What is a Cordless Jigsaw?

Mike Biscoe

A cordless jigsaw is a battery-powered power tool. It consists of a reciprocating blade, a metal footplate that rests on the material to be cut, and a motor set inside a plastic housing. Similar to cuts made using a band saw, the cordless jigsaw is ideal for curved cuts and notching due to the thin, shallow blades that are used.


There are two basic body types to choose from when selecting a cordless jigsaw. The top-handle jigsaw is designed with a large handle that forms the upper portion of the saw's housing. A barrel-grip jigsaw offers no handle and is simply grasped around the body of the saw.

The power supply for a cordless jigsaw comes in the form of a battery. Battery sizes will vary depending on the manufacturer, but can range from 12 volts all the way up to 24 volts. For most larger construction applications, battery power for this type of saw needs to be at least 18 volts. A battery charger and replacement battery usually are sold with along with the saw.

Blades for cordless jigsaws are generally 2 to 3 inches (5.08 to 7.62 cm) long and 1/4 inch (0.635 cm) wide. Distance across the serrated teeth of a blade is usually less than 1/16 of an inch (0.158 cm). Blades are manufactured for a number of applications, including general purpose wood cutting, down-cutting laminate blades for counter tops, carbide-grit ceramic blades for tile work, and blades for cutting metal.

Cordless jigsaws can be used in both professional and craft applications. Ideal for cutting tight curves, these saws are often employed in cutting stencils and circular shapes. Cordless jigsaws can also be used to make vertical cuts, when installing wood paneling, for example; horizontal bench cuts; plunge cuts, for faucet holes on bathroom or kitchen counter tops; splinter-free cuts on plywood; and bevel cuts as well. Bevel cuts are made easily by adjusting the footplate to the desired angle.

Things to consider before purchasing a cordless jigsaw might include specifications like tool-free blade changes, a power and speed switch which are easy to reach, a blower that keeps the cutting line clear, suitable power level, and the easiest model to grip. Some models offer orbital cutting, which effects the speed of the cut as well as how rough the cut will be. Also, the amount of vibration the cordless jigsaw creates while cutting is important to consider as it may directly affect precision.

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