A cordless jigsaw is the best tool to cut wood, metal, fiberglass, and plastic in a curved, circle, and straight-line without no lead that could get tangled. There are 4 types of cordless jigsaws, a standard D handle for most common heavy-duty jobs, and the best cordless jigsaw has a barrel-grip handle for finer control for your woodworking jobs.
There are barrel-grip jigsaw tools in both 18V and 12V sizes but the 18V is most suitable for most woodcutting jobs.
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A jigsaw is a power tool, that combines an electric motor with a reciprocating saw blade. They may also be called bayonet or saber saws.
Cordless jigsaws can be used to cut through a wide variety of materials, including plywood, timber, plastics, tile, drywall, and even metal. Although they can make straight cuts, they are usually better suited for cutting curves or shapes in wood. They may also be fitted with a bevel and used to cut angles of up to 45°.
Unlike most other power tools, jigsaws can be used by almost anyone regardless of experience. All you have to do is insert the appropriate blade, plug it in–or pop the battery in if it is a cordless model–and you can begin cutting immediately.
Jigsaws are so easy to use that even children can use them as long as an adult supervises them. Because the saw typically rests on the work surface, you don’t need a lot of pressure to keep it in place. There is also little risk of injury because hands and fingers are positioned far from the blade.
The earliest version of the jigsaw was developed by Albert Kaufmann, who worked as an engineer in the Scintilla AG company in Switzerland. Kaufmann’s design replaced the needle in a sewing machine with a saw blade. Scintilla began producing his own version of the tool in 1947, under the brand name “Lesto”.
Bosch acquired Scintilla in 1954 and continued manufacturing Lesto jigsaws. From 1964 onward, Bosch marketed the jigsaws under its own name, introducing such innovations as the pendulum blade, tool-less blade replacement, and the Cut Control feature.
Jigsaws are best used for cutting curves into various materials. In fact, jigsaws are among the few portable power tools that can cut curves and shapes efficiently. For woodworkers that need to do a lot of curved cuts quickly, jigsaws are a better alternative to handheld coping saws.
Cordless jigsaws can be used to cut woods of various thicknesses. With the right blades, they can even cut through fiberglass, drywall, and steel. Most jigsaws even allow angling of up to 45°, so you don’t necessarily need to have an adjustable table saw to make bevel cuts.
If however, you want a more powerful and cheaper jigsaw consider getting a Makita, or Milwaukee corded jigsaw alternative that runs on AC power.
D-handle vs. Barrel grip jigsaw?
James Mason, from renovation-junkies, likes the Makita D-Handle jigsaw more as the Makita barrel-grip has difficult access to the power on and off button. When in use this could cause accidental over-cutting, depending on if your second hand is free or not.
Scott Brown from Scott Brown Carpentry prefers the barrel grip jigsaw as it can be used upside-down and sideways more easily to make intricate cuts on trim, like cutting tabs on skirting board miter joins.
For other tools to cut circles read my guide on how to cut a circle in wood.
Festool cordless jigsaw review
Some say the Festool has the best cordless barrel grip jigsaw available. With a big 5.2 Ah battery included, it has the same functionality as the Makita but more. Here is a video by Toolboxbuzz that also recommends the Festool cordless jigsaw.
Mr. Festool has a few different jigsaw options, from the cordless to the corded model, that is better suited for workshops and factories that require constant cutting and use.
But for most applications I recommend the cordless tool hands down, the power button is located in a better spot, compared to the Makita barrel-grip and the Festool base plate can be changed with a quick-release rather than relying on a hex key.
What can I cut with a jigsaw tool?
Jigsaws can make different types of cuts in a variety of materials. But they are especially useful for cutting curves and circles in thin wood, plastic, or metal.
They are more effective for making curved cuts than coping saws and are easier to use as well, which makes them a good choice for woodworkers of all experience levels.
For small circles, less than 5 inches you can cut out a perfect circle quicker using a hole drill bit.
Few tools are better suited for cutting into plywood than jigsaws. They can easily make straight and curved cuts, and can even cut at different angles easily if the plywood is thick enough.
Tooth orientation is an important concern when using jigsaws to cut plywood. With an upward cutting blade, the edges on the upper side of the wood will come out smoother.
With a downward cutting bladed, the edges of the bottom side will be smoother.
You can use your jigsaw to cut thicker slabs of timber, but you do have to keep a few things in mind. Jigsaws have thin blades with a lot of flex to them, so they tend to follow the easiest route through the grain. This makes it difficult to cut square on a straight line, even if you use a straight edge on thicker materials.
You could get better results when cutting timber by using the correct blade, making sure that it’s sharp, and combining a higher speed setting with a slower pushing action.
With the right blades, jigsaws can even cut through thin sheets of metal such as steel, iron, and aluminum. They can cut broad curves or straight lines, without the problems associated with cutting through thick slabs of timber.
Jigsaws with powerful motors can even be used to cut through thicker metal, such as steel sheets up to 2/3” thick and aluminum sheets up to an inch thick.
If you want to cut sheets of metal even faster consider a more dedicated metal cutter.
Of course, cutting through plastic is a cinch for practically all jigsaws. For most plastics–including fiberglass–you could usually get the best results by setting the speed to the lowest possible setting. You should also fit your saw with a blade that is intended specifically for cutting plastic. Blades designed for cutting wood will generate too much heat, and possibly cause the plastic to melt.
When Not To Use A Jigsaw
Making perfectly straight cuts with a jigsaw is very challenging, especially if you do it freehand. Even if you use a straightedge guide, you will probably struggle to keep the blade on course.
This makes a jigsaw tool probably not the best choice if you need to do a lot of straight cutting, particularly into thick slabs of timber. For those kinds of jobs, you would get better results with a Makita, Dewalt, or Milwaukee cordless circular saw.
For ripping thick-timber get AC power on your best circular saw.
The same goes for cutting into thick metal. Although you could drill a hole in the steel or aluminum to feed the blade into, you could do the job a lot quicker with a Makita or Milwaukee cordless grinder using a steel cut-off disk.
Can I cut drywall with a jigsaw?
You could use a jigsaw to cut through drywall if you drill a few pilot holes into the material beforehand. A much better option would be to use a sharp knife and then snap the plasterboard by hand. For areas that can’t be snapped, you would be better off using a hand gib-saw.
If you do insist on using a jigsaw, make sure that plasterboard dust doesn’t fall into the motor. Gib dust particles are tiny, and they could cause your jigsaw to malfunction over time.
When using a jigsaw, there is also a risk of cutting into wires or pipes that may be concealed behind the wall. That’s why I suggest you use your hand plasterboard saw instead, so you can feel any obstructions behind the wall and avoid cutting into them.
Cordless vs. Corded jigsaws
Early models of cordless jigsaws were severely underpowered. This meant that you had no choice but to use a high-powered corded model if you wanted to cut through hardwoods, ceramic, or metal.
But newer cordless models are a lot more powerful and more reliable, so you could easily cut through most of those materials just as efficiently as you would with a corded jigsaw.
Newer models also have more efficient lithium-ion batteries that give you longer life and longer run-times than ever before.
Combined with faster charging times, these newer batteries made it possible for manufacturers to equip cordless jigsaws with motors that are powerful enough to handle heavy-duty jobs.
Of course, you do need to have one or two spare batteries handy if you need to do a lot of cutting. With a corded jigsaw, the only thing you have to worry about is working close to a power outlet, keeping the cord out of the way, and keeping an eye on the motor to prevent overheating.
But if you don’t mind packing a couple of spare batteries, a cordless model is a good choice.
For my review on the best-corded jigsaw tool, that has more power and a cheaper alternative click here.
Check before you buy a Jigsaw
Some of the best brands of jigsaws to buy are Makita, Festool, DeWalt, and Milwaukee.
The best models from these brands give you long runtimes and excellent performance and are powerful enough to cut through even hard and dense materials.
Make sure that your jigsaw can accommodate a variety of blades. You will want to be able to use different types of blades for different jobs.
Blades with a high teeth-per-inch (TPI) rating will have more teeth than lower TPI blades and can produce cuts with smoother edges. The best jigsaw blades have high TPI counts that will make it easier for you to cut angles and curves.
Get a jigsaw that strikes the ideal balance between weight and controllability. Heavier jigsaws will let you cut through dense materials more easily, but they can also be more difficult to control.
Some lighter jigsaws might be underpowered for certain jobs, so try to go for a model that provides controllability without compromising power.
Cordless jigsaws are better suited for quick and portable cutting work, especially if you have to work in crowded areas or places where there isn’t a power outlet nearby.
But if you have to do a lot of cutting, make sure you have a spare battery on charge.
Corded jigsaws tend to be more durable than their cordless counterparts. If you have to do a lot of heavy-duty cutting work–particularly on timber or metal–it’s hard to argue with the ruggedness and reliability of a corded model.
But if your needs are more modest, you could certainly find many battery-operated models that are durable enough for most applications while not being tethered to an annoying cord.
It’s always a good idea to shell out the cash for a heavy-duty model instead of settling for a budget jigsaw.
Spending on the best jigsaw for the money now will save you the cost of expensive repair and replacement later on. A common problem with DIY jigsaws is the metal attachment that holds the blade in place breaks.
Make sure you have a blade attachment that doesn’t rely on ln keys, but instead a quick release. These quick-release attachments are not only more durable but quicker to change your blades.
Who uses jigsaw tools?
Jigsaws are a good alternative to circular or band saws, for cutting around corners, or touch-ups on skirting, trim, and weatherboards, particularly for builders.
They can handle a pretty good variety of jobs, including cutting plywood and even pine boards for walls and flooring. Jigsaws can even cut from the middle of a board with a pilot hole, which is difficult with a circular saw or impossible with a band saw.
Jigsaws are small enough to carry around and can be easily stashed into a tool bag, shelf, or toolbox.
They can also make a variety of cuts, so even less experienced DIYers can begin using them without too much trouble. In fact, jigsaws are a great introduction to more advanced power tools.
Starting with a cordless jigsaw kit, including a charger and batteries allows you to get other tools from the same brand in the future without having to get later get a second charger or battery.
This is known as buying a “bare tool” this can save you a bit of money buy avoiding owning multiple chargers and batteries through-out your toolkit.
Pro tools can last a lifetime for Builders and DIY’ers, and being that trades-people use Makita, Festool, Dewalt, and Milwaukee even in the far future replacement batteries should be available, genuine and aftermarket.
Jigsaws can be used to make straight cuts with the help of a good straightedge guide or two.
Cabinet makers can also use them to make curved cuts for decorative purposes. And if you need to make bevel cuts but don’t have an adjustable table saw, you will find that most jigsaws let you cut at angles of up to 45°.
Tips for using your cordless jigsaw
If this is your first time to use a jigsaw, make sure to load the blade with the teeth facing front.
Look for a lever at the front of the tool, known as a “quick release” which you will have to turn to get the blade’s base in the correct position. Releasing this lever will lock the blade securely into place.
Always check the condition of the blade every time you use it. Replace the blade if you see any dull or broken teeth. A blunt blade can burn your work instead of cutting your work-piece.
Go for a jigsaw that has a variable-speed control. This lets you adjust the speed at which the blade cuts up and down. Always start the motor before you touch the saw to the workpiece to prevent splitting the cut edges.
If you plan on cutting a lot of different angles, look for a jigsaw that has a bevel adjustment feature.
This lets you cut at different angles without having to do a lot of guesswork. Also look for an orbital blade action feature, which is especially useful for making cuts into hardwood timbers.
If you have to make a square-edge cut, make sure that the blade is positioned perpendicular to the base and that the blade is perfectly straight. If the blade is bent, throw it out or save it for jobs where having a clean, square cut isn’t absolutely necessary, like plaster-board for example.
Comparing the top jigsaws
|Festool 574716||Makita XVJ03||Milwaukee 2445-21|
|SPM (strokes-per-minute):||500 - 3,800||0 - 2,600||0 - 2800|
|Weight:||0.16 ounces||0.16 ounces||6.81 pounds|
A good jigsaw is a joy to have in the workplace or building site. The best value jigsaws are the Makita XVJ03, the Festool 574716 CARVEX, and the Milwaukee 2445-21 depending on the type of saw you think best for your work.
Anyone of these models will give you excellent performance and reliable results. The cordless options offer pretty good battery life and will provide you with power that rivals the best-corded jigsaws.
It doesn’t make much sense these days to get a corded jigsaw. I think when deciding the Festool barrel grip jigsaw tool is pretty hard to beat.
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Hi, my name is Aaron, and welcome to Banging-Toolbox.
As a genuine carpenter, I started banging-toolbox with the goal to make the #1 building, DIY, and tool review resource on the internet.
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