A puzzle confronts you, oh amateur woodworker. A one-off home project calls for precise, shaped cuts, and the last time you chatted up your jigsaw-owning neighbor, he wasted two hours of your life describing the salves he used on a fungal outbreak between his toes.
You have other woodworking projects planned, and a small investment would go a long way toward minimizing awkward social situations, but you don’t have a lot of money. You like to shop smart and don’t want to spend a lot of time researching something you’ll only use occasionally, but the prospect of consulting Mr. Toe Fungus fills you with an overwhelming sense of existential dread.
We feel your pain and are here to help. We’ve tested out some jigsaws for you, and present this list of budget jigsaw reviews without the painful stories about red, itchy feet.
|Makita 4329K||4 lbs||4.7/5|
(Best for the Money)
|PORTER CABLE PCC650B||5 lbs||4.3/5|
|Ryobi ZRJS481LG||6 lbs||4.0/5|
If you want a jigsaw that produces great cuts and lets you swap out blades effortlessly, the Bosch JS260 is king. It delivers cutting potential, ease of use, safety, and versatility at a budget price. It’s not only the best budget jigsaw on the market, it’s also the best per-dollar value.
It delivers where it counts the most: ability to deliver precision and ease of swapping out blades. The stand is wide enough that it is stable to use, and unlike other budget saws, it stays on track. There’s not much moving around with this one. Plus, the cord is long enough that you don’t need to get out a pile of extension cords.
The only real downside is that it remains a budget jigsaw. The thicker the material you are cutting, the less control and precision you get. Getting the blades in just right can be a bit touchy, too.
If Bosch’s jigsaw holds the title of king, the Makita 4329K is the queen. It pairs a quality cutting experience with sturdy construction.
Jigsaws are notoriously bad at cutting straight lines, but this one gets you as close as you’ll probably get from a budget model. Its ergonomic controls permit long, comfortable use, which itself cuts down on imprecision. It also delivers remarkable power for a 3.9 amp motor.
You pay for this, of course. The queen can be almost twice as expensive as some of the lower-priced models we tested. It can also be tricky to use for cutting at an angle, and it requires a hexagon wrench to swap out blades.
The Makita 4329K does its job of making the most of the dollars you spend on it. We liked the Bosch a little better because swapping out blades was easier. When you’re in the creative zone, a few seconds can be a big deal.
If you’re looking for low-cost raw power, the SKIL 4495-02 is the best for the money. It runs about half as expensive as the king and queen of budget jigsaws, and it has an upgunned 6-amp motor.
Value is the best thing going for this model. It’s a good starter jigsaw, and while there’s a lot to like about it, there’s not a whole lot that’ll get your gears grinding. The laser guide, a selling point for this saw, isn’t much more than a shiny gimmick. The blade has difficulty staying on course, and you’ll be better off using your eyes to guide it. This means more work for the user, and more likelihood of imprecise, clumsy cuts.
That makes this jigsaw exactly what you think it’s going to be. While you won’t gush to your neighbors about what a great saw it is, you’ll be able to tell them that it works dependably for what you paid. It’s a decent jigsaw for a great value.
The most important thing you can expect out of a power tool is that you can use it when it arrives. This is not the case with the Porter Cable PCC650B. It’s cordless, which means all kinds of potential and versatility, but that only helps if it includes a battery and a battery charger. If you aren’t already invested in Porter’s 20V lithium power tool line, you’ll need to buy a battery and charger, and those two items alone would push this out of the budget jigsaw category. If you’re new to jigsaws or only plan to use one occasionally, Porter’s instruction manual is its own kind of puzzle to sort out.
Still, if you’ve got the right setup to accommodate a new tool on Porter’s 20V lithium battery line and know enough about jigsaws that you don’t need a clear set of instructions, it’s a good saw for the price. We just think that a budget jigsaw ought to be a lot simpler to use and not require additional purchases that make it a burdensome, complicated investment.
Buying a refurbished tool of any kind carries its own inherent risk. Refurbishments rarely make things better than new, and there was a reason why the original was returned.
The best things about the Ryobi ZRJS481LG are the control and the light. That way you can feel and watch this saw cut, if you can get a straight line and get through what you’re cutting. For a saw that’s supposed to deliver a cutting edge precisely where you want it, that’s just trouble. We weren’t terribly happy with Ryobi’s customer service, either.
When you’re shopping on a budget, you expect drawbacks to everything. You just want to make sure that the plusses outweigh the minuses, and by enough to warrant the smaller investment. For this saw, it’s just not there. Combine this with the shaky customer service and the uncertainty that comes with buying a refurbished product, and you’re better off going with a pricier alternative.
Novices and occasional users are invited to use this review as a starting point in making an informed consumer decision about which budget jigsaw to try. Sometimes, in fact, it’s less what someone says about a specific product that helps guide people, and more the process used to arrive at that destination. Keeping that in mind, here are the things we looked at in reviewing budget jigsaws.
We found a few things especially helpful in producing our product ratings. They include value, quality, and ease of use.
Since we’re talking about budget products, price is clearly a very important element. But it tells an incomplete story. The lowest-priced tool isn’t necessarily the best. A tool with a higher price tag can sometimes deliver better dollar-for-dollar cutting that warrants spending more upfront. We looked at models that gave the best per-dollar value.
Obviously, part of our review was based on each jigsaw’s ability to do what it’s supposed to do: cut shapes. We preferred saws that were steady in use over saws that sacrificed stability in pursuit of portability because bad cuts make that portability a wash.
If you’re only an occasional user, ease is also critical. An old hand can make adjustments and swap out blades quickly, with little interruption to workflow. Having to consult instruction guides to solve something of a riddle leads to frustration with a tool and with oneself. We considered whether the occasional user could take the jigsaw out of the box and start working with it immediately.
The nature of jigsaws means a bigger learning curve than what’s needed for a saw that just makes straight cuts. You are maneuvering a blade through a medium to create a shape, not just cutting something to a certain length. When shopping for a budget jigsaw, ease of use is an important factor because of this. There is nothing that will make a new tool user more frustrated, and more likely to never use it again, than early difficulties in working with it.
This means considering not just which models make swapping out tools easiest, but which tools will remain the steadiest, too. New users will want tools that make it easier to do what they want to be done. That means user-friendly construction, comfortable gripping, and intuitive controls. The less thinking you have to do, the more you’ll enjoy your new tool.
You’ll also want something that is easily adjusted. This makes for simpler adjustments in cutting angles and swapping out blades. A saw is only as good as its cutting, and both of these play critical roles in making that happen. If a tool requires a lot of work to swap out blades or adjust angles, this might turn new users off, too.
As with any major purchase, buying a jigsaw starts with the question of what you need it for, how often you’ll use it, and just how much you want to spend. You don’t need to go out and buy the most expensive tool if you just want to make bevel cuts in softwood. On the other hand, if you want to cut through oak, you’ll want something a little sturdier. Approach your purchase with realistic expectations of what you need, and what you think you’ll need in the future. That way, you can better settle the question of value for the dollar.
Our best value jigsaw costs about half as much as the top two on our list. It’s a great reminder that there is price and there is value. The highest price might be the best one available, but that cost might carry with it a few extras that you don’t need if you just need a simple tool. However, if you need a tool to make precise, angled cuts, you should take a look at whether spending a little more will deliver greater value in what you spend. In fact, because you’re shopping on a budget, this might be the most important consideration that goes into your purchase.
Of course, part of that value for dollar is in the joy of use. A jigsaw that frustrates new users through complications or poor instructions is likely to sit on a shelf gathering dust, whereas a simpler one is likely to get used more frequently. The choice this creates is a simple economic one: Pay money to use something once, or pay the same amount of money to use something you use again and again.
All but one of our budget models uses a power cord, which limits your reach to the length of the cord and whatever extension cords you have on hand. On the other hand, the cordless model is delivered without a battery or battery charger, meaning increased costs just to get it running. If you’re looking to buy a jigsaw to use away from a workbench, this is something you’ll want to keep in mind.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that when it comes to motor power, “budget” in most cases really does mean budget. If you want something that will work faster and power through thicker materials, you may wish to reassess your willingness to invest. If you’re okay with paying less, you’ll want to adjust the expectations about how long it’ll take you to do a job.
It used to be unthinkable that people would purchase power tools online. People assume that an investment of that gravity means you should go to the local hardware store and ask an expert for tool recommendations. We think that day is gone, however. You can find many able tool experts in online reviews: people who use tools for a living, and people who maybe only want a tool for once-in-a-while use. These two different groups of people have two different sets of requirements, and the tendency for in-person reviews is to sell a tool as if you will use it all the time.
Bosch came away atop this review of budget jigsaws, with the Makita a close second. Skil was great for the value. We would have probably loved the Porter more, except that it was severely limited by the fact that most people can’t use it right out of the box. That leaves the sad little Ryobi, which had little going for it except price, which, considering the negatives, isn’t really much at all.
We think of this not only as a set of specific recommendations but also as a guide to how you can make better-informed decisions. It’s a crowded marketplace out there for budget jigsaws, and individual users have their own mix of criteria for how they make decisions. We hope that this little guide will help you make the best choice to suit your needs.