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Cordless Jigsaw Buying Guide

Posted by Katy | Toolstop on 1st Jan 2021

In our cordless jigsaw buying guide, we show you all the features you should look out for and consider when choosing an 18V jigsaw. We even recommend some of the best 18v jigsaws which you can purchase at toolstop from Dewalt, Makita and more!

Cordless Jigsaw Buying Guide

The History of the 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 who was inspired by the mechanical 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.

Which 18V Jigsaw is for you?

First of all, you need to consider the following:

  • Corded or cordless
  • Manufacturer
  • Power requirements
  • Speed requirements
  • Pendulum or orbital
  • Adjustable base plate

Corded or Cordless?

For the purposes of this buying guide, we will assume that you’re interested in buying a cordless jigsaw. The primary benefit of buying a cordless jigsaw is their 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.

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 coming soon, but for now, click here for the range we stock).

Many manufacturers sell “naked” versions of their jigsaws. This means that if you’ve already bought into the Makita 18V lithium-ion battery range, for example, you can use your existing 18V batteries on their naked DJV180Z 18V 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, 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.

What Features Should you Consider When Buying a Cordless Jigsaw?

Manufacturer:

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 jigsaw will depend upon the applications you’ll be undertaking. The simple 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 a 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.

Makita DJV180 Jigsaw

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 you're 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 important 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 the list 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.

What Is Pendulum Action?

A frequently asked question about jigsaws is, “should I buy pendulum or orbital?”. The answer is simple; pendulum and orbital are essentially 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 offers 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.

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. Read our full blog post here on pendulum action on a jigsaw.

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°. Look out for whether the jigsaw comes with a 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 and having a built in job light. 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.

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 has utilised their excellent Electronic Motor Protection (EMP) in their cordless jigsaws, while their lithium-ion batteries have Electronic Cell Protection (ECP).

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, so having the ability to quickly change the blade, tool-free is always a bonus.

Take 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.

Which is the Best Cordless Jigsaw?

We’ve selected a few of our bestselling jigsaws from the 18V cordless range. See our table below which features cordless jigsaws from Makita, Dewalt and Bosch.

  • Dewalt DCS331 Jigsaw
  • Makita DJV180 Jigsaw
  • Bosch GST 18V-LI Jigsaw
  • Makita DJV182 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

Benefits:

  • Powerful 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

For full spec and to shop now, click here.

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

Benefits:

  • Very lightweight (2.8kg) and compact making it easy to use for long periods
  • Makita ergonomics make 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

For full spec and to shop now, click here.

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

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

For full spec and to shop now, click here.

Key Specs:

  • Length of Stroke: 26mm
  • Strokes per minute: 800-3,500
  • Cutting depth: Max in steel - 10mm, Max in wood - 135mm, Max in aluminium - 20mm
  • Pendulum/Orbital Action: 3 stages

Benefits:

  • Brushless motor means less friction
  • Rigid aluminium base can be tilted up to 45 degrees left or right
  • New improved dust extraction hose joint
  • Change lever for 3 orbital settings and straight cutting
  • Tool-less blade change
  • Variable speed control dial

For full spec and to shop now, click here.

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 on to buy, as going for a naked or “body-only” version will save you cash if you can use your existing 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 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 jigsaws, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help! Which is your favourite cordless jigsaw?

Cordless Jigsaws at Toolstop