PS: This is a super long and detailed article, so if you just want to know which jigsaws us and our readers love the most - quickly check our Best Jigsaw 2016 - 2017 List below:
Jigsaws are a special form of power saw with a narrow, flexible blade. The best jigsaw can easily cut detailed designs and curves out of wood, plastic, laminate countertops, ceramic tile, or even lightweight metals like butter.
Other saws do a better job at long straight cuts or cutting repeatedly to a desired length. But when you are creating decorative pieces or need to cut a curve or a notch, there is no power tool better than a jigsaw. They aren’t difficult to learn to use; a few tips and tricks and a couple hours of practice and you’ll be cutting like a pro.
When shopping for a jigsaw, many people aren’t sure what they should be looking for. It can be tough to balance your budget with your needs and come out a winner. All jigsaw product specs will tell you their product is the best you can get at their price – but which ones are telling the truth?
Table of Contents
- Best jigsaws at a glance
- Considerations that you should know
- Top 3 jigsaws
- Makita 4350FCT - For serious DIYers who have high standards for their woodworking tools
- Bosch JS470E - Cuts on a dime with precision
- Black & Decker BDEJS600C - For occasional use & low-precision tasks
- Porter-Cable PC600JS - Packed with superb power & warranty
- Makita 4329K - A real bargain from a top-notch brand
Best jigsaws at a glance
In the course of our research, we tried out the models, consulted with experts who use jigsaws every day, and read thousands of user reviews. We’re proud to call this the ultimate buying guide to jigsaws, having considered 23 different models and narrowed the list down to the top 5 for you.
BEST CHEAP! Black &Decker JS600C
. Powerful, best all-round
Cheapest, but has all the important things
Best warranty, powerful for the money
Lots of bells & whistles for the price
Vibration control, every feature present
Speed + vibration control, best blade release
Accept T-shank & U-shank
Entry-level but still a Makita item, handy speed dial
Least favourite features
Inconvenient speed control dial
There wasn't one
Had to use tools to change blades
Vacuum port requires separate accessory purchase
LED light, carrying case
Case, blower or dust port
No quick blade change system
Bosch JS470E: the best for most people
The Bosch JS470E is a powerful, feature-rich workhorse that can rip through plywood at warp speed or cut up to 3/8” thick sheet metal. With its vibration reduction, its Constant ResponseTM circuitry that helps ensure consistent performance under load, its tool-free blade ejection lever, and its large and convenient lock-on button, there is nothing not to love about this saw.
Black & Decker BDEJS600C: the best cheap for budget-conscious DIYers
At half the price of the next-cheapest model and rich with features, including 4 orbital settings, tool-less blade changes, a powerful 5-Amp motor with variable speeds, a trigger lock, and an adjustable shoe for making bevel cuts, there is no wonder that this is the best-selling jigsaw on Amazon.com. It doesn’t come with its own case, but that would-be necessity seems to lose some importance at this crazy-low price point.
Considerations that you should know
We started our research by identifying the characteristics that matter the most when you are choosing a jigsaw. Which features are vitally important versus nice to have versus not worth the extra money?
There are the features we realized we couldn’t live without:
- Must be powerful enough to cut through a variety of different materials
- Must be able to changes blades quickly
- Must allow for variable speeds
- Must have orbital blade action (to keep the blade cleaner and prevent binding)
- Must be durable and stand up to heavy, long-term use
- Must offer a good combination of aggressive cutting and smooth finishing options
- Must allow good visualization of the cutting area
These features are nice to have:
- A trigger lock to prevent your hand from cramping with prolonged use
- A padded handle for comfortable holding, since we frequently found ourselves having so much fun we didn't want to stop sawing
- Easy bevel angle adjustment without using tools
- A blower or vacuum attachment to keep sawdust out of the way
These features are appreciated, but aren't worth choosing an otherwise inferior or more expensive model for:
- Corded vs cordless (cordless is not necessarily better; corded machines frequently are more powerful)
- Extra blades with the saw
- A shoe cover
Now, let's break them down:
Factor #1: Power
Depending on blade selection, most jigsaws will allow you to cut many different materials. The thickness and strength of the material you can cut is primarily dependent on the power of the saw. 3 to 4 amp motors are generally enough for light and medium do-it-yourself tasks, but you might want 5 amps or more for most professional projects.
Cordless saws generally have less peak power than their corded relatives, and require frequent battery changes, so you’ll find nearly all the high-end professional saws are corded. The five saws we included in our top picks were all corded models.
The table below summarizes some key measures of power output, including strokes per minute and the material thicknesses that each of these saws can cut, according to their manufacturer specifications.
Black &Decker JS600C
Strokes per minute(spm)
800 - 2800
500 - 3100
500 - 3000
500 - 3200
500 - 3100
Wood cutting capacity
5 - 5/16"
5 - 7/8"
2 - 9/16"
Steel cutting capacity
Length of stroke
Factor #2: Performance
Good performing jigsaws should be able to make both smooth finishing cuts and aggressive rip cuts through various materials.
The speed and finish of the cut is a factor of the number and depth of the teeth on the blade you’ve selected, the orbital blade setting on the machine, and the speed with which you cut the material.
To be able to move seamlessly from ripping to finishing, therefore, you want to have quick and easy blade changing capability, several orbital settings to choose from, and control of the speed, preferably via a variable speed adjustment dial.
This chart below indicates typical settings and blade choices for various materials. For all the information you could ever need on what blades to choose for which purposes, see this guide.
To better understand the performance of the various models we’ve selected, the table below compares the range of speed settings and orbital settings, and how easy blade changes are. We’ve included information on the type of blade that fit these saws.
- If you are upgrading to a new saw, beware that there are two different types of blades and the ones you have at home might not fit your new saw!
We’ve also added information on the shoe (also called the base plate, footplate, or sole). This is the part of the saw that rests against the work and controls the angle of the blade. The angle is set on some models using a hex wrench to turn a screw and on others via a tool-less angle changing system with a spring-loaded lever.
Watch this guy teach you how to use shoe to have a nice beveled curve cut:
The material that the shoe is made of is important too, because it must be strong enough to absorb the vibrations of the saw.
Black &Decker JS600C
Infinitely variable dial
Dial & trigger control *
Infinitely variable dial
Bevel angle availables
Variable up to 45°
Variable up to 45°
0° & 45° only
0°, 15°, 30° & 45°
Variable up to 45°
Types of blades accepted
T and U-shank
* Note: The Bosch uses a variable dial to set the max speed, and an accelerator trigger to control the operating speed. Full depression of the trigger gets you to the max speed set on the dial.
Factor #3: Comfort
Cutting intricate designs with a jigsaw can be slow, painstaking work. Several features add to the comfort of prolonged use, including the style of the handle, the material used for the grip, whether there is a trigger lock that allows you to run the saw without holding the trigger down, the amount of vibration of the saw, and the level of noise it outputs.
Although there are two styles of handles, “D-style” (also known as “top handle”) and “barrel grip”, we only featured D-style jigsaws in our top five picks. If you prefer the feel and control of a barrel handle, the Bosch offers a JS470EB model that is otherwise identical to the JS470E model we reviewed here. All of the saws in our top list have soft-grip rubber handles, lock-on buttons, and triggers wide enough for two-finger operation.
Among the saws we selected for our top picks, the Black and Decker JS600C is the noisiest and the Makita 4350 and Bosch JS470E (which also both include vibration reduction) are the quietest.
Factor #4: Special features
Beside power, performance and user comfort, manufacturers might differentiate their jigsaw by adding from a full suite of convenience features, including dust collection tools, illuminating lights, splinter guards, shoe covers and tool cases. The absence of these features is rarely a deal breaker, but their presence can be delightful.
- LED light
All of the models we’ve listed here have LED lights with the exception of the Bosch JS470E and the Black&Decker. A light is one of those things you don’t think is very important until you own a saw that has one. Then you get so used to being able to spotlight your line that you don’t want to go back to doing without!
- Sawdust blower or vacuum attachment port
Keeping dust away from your work area so you can see the line you are cutting is very important. They may include some form of dust blower that channels air from the motor to blow dust away from in front of the blade, or they may include an attachment port for a vacuum hose.
- Shoe cover
Plastic shoe covers are meant to prevent the aluminum footplate from scratching delicate materials. If you intend to work on decorative surfaces like laminate countertops or veneers, having a non-scratch surface covering the shoe can be very helpful.
- Anti-splinter insert
This is a small plastic insert that slides in the footplate and helps prevent your work from splintering. It really does help, particularly when working with fragile surfaces such as melamine.
- Storage case
Storage cases are handy because they are custom-molded to fit your tool and its accessories. They help keep your saw from getting damaged and can prevent other things from being damaged by an exposed blade.
Black &Decker JS600C
Dust port *
Note: For the Makita 4350FCT, you have to buy a separate dust extraction nozzle and vacuum adapter to be able to attach a vacuum hose to the dust port.
Top 3 jigsaws
Makita 4350FCT - For serious DIYers who have high standards for their woodworking tools
For those who use jigsaw regularly, or want to make precision cuts.
The Makita 4350FCT is a perfect example of an all-purpose cutter that can work on a number of DIY and professional tasks including but not limited to cutting hardwood, laminate, plastic, PVC, ceramic tile and sheet metal. Whether it was trimming countertops, cutting decorative accents on furniture, or notching tile to fit around the outlets on the backsplash, this saw cut through anything with ease.
Makita offers a one-year warranty against defects in material or workmanship and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. But Makita tools also have a great reputation for being long-life workhorses with a loyal customer following.
WHAT WE LIKE: One of the unique features of the Makita 4350FCT is its “soft-start”. This prevents the tool from suddenly jerking if you start cutting with when the blade is already in contact with the material, which helps protect your work, your blade and yourself from damage.
It also includes a vibration reduction feature, which helped significantly improve cutting accuracy. We found that only the two saws with vibration reduction (this one and the Bosch) cut true and square (edge stayed 90 degrees to the face).
Its operation is also very quiet. The manufacturer says 40% noise reduction compared to other models, and we believe it.
WHAT WE DON'T LIKE: One thing that bothered us was the position of the speed feature. Rather than have it on the front of the saw near your thumb, as many of the models do, or have variable speed control through the trigger, it is a separate dial at the back of the handle. If you find yourself wanting to adjust the speed during the cut (as you often will) having the dial on the back makes it a very awkward two-handed operation.
There were also some complaints about the dust blower feature being merely adequate at keeping the cut line visible, because the airflow is a bit sluggish. However, for less than $10 you can buy the dust extraction nozzle and vacuum adapter attachments to need to hook up your shop vac to the dust port instead of relying on the blower.
Besides, the Makita 4350FCT offers a “Quick Change Blade” system, meant to keep you from having to risk touching a hot blade during blade changes. Unfortunately, the system isn’t the smoothest, and the blades sometimes got stuck, which meant we had to wiggle them loose. But to make up for that, guess what?? In the box you get a total of 6 blades – a wonderful free gift.
- Soft-start feature to protect your work, your blade & yourself from sudden jerking
- Good vibration reduction feature
- Good at cutting straight lines and square
- Separate speed dial at the back making it hard to change speed smoothly
- Sluggish airflow
- The blades sometimes get stuck when changing
Bosch JS470E - Cuts on a dime with precision
Based on actual tests, the JS470E is a workhorse that cuts right through hardibacker, dried thinset, grout, ⅛-inch glass tile or ¼-inch steel. It was the most powerful of the saws we tested, at 7 amps.
We think that it is good at handlingIt handled both slow and high speed cutting very well, and has the best speed control of the saws we tested. The trigger controls the operating speed and the additional speed dial on the back of the unit can be set to control the maximum speed.
WHAT WE LIKE: The Constant ResponseTM circuitry maintained the speed of the cut even under load, which was a great feature for ensuring even performance throughout the cut. Its vibration reduction feature, like on the Makita 4350FCT, did an excellent job ensuring square cuts.
In the course of our research, we read several user complaints saying that the blade would flex and make it impossible to cut precise 45 degree edges, so we decided to see if this was true. We were able to recreate the problem when cutting at a 45° bevel, but after a few tests, we discovered that the blade flex isn't a factor of the tool, but of the blade itself. When we used the shortest blade possible, we experienced just a little flex, and when we used high carbon steel blades, there was no problem at all.
The Bosch’s tool-less blade change system was our favorite among the 5 saws. There’s no clunky mechanism or oversized blade clamp on the end of the plunger, just a simple slot. There is a release lever on the front of the machine which, when pulled, activates a spring that gently ejects the blade. We never had a blade stick in the mechanism, and we never risked burning our fingers trying to remove a hot blade from the clamp. Sliding the new blade in is simple, and you can actually feel it latch into place.
Bosch’s solution to keeping the cut line clear of sawdust is an on/off blower, which is a particularly nice feature. There are times when you might not want the blower running, like if you are working in a small space or you are inside and don’t want the sawdust flying everywhere.
WHAT WE DON'T LIKE: The only thing we could find to complain about on this saw was that it didn’t include an LED light. Not a deal-breaker by any means, but a little surprising considering how feature-rich the rest of the saw is.
- Speed is well-maintained throughout the cut
- Excellent vibration reduction feature
- Good tool-less blade changing system
- No risk of being burned
- No LED light included
Black & Decker BDEJS600C - For occasional use & low-precision tasks
Every time we picked this saw up, we were amazed all over again at how it can possibly sell for under $40. That is less than a quarter of the price of the Bosch or the Makita 4350! It has all the features you need to have in a jigsaw: 5 amp variable speed motor, adjustable shoe, orbital cutting action, tool-less blade changes, and even some nice-to-haves like a trigger lock, a blower AND a vacuum port.
WHAT WE LIKE: Did we mention this is cheap? And despite that, it still includes all the things that matter. Black+Decker did a great job of identifying the important features (and adding them in) while stripping down all the less important features to save on price.
For example, the tool-less blade changing mechanism worked great, with a clamp and an easy spring-loaded lever to pull open. It was also the only model that was compatible with both T-shank and U-shank blades, meaning you can use whichever ones you have lying around.
Beyond that, it is powerful enough to compete with the bigger models in some common types of cuttings and it does include orbital action which is very helpful for fast ripping of plywood.
WHAT WE DON'T LIKE: So what features did Black+Decker skimp on to get the price down so low?
First off, it is noisy – nearly as loud as a shop vac, according to many users. Secondly, its variable speed setting is only controlled by the trigger; there is no adjustment dial to help ensure a constant speed. It doesn’t include an LED light, or a shoe cover, or a carrying case.
Its bevel adjustment can only be set at 0° or 45°, there are no intermediate settings. And the cord is the shortest of the five models, at 6’. But if you are just looking for a good entry-level jigsaw, toss some earplugs in your cart along with this saw, and for less than the price of taking your kids to the movies! You’ll never look back.
- Good tool-less blade changing system
- T-shank & U-shank blades compatible
- Super noisy
- No adjustment dial (trigger only)
- No LED light, no shoe cover, no case
- No intermediate bevel settings
- Short cord
Porter-Cable PC600JS - Packed with superb power & warranty
Porter-Cable is a new name in jigsaw market, but it is making up for lost time by introducing a power-packed and affordable saw. At 6 amps, it was the third most powerful option, but at less than half the price of the stronger models.
It also had by far the best warranty – 3 years on defects in materials and workmanship vs the competition’s 1 or 2, AND a one-year free service contract, where Porter-Cable will maintain the tool and replace worn parts caused by normal use—for free!
Don't want to read? Check out this video to see how the Porter-Cable performs:
WHAT WE LIKE: We really liked the position of its speed control. It is a dial on the top of the handle, right near where your thumb rests when wielding the saw. You can change the speed on the fly during the cut with easy one-handed operation.
It also had the longest cord of any of the models at 10 feet. We found this came in handy when working on full-size sheets of plywood.
WHAT WE DON'T LIKE: This saw didn’t offer a dust blower or vacuum port, but users reported that the saw created enough “turbulence" to keep the line visible.
We struggled with this saw to get lines completely square. The lack of vibration reduction resulted in some wobbliness in the cut, but that was easy to fix with a router or sander.
- Good warranty
- Long cord
- Handy speed control
- No dust blower or vacuum port
- Lack of vibration reduction
Makita 4329K - A real bargain from a top-notch brand
The Makita 4329K jigsaw is a good option for light home use. It is appreciably less powerful than the other models we reviewed, but has some nice features and is less than half the price of its more powerful cousin, the 4350FCT.
WHAT WE LIKE: The speed dial for this Makita model is, like the Porter-Cable, right under your thumb and therefore MUCH more convenient that the 4350FCT which is on the back of the machine.
It is the only inexpensive model that comes with a case, and it has both an LED light and a dust port (which does not require any adapters to be used!)
WHAT WE DON'T LIKE: The biggest drawback of this saw is its blade changing option. Instead of having a quick release, the Makita 4329K requires a hex wrench to insert and remove blades. This can be frustrating if you are needing to move from rough cut to finished cut frequently.
- Convenient speed control system
- Requires tool to change blades
This is an updated version for September 2016