Help & advice: Buying guide to power jigsaws
Buying guide to power jigsaws
Making curved cuts, straight cuts, slicing through wood, tiles and much more besides, jigsaws are a true DIY essential.
Top up your toolkit from the Homebase range of electric jigsaw
Take it from us. Jigsaws are so incredibly useful they're a toolkit essential. They'll quickly, easily and accurately slice through wood and ceramic tiles and a whole range of materials. They can cut both straight and curved lines, and make internal cuts such as holes in a worktop for a hob or sink. The more features a jigsaw has, the more expensive it tends to be. So when you're buying, think what you'll use your jigsaw for before choosing a particular model.
Mains-operated tools are generally more powerful, so a corded jigsaw tool is the best bet if you plan on heavy use, or want to put your purchase to work on tougher materials such as hardwoods. But battery-operated models are of course portable and can saw anywhere without the restriction of a lead.
The more powerful the jigsaw the faster you can work and the deeper you'll cut - up to a maximum of around 70mm in timber or 8mm in steel. When checking on power, you'll be looking at wattage for corded jigsaws, and voltage for cordless jigsaws.
Single or variable speed
A single speed motor is fine for basic use, but variable speed jigsaws give you that superior control. You can preset sawing speed to handle different materials. When cutting wood, use a high speed. Working too slowly will cause vibration. But other materials melt and scorch if cut too quickly. Cutting at the wrong speed for the material can prematurely blunt the blades. Working at a slower pace offers more control when you're cutting and scrolling. Some models have a lock-on switch so you can set a single speed. This is great for continuous cutting.
Different models come with a variety of accessories but among the most useful are a carrying case, on board blade storage, soft-grip handle, and dust collection bag.
|Quick blade release||Look out for models with a quick blade-release system. It allows easy and quick changeover of blades, which is a useful feature when working with a number of different materials.|
|Pendulum action||When cutting, more advanced models use a pendulum action, which moves the blade away from the material on the down stroke and returns it on the upward cutting stroke. This has the double advantage of increasing cutting speed and extending blade life and reduces the chance of jamming. Most pendulum action models cut more quickly than their non-pendulum equivalents.|
|Blades||The key to success when using a jigsaw lies in choosing the correct type and size of blade for the job. Different materials require fine, medium or coarse cutting blades with varying numbers of teeth per inch (TPI). When buying blades always make sure you choose the correct blade for your model as blades come with flat, domed or sunken fittings.|
|Scrolling||A scrolling jigsaw allows you to steer the blade directly along curves, making intricate cutting easier and more accurate. The blade can be locked into the straight ahead position when required (although for long straight cuts a circular saw is more accurate).|
|Adjustable base plate||On all models the sole (base) plate can be adjusted by tilting it left or right to make angled cuts ('bevels') of up to 45 degrees.|
|Dust blower and extraction||Some models provide a dust blower which clears the debris from the cut to make it easier to see what you are doing. Better still, the extraction facility allows you to connect up to a vacuum cleaner enabling you to clean up as you work. This facility is useful when working with MDF, which generates a lot of fine, messy sawdust.|
|Laser or red-eye generator||Some more advanced models now include a laser generator. This device generates a laser beam onto the work surface for precision cutting and improved cutting vision.|