Jigsaws are useful power saws for cutting wood, plastic and metal in a variety of situations and they can often be the only power saw needed in a DIY building project, so owning one is a must for almost any DIYer or tradesman. However, in today’s market jigsaws come in all shapes and sizes to suit either the amateur or the professional, and with all sorts of added features, some extremely useful, some not so much, so deciding on the best jigsaw to buy can be challenging. In this review of electric jigsaws, we first look at the different features of a power jigsaw that new buyers should be watching out for, before moving onto examining individual jigsaws that are popular in the UK in our more specific jigsaw reviews towards the end of the page.
Which Jigsaw is best for you?
Deciding on a jigsaw, as with many other power tools, is more about the sort person you are and how you intend to use it rather than whether the jigsaw is a good buy or not. Are you a tradesman or professional who has a power tool in your hand more or less every minute of the day? Or are you the avid DIYer type that spends all of your free time on building projects with glee? Or perhaps you are the reluctant DIYer that needs to get the job done as quickly as possible so you can get back to doing what you really want to do (which is not DIY!)? Many of the advanced features of more capable jigsaws are really only needed for regular users of the tool (like tradesmen and the wannabe professionals), but most of us are not as active DIYers as we would like to think and so usually a more basic tool will often serve us better.
Features of a Jigsaw
Power: Jigsaws today come in a range of different motor power strengths which really only has a bearing on the thickness of material that the jigsaw is able to cut. More power means more muscle to cut through thicker material.
Maximum thickness of cut in wood: Since jigsaws are used most often to cut wood, this is the prime metric that should be considered when purchasing a new jigsaw. What is the thickest piece of stock that you will likely need to cut?
Maximum thickness of cut in steel: Cutting through steel is also an activity many of us need to do on occasion and a jigsaw is often best suited to carrying it out. Even the occasional DIY-er will sometimes find himself or herself in a situation where metal needs to be cut. Installing a new IKEA kitchen wall cabinet yourself? Then you may very well be using their suspension rail system which requires cutting galvanised steel exactly to size. Or perhaps you’re using a nut and bolt to hold your latest invention together but can’t find the perfect length bolt? Your jigsaw is the ideal tool for cutting a longer bolt down to size. Furthermore, many of the same settings and blades that are used for cutting metal are also used for cutting plastic. So next time you have to replace a waste pipe or PVC guttering on your new house and it needs to be cut to size, you will know where to turn.
Tool-free blade change: In the old days, changing a blade on a jigsaw was a laborious process: undoing the retaining mechanism with a screwdriver, replacing the blade, and then tightening it back up again the same way you released it. Today, the process is just as laborious unless you go for a jigsaw with a tool-free blade-change capability. This feature is mostly on the more advanced (and more expensive) models of jigsaw. It may not seem such a big deal to change the blade the old way but it most definitely is even for the occasional DIY-er. Unless you are going to be cutting the exact same thing every time you use your jigsaw, you are most likely going to be needing a different blade. And there are blades for everything. There are multiple different types of jigsaw blades for wood cutting alone: there are blades for a clean-cut, for laminated workpieces, for going quickly through thick two-by-fours….I think you get the drift.
Variable speed control: There are two aspects to speed control: First, there is variable speed control that is controlled via trigger pressure – the harder you press on the trigger the faster the blade moves. Then there is variable MAXIMUM speed control. This is usually controlled via a dial with numbers which sets the maximum speed the jigsaw will go when you FULLY depress the trigger – this feature is useful when cutting different materials. Unfortunately, the difference between the two types of control is not always made clear on jigsaw marketing material so make sure you know which one they are referring to – the more expensive machines have both.
Sawdust blower: The sawdust blower sits on the nose of a jigsaw and essentially blows air over the cutting zone – this has the effect of blowing sawdust out of the way of the blade and gives the user a much clearer view of the cutting line. Although a simple idea, anyone who has ever used a jigsaw without a blower will recognise how much of a pain it is to have to stop every so often to manually blow the excess chips and sawdust out of the way so that you can continue cutting accurately along your cutting line!
Orbital action: Orbital action, also known as pendulum action, introduces a swinging motion to the blade stroke so that on the down-stroke, the blade moves vertically to cut the wood, but on the return stroke, slopes back slightly so that the blade clears the wood being cut, improving chip ejection and dramatically speeding up cutting. The orbital action also increases saw blade life as the blade is not subjected to as much wear and tear from friction and heat. Jigsaws with orbital action often have different degrees of orbital motion to which they can be set. The less the orbital motion, the cleaner the cut through the wood as less break-out occurs on the top surface, but at the cost of cutting speed and blade wear. Orbital motion is of no use when cutting metals and should be switched off if it is featured on a jigsaw. Orbital action is more for the professional user and the DIY enthusiast rather than for the everyday consumer.
Vacuum port: Attaching a vacuum to the jigsaw can make for a much cleaner work place since much of the sawdust is aspirated away as the power tool is doing the cutting. This is a very useful feature and these days almost every jigsaw has a vacuum port!
Adjustable footplate: Almost all of today’s jigsaws come with an adjustable footplate that can be angled up to 45 degrees from the horizontal in order to make bevelled cuts. Most of the time however, only the professionals need to make such cuts and so this feature tends to be unnecessary for the majority of users.
Popular Jigsaws in the UK
|Jigsaw||Power||Max cut in |
|Max cut in |
|Power||Max cut in |
|Max cut in |
|Bosch PST 700 E||500W||1.7 kg|
|Bosch PST 800 PEL||530W||2 kg|
|DeWalt DW331||701W||2.8 kg|
|Makita 4329 ||450W||1.9 kg|
|Ryobi RJS750-G||500W||1.8 kg|
|Black & Decker KS600E||450W||1.9 kg|
|Black & Decker KS501-GB||400W||1.3 kg|
|Black & Decker KS701EK-GB||520W||1.6 kg|
Corded Electric Jigsaw Reviews
Bosch Jigsaw PST 700 E
The PST 700 E is one of a group of top quality jigsaws available in the UK made by the world-renowned power tool maker, Bosch. The German company makes all sorts of power tools for both professionals and consumers alike and quality is often second to none. The PST 700 E jigsaw is one of those top-ranked power tools and has been very popular with consumers as of late.
With its 500W motor, the PST 700 E is capable of cutting wood up to 7cm in thickness, 1cm in aluminium and 4mm of steel, more than adequate for most DIY and professional jobs. It also has a number of well-thought-out features such as the ability to change the blade at the ‘touch of a button’ with no extra tools or keys required. It also has a user-switchable air blow feature that can be turned on to blow away debris ensuring a clear line of sight of the line being cut. A sawdust extraction port is also incorporated at the rear of the device so that a vacuum can be attached and excess debris can also be neatly spirited away. As with most jigsaws these days, The PST 700 E is able to angle its footplate up to 45 degrees from the horizontal so that angled cuts can be made but take note that adjusting the footplate on this model requires a flathead screwdriver.
Bosch has recently upgraded their line of jigsaws, making them even lighter and more user-friendly than their predecessors, and the latest models are indeed very compelling for anyone looking to procure a top-quality jigsaw. One thing to keep in mind with this Bosch model is that it does NOT have the orbital motion feature, but by not including it, the price of the PST 700 E has been kept to a minimum. In addition, there is no variable speed control dial through which the maximum speed can be controlled, although the blade speed is responsive to trigger pressure, which is ideal for slow starting. Importantly, the PST 700 E can accept both U- and T-shanked blades making it ideal for anyone who is replacing an older jigsaw model and has a stock of the older U-shanked blades.
Bosch Jigsaw PST 800 PEL
The Bosch PST 800 PEL jigsaw is essentially the Bosch PST 700 E jigsaw (reviewed above) on steroids! It has all the features of the PST 700 E plus some added extras. But first the similarities. Like the Bosch PST 700 E, changing the blade on the Bosch PST 800 PEL does not require any tools and the higher spec jigsaw is also able to use both T-shaped and 1/4 inch U-shaped shanks. For angled cuts, the Bosch PST 800 PEL can also angle its footplate up to 45° for bevelled cuts but just like the PST 700 E, a flathead screwdriver is required to make any angle changes. This makes the use of the Bosch PST 800 PEL jigsaw just as inconvenient as the PST 700 E if switching regularly between perpendicular and bevelled cuts. For a cleaner work environment, the Bosch PST 800 PEL, like its sibling, has both an integral air blowing system for keeping the cutting zone clear of debris which can be easily switched on and off as required, as well as a vacuum port for vacuum system attachment. One thing that is still missing on the PST 800 PEL, as it is on the Bosch PST 700 E, is the lack of a variable speed control dial that allows the setting of a fixed maximum stroke rate. On both Bosch machines, the only way to vary speed is via the cruder mechanism of varying trigger pressure.
As for the differences between the two Bosch machines, they come in several different aspects. To start with, the Bosch PST 800 PEL has a moderately more powerful 530W motor allowing it to cut through slightly thicker workpieces than its less-powerful sibling. The higher specification machine also has the user-controllable orbital action cutting feature, permitting it to cut through woodwork more efficiently. The Bosch PST 800 PEL also includes a cutting line guide which is essentially a transparent plastic guide attached to the front of the machine that facilitates the precise following off a cutting line when guiding the jigsaw through a cut. Another unique feature of the PST 800 PEL is the presence of a blade storage compartment that conveniently attaches to the jigsaw itself and which can hold up to six jigsaw blades up to a length of 110mm. Finally, all the extra functionality on the Bosch PST 800 PEL jigsaw means that it weighs significantly more than the Bosch PST 700 E with a difference of approximately 300g.
Overall, the Bosch PST 800 PEL is another excellent machine from the world-famous German company and is a step up from the lower-spec PST 700 E jigsaw with added power and versatility. Therefore, the Bosch PST 800 PEL is recommended for the more experienced DIY enthusiast that needs a machine with a wider range of capabilities but still carries the reputable quality of Bosch power tools.
Bosch PST 700 E vs PST 800 PEL
|Bosch Jigsaw||PST 700 E||PST 800 PEL|
|Motor||500 W||530 W|
|Max. cut in wood (mm)||70 mm||80 mm|
|Max. cut in steel (mm)||4 mm||5 mm|
|Tool-free blade change|
|Variable speed trigger|
|Variable maximum speed control|
|Maximum footplate angle||45°||45°|
|"CutControl" line guide|
|Weight (kg)||1.7 kg||2 kg|
DeWalt Jigsaw DW331 (Our favourite)
DeWalt is another top brand for power tools that every tradesman and DIY-er of any experience will almost certainly have heard of. However, it is not common knowledge that DeWalt is actually owned by Black and Decker. The DeWalt brand is used to differentiate its professional tool line from the Black and Decker brand that is more associated with lighter weight and less capable tools for the everyday consumer who usually does not need the higher power, higher durability of professional-grade DeWalt tools.
The DeWalt DW331 jigsaw is one of those professional-grade tools that are best suited to the tradesman or the semi-professional DIYer, and the power tool has a price to match! It incorporates all of the latest features of professional jigsaws including the much sought after tool-free blade change system. In addition, the footplate can be adjusted without any tools. It also incorporates a 3-position orbital motion switch for faster timber cuts, and a dust blower in the nose of the device. One of the more powerful jigsaws discussed here, it has a 701 watt motor whose maximum speed can be varied at the touch of a dial. An important point to note is that the DW331 only accepts T-shank blades which, these days, has become the dominant type of jigsaw blade types used. This is our favourite jigsaw and one of the best jigsaws you can get on the UK market.
Makita Jigsaw 4329
Makita is yet another top-of-the-line power tool manufacturer that makes high precision equipment and more often than not incorporates all the latest technology into their machines. The Makita 4329 jigsaw is one of those high-precision tools. In addition to straight cutting, it also has 3 orbital motion settings to give faster more aggressive cutting in wood and better blade life. It also has a variable speed dial to adjust the maximum blade stroke rate to fit the material being cut.
Unfortunately, the Makita 4329 is let down by the absence of two features. Firstly, changing the blade is achieved via loosening of a hex screw using a wrench (that is stored in the handle), followed by re-tightening of it when the new blade has been inserted. This can be particularly annoying if blade changes are required on a regular basis (as in if different materials need cutting). Secondly, it does NOT have a dust blower system to remove freshly cut sawdust from the immediate vicinity of the cut. This means that the jigsaw may need to be halted every so often to clear the cutting zone so that one’s cutting line can be observed. Fortunately, Makita has chosen an alternative method to ensure clear visibility of the cutting line but it means using accessory equipment to do so. The Makita 4329 has an integrated chip cover over the blade which prevents chips from flying all over the place and working together with a vacuum attached to the integrated sawdust extraction port at the rear effectively clears debris from the cutting line. It also reduces the overall amount of mess in the working area. However, if the vacuum and chip cover are not used, or worse, only the chip cover is used, then without a dust blower system, the cutting line rapidly becomes obscured by cutting debris and needs manually clearing every few centimetres of the cut.
Ryobi Jigsaw RJS750-G
Ryobi is another player in the top brand power tools space and the RJS750-G jigsaw easily fits the bill. It is a very compact machine with a very slim profile. Like other good jigsaws, it has an integrated dust blower to clear chips and sawdust from the cutting area for better line following. In addition, a small transparent plastic insert with a central mark has been incorporated into the very front of the jigsaw and flips down onto the cutting surface to aid in making yet straighter cuts (Line Assist). The blade can be easily changed without using any keys or wrenches and uses the now-dominant T-shank blade type. It also has a vacuum port for improved work area cleanliness. One let down with the power tool is the lack of a carry case – but then if the jigsaw is kept permanently in a workshop, you don’t really need one. Being one of the more basic jigsaw models that Ryobi makes, the RJS750 does NOT have orbital action nor can you control the maximum speed as you can with some of their more advanced models.
Black & Decker Jigsaw KS600E
The Black & Decker KS600E may at first glance appear a very basic model jigsaw but that would be unjustified as it incorporates features that are often seen in more advanced (and more expensive) jigsaws. For starters, the KS600E has variable speed control on the trigger switch: increasing the pressure on the trigger increases the speed of the blade (it lacks, however, variable maximum speed control). Like more expensive models, a dust blower is integrated into the front of the jigsaw to keep the cutting line clear of debris and visible to the operator, and it also includes a vacuum port to remove excess sawdust and chips to keep the work area as clean as possible. This jigsaw also incorporates a plastic extrusion on the front of the device that acts as both a rudimentary blade guard and an aid in keeping true to the cutting line. Important to experienced jigsaw users who may already own blades for a different saw, the Black and Decker KS600E jigsaw can hold either U or T-shank types of blades, but be aware that blade changes require the use of a tool which can at times be inconvenient especially if you need to cut different materials or make different kinds of cuts often.
Update: The Black & Decker KS600E jigsaw has been discontinued.
Black & Decker Jigsaw KS501
The KS501 jigsaw is currently Black and Decker’s most basic jigsaw and is a one replacement for the its KS600E jigsaw reviewed above which has since been discontinued. Like the KS600E before it, the KS501 is a low-powered jigsaw that lacks many of the features that other machines possess, clearly having been designed with the occasional DIYer in mind. This is perhaps not surprising given that the Black+Decker brand itself is predominantly aimed at the amateur home improvement market rather then the tradesman. However, Black and Decker have gone one step further with the KS501 by stripping out almost any feature that is not absolutely required in a jigsaw and in doing so, keeping the price so low as to make the KS501 an almost disposable power tool.
Before going into more details about what features have been left out of the KS501 jigsaw, however, let’s first take a look at what limited features this Black & Decker power tool does have. The KS501 is one of the lightest jigsaws on today’s market with a weight of only about 1.3kg, making it easy to handle by even the least able-bodied among us. Like other jigsaws, it has a hard plastic body with a rubberised grip and a metal base plate that can be set to an angle of 45° for bevelled cuts. The jigsaw can cut up to 65mm of depth in wood, and can also cut metals such as steel up to a thickness of 5mm making it a quite versatile machine even with its relatively low-powered 400W motor. Cutting with the KS501 is also a relatively easy thing to do with the thin blade guard providing ample visibility of the cutting zone (although the lack of any sort of centre line marking on the guard does call for making one’s own marking to provide a centre guide line aid for better cutting accuracy). Finally, the KS501 jigsaw sports a fan at the front of the machine which not only aids in keeping the motor cool during extended operation, but also functions to blow sawdust and debris away from the cutting line keeping it clear and visible to the operator.
Now for the features that the Black and Decker KS501 jigsaw does lack compared to other competitor jigsaws for sale in the UK. First and foremost, the machine lacks any sort of vacuum port or collection container to capture the sawdust produced when cutting. This together with the aforementioned front-facing fan blowing cutting debris away from the cutting line means that sawdust tends to get dispersed everywhere throughout the room or workshop one is working in. As a consequence, for any significant amount of cutting work, it is recommended to use this jigsaw outside where possible so as not to create a sawdust cleaning nightmare for oneself inside.
The KS501 jigsaw is also missing any form of variable speed control. This is both due to the absence of any sort of independent control to set the maximum oscillation speed as well as through the lack of any mechanism for speed control mediated through trigger pressure. As a consequence, turning on the machine results in an almost instant ramp up to its maximum speed thus preventing any sort of speed optimisation for the cutting of different materials or for the cutting through sensitive areas of a workpiece. In addition to the crude on/off switch, the Black and Decker jigsaw also lacks any form of a Pendulum / Orbital action setting in its cutting stroke, a feature that is often found on competitor jigsaws and useful for cutting more efficiently through wood.
In addition to the absence of these important features, changing the blade on the KS501 is also not the easiest of affairs. First of all, the blade-changing process is not tool-less, requiring a flathead screwdriver to accomplish the process. In addition, one is required to unscrew not one but two screws which secure the blade in place. The screws themselves and blade-retaining component in which they fit are also not the captive type, meaning that they easily come away from the machine if the screws are sufficiently unscrewed. This may make removing and inserting a blade easier, but also makes it a pain to fit all the pieces back together again after disassembly.
As indicated previously, the KS501 can perform 45° bevelled cuts. However, the mechanism for adjusting the base plate in both the 45° and perpendicular 90° orientation is a crude single-screw mechanism which does not instil the greatest of confidence in its ability to stay totally fixed in place over repeated cuts. In addition, one can only set the base plate either to its default perpendicular position or to the 45° angle with no other angles in between preventing any more complicated types of bevel cutting.
As for what accessories come with the machine, perhaps unsurprisingly, almost none! The KS501 jigsaw ships with just a single wood-cutting blade in the box, emphasising the almost disposable nature of the machine. It is almost as if Black & Decker only provide a single blade as they don’t expect the jigsaw to last much longer that the life of the blade! However, it more likely means that they are doing their upmost to save on every penny. In any case, any serious sawing with the KS501 will require the purchase of addition wood cutting blades or other types of blades if materials other than wood are to be tackled.
Another essential accessory the KS501 jigsaw lacks is any form of carry case to protect it during storage or transport, although the packaging box it arrives in and into which it fits quite easily can be used as a poor man’s substitute.
As for the robustness of the KS501, once again, the Black+Decker jigsaw leaves much to be desired, with the jigsaw not being the most robust of machines. Indeed users are well advised not to apply too much pressure to the power tool during use as the blade holding mechanism is particularly vulnerable to being permanently bent out of alignment, which can result in less than perfect cutting.
Overall, the KS501 is a very basic machine that is useful for the quick cutting job. This is not a machine to last a lifetime but more of a cheap almost disposable jigsaw for the odd job around the home. This is borne out not only through its lack of many of the usual jigsaw features, but also by its relative low price. However, if one purchases this jigsaw with that in mind, then he or she will likely not be disappointed.