Popular Woodworking 2001-10 № 124, страница 35

Popular Woodworking 2001-10 № 124, страница 35

jigsaws ]-

If you don't have a scroll saw, band saw, circular saw or coping saw, the jigsaw is a great understudy in a pinch.

If you wanted to start woodworking but you had money for only one power hand tool, I'd make it a jigsaw. With a little care, jigsaws can crosscut, rip and cut curves in any

size material. No other portable saw can make this claim.

To be fair, the quality of the cut from a jigsaw isn't going to be as flawless as what you'd get from a table saw. But new blade technology has improved cut quality greatly in the last few years.

In the woodshop, jigsaws excel at making cuts that would be impossible on other tools — such as cutting a curve in a large sheet of plywood, or shaping the bracket feet on an assembled cabinet base. If you've ever had to notch out a 1 x 4

to make a window sill, then you know the value of a good jigsaw.

So what makes a good jigsaw? You can spend as little as $50 for a tool that you'll get out once or twice during a project. But if you're a kitchen installer, you should spend at least $150 to get a tool designed for daily

Stroke and Amps

Most 4- or 5-amp tools will handle the everyday jobs you throw at it, but if your work includes a steady diet of dense hardwoods, look for a beefier motor. Keep in mind that amperage in itself is an imperfect measure of the tool's output. Some lower-amp tools manage to squeeze more power out of fewer amps through ex

SHOPPING GUIDELINES

for jigsaws

• The amperage on a jigsaw is not the only measure of its power. Check out the stroke length and how many orbital settings the tool has.

• We prefer barrel grip jigsaws in our shop. We find them more comfortable to hold and easier to steer.

• Many quality jigsaws have a chip blower, which is a big help during cuts.

• Once you've bought your saw, buy an assortment of high-quality blades to go with it. Blades that come with some tools are perfect for crosscutting 2 x 4s and not much else.

Barrel-grip jigsaws are more popular in Europe than in the United States, but they seem to be gaining ground here every year. We find these jigsaws easier to steer because your hand is lower on the tool.

cellent motor design. So factor in the manufacturer's reputation for quality. Also critical to the equation is the tool's "stroke," which is how far the blade moves up and down. The longer the stroke, the more aggressive the cut (and the cut will be cleaner and chips will be removed faster). Bargain jigsaws have a stroke length of 5/8" to 3/4". More expensive models have a stroke of 1" or more.

It's also key to determine if the jigsaw has "orbital action." Orbital action moves the blade slightly forward on the upstroke and slightly back on the down stroke. This makes the saw cut more aggressively, but produces a rougher cut. On better jigsaws, the orbital action is adjustable and can be turned off.

The maximum cuts per minute isn't terribly important. Just make sure the jigsaw has variable speed so you can slow down in thin material or in tight turns.

The Business End

The ease of changing the blade can vary wildly. In the past, jigsaws needed a long screwdriver to release the blade. While that system is still used on some tools, many manufacturers have come up with some sort of quick-change system. Before you buy a tool, try changing the blade. Some machines are quicker than others.

Also pay attention to what sort of blade the jigsaw will accept. A few will take only special blades made by the manufacturer — a frustrating proposition when you're out of blades on a Sunday afternoon.

Others take T-style blades, which are also called Bosch-style or bayonet-style blades. These blades have

10 Popular Woodworking October 2001

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