Whether a woodworking professional or a DIY’er, sooner or later anyone who works with wood, does crafts or installs tiles, will need a jigsaw for the flexibility and cutting power it offers. When it is time to shop, research buying tips for jigsaws according to how it will be used, both for the present and future, and then consider the various options among the designs and models available.
A jigsaw is different from other saws in its ability to perform crosscuts, curved cuts, bevelling, ripping and plunge cuts as well as straight cuts. This type of saw can handle various materials besides wood, such as drywall, ceramic tile, plastic and lightweight metals.
It is important to weigh benefits, the kind of use for which the saw is needed and the features you will want it to have. For DIY–do-it-yourself–projects, most medium to light duty jigsaws have enough power and convenient features. If the main tasks are going to be professional-level work, then a heavy duty saw is probably needed.
All jigsaws are either corded or cordless–running on batteries–for their power source. Corded saws have three to eight amps of power, with five or more needed for heavier jobs. They are lighter in weight than corded saws because there is no need for the battery pack, and they will not run down while working.
Although the lighter weight reduces hand fatigue and they have a steady power supply, corded saws do not have the freedom of a cordless saw. Consider where the saw will be used–if there are power outlets within easy reach–and if there is enough room to maneuver without risk of cutting the power cord.
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If, on the other hand, freedom of movement is important and the power supply is unsure or inconveniently located, the corded saw may be best. If it will be used for an extended length of time or for heavy work, look for a high-voltage cordless saw, or at least have extra heavy-duty batteries on hand.
The heavy-duty kind have 12 to 18 volts and the batteries with the higher volts will last longer. For remote areas a cordless jigsaw is an advantage, and they are better suited for cutting wood. Although they are an advantage in certain situations, they do not have the power of a corded saw.
A variety of features exist for jigsaws, but seasoned users tend to focus on the handle, variable speed and orbital action as the most important elements if the saw will be purchased for more than the occasional, rare use. First, the two most common designs in handles generally will be a loop or a grip.
The loop is just as it sounds, a loop-shape on top of the saw, and it is used as a handle. Others will have a grip, and some users believe grip handles give more control, especially for making precise cuts.
Variable speed is important because it allows the speed of the blade action to be changed according to the type of material being cut. For instance, metal will require a different speed than wood or tile, and delicate cuts may need slower speeds. The range on most saws is 500 to 3500 SPM–strokes per minute.
Orbital action will move the blade slightly forward rather than just up and down as a jigsaw without this feature. The angle can also be adjusted for various materials, and usually makes a smoother cut. It also minimizes wear and tear on the blade. Variable speed and orbital action will add a bit to the purchase price, but both features are well worth the investment.
Blade support and a fast blade changing system are two nice features to have, although not necessary for the operation of most saws. The blade support is a roller on the blade that supports it while the saw is in use. It will keep the blade from flexing during operation, providing straighter or more accurate cuts.
Anything that keeps the blade from bending will also help to preserve the blade. Quick blade changing allows handy blade replacement without having to find and use tools. A place for on-board blades is also nice to keep extra blades handy.
Various options include dust blowers that clear sawdust as you work. Some models have a dust port through which a dust collector or wet/dry vacuum can be connected to suck away the sawdust, giving a clearer view of the cut. A saw with a laser built in shows a line on the material being cut for greater accuracy on straight cuts. Another feature that helps accuracy and reduces fatigue is an anti-vibration option.
A plug that includes a light tells at a glance that the jigsaw is on, or has power. A cord storage on board keeps the cord from tangling and out of the way. Rubber cords are better than plastic as they have greater flexibility. Most saws cut to a depth of about two inches.
Some jigsaws can cut wood up to five inches thick, but keep in mind that that depth may cause the blade to bend or break. To protect the motor from damage, auto stop brushes prevent the saw from operating if the brushes are worn down, and a metal gear housing gives the motor protection during heavy use.
Jigsaw blades make a great difference in the success of each cut in the material or the project as a whole. Blades are rated as teeth per inch–TPI. Both the rating and the material of the blade is important.
For cutting wood and light metal, high speed steel blades and bi-metal blades are best. Cobalt steel should last longer because it is harder. For masonry boards, use carbide grit blades. Narrow scrolling blades are needed for tight cuts and intricate work.
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Following buying tips for jigsaws helps to ensure the purchase of the correct saw for the intended use, giving satisfaction and enjoyment when doing home improvement projects or working on crafts and hobbies.