Cutting Fast: An obvious question when comparing the performance of different jigsaws is “which saw cuts the fastest?” I created a speed cutting test to determine the answer. First, I fitted each saw with a new Bosch Progressor blade, designed specifically for fast, rough cutting. With the help of my wife, Ann, I timed how long it took each saw to crosscut a 2x6, as shown in the lead photo on page 44. I took several passes, then averaged the times for each saw. I tried to push each saw as hard as I could without bogging its motor down. In the final tally, the premium-priced Festool turned in the fastest average time: 2.74 seconds, notable because this saw doesn’t have the highest-amperage motor or fastest blade stroke speed in this group of jigsaws. The next fastest cutting time was clocked by the Makita — less than a tenth of a second slower than the Festool. Posting a slightly slower time than that was the Bosch, followed (in timed order) by the Metabo, Milwaukee and Hitachi. The DeWALT held up the rear of the pack with a rather slow 4.27-second average time. The second-and-a-half difference between the fastest and slowest saws might not seem like much. But this time can really add up if you have dozens of rafter ends to decoratively jigsaw, or a pile of curved parts to cut out. Vibration: Regardless of how fast a jigsaw cuts, the less vibration it produces, the better. All jigsaws employ some sort of counterbalance system to reduce the up-and-down shaking created by the reciprocating plunger and blade, and some work better than others. In truth, I found it quite difficult to accurately compare the vibration of the various saws in the group, as it varied under different circumstances. For example, the DeWALT felt very smooth-running when idling at full speed. However, when I put the saw to wood, it produced noticeably more vibration. After careful consideration, I found the Bosch and Festool, closely followed by the Milwaukee and Makita, consistently produced the least vibration when cutting a variety of wood types and thicknesses with a variety of blades. That’s not to say that the DeWALT and Hitachi produce unacceptable amounts of vibration, but they just didn’t feel as smooth running as the top saws. At the bottom of the pack, the Metabo jigsaw consistently produced more vibration than any of the other saws. [caption id="attachment_7431" align="aligncenter" width="370"] One of the tests the author put the saws through was cutting melamine, which is fragile and likely to splinter when making close cuts. Cutting cleanly: Getting clean jigsaw cuts with only light splintering, tearout and surface chipping is chiefly a matter of selecting a blade that’s designed for the job. But I still wanted to see just how smooth a cut each saw was capable of producing with a general purpose blade. I fit each saw with a fine-toothed blade and set it to a medium speed with a slight orbit (#1). I then took several cuts with each on a piece of 3/4" melamine — a material notorious for chipping easily. After experimenting with different rates of feed, I selected the cutoffs that displayed the cleanest edge produced by each saw. The Bosch, aided, I suspect, by its precision control guide, left the cleanest cut edges. With cuts only slightly more ragged than the Bosch were the Makita, Festool and DeWALT, followed by the other saws. It’s worth noting that I was able to get a much cleaner cut with all of these saws by fitting them with a special saw blade designed for laminates, as well as an anti-splinter insert. [caption id="attachment_7432" align="aligncenter" width="305"] The better view you have of the cut line, the more accurate your cut will be, and the Bosch jigsaw has the best overall cutting viewpoint. Cutting accurately: The major factors that affect the accuracy of jigsaw cuts are: How well you can see the line of cut and how well the saw’s blade stays square to the workpiece (or at a fixed angle during bevel cuts). Generally, a saw with less of its body overhanging the blade is easier to use, especially when you’re working in cramped quarters or trying to follow a curvaceous line, say when cutting out a scrollwork pattern. The open front end configuration of the Bosch and Metabo make it much easier for me to see the blade without having to crane my neck. The Milwaukee and Hitachi have the most blade obscuring body overhangs, but the former’s built-in LED light helps to improve its line-of-cut visibility. [caption id="attachment_7433" align="aligncenter" width="470"] Many of the jigsaws had a slight waver in them, but the Bosch and Festool saws provided the most square cuts. It’s usually true that the thicker, denser (or more variable in density) a workpiece is, the more likely that a jigsaw’s blade will deflect when cutting it. This is especially true when cutting tight curves. To judge this aspect of cutting accuracy, I crosscut 4x4 lumber with each jigsaw. Most models left edges that wavered in squareness and up-and-down straightness over the length of the cut. The exceptions were the Bosch and Festool models, which left nearly dead square and straight cut edges. It’s safe to assume that such superior performance was likely due to the special blade guide systems on these saws, which helped prevent their long saw blades from deflecting.
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I am not a power tool guy. My only power tools before this had been a hand-held drill (from 1980) and a hand sander. But I needed to put two cat doors in our house and needed something to cut the openings in our solid-wood doors. The same day that this saw arrived on the front porch, I managed to cut openings in two doors with no issues. (Well, no issues with the saw, anyway. Given my limited power-tool skills, I ended up adhering to the "Measure once, cut twice" rule. But that's my shortcoming, not the saw's.)
Great SKIL saw for the price. Purchased this for my husband for Christmas. He started using it right away. His last SKIL saw was 5 AMP so, he likes this one better. This same saw was more expensive at the local hardware stores. Grip on handle is good. Laser is there for accuracy. Power is comparable to much more expensive brands at 5.5-6 AMP. I wasn't hesitant buying an unseen tool online, but no regrets. This is a great saw.
[caption id="attachment_7419" align="aligncenter" width="405"] The author prefers a longer handled jigsaw, as it allows you to grip it at different angles more easily for different cuts. Handle & trigger: A good handle is important on a jigsaw for user comfort and also because a solid grip is essential to controlling the movement of the tool during cutting. All of the saws in this group, save the Festool, have a rubber-like overmold covering their handles. Overmolds are softer to the touch than hard plastic, provide a more secure grip and even dampen tool vibration slightly. Of the seven saws, the handles on the Makita and Hitachi fit my medium-sized hands the best. I also liked the longer handles found on these saws (as well as several others) because their length allows for a varied grip to suit different working positions. The pommel at the front of the DeWALT’s handle allows a two-handed grip — helpful when cutting in awkward positions. [caption id="attachment_7420" align="aligncenter" width="405"] Wider triggers offer you more gripping options and control, whereas narrower jigsaw triggers can be clumsy and hard to grip while cutting. A jigsaw’s most important operational feature is its trigger that switches the tool on and off. I generally prefer a wider tool trigger that allows twofinger operation, to help reduce hand fatigue. Wide triggers also let users place their hands in a variety of positions along the tool’s handle. The Festool was the only saw in the group with a narrow trigger, and I didn’t like its stiff, clunky on/off action. I preferred the comfortable, smooth-operating, wide triggers on the DeWALT and Makita. All the saws have trigger locks, so you don’t have to hold the trigger on during long cuts. The Bosch’s trigger lock is the only one designed for use by left- or right-hand users. The Bosch, DeWALT and Milwaukee saws feature variable triggers that let you ramp up the speed of the blade gradually, up to the maximum set on its variable-speed dial. This is useful when starting cuts in very hard and/or splintery woods as well as materials prone to chipping, like tile and plastics. The Bosch’s unique trigger works with a two-step action: Pull the trigger lightly, and the saw immediately switches on to a slow speed. Press the trigger a little farther and it fully varies the speed up to the set maximum. Although the Bosch’s trigger works well enough, I prefer the triggers on the DeWALT and Milwaukee, which let you ramp the speed up from zero to the maximum set speed with one continuous pull. [caption id="attachment_7421" align="aligncenter" width="480"] All the portable jigsaws had variable speed control dials, but the locations varied, with some being harder to reach while operating than others. Variable-speed & soft start: All seven saws are variable-speed models with dials that allow you to set the motor speed and, hence, the number of blade strokes per minute. This makes a jigsaw a more versatile cutting machine: Choose slower speeds for fine cuts and when cutting dense materials and plastics and faster speeds for quicker, rougher cuts in lighter woods and porous materials. Interestingly, the saws with the highest maximum speeds didn’t necessarily cut faster than those with slower speeds. I like the position of the speed dials on the Hitachi and Festool saws. These are easier to see and set than the rear-mounted dials on the Bosch, Metabo and Makita. The DeWALT and Milwaukee have trigger-mounted speed dials that I find hard to see and set without tipping or inverting the saw. The Metabo and Makita both feature “soft-start” motor electronics that ramp up motor speed gradually when the tool’s trigger is pulled. Soft start can prevent the saw from suddenly jerking if you start cutting with the blade in contact with the material. But, overall, I found soft start more of an irritation than an aid; I didn’t like having to wait for the saw to come up to speed each time I started a cut. [caption id="attachment_7422" align="aligncenter" width="495"] One of the things to check when selecting a jigsaw is how comfortable the orbital blade adjustment is, as this will ultimately guide how aggressive your cuts can be. Selectable blade orbit: Probably the single most important feature on a topnotch jigsaw is its orbital blade action. This mechanism moves the blade forward slightly during the upstroke cut, resulting in a more aggressive cutting action than if the blade simply reciprocated up and down. The mechanism also moves the saw blade back slightly, so it clears the kerf during the return down stroke and saves wear on the teeth. Adjusting the amount of blade orbit makes the saw cut more or less aggressively. Most saws have four orbit settings: 0 (no orbit) or 1 for cutting metals and plastics; 1 or 2 for fine and curved cuts; and 3 (maximum orbit) for faster, rougher cuts. The Metabo features five orbit selections instead of four, but I didn’t find the greater range of select ability to be particularly necessary or useful. The Milwaukee has a small, somewhat handy blade orbit and speed selection chart mounted on the side of the tool. [caption id="attachment_7423" align="aligncenter" width="465"] While they are historically a bandsaw accessory, blade guides are starting to make their way onto jigsaws like these from Festool and Bosch. Blade guide systems: A unique feature found on the Festool and Bosch saws is a special saw blade guide positioned below the orbit mechanism’s guide wheel. These small metal guides work like the guide blocks on a band saw, to help stabilize the blade and keep it from deflecting during cutting. The Festool’s guide has two small prongs that contact the blade more closely at the back than at the front. They’re user-adjustable via an included Allen wrench. The Bosch’s “Precision Guide Control” has two small parallel blocks that are user-engaged via a small pushbutton. The blocks apply light spring-loaded pressure against the sides of the blade. The guide’s jaws open automatically when the blade release lever is pulled. Both of these innovative systems are very easy to use and significantly improve performance. [caption id="attachment_7424" align="aligncenter" width="475"] All the jigsaws featured had tool-free blade change systems, which allow you to safely and easily change out blades thanks to a spring loaded lever and clamp. Tool-less blade clamps: All seven jigsaws allow tool-less blade changes, employing a lever that opens the blade clamp on the end of the saw’s plunger — the part that moves the blade up and down. Tool-less blade clamps make changing the tang-style saw blades each model uses quick and easy. But each clamp is different, and some are easier to work with than on others. The Festool, Makita and Bosch blade clamps are among my favorites. The Festool’s “Fast Fix” blade change mechanism has a relatively stiff lever, but its clamp accepts blades without fuss and holds them rock solid. The Makita also has a terrific mechanism with a spring-loaded lever that’s easy to pull open and a clamp that accepts blades easily and positively. As good as these clamps are, the Bosch’s “One Touch” blade change system is my favorite. There’s no clunky mechanism or oversized blade clamp on the end of the plunger, just a simple slot. After pulling back the small, easy-to-use release lever, a spring gently ejects the blade. This can save you from burning your fingers trying to pull a hot blade out of the clamp after a prolonged cutting session. The new blade inserts easily into the Bosch’s plunger slot and latches with a positive feel. [caption id="attachment_7425" align="aligncenter" width="475"] Some jigsaws allow you to change the positioning of the footplate without tools, but most require the use of an Allen wrench which takes time, but isn't a deal breaker. Tilting footplate: Adjusting the angle of a jigsaw’s footplate (a.k.a. “shoe”) allows the saw to make bevel cuts, say for the edge of a picture frame or decorative plaque. While all these jigsaws have tilting footplates, only the Bosch, Milwaukee and DeWALT allow tool-less angle changes. Each of these saws has a lever that releases and locks the footplate easily and quickly. The Bosch’s even includes a separate dial for adjusting locking tightness. I like the Milwaukee’s wide lever the best because it operates smoothly and positively. The other four saws employ an Allen wrench, which conveniently stores on board the tool, for angle changes. Yes, using a wrench does take more time, but then again, how often does the average woodworker take bevel cuts with a jigsaw? Angle detents are very useful for locking in commonly used tilt settings. All the saws have a 0-degree detent for square cuts, and most have detents at 45 degrees and other angles as well. After checking the accuracy of the all-important 90-degree detents, I found that only the Festool and Bosch consistently kept their blades at near perfect square to the footplate. The other saws required a bit of fussing with a try square to get their blades dead on 90 degrees. [caption id="attachment_7426" align="aligncenter" width="475"] Fittings for easy chip extraction is handy, but sadly only comes with more expensive jigsaws from Metabo, Bosch and Festool Dust collection and sawdust blower: Having written many articles and several books on woodshop dust control, I’m a huge advocate of built-in dust collection on portable power tools. The three most expensive jigsaws in this group — the Festool, Bosch and Metabo — come with a chip extractor fitting for dust collection; it’s an optional accessory for the other four saws. This plastic fitting clips into the back of the saw’s footplate and connects to a small diameter vacuum hose (the Bosch comes with a hose adapter). A clear plastic chip guard snaps in place over the front of the saw to enclose the blade area and enhance chip collection. The guard must be removed for blade changes. I only tested dust collection with the three saws that came standard with the extractor fitting. Both the Bosch and Festool collected chips effectively, but there was a problem: Their chip guards limited the visibility of the line of cut, and as fine dust built up on the inside of the guard, it became nearly impossible to see. Visibility was considerably better with the Metabo when using dust collection, as its chip guard is much taller and larger and didn’t seem to attract as much fine dust. [caption id="attachment_7427" align="aligncenter" width="455"] Bosch's solution to not having dust collector fittings is a directed blower, which can be controlled via a switch on the side of the tool. An alternative means of clearing sawdust from the line of cut is to simply blow it away. All the saws feature a dust blower that uses air channeled from the motor fan to blow dust away from just in front of the blade. The blowers on all the saws do a pretty good job, save the Makita, whose airflow is rather sluggish. The Bosch has a blower On/Off lever, and the DeWALT and Milwaukee have controls for reducing the amount of blown air. Shutting off or turning down the airflow is desirable when you’re working inside your home and don’t want to launch sawdust everywhere, or when blown dust might end up in your eyes, say when jigsawing plumbing and electrical cutouts inside a kitchen cabinet. [caption id="attachment_7428" align="aligncenter" width="455"]Curiously, only the three least expensive saws tested, like this one from Hitachi, were equipped with an LED guide light. Built-in light: The Hitachi, Makita and Milwaukee all include one of my favorite portable power tool features: a built-in LED light. Interestingly, these are the three lowest-priced saws in the group (I guess toolmakers figure that the folks that buy more expensive saws also have better eyesight!). A built-in light is particularly welcome on a jigsaw, since the overhanging body tends to cast a shadow in the area of the blade. The Hitachi’s light has a small plastic pointer that conducts some of the LED’s light and sticks down in front of the blade. Although its goal is to better visually define the line of cut, I found it actually obscured the work area. [caption id="attachment_7429" align="aligncenter" width="495"] DeWalt jigsaws (amongst others) come with a removable footplate cover that is made of plastic to prevent the metal plate from scraping the wood. Other features: An accessory plastic shoe cover comes with the Bosch, Makita, Milwaukee and DeWALT jigsaws. This thin, slick plastic cover snaps in place over the tool’s footplate, allowing you to saw delicate materials — decorative veneers, plastics, Corian® countertops — without fear of causing scratches. The Festool doesn’t include a shoe cover, but it doesn’t really need one. Its cast alloy footplate already has a slick plastic covering. [caption id="attachment_7430" align="aligncenter" width="445"] Almost all jigsaws currently available come with a small, plastic anti-splitter insert that is very useful when cutting chipping prone materials like plywood. All the jigsaws in the group, except the Hitachi, come with a plastic anti-splinter insert. This small accessory snaps into its footplate to surround the area directly around the blade, like a zero-clearance throat plate in a table saw. These inserts really do help reduce splintering, and I recommend using them when taking fine cuts on splinter-prone woods and plywoods, as well as materials with delicate surfaces, such as melamine. Except for the economy-priced Hitachi, all the jigsaws in the group come with a plastic tool case. The Bosch and Festool saws have special stackable cases, each part of a system that allows multiple cases to be latched together for storage or transport. Like all other current Festool portable power tools, the Trion jigsaw features a detachable “Plug It” power cord. This makes it easier to stow, as you don’t have to wrap the cord around the tool. Plus, you can easily replace a damaged cord by simply plugging in a new one. The back of the Hitachi’s body has a loop molded in, making it easy to connect the tool to a lanyard or other hook — a nice feature if you work on a roof or ladder.
Great SKIL saw for the price. Purchased this for my husband for Christmas. He started using it right away. His last SKIL saw was 5 AMP so, he likes this one better. This same saw was more expensive at the local hardware stores. Grip on handle is good. Laser is there for accuracy. Power is comparable to much more expensive brands at 5.5-6 AMP. I wasn't hesitant buying an unseen tool online, but no regrets. This is a great saw.
With the right tools and materials, what you build is only limited by your imagination and creativity. So why not have a little fun with the kids and teach them something at the same time? Our woodworker tools and woodworking supplies will help you put together an easy birdhouse, squirrel feeder or butterfly house. The kids will love to use our paint samples to add their creative touch, and will enjoy displaying the finished product in the backyard. 

Our Woodworking Tool index (LEFT) includes a listing of all our Woodworking Tools and materials. Throughout our site you will find exceptional values on fine woodworking tools, quality tools built to last.  Woodworking Hand Tools are one of our passions and we sell the very best hand tool brands in production today. At Highland Woodworking we not only carry a great selection of top rated tools but we also provide top notch information on woodworking tools and techniques. Selecting the right woodworking tools for your woodworking shop can be overwhelming so we are always here to answer your tool questions and help you to become a better woodworker.  If you are new to woodworking checkout our starter woodworking tool list for beginners. We've been offering fine woodworking tools and education since 1978, keeping woodworkers informed about the best woodworking tools, tips & techniques along the way. Purchases are backed by Highland Woodworking's 60-day money back guarantee, so you can shop us with confidence for high quality woodworking tools.
Contractor saws have plenty of advantages, and are used in many professional cabinet shops. Don't let your credit card limit make the choice for you. Put the advantage lists side by side. Think carefully and realistically about your work and other shop needs. Cross out advantages that won't make a difference in your projects. You may also want to cross out items that will only moderately affect your work. Highlight and contemplate the advantages that will be significant in your most common cutting situations. Visit local shops and woodworking friends to check out both saw types in action. When you are comfortable with the differences and their importance to your work, put the notes away and buy what feels right.

The DEWALT DWE7491RS is an incredible saw, but it provides portability at a great price point. The set of wheels on this model is great for moving it from jobsite-to-jobsite without too much effort. The folding legs are also superior to the support systems on other models, and they make it so that you always have a stable platform on which to work, without adding too much weight to the machine.


This is the third box joint jig I have purchased and I wish I had of bought this one first instead of trying cheaper alternatives that didn't work out. Once you put this tool together, it's a snap to use. One test cut using the dado blade of choice (won't work with a wobble dado) is all that's needed. Once you zero the tool to your dado blade edge, an extremely clever dual lead screw internal to the tool simultaneously sets the pin and slot spacing without any additional adjustments. It's beautiful American made ingenuity that I am delighted to own. The construction of the tool is simply first class. I have no doubt it will last me forever. The parts that get chewed up (backing plate etc.) are easy to create duplicates out of shop scraps. An excellent video came with ... full review
Like yourself, I get great satisfaction from working with this small kit. Similar to your wine box, I’ve got this old ‘sausage box’ that I can fit everything in, if I’m out the job site or such. It’s a lovely feeling to know that with just this small box of tools, I can pay all my bills and eat. I just wish I could get the rest of my life so minimal!
With the right tools and materials, what you build is only limited by your imagination and creativity. So why not have a little fun with the kids and teach them something at the same time? Our woodworker tools and woodworking supplies will help you put together an easy birdhouse, squirrel feeder or butterfly house. The kids will love to use our paint samples to add their creative touch, and will enjoy displaying the finished product in the backyard.  
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