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Jigsaws

Jk jigsaw—also called a M M saber saw or bayonet saw—performs tasks that 110 handsaw, scrollsaw. or coping saw can. It lets you take the saw to the work, so you can cut workpicces that are too

bulky or heavy to handle on a stationary saw. Since you're not limited by throat depth, you can saw into workpieces of any width or length. Armed with an assortment of blades, a jigsaw can cut patterns in wood, plastic and metal.

Depending on the blade that's used, most jigsaws can make cuts in wood up to 2-V4 The jig is up... and down. Today's jigsaws make smooth, fast cuts in wood and other materials up to 2*/4 in. thick.

in. thick. A 3.5-amp motor will provide enough juice for most cutting chores.

3 Types of jigsaws

In-line jigsaws

This typo of saw is a cross between a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw: The blade travels parallel to the armature. Since it can get into places that most other jigsaws can't, the in-line saw is a favorite among remodelers. On the downside, this type of saw is less accurate than other types because its small baseplate doesn't provide as much support.

Top-handle jigsaws

Many woodworkers prefer these models—they feel that positioning the handle above the motor allows for more control when cutting thick or dense materials.

FEATURES to consider

Straight-line vs. orbital blade action

Straight-line cutting produces smoother cuts with less tearout, but for general cutting, you'll want a saw with orbital action that will chew through stock fast. Most jigsaws allow you to switch between cutting modes. Several offer different degrees of orbital action.

Speed control

Whether controlled by a trigger or separate dial, variable speed means more cutting control. Use high speeds for general cutting; slow speeds are good for thin materials, metals and plastics.

Baseplate

The baseplate provides support for the saw while keeping the blade at a fixed angle to the work. Look for a thick, sturdy cast plate that won't flex or loosen during operation. If the baseplate is adjustable, see if it has detents for positive stops at 45° and 90°. (See photo, near right.)

Blade guides

Better jigsaws have a blade guide just above _

the baseplate that supports the blade during cutting. Most guides consist of a grooved roller behind the blade that limits side-to-side and backward blade deflection. This feature promotes accuracy while also reducing blade breakage.

The "scrolling" head on some jigsaws lets you rotate the blade 360° without moving the saw body—instead, you

Cut at full tilt. Adjustable-angle baseplates allow you to cut angles up to 45°.

turn a knob at the front end of the saw. This feature enables you to perform some fairly intricate scrolling. However, you won't find roller guides on the saws with this mechanism.

Blade changing

If you plan on doing a lot of jigsaw work, consider a model that has a quick-release mechanism. If your jigsaw has this feature, changing blades is as simple as pulling a lever and clicking in a replacement blade.

On most jigsaws, you release the blade by loosening a setscrew. While most saws will accept universal blades, some models require other types of blades. (See photo, right.) When you're deciding which model to buy, it's wise to make sure that you'll have a local source for the type of blade it requires. Check the "Blade Mount Type" column in the chart on page 88.

The cordless option

Although it has less power, a cordless saw is great when you're working outside of the shop, or when you're making the kinds of cuts where a cord might get in the way.

Choose your weapon. Jigsaw blades come in many sizes, and there's a blade for cutting just about any material. However; some saws have blade-holding mechanisms that accept only a specific type of blade.

OPTIONS worth having

Barrel-grip jigsaws

A barrel-grip saw is essentially a top-handle saw without a handle. To saw. you grip the barrel by its motor housing.

A barrel-grip saw shines when you need to cut curves or holes in thinner stock. The behind-the-blade hand position makes it easy to cut quickly and efficiently. Models with easy-to-reach, paddle-type switches are especially convenient for production-type work.

However, if you have small hands, you may find that it's difficult to get a good hold on some of the fatter barrel-grip models.

Extra blades. It makes sense to stf>ck up on jigsaw blades, especially those that are used and/or break most frequently.

Stick with bimetal blades if you can. Though more expensive than high-speed-sterl blades, bimetal blades cut better and last longer.

Bench-mounted saw table.

This steel or aluminum plate attaches to a workbench and holds a jigsaw upside down. It's a great setup for stationary sawing.

Edge guide with circle cutter. Attached to your saw, this straightedge will guide straight cuts and can also be used as a trammel for circle cutting.

Portable Jigsaws

Bosch B4300

DeWalt DW318K

Makita 4303C

Milwaukee 6266/6

Brand A Model

List Price

Blade Mounl Type

Roller Guide

(in.)

Cuts per Minute

Amps

(lbs.)

Comments & Features

Bück A, Decker 7368

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