The first power tool I ever bought was a jigsaw. It was cheaper than many of the other items on my wish list, and it cut curves that a circular saw (or a handsaw, for that matter) could not. That saw lasted me for years, but I recently had to shop for a replacement when the electric motor finally went out.
I had not used the internet for shopping before, so I was surprised (actually, overwhelmed) by the amount of information available.
The starting point was comparing corded vs cordless jigsaw power tools. When I purchased my first jigsaw, battery-powered tools were just coming into the market. I had never considered what the best cordless jigsaw designs could offer.
The battery power listed in many cordless jigsaw reviews can be confusing. Products listed with “max” volts indicate top performance before you start to drain the battery pack, meaning that a 20-volt Max battery actually performs like an 18-volt pack with extra capacity.
One thing you will notice when comparing corded vs cordless jigsaw models is the motor size. Many of the more powerful corded designs offer six or more amps for electric motor ratings. The best cordless jigsaw models usually rate a little less than that.
If you plan on using your jigsaw for cutting something besides wood, finding a product with variable speeds is necessary. Lower speed settings work well with materials like metal. Higher single-speed jigsaws will tend to make the blade bounce off of metal surfaces.
My old jigsaw was able to handle cuts into lumber that was two-inches thick or less. Today’s saws, including the bargain models billed as the best jigsaw under 100 should be able to handle wood that thick. You should be able to cut metal 1/2-inch thick or less with a jigsaw as well.
Orbital action is available on some designs, and it can increase the cutting speed of the jigsaw. Creating an elliptical movement along with the up and down stroke of the blade creates more aggressive cuts that can save you time. It wasn’t a feature I was concerned with as a casual user, but I can imagine increased cutting speed being important for construction trades or a fabrication shop.
One thing that has not changed over the years is the affordability of this power tool. I was happy to see that even the models rated as the best jigsaw under 100 offered all of the features that I needed. Cordless products can be more expensive, but those of you who are already invested in a battery platform can buy your jigsaw as a tool-only purchase to save lots of money.
I would recommend that you do your research online before heading down to the local big-box store (or shopping online for that matter). There are a lot of different designs that you can choose from, even from the same manufacturer. Matching your needs to a handful of models will give you a headstart before you shop.
I feel that the jigsaw should be part of everyone’s tool collection, as it allows you to make cuts that other power tools simply can not. It is easier to use than a reciprocating saw and can handle materials the fine blade of a jigsaw can’t.