How the test was made
We carry out all of our tests ourselves and test all products in real conditions. We tested the jigsaws over a period of several months for a range of cutting tasks. These tasks included sawing decorative woodwork for a building renovation project. We also used them in a number of strength tests, the toughest of which was to cut a 45 mm fir stud lengthways. This enabled us to evaluate the jigsaw's power in relation to its run time.
Some of the most important aspects we have taken into account are:
Performance: How powerful is the jigsaw? Is it able to cut complicated shapes accurately? Can it cope with cutting both thick and thin materials?
Run time and charging time: What capacity battery does the manufacturer include? How long is the battery life under a normal load? How long can the jigsaw run without a load? What happens when we give the jigsaw a heavy load? How long does it take to charge the battery?
Ergonomics and user-friendliness: Do you get a good grip on the jigsaw? Does it cause vibration? How noisy is it? Is it easy to reach buttons and controls? How easy is it to change the saw blade?
Other factors we have taken into account in the final score are safety, the accessories included, the guarantee, choice of materials and extra functions. After this, we have carried out an overall assessment of the value for money, which is the final basis for the score.
The Bosch PST 18 LI SOLO is best in test because it is a straightforward, light jigsaw with a fast charging time. It has a relatively compact design. This means it's easy to cut complicated shapes because you don't have much to take into account around the blade. It also gets very close to any obstacles such as walls etc. The disadvantage of the slightly shorter base plate is that it can be difficult to see where you need to start sawing if you've only drawn one mark rather than the entire line. But there is an aid that you can attach to the front of the machine. This shows you where you should start to saw, but once you've sawn a little distance it then gets in the way of your sight line. So you have to experiment a little before you find a working method that suits you. The light helps quite a bit here. The PST 18 LI SOLO is very flexible when you're cutting complicated shapes. It's also good at blowing the sawdust away in front of it, and there's an outlet at the back to which you can attach a workshop vacuum cleaner.
The PST 18 LI SOLO has a good grip. It's also very light, which means it's easy to use even in tricky angles. We also like the small plastic box on the machine where you can store extra saw blades – a very handy function. In terms of strength, the PST 18 LI SOLO does a reasonable job. In one of the more difficult tests, cutting 45 mm studs lengthways, it gets 4.58 m before the battery dies. This is far from the best in the class, but given the fact that the battery is only 2.5 Ah it's not that bad either. In lighter load tests it does a good job. One other major advantage is that it has a quick charging time. If you have two batteries, you can easily alternate them without losing working time. Replacing saw blades involves pushing the blade holder upwards towards the machine. You don't need any tools, which is good. But you have to push it up quite a long way and there's only room to do this with two fingers, which makes it rather tricky. The design could have been better. Overall, the PST 18 LI SOLO is a jigsaw that's quite useful for cutting complicated shapes rather than heavier material. It cuts around angles well, is light and easy to manoeuvre and has advantages in terms of its rapid charging time. And it gets an extra point for having such little vibration.
The Einhell TE-JS 18 Li is quite a powerful jigsaw with a relatively quick charging time and good run time. It feels as if it's been carefully designed in that the strength and battery life complement each other well. For example, it easily copes with our toughest strength test – chewing through an entire 5.38 m of our 45 mm fir stud before the battery dies, which is extremely good. Unloaded, it also performs a little bit above average, so the battery life is in no way limited by the power. The charging time is also very reasonable. If you have two batteries, you can easily alternate them without having to wait. The disadvantage of this jigsaw is that the blade attachment is a little loose. Together with the strong vibrations this means that it's difficult to accurately stick to the line you've drawn. Nor is it very agile when you're cutting out complicated shapes. You have to push it quite hard while simultaneously holding tightly to keep control of the result. However, one advantage is that it has two screws at the front to which you can attach a side guide when you're cutting wood lengthways. Another plus is that you can access the lock button from both directions, which means that it's suitable for both right and left handed users.
The TE-JS 18 Li is very good at cutting thicker material, both with and across the grain. It's also quite good in terms of safety as the front of the machine is covered so you can't get your fingers in the way. Blade changing requires no tools, which is useful, but the mechanism, which involves pushing the attachment upwards, could have been more user-friendly. However, the lever to set the pendulum function is very well positioned and easy to regulate. It also shows clearly how the saw will move so that even beginners can choose the right setting. And it gets a big plus for the footplate, which keeps it nicely stable on the surface before you begin sawing, and also gives good visibility. The footplate also has a plastic piece attached beneath it, which reduces the risk of scratching the material. So it slides along very smoothly as you saw. The sawdust blowing design at the front is very useful. If the TEJS 18 Li had been a little more agile when it comes to cutting complicated shapes, it would have been a very good value for money jigsaw. As it stands, it's pretty good, but there's still room for improvement. However, if you're going to use a jigsaw for cutting studs or working with tougher material like steel, the Einhell TE-JS 18 Li is very powerful given the price and battery capacity.
The Black & Decker BDCJS18 is a relatively robust jigsaw which is easy to start from all angles because the lock-off button stays in place once in open position. You then slide it back again when you turn off the saw. This makes it easy to saw tricky angles because you don't have to first deal with the safety lock. However, it has a negative impact on safety because it's easy to forget to slide it back. Another unique aspect of the BDCJS18 is that it has a hex key attached to the body of the machine. If you need to set the base plate to a different angle, this is easy to do because the tool is always available. It also gets a plus point because the buttons and controls are large and clear.
The battery life of the BDCJS18 is slightly below average. We suspected this could be as a result of the higher motor power. But when we ran our toughest strength test – cutting a 45 mm fir stud lengthways, it only managed to get 3.3 m into the stud before the battery died. Under more normal sawing conditions, however, it works well and we can't see any obvious weaknesses. The battery charger is very compact, but on the other side it's also far too weak. The charging time is a full 4.5 hours for a battery of 2 ampere hours. This is far too long for this type of tool, which is used so often, regardless of whether you might have several batteries available. Nor does the jigsaw have a battery indicator.
The BDCJS18 is quite open at the front. You could quite easily get your fingers in the way and injure yourself while sawing. The advantage of the fact that it's so open is that it doesn't get clogged with dust during use. The open area also means that you get a clear view of where you're sawing. This impression is reinforced by how clean it keeps the sight line. You can always see the material you're sawing and any marks you have made, without needing visual aids on the machine. It's also very simple to change blades because you can reach them easily. Unfortunately the jigsaw vibrates quite a lot, which makes it difficult to maintain accuracy while cutting complicated shapes. You need a very rigid surface to saw on, and quite a lot of physical strength to really maintain control. However, it performs more simple cuts very well. This makes it most suitable for anyone looking for a straightforward jigsaw to quickly trim studs and similar tasks without needing aids to get a clear view of the line required.
Choose the right jigsaw
When you're buying a jigsaw, there are a number of aspects you should bear in mind so you buy a model that suits your needs. Below, we list the most common functions and characteristics of jigsaws. As an informed consumer, it's easier to then choose a couple of models and make an impartial comparison between them.
Mains or battery powered
A jigsaw requires more power than, for example, a screwdriver. This means that the batteries must be more powerful to cope with the work, and consequently the price tag is higher too. So you primarily find mains jigsaws in the budget segment, and battery-operated ones as the price tag increases.
A mains powered jigsaw is connected to the mains grid via a power outlet. The advantage of this type of jigsaw is that you get a lot of power for your money – you can find really powerful machines for less than £100. At the same time, they can be made quite compact and are therefore quite easy to handle. But of course the disadvantage is that you're limited to the length of the power cable, and you have to constantly avoid the cable when you're sawing. If you're sawing large sheets this gets even more tricky, particularly when you're cutting complicated shapes.
A battery-operated jigsaw has the advantage that you can move unhindered around the object to be cut. You don't need to avoid the power cable, use an extension cable or be close to a power outlet. If you buy a battery-operated jigsaw, it can be useful to choose a model that means you can also use the battery for your other electric tools, such as an electric screwdriver. The majority of manufacturers today have battery systems where you can use the same battery for a number of machines. So if you already have a screwdriver of a particular brand that you're happy with, it's an advantage to buy a jigsaw of the same brand. Battery capacities of 2-5 Ah are common on jigsaws available today, depending on how powerful they are. However, they sometimes don't include a battery at all. You buy the "bare" machine and have to buy a battery and charger separately. Make sure you also have a spare battery if you're going to be doing a lot of sawing.
Speed adjustment and pendulum function
The possibility of varying the speed and the pendulum function mean that the jigsaw has a wider area of use. The speed determines how quickly the saw blade moves up and down. The pendulum function means that the blade moves backwards and forwards. The higher the speed, and the bigger the pendulum effect, the quicker the jigsaw will cut. But it's not always appropriate to cut quickly. When you're cutting soft wood, for example, a high speed is fine, while the speed needs to be reduced for some harder materials such as metal or fibreglass to achieve a good end result. Equally, it can be helpful to reduce the pendulum function if you're sawing metal or cutting complicated shapes, as this makes the cut more accurate.
Some models have stepless speed adjustment so that you can choose a suitable speed yourself. Others have a number of speed positions which are more or less suitable for the tasks a jigsaw may be used for.
Saw blade attachment
For the jigsaw to be straightforward to use, it should be simple to replace the saw blade. Many models come with keyless saw blade attachments. This means that you don't have to find a tool when it's time to replace the blade. Exactly how the keyless attachment works varies between different manufacturers, and some solutions are more straightforward than others.
But there are also models still on the market where you change the saw blade using a hex key or screwdriver.
The saw blade you purchase should match the type of attachment your jigsaw is equipped with. So make sure you choose the right sort in the shop.
T shank: Includes Bosch and AEG.
U shank: Includes Black & Decker and Skil.
Some jigsaws have a type of universal attachment, supporting several types of blade, such as both T and U shanks.
Another important factor when choosing a jigsaw is its sawing capacity, as this determines which tasks it will be able to cope with. Some jigsaws only have a sawing capacity of 40 mm in wood, while others can handle, for example, 150 mm in wood and 10 mm in steel.
Ergonomics and vibration
It's important that the jigsaw is ergonomically designed, with a good grip and balance. You should be able to use it accurately for a long time, and here the ergonomics are crucial.
The jigsaw should also give off as little vibration as possible. Vibration generally implies an increased risk of ill health, but it also makes it more difficult to make fine cuts or to saw for a long time.
The guarantee period on jigsaws varies. Some manufacturers give a full five years on some models, while other models may only have a one-year guarantee. The guarantee is important when you buy electrical tools, because they get a lot of use.
There are a number of accessories available for jigsaws. Number one on the list is obviously the saw blade, because without that you can't cut anything. Here it's primarily the number of teeth that are important. The more teeth it has, the finer the cut. Blades with more teeth are also intended for cutting metal, while wood blades usually have fewer teeth. Other examples of accessories are circular guides, which allow you to saw a perfect circle, parallel guides for cutting straight lines or creating several equally sized pieces, and a jigsaw bench to which you can attach the jigsaw for stationary work.