Jig Saws - A Complete Buying Guide

Explore the different types of jig saw, their uses, and how to use them safely in this complete buying guide.

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What is a Jig Saw?

The jigsaw is a power tool featuring a reciprocating blade used to cut differently shaped curves, including stencilled designs.

The first jigsaw was designed during the mid-20th century by Albert Kauffman, an engineer employed by the Swiss company Scintilla AG. He based the jigsaw design on the operation of a sewing machine, fitting a saw blade that allowed for precise and intricate wood cutting.

Since then, a number of high-profile manufacturers have developed jigsaws. Today, jig saws are used for a diverse range of purposes varying from cutting metal pipes to masonry materials.

This jigsaw buying guide will highlight the different choices and stand-out features for you to take into consideration when deciding on the best model for your requirements.

The following factors should have a bearing on your choice of jigsaw:

  • Preferred method of holding the saw

  • The range of jigsaw settings for cutting applications

  • The type and compatibility of the cutting blade

Different Types of Jigsaws

The appropriate choice of jigsaw will depend on the nature of the task that you are carrying out. There are various types of jigsaw tools available, suitable for domestic and professional purposes.

Corded Jigsaws

Corded jigsaws are the ideal choice for cutting hard materials due to the continuous supply of power required for operation. These jigsaws can be connected to a standard wall outlet or power generator supplying 120 AC.

Robust and reliable, these tools are designed with an electric motor and a reciprocating saw blade.

Cordless Jigsaws

Cordless jigsaws offer the ideal combination of convenience and versatility. There is no need to connect power leads, so the risk of trips and falls is effectively prevented. Power for the operation of the cordless jigsaw is typically generated via an interchangeable lithium-ion battery; the battery voltage will have a direct bearing on the power of the jigsaw.

These jigsaw battery-powered models are especially well suited to cutting wood in hard-to-reach areas. Cordless jigsaws also offer the capability to cut curves and holes with particularly high precision.

What Tasks Can Jigsaws Be Used for?

The jigsaw is sometimes preferred to the circular saw for safety reasons. Additionally, jigsaws are better suited to precise applications, typically being used for cutting away wooden sections, repurposing, and upcycling. Adjustments can be made for cutting at different angles.

The types of materials that can be cut with a jigsaw include:

  • Wood

  • Plastic

  • Metal

  • Ceramic

How to Use a Jigsaw Safely

Firstly, you must ensure that you are wearing appropriate PPE and safety equipment including a face mask and goggles. You must also make sure that you have the correct blade fitted for the cutting application - the suitability of the blade may be specified on the packaging or label. The material that you are preparing to cut should be securely clamped to the work surface and you should also ensure that the cutting area doesn’t extend beyond the edges of the work surface.

You should take additional care over the pencilled drawing of the cutting line. This line will provide guidance, ensuring that you don’t overcut the material. The greater the level of accuracy, the greater the chance of cutting precision. You should also ensure that the jigsaw settings are adjusted in accordance with the nature of the cutting application. This might involve making orbital and speed setting adjustments suited to the material. It should be possible to adjust the speed, depending on the type of cut that you are making. A slow speed will be suitable for highly accurate cuts, while a high speed will allow for the cutting of wood or laminate with minimal vibration.

You should firmly grip the handle when preparing to cut and the base of the jigsaw should remain flat against the wood for the entirety of the cutting process. It might be necessary to adjust the setting depending on the level of resistance encountered. Once you are confident in the application of the safety precautions, you simply have to squeeze the jigsaw trigger to set the blade into action. You might have to wait for a moment for the blade to start working at full speed.

Once the jigsaw is fully operational, you should position the base plate firmly and securely against the material. You may then proceed to guide the jigsaw along the cutting line. If you feel a kickback or straining sensation, then you should reduce the cutting speed. The cut should continue until the end of the drawn line. Excess material should drop away freely, without any damage to you or contact with the power cord. Sandpaper may be used to smooth any rough edges after using the jigsaw.

How to Choose the Right Jigsaw

As previously mentioned, multiple different types of jigsaw are available. The best choice for you will depend on factors such as the material that you are planning to cut and the features that you consider essential. Additionally, it might be the case that you prefer a certain jigsaw brand due to previous positive experiences.

Jigsaw Choices by Brand

Bosch, DeWALT, and Makita are among the most popular jigsaw brands. Bosch tools are used across Europe and have a great reputation for reliability. The high quality of these tools is reflected in the medium-high pricing. DeWALT offers some comparatively affordable jigsaws, which are also reassuringly good quality. Makita jigsaws are popular among professionals, with many models offering advanced functionality.




Bosch Jigsaw

Bosch Jigsaws

Fast blade changes.
Multi speed options on many models.

Bosch jigsaws are suitable for hobbyists and professionals alike. They can be used across a wide range of tasks.

DeWALT Jigsaw

DeWALT Jigsaws

Easy to use.
Many models feature keyless shoe bevels.

DeWALT jigsaws are ideal for professional applications. Some models can also be used to cut ceramics.

Makita Jigsaw

Makita Jigsaws

High precision.
Strong and sturdy.

Makita jigsaws are great for both professionals and hobbyists. They make a good, solid choice for a variety of tasks.

Jigsaw Choices by Maximum Speed

The speed of the jigsaw can be measured in terms of either rotations per minute (RPM) or strokes per minute (SPM). Jigsaws can also be categorised within the fixed and variable speed categories. Fixed speed jigsaws should be fine for occasional use, but variable speed jigsaws should be selected if you are going to be regularly cutting materials with different levels of resistance. The ability to set a low speed will be particularly important if you are going to be scrolling as you cut.

You are advised to set the jigsaw at its lowest speed when you begin the cutting process. This will allow you to discover the reaction of the tool in the safest possible way. From here, you can then increase the speed, depending on your level of comfort and operation of the jigsaw. The maximum speed setting of a typical corded jigsaw ranges from 2800spm to 3100spm.

Jigsaw Choices by Voltage

The voltage level of the jigsaw should be considered with regards to the types of cutting tasks that you are going to be carrying out. The thickness and hardness of the material will also have a direct bearing on this.

The voltage of corded jigsaws can vary between different models, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the voltage won’t actually have any bearing on the jigsaw’s level of power. The different voltage levels actually indicate the suitability for connection via the mains or a step-down transformer.

What Does Voltage Mean for a Cordless Jigsaw Tool?

Voltage is the main indicator of a cordless jigsaw’s power. Again, the voltage level will vary between models, but most cordless jigsaws feature 12 or 18-volt batteries. The voltage directly relates to the power of the motor and overall efficiency of the tool.

How to Choose the Right Jigsaw Blades

The jigsaw itself is just one part of the tool – it is also important to choose high-quality jigsaw blades that are ideally suited to your purposes. However, you may have some difficulty making this choice due to the wide variety of blades available from the leading manufacturers. The nature of the material and the type of cutting should be considered in your selection of jigsaw blades.

Types of Jigsaw Blade

There is a wide range of jigsaw cutting blades suitable for different applications. The type of blade will also have a bearing on the speed of the machine and material finishing. Jigsaw blades may be categorised in relation to the type of shank, the number of teeth, material composition, or suitability for the cutting of specific materials. You might select multi-purpose blades for affordability and convenience, but some blades are ideally suited to the cutting of specific materials.

Commonly selected jigsaw blade varieties include:

  • T-shank jigsaw blades – these are the most common variety and are compatible across a variety of modern jigsaws. The ease of fitting and general use makes these blades a popular choice. They feature a tang at the top of the shank, which is compatible with the jigsaw blade clamp

  • Universal jigsaw blades – also known as U-shank jigsaw blades, they feature a distinctive U-shaped cut at the head of the shank. Today, they are less popular than T-shank blades because the majority of modern jigsaws feature a tool-less blade changing system for T-shank blades

Jigsaw Blade Materials Type

The material that the blade is made from will have a direct bearing on its durability and suitability for different applications.

The most common jigsaw material types include:

  • High carbon steel jigsaw blades – these blades are the most affordable and flexible. They are used for a variety of wood cutting purposes

  • High-speed steel jigsaw blades – these blades offer relatively high levels of durability and heat resistance. They can be used for various applications including cutting metal, plastic, and wood

  • Bi-metal jigsaw blades – these blades are made from a combination of steel and offer high levels of durability. They are ideally suited to the heavy-duty cutting of wood and metal

  • Tungsten carbide jigsaw blades – these blades set the standard when it comes to heat-resistance and durability. They can be used for cutting solid materials including tile, ceramics, and steel

Compare Jigsaw Tools

As mentioned previously, there are a variety of factors to consider in your choice of jigsaw. You should account for the expected regularity of use, the merits of corded and cordless jigsaw models, and the suitability of the blade. Other key considerations include jigsaw stroke length, power, and speed.

Jigsaw Stroke Length

The stroke length is specific to the amount of distance that the blade covers in a vertical direction during the cutting process. The higher the stroke length, the greater the cutting efficiency. Jigsaws with the longest stroke lengths are also suitable for cutting a diverse range of materials.

Jigsaw Power

The required power of the jigsaw motor will depend on the cutting purposes and expected regularity of use. A jigsaw with motor power in excess of 500w will be sufficient for most cutting tasks. However, you should invest in a jigsaw with over 700w of power if you are going to be using it regularly to cut hard materials. It’s also worth remembering that the power of a cordless jigsaw is represented in volts.

Jigsaw Speed

The cutting speed will have a bearing on the materials that the jigsaw can be used to cut, as follows:

  • Slow – jigsaws with a slow cutting speed of between 500 and 1,000 strokes per minute are suitable for cutting ceramics, wall tiles, and glass

  • Medium – a mid-range cutting speed of 1,500 to 2,000 strokes per minute makes the jigsaw suitable for cutting plastics and non-ferrous materials

  • Fast – jigsaws with a speed setting of over 2,000 strokes per minute are exclusively suited to cutting wood

Check out our handy comparison of popular jigsaws to help you decide on the most suitable model for your requirements.

Product Name

Stroke Length



Makita Cordless Jigsaw

Makita DJV180Z Cordless Jigsaw


18V Li-ion battery

2600 SPM

DeWALT Cordless Jigsaw

DeWALT DCS331N-XJ Cordless Jigsaw


18V Li-ion battery

3000 SPM

Bosch Cordless Jigsaw

Bosch 06015A6101 Cordless Jigsaw


18V Li-ion battery

2700 SPM

DeWALT Corded Jigsaw

DeWALT DW331K Corded Jigsaw



3100 SPM

Makita Corded Jigsaw

Makita 4340FCT Corded Jigsaw



2800 SPM

Jigsaw Spotlight

This video highlights some of the core features and various applications of the Bosch jigsaw.

Why not watch today to find out how this jigsaw could help complete your cutting tasks?


Will a Jigsaw Cut Wood?

There is a range of jigsaws primarily designed for cutting wood. However, there is some variation in the thickness of wood that jigsaws can cut safely and efficiently. The length of the blade, saw base, the number of teeth, softness of the wood, and power of the jigsaw motor will all have a bearing on this.

Will a Jigsaw Cut Metal?

It is important to choose a jigsaw with the appropriate type of blade and power for the safe, precise cutting of metal. A professional jigsaw with good specifications may reasonably be expected to cut through 10mm steel and non-ferrous metal with a thickness of up to 30mm. Before starting work, you should remember to wear personal protective equipment, secure the material, and ensure that the blade is properly fitted to cut the metal.

Will a Jigsaw Cut Tiles?

A jigsaw blade for cutting ceramic tiles safely and efficiently will feature an abrasive carbide or diamond edge. Such a jigsaw can also be used for the precise insertion of notches, cuts, and openings.

Can a Jigsaw Cut PVC Pipe?

A high-powered jigsaw will be suitable for cutting tough and durable PVC piping. However, you should ensure that the piping is firmly secured on a worktable or other stable surface before undergoing the cutting process. There should also be minimal vibration in order to help prevent chipping.

How Long Do the Batteries Last on a Cordless Jigsaw?

The expected battery life of a cordless jigsaw will depend on the specific model and the types of cutting tasks being carried out. It is always advisable to have a spare fully-charged battery and a mains connected battery charger within easy reach.

How Long Do Jigsaw Blades Last?

The expected lifespan of a jigsaw blade will depend on the application of power settings and use for different cutting purposes. All jigsaw blades will wear down and lose their cutting ability when used repeatedly. However, you should sharpen any blades before fitting and avoid attempting to force the jigsaw if there is noticeable cutting resistance. There will be an obvious difference in the sharpness of new and worn blades.

How to Change a Jigsaw Blade

You will find a spring-loaded lock at the top of the jigsaw. The purpose of this lock is to keep the jigsaw blade secure during the cutting process. The first step in the attachment of the blade will be to position the spring-loaded lock so that it is parallel with the blade guide. You should then proceed to carefully insert the blade and release the lock. You can test the security of the blade by giving it a gentle tug.

You should ensure that the jigsaw blade has cooled before removing it. It will also be important to remove the battery from the jigsaw. Only then should you push the spring-loaded lock up to release the blade.

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