role in cutting accuracy. As such, you should always buy good-quality blades.
Good wood-cutting blades are made from high carbon steel (HCS). Metal-cutting blades should be high speed steel (HSS).
A large variety of blades are available, which can be confusing. Fortunately, manufacturers usually provide a clear and useful guide as to what the blade can be used for. “Speed/Wood” and “'Clean/Wood” are good examples. If a blade is designed for use on metal or ceramics, it should be marked as such.
If your jigsaw’s cutting performance is poor, the first thing to do is change the blade. Blunt blades cause more inaccuracies than anything else.
Another way to judge a blade is to look at the TPI (Teeth Per Inch). The lower the number, the coarser the cut. A 6-TPI blade would be used for ripping through board quickly, where speed is more important than quality. A 12-TPI blade would be used where a smooth cut in the wood is needed. In general, you don’t need more than 12 TPI for cutting wood.
By contrast, you need many more teeth to cut aluminum, steel, or ceramics. A spec of 36 TPI is common. Manufacturer websites are a good source for this valuable information.
There are two types of blade fixing: “U” (universal) and “T” (tang). They are not interchangeable, so you need to make sure you buy the one your manufacturer recommends.
All jigsaws have tool-less blade-changing systems of one kind or another. Some high-end jigsaws have blade ejection as well, so you don't risk burning your fingers during blade removal.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Black & Decker 5.0-Amp
For the price, the BLACK + DECKER JS600 packs plenty of power, is extremely user-friendly, and is designed to make your home improvement projects as manageable as possible. While it lacks some of the bells and whistles of some other top contenders, it offers enough performance and versatility to get you through 90% of the cutting jobs that you will likely ever do.
All jigsaws should have a blade guard
Some have a simple metal frame; others have a clear plastic shield with a vertical line that acts as a blade guide. Some people don't like the latter, as they prefer to watch the actual blade while it cuts. The plastic ones can slide up out the way anyway, so it's a matter of personal choice.
Some blades have more teeth than others
The reason: almost all jigsaw blades cut on the upstroke. This can cause unsightly “tear-out” in plywood and laminates, splintering as the blade breaks through. Using a blade with more teeth can help reduce this. In fact, some manufacturers have specific blade designs to combat the problem. The alternative is a plastic insert that sits very close to the blade — and some jigsaw makers provide them. If you work with a lot of laminates — kitchen tops or modern composite flooring boards, for example — it's a valuable addition.
If you work in dark settings or tight corners, make sure to get a saw with a built in light. Considering the precision of these tools, you want to be 100% sure you’re cutting the right spot.
Some jigsaws include dust blowers
This feature is useful because it helps you clear particles from your cut line.
Some jigsaws have built-in lighting
A built-in lamp is useful if you're working in poor light.
You might choose to purchase a jigsaw with cutting guides
These guides are either parallel or designed for cutting circles. Cutting guides are available as extras if they don't come with your saw.
A jigsaw case is nice to have
The case will protect your tool and keep everything tidy.
Always wear safety goggles when using a jigsaw. Even when dust collectors, sawdust can still fly up in your face and create a potential disaster.
There are so many different jigsaws on offer, you can more or less pick your price. That said, we wouldn't go for the very cheapest jigsaws, as reliability and cutting performance might suffer. But you can get a good entry-level jigsaw from a well-known brand for under $40.
If you’re looking to go beyond entry-level, you’ll need to decide which features you need in a jigsaw and make a few comparisons. The very best corded jigsaws hover around the $150 mark. If you want a cordless jigsaw from a top manufacturer, you can get a complete kit including jigsaw, battery, charger, and case for between $250 and $300.
A cheap way to reduce tear-out is to cover the cut line with low-tack adhesive tape. Peel the tape off carefully when you've finished cutting.
When you first get your jigsaw, check the baseplate angle markings with a protractor. They're not always completely accurate. This won’t be a problem as long as you know about it before you start cutting.
To cut round or shaped holes in the middle of a piece of material, simply drill an entry hole larger than your jigsaw blade, and use that as the start point.
Trying to save money on your jigsaw blade will just lead to frustration. Cheap jigsaw blades bend out of shape easily and soon go blunt. A blunt blade will wander, ruining your work. It’s more practical to pay a larger sum upfront for a high-quality jigsaw blade.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.