Although you’ll rarely cut project parts to final size and shape with a jigsaw, one that cuts clean curves and field cuts minimizes sanding afterward, Learn which of 12 battery-powered tools are the best
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Photo of DeWalt jigsaw making cut

Note: These saws sell primarily as bare tools (without battery or charger), but some come in kits. So for easier cost comparison, we priced each as a bare tool in the chart on page 46. For testing purposes, we equipped each jigsaw with a compact battery pack (from 2 to 4 amp-hours) for better balance and control. A larger pack will net you longer runtime, but we don't see that as a great need when using a jigsaw.

How we chose the field

To be included in our test group, each jigsaw had to meet the following criteria:

■ powered by a single 18- or 20-volt rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included or optional);

■ outfitted with a top-mounted handle (rather than a barrel grip).

Although you'll rarely cut project parts to final size and shape with a jigsaw, one that cuts clean curves and field cuts, such as the cutouts in the Mackintosh project part shown above, minimizes sanding afterward. Of course, choosing the best blade for each cut carries a good amount of that responsibility, but differences among the saws also play a part. 

Watch where you cut

Close up photo of Makita XVJ02Z
The Makita XVJ02Z lacks a dust blower, so cutting with it quickly covers the cutline in front of the blade, requiring you to clear it manually.

In order to cut close to a layout line, you must be able to see that line. Most jigsaw blades cut on the upstroke, so they fling the sawdust forward—right onto your cutline. Fortunately, most manufacturers (except Makita, below, and Festool) equip their models with a cutline-clearing blower. Unfortunately, not all of them work well. Blowers on the DeWalt DCS334B, Milwaukee 2737-20, Porter-Cable PCC650B, and Worx WX542L.9 clear debris best; the Metabo HPT CJ18DAQ4 struggled to do this. 

Close up photo of DeWalt guard
The widely set shoe-mounted guard on the DeWalt saw improves blade visibility. And its body-mounted chuck release lever makes blade changes easy.
Close up photo of Bosch guard
Bosch's narrow blade guard partially blocks your view of the blade and interferes with its already difficult-to-operate chuck-mounted blade release.

But clearing dust solves only half of the problem: Parts of some saws—most often the required blade guards—impede the sightlines. On most models, the guard consists of one or two V- or U-shaped wires that sit directly in front of the blade. However, the wire guards on the DeWalt (above) and Craftsman CMCS650B provide better visibility. Dust builds up on the clear plastic shields of the Festool PSBC 420 EB-BASIC and Milwaukee, but the shields remove easily if needed.

Speed zone ahead

Photo of electric switch on Makita saw
You must activate the electronic power switch on the Makita saw before the trigger will engage the motor. It times out after 10 seconds of inactivity, which we found frustrating.

Achieving the best results when cutting with a jigsaw requires a balance of blade speed, power, and feed rate. Low blade speeds provide better control in tight turns and as you approach a corner or stopping point. Some of the tested saws (Festool, Makita, and Ryobi PBLJS01B) can't slow below 800 strokes per minute, making them uncomfortably fast and sometimes difficult to control in those situations. (See the chart below.) We like DeWalt's controls best: This saw provides both a variable-speed dial (to set a maximum speed) and a fully variable trigger (letting you feather the speed within that range). Festool and the Ridgid R8832B provide similar controls, but neither works as well. The Makita (photo, above) uses a dial but no variable trigger. All others have only a variable trigger. We found the trigger on the Bosch JSH180B the most responsive, making it easy to control despite not having a dial.

In our power tests, the Milwaukee, Festool, and Worx cut fastest (in that order), but none of the saws bogged down, and all had plenty of power to handle all your needs. You can cut faster by adding more "orbit" to the blade stroke. But aggressiveness usually comes at the cost of tear-out, so turn off the orbit to maximize cut quality.

Photo of Festool v shaped guard
The V-shaped blade guide on the Festool saw is adjustable front-to-back and sits closer to the workpiece than on any other saw, helping to ensure 90° cuts.
Photo of Porter Cable guide roller
Porter-Cable's grooved guide roller sits high above the workpiece, allowing the blade to deflect from 90° more than any other test saw.

More factors to consider

 Blade stroke. Most of the saws provide 1" of stroke length. Depending on the thickness of your workpiece and the length of the blade used, you likely will never run into a problem. But in 1-1⁄2" or thicker stock, some of the blade teeth will never clear the surface, so they'll be less likely to clear the sawdust from the cut, resulting in slower cuts. 

The blade guide on each saw, above, helps keep the blade cutting straight up and down. The closer this guide sits to the workpiece, the better your chances for a true perpendicular cut.

Blade changes. If you change blades immediately after making a cut, you'll want to avoid touching the (likely) hot blade. That's why we appreciate the self-ejecting blade chucks on most of the saws. Several models required shaking the saw slightly while holding the chuck open, allowing the blade to drop out. But with the Ridgid, you must grip the blade and pull it out.

We like blade chucks that can be easily opened regardless of their location in the stroke. The Bosch and Festool chucks default to the top of their strokes, making blade changes difficult. 

Ergonomics. Several factors contribute to an efficient and comfortable feel when using a jigsaw. A rubber-overmold handle provides a grippable surface for best control; all but the Festool have at least some overmold. A handle positioned lower on the saw body maintains a better center of balance. (We like Bosch best for this, with Porter-Cable, Ryobi, and Worx the tallest and likeliest to tip.) The trigger should be positioned where you can easily operate it with your index or middle finger without sacrificing your ability to guide the saw. All but the Festool cover this nicely.

 Tilting the shoe. We rarely tilt the shoe to make beveled cuts, but it should be easy to do this when needed. Seven saws let you do this without a wrench. (See the chart, below) The Festool shoe does not tilt, but you can replace it with an accessory shoe that does. We also appreciate the no-mar pads included on all saws except Metabo HPT, Porter-Cable, and Skil JS820202.

 Here's How We See The Saws

Bosch JSH180B

Photo of Bosch JSH1870B jigsaw

High Points

▲ Its low handle with rubber overmold makes this saw easy to grip and guide.

▲ Smoothest, easiest-to-use trigger

▲ Demonstrated the least vibration of all test saws

▲ An antisplinter insert helps to reduce tear-out.

▲ A low blade guide helps this saw cut precisely.

Low Points

▼ You need a hex wrench to tilt the shoe, and we found the wrench difficult to remove from its onboard storage location.

▼ We had to manually reposition the chuck low enough to change blades, and the wire blade guard interferes with the blade release. 

▼ The blade guard also inhibits the view of the blade.

More Points

You get a 1-year warranty for the saw and battery pack, but registering it online increases that to 3 years for the saw and 2 for the battery.

DeWalt DCS334B

Photo of DeWalt DCS334B jigsaw

High Points

▲The best blade and cutline visibility thanks to a wide shoe-mounted blade guard, effective blower, and LED 

▲Best speed control, with maximum-speed dial andsoft-touch trigger

▲Easiest blade changes

▲Tool-free shoe tilting with stops at 0° and 45° left and right

More Points

It does not come with a storage bag or case, but is available in a kit with 5.0-Ah battery pack, charger, and plastic case. 

Despite including an antisplinter insert, tear-out still occurred.

Craftsman CMCS650B

Photo of Craftsman CMCS650B jigsaw

High Points

▲ Very good cut visibility with a dust blower and wide blade guard

▲ Easy blade changes: Lift the U-shaped chuck handle and shake out the blade.

▲ Tool-free shoe tilting with stops at 0° and 221⁄2° and 45° left and right

Low Points

▼ Battery packs require more effort to remove than with other saws.

▼ This saw vibrates more than most.

More Points

Lacks a variable-speed dial, but the soft-touch trigger makes speed control easy

Festool PSBC 420 EB-BASIC

Photo of Festool PSBC 420

High Points

▲ One of the fastest-cutting saws in our test

▲ Additional power switches on each side of the saw head allow you to use the saw in barrel-grip fashion, but onlyif your hand fits beneath the top handle.

▲ This saw comes in a plastic storage case compatiblewith other Festool cases.

▲ An antisplinter insert helps to reduce tear-out.

▲ The included dust-collection attachment provides a 1-3⁄8" hose port.

Low Points

▼ The slick-plastic top handle lacks a rubber overmold, making it difficult to grip. And we found the trigger switch, located farther back than on any other saw, awkward to operate.

▼ The shoe does not tilt; the accessory tilting shoe available.

▼ Despite a self-ejecting chuck, we found changing blades frustrating because the chuck tends to stop in its uppermost position, making it difficult to open. We had to fuss with the trigger to get the chuck in the low position.

More Points

Electronic controls let you change the maximum speed and the LED mode (on, off, strobe). Festool says the strobe effect improves blade-to-cutline visibility, but we didn't see much difference from cutting with the LED on constantly.

The low blade guide holds the blade true, but makes it challenging to see the point of cut.

Makita XVJ02Z

Photo of Makita XVJ02Z jigsaw

High Points

▲ Excellent blade changes

▲ Very good ergonomics with comfortable handle and balance

▲ An antisplinter insert helps to reduce tear-out.

Low Points

▼ Without a blower, dust covers the cutline quickly.

▼ The wire blade guard impedes sightlines to the cut.

More Points

The only saw with an electronic on switch (which annoyingly timed out after 10 seconds) that must be activated before you can use the trigger

Electronic speed controls let you set a slow-start speed or a maximum speed, but it's confusing. With no variable-speed trigger, you have to depend on the maximum-speed dial to determine strokes per minute.

The shoe requires a hex wrench to tilt, but it's located within easy reach on the shoe.

Milwaukee 2737-20

Photo of Milwaukee 2737-20 jigsaw

High Points

▲ Cuts fastest among the tested saws

▲ Its soft-touch variable-speed trigger lets you easily control blade speed, and the nice rubber-wrapped handle grips easily.

▲ Tool-free shoe tilting with stops at 0° and 15°, 30°, and 45° left and right

▲ The included dust-collection attachment provides a 1-3⁄8" hose port. There's a switch to turn off the cutline blower when using this.

▲ The saw comes with a 5-year warranty; the battery pack gets 3 years.

▲ An antisplinter insert helps to reduce tear-out.

Low Points

▼ The wire blade guard impedes visibility, and the plastic shield around the front often gets covered in dust.

More Points

The body-mounted chuck release makes for quick blade changes with a self-ejecting chuck, but the lever is smaller and slicker than most.

At 5 pounds (without battery pack), it's the heaviest saw in the test.

Metabo HPT CJ18DAQ4

Photo of Metabo HPT CJ18DAQ4 jigsaw

High Points

▲ Grippable overmold on the handle with a soft-touch variable-speed trigger

▲ Its low blade guide keeps the blade cutting at a crisp 90°.

▲ Easy blade changes with a chuck release on the front of the tool and self-ejecting chuck

▲ An antisplinter insert helps to reduce tear-out.

Low Points

▼ The blade sits so far back under the saw body that you have to strain to see where it's cutting, and the wire blade guard further impedes the view. The weak blower allowed dust to build up on cutlines.

▼ Its slow blade speed results in longer cutting times.

▼ Lacks a no-mar pad for the shoe

More Points

Metabo HPT's low-amp-hour battery packs lack a charge indicator, but the saw has a two-bar indicator on it to read the battery level.

The shoe requires a hex wrench to tilt, but it's located within easy reach on the shoe.

Porter-Cable PCC650B

Photo of Porter-Cable PCC650B jigsaw

High Points

▲ Grippable overmold on the handle with a soft-touch variable-speed trigger

Low Points

▼ It tends to drift to the left during cuts, so you need to be vigilant.

▼ No battery-charge-level indicator on the battery pack or saw

▼ No LED to illuminate the cutting area

▼ Lacks a no-mar pad for the shoe

▼ Its slow blade speed made this the slowest-cutting saw in our tests.

More Points

The shoe requires a hex wrench to tilt, but it's located within easy reach on the saw body.

Ridgid R8832B

Photo of Ridgid R8832B jigsaw

High Points

▲ Tool-free shoe tilting with stops at 0° and 45° left and right

▲ The included dust-collection attachment provides a 1-1⁄4" hose port. There's a switch to turn off the blower when using this.

Low Points

▼ To remove a blade, you must pull it from the chuck after opening the jaws—a risk with a hot blade.

▼ The blade sits so far back under the saw body that you have to strain to see where it's cutting, and the wire blade guard impedes the view.

More Points

The rubber-wrapped handle grips easily, and the soft-touch variable-speed trigger lets you easily control blade speed. But the maximum-speed dial—which includes a soft-start setting—sits on top of the handle, where we frequently bumped it, unintentionally changing speeds midcut.

Comes with a 3-year warranty for saw and battery pack, but online registration of both nets you a lifetime service agreement.

Ryobi PBLJS01B

Photo of Ryobi PBLJS01B jigsaw

High Points

▲ A self-ejecting chuck and body-mounted release lever make blade changes easy.

▲ Tool-free shoe tilting with stops at 0° and 45° left and right

Low Points

▼ With no variable-speed trigger, you have to depend on the maximum-speed dial to determine strokes per minute, and it won't run at less than 800 spm.

▼ Cut visibility suffers due to a weak blower, an LED that illuminates the dust cloud, and a blade set farther back under the saw body, compared to other saws.

▼ This saw's tall profile and high vibration (tied for worst) make it uncomfortable and unwieldy to use.

Skil JS820202

Photo of Skil JS820202 jigsaw

High Points

▲ An easy-to-feather trigger makes it easy to cut at the speed you want.

▲ A nice rubber-grip handle and low vibration make this saw easy and comfortable to use.

▲ Tool-free shoe tilting with stops at 0° and 15°, 30°, and 45° left and right

Low Points

▼ Without a no-mar pad, the shoe's sharp edges and corners caught on wood surfaces.

▼ The slide-up chuck makes changing blades clumsy, and no self-ejection presents a risk with a hot blade.

More Points

A switch lets you turn off the dust blower, but because this saw doesn't offer an optional dust-collection attachment, we don't know why you'd ever turn the blower off.

This saw does not sell as a bare tool.

Worx WX542L.9

Photo of Worx WX542L.9 jigsaw

High Points

▲ This saw displayed excellent power, ranking third-fastest in our tests.

▲ Tool-free shoe tilting with stops at 0° and 45° left and right

▲ The included dust-collection attachment provides a 1-1⁄2" hose port, but because there's no switch to turn off the effective blower, it works against the vac.

Low Points

▼ This saw tied for the most vibration. 

More Points

You get a 3-year saw warranty, but only 1 for battery packs.

No curveball here: Get this saw and you'll have a ball

Three saws rose to the top of this 12-tool field after testing: Bosch JSH180B, DeWalt DCS334B, and Milwaukee 2737-20. They all performed well, but we like the DeWalt best, giving it Top Tool honors. This saw does everything well and comes with a 3-year warranty for both the saw and battery packs.

The Worx WX542L.9 earns our Top Value award

Table comparing jigsaws

Table notes:

Table Key

2.  

(N/A) Shoe does not tilt

3.  

(B) Storage bag

(C) Storage case

(D) Dust-collection attachment

(N) No-mar shoe pad

(S) Tilting shoe kit

(Z) Zero-clearance insert

4.  

(C) China

(G) Germany

(H) Hungary

(M) Mexico

(U) United Kingdom

(V) Vietnam

5.  

(*) 3 years for saw, 2 for battery pack upon registration

 (**) Lifetime service agreement upon registration

  (†) 5 years if registered within 30 days of purchase