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For DIY work, it is cheaper to use a corded Jigsaw over a cordless jigsaw. Corded jigsaws also have unlimited power, but with that being said a cordless jigsaw tool is much more convenient if you don’t mind spending a bit more, click the link for this review instead.
When it comes to choosing a jigsaw tool the main choice is wherever to go with a Barrel-Grip OR D-Handle Grip tool, read more below.
Best D-Handle Corded Jigsaw
#3 BEST MAKITA JIGSAW
Makita 4329K 3.9 Amp Variable Speed
#4 BEST FESTOOL JIGSAW TOOL
Festool 561608 Carvex PSB 420 EBQ Jigsaw
Best Barrel-Grip Corded Jigsaws
#3 BEST MAKITA BARREL GRIP JIGSAW
Makita 4351FCT Barrel Grip Jig saw with L.E.D. Light
#4 BEST BOSCH BARREL GRIP JIGSAW TOOL
Bosch JS470EB 7.0 Amp Corded Variable Speed Barrel-Grip Jigsaw
#5 BEST MILWAUKEE BARREL GRIP JIGSAW TOOL
Body Grip 6.2 Amp Barrel Grip Jigsaw
Electric jigsaws are power tools that use reciprocating blades to make irregular cuts into wood, metal, plastic, and other materials. Typically used to cut circles, curves, and other shapes, they are popularly used to create stenciled designs.
Like most power tools, jigsaws are based on manual or hand-powered devices. When electrically-powered jigsaws were introduced, they were commonly called “scroll saws”. The introduction of portable cordless jigsaws was a later development, making these tools popular choices among DIYers and pros alike.
The invention of the modern-day electric jigsaw is attributed to Albert Kauffman, who came up with the idea for a new tool based on the same principle as the needle in a sewing machine in 1946. Realizing the effectiveness of the needle’s up-and-down movement, Kauffman replaced it with a blade from a hacksaw, inventing the earliest form of the electric jigsaw. The following year, the company that Kauffman worked for, Scintilla, began manufacturing what was known as the ‘Lesto jigsaw’.
Many other companies saw the potential of the new tool and quickly came out with their own designs. By the 1950s, the electric jigsaw was one of the most popular power tools around and was a common sight in workshops all over the United States.
Jigsaw Tool Features
What is the best tool to cut circles?
Electric jigsaws are some of the most useful tools for cutting circles, curves, and more complex shapes. They can be used to cut such shapes into a wide variety of material, and can even make short crosscuts and finish the insides of corner cuts that you would typically start with a circular saw.
Keep in mind that cutting circles and complex shapes into wood does require a steady hand to guide the blade. Although you could use a router to cut precise circles, setting up a jig will require more time than simply using an electric jigsaw or cordless jigsaw for the job.
Corded vs. Cordless Jigsaws
Traditionally, corded electric jigsaws provided more power than their cordless counterparts. Most early electric jigsaws could cut through plastic and thin wood just fine. But for heavy-duty work, pros would typically pull out their trusty corded jigsaw.
Nowadays, however, more efficient designs have resulted in more powerful cordless jigsaws that are equal to corded models in performance and capability. When choosing between a corded and cordless model these days, power isn’t as much a concern as portability.
The most significant advantage of a corded saw is virtually unlimited runtime. As long as you have a power outlet nearby, you can keep your electric jigsaw running apart from the occasional breaks to prevent overheating.
Of course, not all work sites will have a power outlet handy, which is why I strongly recommend getting a good cordless jigsaw even if you already have an electric model. Some of the best models can provide pretty good runtimes on a single charge, and you could always stash an extra battery in your tool bag if you have to cut through a lot of material. Cordless electric jigsaws tend to be much easier to use than corded models as well, so I highly recommend that you get one a cordless model unless you want a cheaper option for DIY use, or the work you do requires constant jigsaw cutting and you have a factory/garage setup were portability is not so much of a drawback for you.
D-handle vs. Barrel-Grip Jigsaws
Electric jigsaws generally come in D-handle and barrel-grip designs. Grips are intended to keep the blade straight along the cutting line, and both generally do a good job at it. Which one you choose is mostly a matter of personal preference. Some feel that D-handle grips are easier to maneuver, while some feel that they can make handling somewhat awkward.
For some users, barrel-grip handles are more ergonomic and provide better control. They also allow you to get closer to the workpiece, which could help you make more accurate cuts. Barrel-grips also allow you to cut upside down easier, which might be useful for certain tasks.
Makita vs. Bosch Jigsaws
Makita and Bosch are both known for top-of-the-line tools that deliver outstanding performance and great value. The electric jigsaws from the two companies are pretty much neck-and-neck in terms of features and capabilities, but Makitas are generally more expensive.
Both companies also make very light electric jigsaws, which is an important consideration for those that frequently have to work in remote sites. The best Bosch jigsaws tend to be a bit lighter than their Makita counterparts, but there isn’t really a huge difference between the models of both companies in terms of weight.
One thing that Makitas have going for them is the ability to make tight curved and angled cuts. As for Bosch, its jigsaws have the advantage of longer battery life.
What Is Variable Speed Control?
Most basic jigsaws run at just one speed, which should be sufficient for most applications. But the best jigsaw tools have variable speed controls that allow you to set the speed to any of up to five settings.
The 3,800 SPM speeds that most jigsaws are capable of should do just fine for non-critical work wherein you aren’t really concerned about accuracy. If you want better control for more precise cuts however, you will want the ability to take the speed down to a slower setting. Variable speed controls allow you to do this, resulting in a more versatile tool that you can use for a wider variety of tasks.
Top Electric Jigsaws
The Makita 4350FCT is a powerful D-handled electric jigsaw that has a unique low-noise and vibration-free design. It has an electronic variable speed control that allows for speeds ranging from 800 to 2,800 SPM while maintaining the speed during the entire cutting action. It also has three orbital settings plus a straight cutting setting, so it can handle pretty much any cutting job. Combined with the 6.3 amp motor, the 4350FCT is a versatile and powerful unit that is easy enough for DIYers to use, yet packs enough grunt for heavy-duty applications. It also has an LED light that lets you see the work surface clearly and a dust blower they clears away debris.
The Festool 561593 is a barrel-type unit that has a maximum cutting speed of 3,800 SPM. It can cut wood to a depth of 4 ¾ inches, and steel up to ⅜ inches, with a base insert platform that expands its capabilities beyond that of most other electric jigsaws. If you are a stickler for precision cuts, you will appreciate the triple-blade guidance system that allows you to make for perfectly perpendicular cuts every time. This feature and the built-in splinter guards also ensure smooth and tear-free cuts. Other features include a high-intensity stroboscopic LED light, and a rugged support rod and carbide jaw combo that prevent the blade from wandering and drifting.
What Materials Can Jigsaws Cut?
Electric jigsaws are amazingly handy and versatile tools that can make a variety of cuts in different materials. They can cut through thin and lightweight materials such as plastic sheets, cardboard stock, and fiberglass, and even through plywood and sheet metal. Many pros also use electric jigsaws to cut holes into ceramic tile.
The best woodworking jigsaws are most effective for cutting soft wood up to 1 ½ inch thick and hardwood up to ¾ in thick. With thicker material, the blades of your jigsaw will likely bend, resulting in a beveled edge rather than a straight-edged cut. If you want to keep your cuts perfectly straight, make sure to use a sharp blade and avoid forcing it through the material.
How To Pick The Right Blade
Although electric jigsaws can handle a wide variety of jobs, your results will vary considerably depending on the blade you use. Getting clean and precise cuts requires choosing the right blade for the job and the type of material you are cutting.
Using a sharp blade will help you keep the edges of your cut straight. You can also avoid unwanted bevels in the cut edge by cutting into the material slowly without forcing the tool in.
Coarse blades should be sufficient for most quick cutting tasks. Keep in mind however that cutting with coarse blades will result in rough edges that will probably require sanding afterward.
What Other Tools Can Cut Circles?
As effective as electric jigsaws are for cutting circles into plastic metal and wood, other tools can do a pretty good job as well. Tools such as band saws, circle cutting router jigs with a plunge router can cut circles into wood pretty effectively.
For plasterboard, you can use gib saws, which are commonly known as keyhole, drywall, or jab saws. These are especially useful for cutting small and intricate holes into plasterboard.
You could also use a band saw, which has a long-toothed blade attached to two wheels. These tools are commonly used for wood and metalworking. A band saw is a big unit that is not portable however it does have the most grunt for cutting thick materials like metal, without the blade bending, as the blade is supported at the top and bottom.
Finally, consider using a hole saw or a hole cutter if the circle hole-size is small enough. Hole-saws are a drill bit attachment for your cordless drill that allows you to drill holes without having to make initial cuts into the material. These tools have pilot drill bits that keep the blade centered and prevent drifting. You can get a perfect circle cut out in plasterboard, wood, and metal pretty quickly as long as you can find a drill attachment that is the right size.
Hole saws can be expensive to buy individually, but as a kit, you can get a good range of sizes that are cheaper than buying them one by one as you need them. But you are limited by the max-hole saw attachment that you can find, a jigsaw has no hole-size limit.
Electric Jigsaw Features
Electric jigsaws are subjected to considerable stress and pressure, so they will have to be durable enough to go the distance. It is especially important to go for a brand that has a proven track record of durability if you frequently have to cut through thick pieces of wood or sheets of metal.
Going for a jigsaw from a reputable manufacturer is always advisable. Companies such as Makita, Bosch, and Festool are known for high-quality tools that combine pro features and proven reliability, and they generally make the best jigsaws for the money.
As always, I recommend buying the best electric jigsaw in your budget rather than going for the cheapest model on the market. Unless you are using your jigsaw for a one-off job–and even then–it is always better to spend more on a higher quality jigsaw than to have to replace a cheap tool a few months down the line, with a good tool you can always pass it down if you don’t need it anymore.
Tips For Using Electric Jigsaws
Electric jigsaws are among the easiest and power tools to use, but you do have to keep some basics in mind. As with all power tools, proper usage will ensure consistently high-quality results and help you avoid injury and damage to the workpiece.
Always use the right blade for the job. Most jigsaw blades are designed to cut through relatively thin and light material, so you will have to put some consideration into the blade you will use for heavy-duty jobs.
Keep a firm grip on the tool and press into the material with a firm but consistent pressure. It is important to maintain control over the jigsaw at all times to prevent it from snagging into the material or jerking away. Setting the speed at an appropriately slow setting will help you maintain control and make more precise cuts.
Corded Jigsaw Comparison
|Makita 4350FCT||Festool 561593|
|Weight:||5.7 lbs.||4.2 lbs.|
The Makita 4350FCT is one of the best value jigsaws on the market if you are looking for a traditional D-handle model to handle a variety of tasks. From quick-and-dirty DIY work to more precise cutting, the 4350FCT is a dependable all-around performer that maintains cutting speed throughout the 800 to 2,800 SPM speed range.
The Festool 561593 is an equally capable solution that has a more manageable barrel-type design. One of the best jigsaws for cutting metal, it has a top speed of 3,800 SPM. The triple-blade guidance is an especially nice touch, allowing for perfectly perpendicular cuts with minimal effort. Cuts are smooth and splinter-free as well, thanks to the built-in splinter guard.
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