The jigsaw is one of the most reliable tools you can have in your inventory, and is a staple of many contractors and DIY enthusiasts who deal with straight and rounded cuts every day.
There are many jigsaws you can choose from, and how can you be sure that it’s the right jigsaw for you? To take the guesswork out of this for you, we’ve compiled a list of everything you’d need to know about jigsaw, so you can have a perfect model for your needs.
Don’t have enough time to read the entire guide? Not a problem, I’ve made a list of the main points covered in this article for you to skim through.
- The first jigsaw was created in 1946 by an Austrian engineer who replaced a sewing machine needle with a blade
- Jigsaws can be found in corded and cordless models, with reciprocating and orbital options pending on your needs
- The core features of a jigsaw include the motor, blade, shoe and battery on portable models
- Jigsaws are one of the most versatile tools you could have, able to make many cuts in many environments
- Additional features you may find on a jigsaw include LED lights, laser guides and variable speed functions
A Closer Look Into The Jigsaw
We’ll start off this guide by looking into the jigsaw closely, starting with its introduction into the ever-growing power tool market, and what exactly you’d be using one of these saws for.
What Is A Jigsaw?
The jigsaw is one of the many branches in the saw family tree, and is an extremely versatile tool that is used by workers around the globe. This is due to many factors, with two of these revolving around the versatility and ease of use.
The jigsaw first came to be in 1946, when an Austrian engineer by the name of Albert Kaufmann noticed his wife’s sewing machine and replaced the needle with a blade. Do you think he’d know what he had then created? Probably not – but we’re thankful for Albert’s innovation.
Since 1946, technology had changed, and the jigsaw had adapted over time, yet has stayed true to its original concept.
A blade moving in a reciprocating motion, the jigsaw is able to oscillate when cutting, thanks to many of the additional orbital features that have been added over time.
Due to their relatively lightweight design, the jigsaw can be carried from site to site and stored in your workshop without too much hassle, which is another bonus and a tick of approval from many users, especially when space is a valuable thing.
Types Of Jigsaws Available
When discussing jigsaws and choosing the best for your needs, there are two important types to be aware of; the reciprocating jigsaw, and the orbital jigsaw.
As its name suggests, the reciprocating jigsaw includes an exposed blade that moves backwards and forwards as it makes its cut against the material. This is one of the most common forms of the jigsaw, and is quite easy to learn and master.
The other type of jigsaw to be aware of, is the orbital jigsaw. If you’re working with wood on a day to day basis, this is more than likely the model you’d be choosing. The orbital jigsaw allows for you to make straight cuts, but isn’t just limited to this.
You’re also able to create curved cuts, which is why it’s a very commonplace jigsaw in the shelf of a woodworker. Now that you know these two models, it’s time to decide if a corded or cordless model is best for you.
Like its name suggests, the corded jigsaw requires an electrical outlet to power the tool. Corded jigsaws are quite powerful, with some models able to reach SPM speeds of up to 3,200 in the higher-end models, thanks to a motor that’s usually found within the range of 6-7 amps.
How portable the corded jigsaw is depended entirely on the length of cord the manufacturer has included in the model. Corded jigsaws can be found with up to 10ft of cord, and is perfect for those within a workshop where portability isn’t too much of a concern.
As a result of being directly powered via an outlet, corded models of jigsaws are often more powerful than their cordless counterparts, however this is change that is slowly occuring thanks to advancements in jigsaw technology.
The cordless jigsaw is a great invention, especially for those who are working site to site and have irregular access to power.
These jigsaws are powered via a battery, and are seen in either 18V or 20V status, pending on the brand and model.
Portability is one of the biggest drawcards of the cordless jigsaw. With the ability to use them almost anywhere, the lightweight designs of these models also means that you’re able to get into spots that a corded jigsaw could not – which is perfect for electricians or plumbers who often work in constricted spaces.
The big question you’re probably wondering, just how powerful are cordless jigsaws? Well, these jigsaws are seeing quite a jump in power, with no-load motors allowing for speeds of up to 3,500 SPM. This outstrips many of the corded jigsaws, and is quickly putting an end to this old adage.
Battery life is another important feature of the cordless jigsaw. I touch upon this in more depth later in this guide, however, cordless jigsaws can often give hours of constant use upon full charge.
Many manufacturers, such as DeWalt amongst others, have created a battery sharing platform between their cordless tools. This allows you to interchange batteries of the same brand between other cordless tools – and this is a very useful feature for those constantly on the move.
What Is A Jigsaw Used For & By Who?
As you’re probably aware of by now, the jigsaw can be used by almost anyone, thanks to its low learning curve and ease of mastery.
They’re used by both professional contractors, and the average weekend warrior who’s been putting off their projects for a while.
Does this sound like you, by any chance?
If so, don’t worry – we’ve all put off our projects at some point in time. The jigsaws versatility assists in any projects you may have around the house, and is commonly used to make in shapes other than straight lines, (which it also does quite well)
As jigsaws place a big emphasis on their accuracy, they’re used in applications where precision is vital. If you’re looking to design shapes, say cutting a circular piece from a wooden stock, a jigsaw would be perfect due to its ability to oscillate when cutting.
Jigsaws also have a bevelling ability, of up to 45° in both directions, and adds another dimension to your cutting game thanks to its well-rounded nature of cuts.
But what exactly can a jigsaw cut? Well, this depends on the application you’re using the jigsaw for. Jigsaw blades are thinner than most saw blades – yet not as thin as a scroll saw, mind you – and can bend and break easily if not used correctly.
Materials that can be cut with a jigsaw includes the following:
These are just some examples of materials that you can cut with a jigsaw. It’s important to note that, for different applications you’ll need a blade designed to do that job specifically.
The Features Of A Jigsaw
When you’re looking for a jigsaw to add to your inventory, you’ll have to know the features of the jigsaw before you go ahead and purchase one. I’ve broken down the features into two categories, the core features that are necessary for the jigsaw to provide the output it does, and the additional features that can be extremely useful in certain situations.
Core Features To Look For
Blade & Stroke Length
The blade is an essential component of the jigsaw, and you should understand why without me needing to go into further detail.
As I stated earlier, blades can be found to specifically match the application. If you’re using a blade designed for wood, it’s going to be well equipped to cut hard and softwoods, yet quite useless when trying to cut through sheet metal, and vice versa.
There are many multi-use blades that often come with a jigsaw or in generic blade kits, however I would definitely recommend that you invest in application-specific blades.
You’ll also need to be aware of the type of attachment used by your jigsaw. There are two types, the T-Shank and U-Shank blade.
T-Shank blades are the most common used jigsaw blades available, after taking the place of the U-Shank blade, mainly due to tool-less blade systems found on many of the modern-day jigsaws.
The stroke length of a blade refers to the length the blade can make in one movement, which is known as a stroke. A higher stroke rate means the blade covers more distance when cutting the material.
Motor & Battery
Without the motor, your jigsaw would be useless, and that’s not what you want, is it?
The motor provides the energy throughout the jigsaw, allowing the blade and added accessories to work their magic. The motor is either powered by an electrical outlet through corded jigsaws, or a battery in the cordless varieties.
Motors can either be in the brushed or brushless form. Brushed is the traditional make of motors throughout the power tools industry, yet this is slowly overtaken by the brushless motor.
The brushless motor is favored over the traditional brushed motor, mainly due to its lack of physical brushes. This means that the motor is free from physical wear and tear, lasting longer and also able to distribute energy throughout the jigsaw in a much more efficient fashion.
The shoe, also known as the base or the pad, is the bottom of the jigsaw which protects the blade. It also provides leverage against the application that you’re cutting, allowing for the utmost accuracy and the reduction of vibration throughout the jigsaw, as well as protecting your workpiece from scratches.
Shoes are often adjustable, with some jigsaws including shoes that can extend, protecting the worn teeth of your blades and allowing for a longer blade life by using unused teeth. Should you need to bevel with your jigsaw, the shoe will move with your beveling motion.
Now that we’ve discussed the core features that are necessary for a jigsaw, let’s have a look at what you can find also added that make working a lot easier for you.
The first example of this is the LED light found on many jigsaws. These allow dim environments to be illuminated, allowing for a clearer sight of your blade and the application. Some jigsaws include both an LED light and a laser-marking guide, which shows the line of cut you’re about to make. Not a bad addition, is it?
The next additional feature, one that is actually very common, is the variable speed adjustments. Like the name suggests, these settings allow you to control the speed of your jigsaw, to match the application you’re cutting. This is useful for those that work with many different materials.
Variable speed adjustments can be found as a dial or trigger option, with some jigsaws integrating both into one, easy to use function. Trigger locks are also a paired feature, with this aspect allowing you to lock onto a speed that you choose, without having to manually press it whilst cutting.
The next and last additional feature I’ll cover, is the dust blower. These are found on many jigsaws, and their main aim is to keep the surface of your working area clean. These are usually switched on as soon as your jigsaw is, blowing away all the dust – also doubling as a helpful safety feature.
The Final Say
So we’re at the end of the guide, and how well do you think you know your jigsaws now? Hopefully, you’re well aware of the differences in features, as well as the variety of models available for you to purchase.
It’s best to identify exactly what you need before purchasing one, so if you’re only going to use a jigsaw occasionally for small projects – maybe it’s best to save your money and purchase a jigsaw tailored for your needs and usage.
If you’re unsure of what jigsaw to purchase, we have many guides available on the subject, so feel free to check them out in order to assist you further.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the jigsaw. Is it your preferred tool? Do you have a brand you swear by?
Leave your thoughts below!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make sure I get the most out of my jigsaw?
To ensure your jigsaw provides you with years of service, it’s best to regularly maintain the saw and use it properly.
The blades and chuck will always require lubrication, so it’s best to do so to make sure you’re not causing unnecessary damage to your jigsaw, and also your workpieces.
It’s also best to use the correct blade for the job, and to not overwork the motor by chopping and changing your speed unnecessarily.