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Though jigsaws have earned a bad rep in the woodworking community for their blades’ knack to bend resulting in cuts that aren’t angular, the upsides are too great to not have this power tool in your toolbox. When curved cuts are called for, particularly on thin surfaces like plywood, etc few power tools are as diligent as the jigsaw .
What you need to Look For when buying Jigsaw
High-end jigsaws include two main features that factor into their elevated costs: Variable Speed and Orbital Action. While variable speeds aren’t necessary for woodworking, adjusting speeds to make complicated and delicate cuts can be particularly useful, especially when dealing with metals. If you start out with a high-end jigsaw and switch to a single speed jigsaw, you’ll miss the flexibility and if you start out low and go high, you’ll never want to switch again.
The Orbital Action feature allows higher end jigsaws to angle the blade into the stock on the upswing, in contrast to standard-action jigsaws which work solely in an upwards and downwards motion. This allows for lesser flexibility.
What Else To Look For
Other features to look for include dust collection, for the super neat freaks out there; a trigger lock which locks into a particular speed and a splinter control shoe. This last helps keep splintering to a minimum, through a small insert on the shoe of the jigsaw.
Jigsaw Cut Depth
Many jigsaws are able to cut through 2” deep in woodwork and about ½” in metals and while some are able to cut deeper, that may not be the best thing as it increases the chance of the blade bending and breaking. More often than not, this will result in a badly angled cut.
To counter this problem, leave about 1/8” of material from the cut line uncut; using an oscillating sander to finish .
Cordless vs Corded Jigsaws
While cordless jigsaws sport the advantages of no cords, they also tend to suffer in performance and should be largely avoided. For starters, cordless jigsaws are not nearly as powerful as their corded counterparts and as a result will not be able to cut as quickly or handle the thickness of stock. We would recommend NOT using these varieties, regardless of the manufacturer.
Scroll Saws, as their name suggests have a blade steering knob on their surface that allows their blades to turn as opposed to having to turn the jigsaw as a whole, itself. Issues that arise have to do with pressure; it needs to be applied consistently for the cut to remain clean and consistent. This can be difficult if the knob is turned at a sharp angle and can as a result, be counter-productive as opposed to helpful in the process.
Concluding, while extra features are great to have the only really useful one is variable speeds. Sure, oscillating action models do have their advantages but don’t provide as much bang for buck as expected and the money saved there can easily be invested in…say, a band saw. A much worthier investment, if you ask me.