Cordless Jigsaw Buying Guide

how to choose a cordless jigsaw

The history of jigsaws goes back over 60 years to a man named Albert Kaufmann, an engineer of Scintilla AG company in Solothurn, Switzerland. Inspired by the machine action of a sewing machine, Kaufmann replaced the needle in his wife's machine with a saw blade, enabling him to make delicate and detailed cuts in wood.

As time progressed, the jigsaw has become one of the most popular power tools on the market, with Bosch alone selling around 20 million units worldwide since it took control of Scintilla AG in 1954. In this buying guide we'll help you in the process of buying a cordless jigsaw. To read our guide to buying jigsaw blades, please click here.

To go straight to our list of the best cordless jigsaws on the market, click here.

First of all you need to consider the following:

Corded or Cordless

For the purposes of this buying guide, we will assume that you're interested in buying a cordless jigsaw. Our buying guide will focus on lithium-ion cordless jigsaws. For an in-depth look at the features and benefits of lithium-ion batteries in power tools, please see this guide.

The primary benefit of buying acordless jigsaw is convenience and flexibility; use it anywhere, particularly in places - or on occasions - where you
do not have access to a power source.


This benefit, however, needs to be weighed against the primary limitation of any cordless - or battery powered
- power tool; batteries need to be recharged. And the frequency of recharging depends upon the jobs you're using your cordless jigsaw for.

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how to choose a cordless jigsaw

Cutting harder materials, for example, requires the jigsaw's motor to work harder, draining the battery quicker.

So, if your typical application involves long periods
of cutting hard materials, you may wish to consider
a corded jigsaw (buying guide come soon, but
click for the range we stock).

Many manufacturers sell "naked" versions of their jigsaws.
Click here for our guide to understanding naked power tools.


This means if you've already bought into the Makita, for example, l8v lithium-ion battery range, you can use your existing 18v batteries on their naked DJV180Z 18V Li-ion Jigsaw. This is especially beneficial if you already own several lithium-ion batteries from a particular manufacturer; you can use a battery on the jigsaw, while another is charging.

In summary, then, a cordless jigsaw is ideal for getting the cut made quickly, independent of a wired power source and our choice of cordless jigsaw will likely be influenced by the cordless power tools we already own.

Manufacturer

Jigsaw range

As stated above, our choice of cordless jigsaw may, in part, depend upon brand loyalty.
If we've already invested into a lithium-ion cordless power tool, we may wish to continue to expand our collection of cordless tools from the same manufacturer.

This allows us the benefits of swapping batteries between tools, assuming of course that the tools we're buying operate from the same battery voltage (10.8v, 14v, 18v, etc).

Power and Speed


The power you require from your cordless jigsawwill depend upon the applications you'll be undertaking.

The simply formula is the thicker and/or harder the material you'll be cutting, the more power is required. The power is measured in volts (V) on cordless jigsaw, so look out for voltage rating. Keep your eye, too, on the capacity of the battery, denoted by its Ah (ampere hour) rating.

The higher the number the better as this means the battery has a higher capacity to store its charge, giving you longer run-times, depending of course on the application you're undertaking.

Speed is a different matter, however.

A jigsaw's speed is measured in rotations per minute (RPM) or strokes per minute (SPM).

Your jigsaw's speed will be either fixed or variable. For the occasional use, a single speed jigsaw will be sufficient. However, being able to control the speed of the blade is important for a couple of reasons:

  1. some materials can scorch or burn if the jigsaw blade is too fast while cutting
  2. cutting materials like wood is best done at as fast a speed as possible to reduce vibration

Therefore, being able to control the speed via a variable speed dial is potentially an important feature for us, depending on the use we'll put our cordless jigsaw too.



Slower cutting speeds are needed when your scrolling as your cut. Your choice of blade is also a key consideration, so please read our jigsaw and sabre saw blade buying guide.

Power and speed are both factors to consider when you'll be cutting thicker or deeper materials.

The longer the stroke length of the blade, the deeper or thicker the cut. For deep, thick cuts a more powerful motor and higher RPM are needed. So check the numbers (the voltage and RPM) of the cordless jigsaw you're considering.

Please refer to thelist of cordless jigsaws below and note the voltage, the battery Ah and RPM offered.


In summary, then, your choice of cordless jigsaw will likely be influenced by brand loyalty, and you must consider the typical applications you'll be using it for before deciding on a single or variable speed model, and remember to consider the power output versus the sort of cuts you'll be undertaking.

Pendulum

A frequently asked questions about jigsaws is, "should I buy pendulum or orbital?".

The answer is simple; pendulum and orbital essential are the same thing. The term "pendulum" describes the orbital movement of the jigsaw blade. Rather than simply moving up and down, the blade also moves backwards and forwards.

Why does this matter?

This functionality is going to help you cut more aggressively, particularly through thicker or harder materials.

It also affords you much more control over the blade as you cut.

A jigsaw without this function will labour while cutting thicker or harder materials, you'll end up pushing the jigsaw more and the blade will overheat and scorch or burn the material. The pendulum action also oscillates the blade in and out of the cutting face, thereby allowing the blade to cool as it cuts.

This potentially means longer life for your jigsaw blades. At the same time, the sawdust (if you're cutting wood) is able to drop away from the cutting line, giving you clearer sight of your cut, while the blade is always cutting new wood, thus giving you a much faster and efficient cut.

The pendulum capabilities are typically delivered in 4 to 5 stages, all of which are adjustable via a switch on the side of the jigsaw.

The more stages, the more control over the orbital action of the blade you have.

In summary, then, all of the cordless jigsaws on our list have at least 4 stages of pendulum which, in turn, will control the backwards and forward motion of the blade as you cut. This is particularly helpful when cutting hard materials.

Base Plate

Being able to adjust the base plate of the cordless jigsaw will allow you to make bevel cuts of, typically, angles up to 45. Also look out for whether the jigsaw comes with base plate protector.

This is usually a plastic slip on device that prevents your work surface from being scratched by the jigsaw's aluminium base plate.

Extras

The more perks the better. One of such has to be the ability for the jigsaw to blow the dust away from your cutting line.

Being able to see the cutting line is essential, and while some of our cordless jigsaws will help out by blowing the dust away, we're also looking for some sort of light to be shone on our workpiece.

All of the cordless jigsaws in our guide offer bright LED illumination as you work via their built-in job lights.

choosing a cordless jigsaw
Look out for some sort of electronic motor control. Such a feature protects the motor while you cut, preventing it from overheating and at the same time extending the overall life of the machine. Bosch have utilised their excellent Electronic Motor Protection (EMP) in their cordless jigsaws, while their lithium-ion batteries have Electronic Cell Protection (ECP).

DeWALT relies upon its XR Lithium-Ion system to protect the motor, switch and battery in their cordless tools.

Another key consideration is the ability to quickly and tool-free change the jigsaw blade.

No one wants to be touching a burning hot jigsaw blade after cutting through a piece of hardwood. Thankfully all of the cordless jigsaws in our guide have the ability to quickly change the blade, tool-free.

Sake a close look at the extra features offered by the cordless jigsaw you're buying. Look beyond cutting capacities, etc, and check whether you're getting as many features as possible for your money.

What Are the Best Cordless Jigsaws on the Market?

We've selected jigsaws from the 18v li-ion range, see our table below.

Some are naked - ie. don't come with batteries - meaning you save a bit of cash, just use the 18v li-ion battery packs from the manufacturer that you already own. If there's a version of the jigsaw that comes with batteries we'll indicate this.

Metabo STA18LTX 18V Cordless li-ion Jigsa

Metabo STA18LTX 18V Cordless li-ion Jigsaw (Body Only)

Key Specs:

  • Saw blade stroke: 25mm
  • Strokes at no load: 0-2700rpm
  • Cutting depth -
    • Wood: 135mm,
    • Nonferrous metal: 35mm
    • Sheet Steel: 10mm
  • Swivel range from / to: - 45 /+ 45
  • Pendulum stroke levels: 4
  • BODY-ONLY, NO BATTERIES

Benefits:

  • Extremely robust design
  • Great ergonomicsincluding a rubber coated handle for excellent grip
  • Die-cast aluminium gearbox housing
  • QUICK blade ejection system
  • LED light
  • Line blower with on/off switch enabling you to better see your cutting line
  • Cut in excess of 30m in 19mm thick chipboard per charge

Makita BJV180Z 18V Li-ion Jigsaw

Makita DJV180Z 18V Li-ion Jigsaw (body only)



Key Specs:

  • Length of Stroke: 26mm
  • Strokes per minute: 0-2,600
  • Cutting depth:
    • Max Cut in Wood: 135mm
    • Max in Steel: 10mm
  • Pendulum/Orbital Action: 3 stages
  • BODY-ONLY, NO BATTERIES

Benefits:

  • Very lightweight (2.8kg) and compact making it easy to use for long periods
  • Typical Makita ergonomics making it feel great in the hand
  • LED light for easy tracing of your cutting line
  • Tool-less blade change
  • Soft start motor via the variable speed trigger

Dewalt DCS331N 18V XR li-ion Jigsaw

DeWALT DCS331N 18V XR li-ion Jigsaw



Key Specs:

  • Stroke Length: 26mm
  • Strokes per minute: 0-3,000
  • Bevel Capacity: 45 left or right
  • Cutting Depths:
    • Max into wood: 135mm
    • Max into metal: 10mm
  • Pendulum/Orbital Action: 4 stages
  • BODY-ONLY, NO BATTERIES

Benefits:

  • Powerful DeWALT PM47 fan-cooled motor delivers very fast cutting rates
  • Part of the XR Lithium-Ion Series which protects the tool and the battery when in use (and when charging)
  • Intelligent variable speed trigger & lock-off switch for quick controlled cuts and enhanced work safety
  • Tool-less blade changing
  • Great ergonomics make this easy to use, particularly when cutting curves

Makita DJV181Z 18V Cordless Brushless Li-ion Barrel Grip Jigsaw (Body Only)

Makita DJV181Z 18V Cordless Brushless Li-ion Barrel Grip Jigsaw (Body Only)



Key Specs:

  • Stroke length: 26mm
  • Strokes per minute: 03,500
  • Bevel Capacity: 45 left or right
  • Cutting Depths:
    • Max into Wood: 135mm
    • Steel: 10mm
    • Aluminium: 20mm
  • Pendulum/Orbital Action: 3 stages
  • BODY-ONLY, NO BATTERIES

Benefits:

  • Brushless motor
  • Blower function
  • Tool-free blade change
  • Twin LED light to illuminate your cutting lines
  • Die-cast aluminium base
  • Improved dust extraction port

Bosch GST18V-LI Professional 18V Cordless Jigsaw

Bosch GST18V-LI Professional 18V Cordless Jigsaw - Body-only, supplied in an L-Boxx



Key Specs:

  • Stroke Length: 23mm
  • Strokes per minute: 0 - 2,700
  • Bevel Capacity: 45 left or right
  • Cutting Depths:
    • Max into Wood: 90mm
    • Max into Aluminium: 20mm
    • Max into Steel: 8mm
  • Pendulum/Orbital Action: 4 stages
  • NO BATTERIES, COMES WITH 3 BLADES AND AN L-BOXX

Benefits:

  • Soft grip in all the right places for great ergonomics and comfort when in use
  • Electronic Cell and Motor Protection
  • Robust motor features a break to immediately stop the tool
  • Tool-less (SDS) blade change
  • LED light
  • Always-on line blower

Bosch GST18VLIS 18V Cordless Jigsaw & 25 x Jigsaw Blades

Bosch GST18VLIS 18V Cordless Jigsaw with two 4Ah Batteries

Key Spec:

  • Stroke length: 23mm
  • Strokes per minute: 550-2700
  • Bevel Capacity: 45 left or right
  • Cutting Depths:
    • Max into Wood: 120mm
    • Max into Aluminium: 20mm
    • Max into Steel: 8mm
  • Pendulum/Orbital Action: 4 stages
  • Supplied with two 4Ah 18v batteries and 25 jigsaw blades

Benefits:

  •  Barrel brip for guiding the saw under the workpiece
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Tool-free blade change
  • SDS saw blade change


To wrap up this buying guide, remember the following:

  • what lithium-ion cordless tools do you already have? This may influence the cordless jigsaw you go onto buy as going for a naked or "body-only" version will save you cash if you can use your exisiting batteries in it
  • what jobs are you most likely to be undertaking? If it's big cuts in thick, hard materials, then you're going to need lots of power from the motor (volts), lots of amps from the lithium-ion battery (Ahs) and lots of speed on the blade (RPM). Either way, being able to control the speed of the blade is important for safe, accurate cuts
  • pendulum means the blade moves backwards and forwards as well as up and down
  • the depth of cut is determined by the saw blade stroke. The longer the stroke, the deeper the maximum cut, blade dependent

If you've got any questions about cordless jigsaw, just ask us using the comments section below, and be sure to tell us about your favourite!

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Comments

Toolstop on Mon, 31 Oct 2016 13:41:19 +0000 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

No, each manufacturer requires you to use their batteries on their cordless tools.

Makita's LXT batteries will only work on compatible Makita cordless tools. Dewalt's XR batteries on work on Dewalt's cordless tools.


William Small on Mon, 31 Oct 2016 13:31:47 +0000 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Hi I am a little confused can you tell me does 18V XR li-ion battery for dewalt jigsaw fit a Makita 18 volt jigsaw and vice versa?


JAMES on Sun, 20 Jul 2014 16:15:54 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Mark,
Do you have an opinion about the Milwaukee M18 jigsaw? I have several products that are Milwaukee and could save on the battery aspect but not if it is inferior.


Bruce on Fri, 29 Nov 2013 19:07:36 +0000 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Well from a professional user the Metabo out paces the Makit on performance and square cut, also the dust blower works on the Metabo, on the Makita you have to blow the dust yourself, I have replaced my year old Makita with the Metabo.
Makita only used for worktop cutouts and well looked after, the rest of my Makita kit esp the planer and sds brushless drill are faultless.


kevipauls on Tue, 25 Jun 2013 11:59:53 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Nice machine, I think it is a jig saw hand tool machine. A jigsaw gives you the reducing power and versatility required for many development and art programs. Jigsaws provide both directly and rounded reduces as well as crosscuts, pulling, beveling and drop reduces.


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