Jigsaws unplugged

Our pro testers took seven cordless jigsaws for a spin to see how their power and precision stack up

By Steve Maxwell

98-Bosch_52318_18-volt_jigs

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We put seven cordless jigsaws in the hands of our three experienced tool testers and asked them to evaluate the tools by using them in their own workshop. Each test-er evaluated the tools according to the following criteria:

– Blade change: testers fitted several different blades into each saw and noted how easily blades could be changed.
– Speed control: each saw’s speed control was evaluated to determine how smoothly the variable-speed system worked, as well as how much the blade could be slowed for precision work.
– Orbital action: saws can be adjusted to move their blades either in a straight, up-and-down motion for smooth cuts or in varying degrees of a D-shape for more aggressive cuts. Each saw was used with varying degrees of orbital action, and testers noted how each saw cut with, and without, orbital action.
– Sole performance and bevel angle: a saw’s swivelling base allows it to cut on a bevel. Testers determined how easy this feature was to use and adjust. Each saw’s sole was also evaluated to determine how well it supported the blade, and if the sole could be adjusted for closer cutting to adjoining surfaces.
– Finally, each tool’s battery and charger was evaluated to determine how easy they were to use and how sophisticated the charger was at maintaining optimal battery performance.

Safety first

Safety should be a top priority for all workshoppers. It has to be with all the sharp blades and powerful machines we use every day. And while a jigsaw may look like an innocent tool compared with the large tablesaw or the fast-spinng router, you still need to consider how the tool approaches safety.

All saws in the test group have a safety interlock, but some work better than others. The best are found on the Bosch, DeWalt and Hitachi. Their locks flip off and stay off, while all the others are spring-loaded. You need to press and hold the safety locks on the Black & Decker, Craftsman, Mastercraft and Ryobi. That’s one more thing to do while you’re cutting, and I found it to be a pain. The Mastercraft release is located in such a way that I needed to lift my hand from the grip to activate it.

 

 



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