Photos by Rob Brown; Illustration by Len Churchill
A jigsaw can make many types of cuts in a wide variety of materials. Its ability to make a fairly tight radius cut, or a cut to a marked line, is where they excel.
Often used for making rough cuts in solid wood and sheet goods, a jigsaw is very handy when a perfectly straight cut isn’t needed. A jigsaw is sometimes looked on to make fairly accurate cuts too, but its accuracy depends on the user. Jigsaws are reasonably priced and multi-functional, so they make good tools for a beginner. Jigsaws are also lightweight, so they make great jobsite and home improvement tools. A band saw can cut outside curves, but a jigsaw can cut inside curves as well, as in removing material from the center of a workpiece (think of a cut-out in a countertop for a kitchen sink). Selecting a blade is important. Some blades leave a smoother edge, some excel at cutting tight curves, while others are for cutting non-ferrous metals. There are many other types of blades on the market. Many jigsaws will accept T-shank blades, which make blade changes quick and easy.
Handle Types: Barrel, D-handle
Price: $50 – $575
Common Options: Variable speed, orbital cutting action
Weight: 1kg – 4kg
Easily swapped in or out, the right blade makes a big difference in the quality of the finished edge you will end up with.
Most jigsaws are corded, but battery-powered models excel at jobsite tasks or in busy production shop situations.
Some jigsaws have settings that cause the blade to travel in a vaguely elliptical path to make faster cuts. Familiarize yourself with the settings you should use when cutting in different situations.
Most jigsaws will do the basics, but if you are going to ask a lot of your jigsaw consider the attachments that come with it, as they will expand the saw’s usefulness.
Because of the upward-cutting nature of most jigsaw blades, the underside of the workpiece will have less chipping. Consider positioning the workpiece upside down if need be.