Jigsaws only have one job—to cut wood. Most of them have the power to do it, so what you’re looking for is cutting accuracy. The cutting accuracy of a jigsaw is what defines its proficiency as a woodworking tool. Ideally, your jigsaw should make clean cuts without wasting material or energy.
For a jigsaw to make accurate cuts, it needs features that place a high priority on cutline visibility. If you can’t see the cutline, you’re not going to have a clean cut. Jigsaws these days have numerous features to ensure that your lines remain visible, which is how they make consistently clean cuts. Therefore, the best jigsaw for woodworking must have some (or all) of these features.
Features for a Professional Jigsaw for Woodworking:
You won’t see buying guides talking about the blade’s positioning, but it is quite important. Forward-positioned blades give you a clear line of sight to the part under the saw’s body. Other saws require that you lean low to get a good look at the blade’s trajectory.
A built-in blower shouldn’t be an afterthought if you’re interested in making accurate cuts with your jigsaw. This vital attachment clears dust from the cutline as you work, keeping it visible all the way. Without it, you’ll be forced to blow on the wood yourself to clear up the dust that builds up as you cut.
More importantly, make sure that the blower is strong enough. In some models, blowers are more of a novelty than a feature. Jigsaws made by Bosch, Hitachi, and DeWalt tend to have the strongest blowers, so keep that in mind when shopping for one.
Variable Speed Trigger
Many saws come with a variable speed dial, with which you can tweak the maximum blade speed for the material you’re working with. While a dial is perfectly fine for most basic jigsaw applications, a variable speed trigger is an upgrade you’ll appreciate.
Jigsaws with both a dial and a trigger are the best option. The dial lets you set the maximum RPM, but the trigger varies the blade speed as you cut. Think of it as a vehicle, whereby the variable speed dial is the governor, which caps the engine’s maximum RPM, and the trigger is the accelerator pedal with which you vary the driving speed.
More control over your tool’s variable speed settings is a good thing. You can slow down mid-cut by easing up on the trigger, perhaps when cutting a complex curve, and speed up by pulling the trigger further. That’s unlike any jigsaw with a variable speed dial, which delivers the same amount of speed no matter how hard you pull the trigger.
Orbital action doesn’t increase cut accuracy, but it does ramp up the saw’s cutting abilities. Orbital jigsaws can swing the blade in multiple directions to increase the aggressiveness of the cut. Some swing back-to-front like pendulums. Others stroke up and down.
You don’t need orbital action to get clean cuts (you get cleaner cuts without it, actually), but you will need it when cutting curves, especially if you don’t want to waste time backing out and re-positioning the blade.
If your jigsaw has all four of these attributes, it’s more likely to deliver clean, quick cuts on wood. Now that you know what you need, it’s time to check out some excellent candidates for your first jigsaw.
Best Jigsaws for Cutting Curves:
DeWalt DW317K Top Handle Jig Saw
A 5.5-Amp motor powers this jigsaw from DeWalt, making it capable of 3,100 strokes per minute (SPM). Luckily, you have variable speed functionality (0 – 3,100), so you can choose the right speed for any job. Before you get to that, you’ll notice that the DW317K has an impressive all-metal case around it, which promises improved durability.
It doesn’t lack much in terms of performance either. 4-position orbital action ensures that it can make seriously aggressive cuts without a hitch and on different materials. What’s more, its shoe bevels between zero and 45 degrees to make clean angled cuts.
Using the DW317K shouldn’t be a problem either. Its powerful functionality is aided by keyless jigsaw changes, thanks to an in-built lever-action blade clamp. You can switch blades fast and without touching either the blade or reciprocating shaft.
Bosch JS470E Corded Jigsaw
Corded power tools are unrivaled when it comes to power, which is why this 7.0-Amp top-handle jigsaw from Bosch is an excellent choice for power-intensive applications. The 120V low-vibration power tool is a pleasure to work with and can make cuts as deep as 5 7/8” on wood. It’s equipped with an internal plunging system, which works together with its low-vibration design to improve cutting accuracy and guarantee smooth operation in a variety of jobs.
It has a tool-less blade changing system that features a blade ejection lever that simply spits out the hot saw blade to allow you to install a new one. It’s quick, efficient, and you’ll never have to touch a hot blade when swapping accessories.
Variable speed comes in the form of a dial and accelerator trigger, allowing this jigsaw superior control over all types of cuts. There is also an ambidextrous lock-on button, which you’ll appreciate when it comes to comfort and stability.
Overall, this is an excellent jigsaw from Bosch that comes complete with an orbital action blade with four settings for making aggressive cuts.
Black + Decker 5.0-Amp Smart Select Jigsaw
Even though it’s under $50, this Black + Decker saw is just as professional a jigsaw as any of them. Featuring ¾ orbital blade action, curve control technology, and a high-power 5.0-Amp motor, there’s little you can’t do with this entry-level jigsaw.
Starting from the bottom, you’ll notice that it has an adjustable shoe that’s equipped with a wire guard. These give it better stability while cutting and allow you to maintain a line of sight to the wood you’re working on.
Its 5.0-Amp motor will give you up to 3,000 SPM of cutting power, but thanks to variable speed settings, you can tweak this to suit the job you’re taking on. The jigsaw also features curve control technology. Not a must-have, but if your job routinely involves making beveled cuts, then this jigsaw may be a better fit for you.
This corded jigsaw can perform much better in terms of power than most cordless ones, especially since you don’t have to stop and recharge every few hours. It draws power straight from your outlet.