During a DIY project, if you need to make a curved cut, create a hole in the middle of a piece of material or cut into something in a tight spot, you're going to want a jigsaw. Similar to a reciprocating saw, jigsaws are a versatile tool capable of making clean, precise straight or curved cuts, plunge cutting to create a hole in the middle of a piece of wood or styrofoam insulation or sawing in small spaces that other saws simply can't reach.
After weeks of research and testing, I can tell you that the DeWalt DCS334B(available at Amazon) is the best jigsaw you can buy right now. While significantly more expensive than the other jigsaws, the DeWalt offered clean cuts with minimal effort and several safety-minded features. If the DeWalt doesn’t fit your budget, check out our best value pick in the Hart HPJS01 (available from Walmart for $54.)
Here are the best jigsaws we tested, ranked in order:
Bosch JSH 180B
Porter Cable PCC650B
Black + Decker BDCJS20B
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While other jigsaws in this guide are primarily built using plastic components, the DeWalt DCS334B is primarily built using metal and metal alloys. Even with its superior build quality, it was only 0.1 pounds heavier than the majority of its competitors.
Where most of the saws in this guide require an Allan wrench to change the position of their shoe (the part of the saw that rests on the material you’re cutting), the DCS334B's shoe, with its clearly labeled markings for 0, 15, 30, and 45 degrees, tilts using a lever located on the back of the tool. Its blade retention system was the safest of any of the saws that I tested. Rather than having to tug and twist at a sharp, hot (if you just finished making a cut) blade to remove it, the DCS334B uses a clamp that safely ejects its blade.
As for performance, the DCS334B cuts exceptionally clean, sawing effortlessly through the materials it was pitted against during testing. While performing plunge cuts (cutting into the middle of a piece of material, instead of its edge), the Dewalt DCS334B bested the other saws in this guide. performance of the other jigsaws I tested.
However, I wasn’t impressed with the DCS334B’s cutting guide. The other jigsaws I tested employ a wire cutting guide that helps predict where the saw's cut line will appear. Instead of a wire, the DCS334B’s uses a series of notches in its shoe to indicate its blade's location, which felt less intuitive. That said, with a little practice any user will quickly become comfortable with this jigsaw’s cut line system.
As tested, the DeWalt DCS334B came without battery. If you haven’t already invested in the company’s battery system, you can buy its battery and charger from Amazon.
The Hart HPJS01’s speed and orbital blade controls set it apart from everything else in its price range. During testing, being able to adjust the jigsaw’s power and blade settings to match the material being cut made a significant difference in the smoothness of my cut.
The HPJS01 requires an Allan wrench (included and stored on the tool) to adjust its shoe to make angled cuts. The shoe has notches to mark three different cutting angles. No matter which angle I cut at, the results, when working with plywood, were very clean.
The HPJS01 has some downsides, however.
I found that its wire blade guide wasn’t quite as accurate as I would have liked. However, after a bit of practice, I was able to overcome this shortcoming, as the blade area is quite visible while the tool is in use. I was disappointed to find that there is no charge level indicator on Hart’s batteries. There are few things more frustrating than setting off to start a new project, only to discover that your tools have no juice.
Additionally, I wasn’t able to complete a plunge cut with this tool. If this is a cut you make often, consider the Ryobi P5231 instead: it offers similar performance at a reasonable price.
As tested, the Hart HPJS01 came without a battery. If you haven’t already invested in the company’s battery system, you can buy a battery and charger from Walmart.
Lots of power
Good view of cutting area
No battery power indicator
Unable to plunge cut
Trigger lock keeps tool running rather than acting as a safety feature
If you’re in the trades, you already have a handle on what tools you need to do your job and which brand you prefer. This guide isn’t for you. Rather, this guide is aimed at DIYers, looking to do their own home renovations or work on woodworking projects in their spare time. Because of this, I decided on a $200 price cap, for all of the tools in this guide—something folks like you and I can likely afford. I also made sure that the tools I tested can all be easily found online and, in brick-and-mortar stores.
While this guide focuses on cordless jigsaws, I also include two corded models in my test group. This was to gauge whether there is any difference between the amount of cutting power provided by a modern Lithium Ion-powered saw to one that needs to be plugged into a power source.
A sharp blade can make the difference between a clean cut and a piece of wood that looks like you chewed through it with your teeth. As most of the saws I called in for testing came with a kit blade, I used the blade, once, to capture what out-of-box experience was like. For all other tests, I used Ryobi speed wood blades.
Once I’d chosen my jigsaws and blades, I divided testing up into three areas: projects, repetitive cuts, and subjective experience.
Project testing: I found the plans for a curvy plant holder and, following the provided pattern, slicing up the plywood required to build it.
Repetitive Cuts: I used each saw to cut a small circle out of the plywood leftover from project testing. This allowed me to visually assess each saw’s ability to produce clean cuts when carving out the most extreme curves possible. Beveled cutting was also completed at 45 degrees to test the saw’s ability to cut on an angle. To further assess cut quality, I cut a ‘Y’ shape out of chunks of drywall. If the cut isn’t clean, the drywall is really going to get ripped up.
Subjective Experience: As mentioned earlier, in order to test a user’s experience with what comes with the jigsaw, I used the saw’s stock blade to saw into a long strip of lumber, cutting out small, rectangular pieces. This gave me a sense of how each jigsaw handled sharp corners with both using its kit blade (where applicable) as well as the Ryobi Speed Wood blades.
Finally, I considered the overall experience of using each jigsaw by focusing on its ease of use, safety features, and controls.
What You Should Know About Jigsaws
Parts of a Jigsaw
Generally, a jigsaw is made up of at least six visible parts:
Blade: is the replaceable, cutting metal piece that retracts and extends to cut. Shoe: is the part of the saw that rests and slides on top of the material you are cutting. Generally, the shoe will be at a 90-degree angle to the saw unless you are cutting a beveled edge. Blade release: the button or lever that releases the blade, allowing the blade to be exchanged. Blade wheel: supports the non-cutting side of the blade, keeping the blade from moving from side-to-side. Bevel Adjust: allows you to angle the shoe to cut at an angle. Trigger: controls the motion of the blade, might also allow you to control the speed of the saw movement if the trigger is a variable speed trigger.
Some jigsaws might have extra features, like a LED light, a variable cutting speed dial, lock button (some work as a trigger lock, others allow for the saw to run without a finger on the trigger), orbital control (changes the size of the ellipse the blade travels through), or blade guide (to help you accurately predict your cut line).
What is Orbital Action in a Jigsaw?
With most jigsaws, the default movement of the blade is up-and-down. However, some jigsaws offer an orbital setting. In these cases, the manufacturer is offering users the option to use an elliptical blade motion which pulls the blade away from the material being cut, on the downward stroke. This setting is often used when cutting more delicate materials, like thin laminates, or for making careful, controlled cuts.
Common Jigsaw Cuts
Jigsaw cuts are usually straightforward—line up with a cut line marked on your material, start the saw blade moving before touching your material with it and, as you cut, follow the marked line. Straight cuts are obviously easy, but if your cutting path includes a sharp corner, slow down before making the turn with your saw.
If you are cutting material away, however, things get a bit more interesting.
A plunge cut can be used if you want to cut a hole out of the middle of your material—cutting a hole in a countertop for a sink is a good example of this. For this cut, rest the saw on the front part of its shoe. Then, pulling the saw’s trigger, tilt the tool down into the material you want to cut.
You should know that some jigsaws aren’t able to make a plunge cut. A common method for getting around this is to use a drill to make a hole in the material you’re working with to give your jigsaw’s blade a place to dig into.
Types of Jigsaw Blades
Different types of material require different blades. One of the easiest ways to tell the differences between blade types is the number of teeth per inch (TPI). The higher the TPI, the cleaner the cut but, the slower the cutting goes.
For particularly fragile material (like laminate or thin wood veneer) blades that cut on the upstroke can help reduce splinters and rough cuts. Blades for cutting metal, plexiglass, and tile are labeled for those materials and frequently have high TPI counts. a visual explanation of TPI and blade types, check out this video from See Jane Drill.
Can a Jigsaw Cut Metal?
If you plan on cutting through hard materials, like metal or doing demolition work, a reciprocating saw might be a better fit.
Other Jigsaws We Tested
While it might not look like much, the Ryobi P5231’s cutting guide was the best one that I tested. Its design made it easy to follow the markers lines drawn on my plywood, resulting in a clean, accurate cut. In addition, the Ryobi felt like a more powerful tool than many others similarly priced and the vibration felt during cutting was low. The battery system has indicators to show its charge, letting you know if you need to charge it before you begin your project.
Overall, the Ryobi scored similarly to my Best Value Pick, the Hart HPJS01. The price difference between the Hart and the Ryobi bare tool is minor. However, Royobi’s batteries and charger cost more than twice as much as the Hart.
As tested, the Ryobi P5231 came without a battery. If you haven’t already invested in the company’s battery system, you can buy a battery and charger from Amazon.
The Bosch JSH180 performed most tasks fairly well, including plunge cuts.
With a safety lock on the trigger and a wire cutline guide similar to the Ryobi, the Bosch JSH180B has several high-end, useful features in a solid-feeling tool. However, most of these features can be found in tools that cost half as much as the Bosch. The cuts were clean, generally, and JSH180B's shoe comes with a soft plastic overlay to help reduce scratches on delicate materials. The saw’s powerful motor made it easy to zip through cuts.
As tested, the Bosch JSH180 came without a battery. If you haven’t already invested in the company’s battery system, you can buy a battery and charger from Amazon.
If you need a budget jigsaw and a cord doesn’t cramp your style, the Craftsman CMES612 is a good choice. It’s essentially the same tool as Craftsman’s battery-powered CMCS600B, but with a power cord instead of a battery. The CMES612 was able to complete a plunge cut (unlike its cordless counterpart) and had a more ergonomic handle. Even if you’ve bought into the Craftsman battery system with other Craftsman tools, this corded jigsaw is worth your consideration.
The Porter Cable PCC650B is a bare-bones jigsaw. There’s no LED to light your cut, nor a wire cutting guide. It will get the job done, as long as that job doesn't require a plunge cut— the PCC650B was not able to complete one. The PCC650B does have one feature that I liked: its shoe comes with clearly labeled degree markings to change the angle of the cut, unlike similarly priced saws that leave you guessing as to the shoe’s position.
As tested, the Porter Cable PCC650B came without a battery. If you haven’t already invested in the company’s battery system, you can buy a battery and charger from Amazon.
I expected the battery-powered Craftsman CMES612 to have similar performance to the corded Craftsman CMES612. Unfortunately, this was not the case. During testing, The Craftsman CMCS600B provided surprisingly clean cuts through plywood and drywall. However, in order to complete these cuts, I had to exert more physical effort than I did with the other jigsaws in this guide—it lacked the power needed to make cutting with it anything less than a chore. As such, I wasn’t surprised to find that it was incapable of creating a plunge cut.
Unless you are already invested in Craftsman’s battery system, my best overall and value picks will serve you better.
As tested, the Craftsman CMES612 came without a battery. If you haven’t already invested in the company’s battery system, you can buy a battery and charger from Amazon.
Uses metal loop instead of plastic for blade retention
Similar in shape and style to both of the Craftsman saws in this guide, the Black and Decker BDCJS20B failed to impress me. During testing, I found the tool to be underpowered, forcing me to push the saw a bit harder than usual in order to complete my cuts. I did, however, like the fact that the only way to control the saw is by how hard its trigger is depressed: The harder you squeeze, the faster the blade speed.
The cuts made by the BDCJS20B were very clean, comparable to the results derived from using our main pick, the DeWalt DCS334B, when cutting drywall. That said, the Black and Decker wasn’t able to create a plunge cut.
This saw might be a good choice for individuals only interested in cutting into lighter materials. Otherwise, you might want to consider a different jigsaw for your next project.
After being pleasantly surprised by Skil’s products during circular saw testing, the Skil 4295-01 was an unexpected disappointment.
It was unable to complete a plunge cut, and its blade got stuck while I was cutting a curve in a piece of plywood. The vibration of the tool felt unpleasantly strong, even on fairly light tasks. I was delighted to read in its user manual that the jigsaw’s shoe has a tool-free adjustment system. However, I was disappointed by how much strength it took to change the shoe’s angle. Even at such a low price, with all the other faults with the Skil 4295-01, it is not a tool I would recommend.
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