A jigsaw allows the user to cut curved and circular patterns in stock, combining the benefits of a scroll saw and band saw into one. For versatility, choose an orbital-action, corded model that feels good in your hand and has an easy blade changing system.
Like most power tools, there is standard corded model and there is the battery-powered cordless Jigsaw.
Corded models offer an unlimited amount of cutting-time, and offers the power required when cutting through hardwood or metal. Corded jigsaw motors range from 3.5 to 6 amps, with the higher amp models offering more power for cutting through harder or thicker materials.
Cordless models are available, and these offer the benefit of portability and manoeverability in tight or confined spaces. The limiting factor in cordless jigsaws is the cutting time. Softwood is the only material I would recommended that you cut with a cordless circular saw since thick wood, hardwood or metal require far more power and will have a tendancy to drain the batteries quickly. Cordless models are often smaller than the corded varieties, and this can be an advantage in tight spaces. Voltages will determine the torque, but the mAh listed for the batteries will determine how long the batteries will last.
Variable speed saws allow the user to adjust the blade speed according to the material being cut. When used in conjunction with properly matched blades, this feature provides cleaner, faster cuts in different materials. Most variable speed saws have a range from 500 to 3,100 strokes per minute.
Orbital action moves the blade side to side as well as up and down. The added motion allows the saw to cut through stock faster. Most orbital action saws have settings to change the amount of side to side motion based on the material being cut.
An adjustable foot (sole) lets the operator make cuts at an angle to the face of the material. Most saws have a range between 0 and 45° .
Vacuum or blower features keep sawdust and debris from obscuring the cut line during operation.
Tool free blade changing lets the operator change blades quickly and saves time when cutting multiple materials.
Blade supports eliminate or greatly reduce blade flexing during use. The reduced flexing provides straighter cuts and extends blade life.
Choosing Jigsaw Blades
Your choice of jigsaw blade will be determined by what you will be cutting. There are two blade features to consider: teeth-per-inch (tpi), and the material it is constructed with.
In general, a higher teeth-per-inch (tpi) count will result in a smoother cut edge, but will take far longer to cut through a particular piece of wood. A lower tpi blade will remove much more wood in each pass, but the cut produced will have rougher edges.
Jigsaw blades are offered in a variety of different materials, and each offers different advantages. For general use, I would recommend the high-speed steel (HSS) blades.
High Speed Steel (HSS) blades are usually used for wood and light metal cutting.
Bi-metal blades are used for wood and light metal cutting.
Cobalt steel blades are harder than HSS or bi-metal blades and should last longer. They are commonly used for wood and metal cutting.
Carbide grit blades are used to cut masonry board.
Scrolling blades are narrower than typical jig saw blades and used to make tighter turning cuts.