Most jigsaw tools can best be described as “motorised reciprocating saws”. That means their blades moves up and down, powered by an electric motor.
The user guides the jigsaw using its handle and the flat, metal “shoe” at the bottom of the tool, to cut materials including wood, chipboard, plastic, and in some cases, light metals and ceramic tile.
Jigsaws can make curved cuts, straight cuts, plunge cuts that don’t have to start at the edge of a material, and angled bevel cuts used to make bevelled edges.
While a jigsaw tool’s strongest suit will invariably be cutting curves and complex shapes, their versatility makes them an ideal choice for DIY beginners looking to get a lot done with a single power saw.
The first point to consider when choosing a jigsaw is how much you will be using it. With solid options available at reasonable prices, it doesn’t make much sense for very occasional users to buy a high-end tool.
Then again, if you love woodworking or expect to be doing a lot of DIY over the years, a high-quality jigsaw could be a great investment.
Another key question is whether to use a corded or a cordless tool. Corded jigsaws have the benefit of limitless runtime – but the drawback is the power cable trailing behind them, which can limit your movement to a certain radius of your power sockets or adaptor.
Cordless models can be used anywhere, without a trailing wire. However, they will run out of power when their battery is drained. How long it takes for this to happen can vary greatly depending on the battery and jigsaw used.
When cutting with a jigsaw, it is important to use a blade that suits the task. Jigsaw blades come in lots of shapes and sizes, with important variations in length, thickness and the density of jagged teeth on the blade, which is measured in teeth-per-inch (TPI).
Different blade properties produce different results: for instance, long blades tend to be better at cutting thicker materials, while short blades tend to cut more accurately. Always check the blade packaging for guidance before you buy.
We tested the jigsaws featured by using them to cut shapes out of wooden boards of varying thickness. We were looking for ease of set up, user friendliness, manoeuvrability and cutting capability.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Ryobi R18JS7-0 jigsaw: £134.99, Amazon
This jigsaw is the premium option in Ryobi’s excellent range – a distinction which shines through in the tool’s performance and build quality. Our tester found that this jigsaw cut remarkably smoothly and powerfully, with great accuracy and a serenely low level of vibration. The components feel tough and well-made, especially the heavy aluminium die cast base and plate cover.
It works equally reliably at very slow and very fast speeds, from slow and controlled on setting zero to rapid and powerful on setting three. Our one minor criticism of this tool would be that there’s quite a leap between power settings zero and one, which might leave some users struggling to find the “Goldilocks zone” where power and control are perfectly in-balance. Nonetheless, the R18JS7 is a real class act from Ryobi. This jigsaw requires a compatible Ryobi one+ 18V battery (£64) and charger (£55.93), sold separately.
Erbauer 18V cordless four-stage pendulum action jigsaw EJS18 (body only): £70, B&Q
Highly effective and brilliantly accessible, this is an ideal option for users who need a quality cordless jigsaw for occasional-to-moderate use. Its standout features include a fool-proof tool-free blade replacement mechanism, a comfy soft-grip handle and clear, comprehensible controls. We found it could cut a variety of shapes into a range of materials effectively and fairly smoothly. One minor quibble we have with this jigsaw is that it’s a little on the heavy side when used with a 4.0Ah battery – and using a smaller, lighter battery might not give you the runtime you need. This jigsaw requires a compatible Erbauer EXT 18V battery (£50) and charger (£35), sold separately.
Blaupunkt JZ3000: £47.99, Blaupunkt
Costing under £50 and with no added requirement for a battery or charger, this mains-powered option is one of the best-value jigsaws on the market. It cuts fairly well considering its price, with a speed control ranging from 0-3000spm that will help you cut through most materials you’re likely to encounter in a DIY context, including thin sheets of metal. The only real downside is that it’s a little on the loud side and has quite a violent action, both characteristics which can grow a little grating. Nonetheless, this is an excellent tool for the price you pay, and it will nicely cover the needs of most casual users.
Makita JV101DZ 10.8v jigsaw (body only): £74.99, Amazon
Small and smart, this offers something a little different to competing jigsaws. This tool has a host of clever features that combine to make it a real pleasure to use. These include a blower function that blasts sawdust away as the tool cuts, and a variable speed trigger allowing the user to change the cutting speed by squeezing the trigger harder or softer as they go. Perhaps the greatest of this jigsaw’s advantages is its lightweight design, which will come as a delight to users who do not, for some strange reason, enjoy lugging around heavy tools. Considering its size and relatively low power, it has impressive cutting capabilities that will amply cover most DIY requirements, with the notable exception of cutting sheets of metal any more than half a centimetre thick. This model requires a battery (£95.95) and charger (£54), sold separately.
Erbauer 710W 220-240V pendulum jigsaw EJS710: £50, B&Q
We found this jigsaw to be not only one of the simplest to use, but also one of the most effective. Considering its low-to-mid-market price, that’s saying something. A particularly strong suit of the tool is its manoeuvrability, which makes changing direction to cut out complex shapes relatively easy. We used it to make a wooden snake, which didn’t look half bad considering our tester’s limited artistic capabilities. Another benefit is its tool-free bevel adjustment mechanism, which makes it easy to set the tool up to cut bevelled edges up to 45 degrees. Some competitors use a hex key mechanism for the same purpose, which takes more time and effort.
Ryobi R18JS-0 ONE+ cordless jigsaw with LED: £65, Amazon
Ryobi’s eye-catching R18JS-0 is comfortably the best cordless jigsaw we’ve tested. We found it made light work even of relatively thick, hard wood (our tester’s poor old kitchen door), cutting faster and easier than any other tool we tested.
For a mid-sized jigsaw, this is impressively nimble. If you’re new to using this type of tool, just remember to use its high cutting speed carefully. Zip along straight lines using a straight piece of material as a guide, then slow down to cut curves as accurately as you can. We recommend leaving a bit of excess material around the edge of the shape – this can be filed and sanded down after sawing, whereas there’s nothing you can do if you’ve cut inside the lines.
This jigsaw requires a compatible Ryobi one+ 18V battery (£64) and charger (£55.93). These can also be used with over 100 other appliances from the Ryobi ONE+ range, which encompasses home, garden, automotive and crafting activities, and is in our opinion the best cordless system of its type.
Stanley Fatmax cordless 3-stage pendulum action jigsaw FMC650B-XJ: £75, B&Q
Big, slow, and equipped with a pendulum action that helps cut through tough materials, the FMC650B-XJ is basically the Lennox Lewis of jigsaws. This tool’s leisurely cutting speeds will frustrate users who need to get lots done in a short space of time – but for less experienced users, working a little slower may bring the benefit of easier control. The aperture at the front of the shoe gives a good view of where the blade is cutting, which we found very helpful when tackling tricky shapes. Make sure your material is properly clamped before use – otherwise, this heavy saw will rattle it like mad. This requires a Stanley Fatmax 18V lithium-ion 4Ah power tool battery, sold separately for £50.
DeWalt 18V XR lithium-ion jigsaw: £109.90, Amazon
A sturdy, stable appliance of clearly high build quality, the DeWalt 18V XR is an ideal choice for keen crafters willing to pay a higher price for an appliance that will last. Thanks to its serenely smooth action, we found this jigsaw easier to work with than most of the competition. One feature of the 18V VR that stood out was the variable speed trigger, which gives a fine degree of manual control as you cut. When using other tools without this functionality, we often found ourselves changing the amount of pressure on the trigger anyway – but obviously, with no effect on the speed. This jigsaw requires a DeWalt 18V lithium-ion battery (£66.96) and charger (£27.22).
VonHaus 20V MAX cordless jigsaw with battery and charger: £87.99, Amazon
Easy-to-use and with relatively low cutting power, we recommend this tool for less experienced users, especially those working on craft projects predominantly involving light materials. It is far worse-suited to heavier tasks, such as cutting through hard materials. If you need a jigsaw for light work and decide to try this one, you’ll find the tool has a host of nifty features that make it a pleasure to use. The blade-change mechanism is particularly simple, the battery charges in under an hour, and the dust extraction function can be reversed, so it directs the air to the blade, clearing the area ahead of the tool. Unlike the other cordless jigsaws reviewed here, this one comes complete with a charger and battery. In other words, it comes at a relatively low cost for a tool of its type.
The verdict: Jigsaws
Based on its silky-smooth action, tremendous cutting power and user-friendly design, we’re naming the Ryobi R18JS7 our best buy. If you’re a keen DIYer or craftsperson, you could scarce find a much finer gift to self than this exceptional jigsaw tool. The only major potential drawback of this tool is its price, which may seem excessive to some users who need a jigsaw only for occasional use. For those of you who fit that description, either of the Erbauer models featured here – one of them cordless, the other mains-powered – would be a solid choice.
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