Written by Terry Smith
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Best cordless jigsaws tested: heavy duty commercial quality Makita, Dewalt, Festool, and Bosch
This article was last updated on April 27th, 2022 at 4:40 am
I was scribing some skirting with my Makita Cordless Jigsaw this morning and it reminded me I really ought to update this article after using and personally testing it for a couple of years. For a start, it still remains the best cordless jigsaw I’ve ever owned in the last ten years – it delivers as much power as the corded version – no joke – you’ll see from my testing and videos as you progress this article. Not much has changed – there are no new exciting models. But, I’ll be honest, the price has gone up – that unfortunately is the same for all cordless jigsaws in this review.
My mate Mark also has one too, you’ll probably know we used it on our how to scribe some kitchen plinth or how to use a cordless jigsaw article. He runs a professional joinery shop and uses his commercially as I do mine. But that’s not to say the Dewalt isn’t a great tool and in many ways as good as the Makita cordless jigsaw range, or Festool isn’t better – it’s the balance of performance, quality, and cost that we look for in this article with a view to providing you with the best commercially acceptable, heavy duty jigsaws that the professionals like us use, that won’t cost a fortune. Here’s a look at that performance:
Using a cordless jigsaw
It will take a bit of practise – remember I have been using a jigsaw for twenty years in some shape or form, be it renovating my homes, insulating my shed and converting it into an office, extending fences on top of walls, and so on. But I am confident if you take things steady you can do similar as the demo test video above that I put together – I was just doing a bit of skirting in that one. I would refer you back to my ‘how to use a cordless jigsaw‘ if you’re struggling to use a cordless jigsaw as that has the basics too.
Why you need a cordless jigsaw
A cordless tool represents ability to work unhindered, as well as without the distance constraints of a power reel extension lead. But it has never been quite so important with a jigsaw. Only today was I extending a shed so I can make a potting room, and we needed to nick out a little section for the roof – this was 18mm OSB boarding. In times gone by you would need to use a hand saw, or worse get the extension reel up there. And to be honest, a multi tool isn’t quite powerful enough for 18mm OSB. Instead, the smallest of us climbs up, we pass up the cordless jigsaw, and nick out a little section in seconds:
Here’s a look at that from the other angle:
Not just that, but as you’ve seen from my demo testing video, the power rivals a corded version, so when you’re scribing the ends of skirting the additional freedom is worth it’s weight in gold. I could never do this so easily with a corded version:
The best cordless jigsaws are heavy duty and used widely on commercial projects as we do – let’s take a look at them:
Best cordless jigsaws in the UK – personally tested from twenty years experience:
Best cordless jigsaw overall: Makita DJV180Z 18V Cordless Jigsaw [Tested and proven personally]
If you prefer Dewalt over Makita this is the right alternative choice: DEWALT DCS331N 18V XR LI-ION CORDLESS JIGSAW
Heavy duty pick: Festool Cordless Jigsaw PSC 420 Basic 576521 –
Best for cutting upside down: Makita DJV181Z 18V Cordless Brushless Li-ion Barrel Grip Cordless Jigsaw [Tested and proven personally] Best of the best but can you justify the price tag – on a commercial basis maybe.
Worth a look: DeWalt DCS335N 18V XR Jigsaw Brushless Body Grip Tool
What you need to know about cordless jigsaws
Not all cordless jigsaws are equal – some are considerably better than others. There’s half a dozen I wouldn’t even dream of putting on a list I call heavy duty or commercial. There’s a few things to consider, as well as quite remarkably some that you would think are important but just aren’t. One of those bizarre points is the battery performance – there’s just no point fretting – all in this list will last a day or more when used for odd jobs. But let’s take a look anyway:
One thing you’ll come to realise from using a jigsaw on site frequently in a commercial setting as I do, a 3 to 5 amp Makita battery will last you most all day if you’re just scribing skirting, cutting flooring, and so on. So if you opt for a quality brand then expect to just walk straight past this section without giving it a second thought.
Price to performance
Can you justify £300 on a cordless jigsaw? I can’t, not when the top pick performs just as well for a fraction of the cost. My personal opinion is don’t get caught up with the excitement of Festool if you’re doing a few bits around the home, Makita or Dewalt is absolutely capable of giving you a professional finish.
Cutting upside down – different grips on cordless jigsaws
If you need to cut upside down (kitchen fitters will be doing a bit of this for example) then you want a soft grip cordless jigsaw. In this case I would probably not buy my top pick and instead take a look at the Makita DJV181Z or the DeWalt DCS335N. The grip on these cordless jigsaws is very different to your standard grip and is designed for an upside down cut. I have to say, I marginally prefer the Dewalt in this circumstance from using and testing the two.
So after using these tools with hands on experience of over two decades I have picked you the best cordless jigsaws based on power delivery on the cuts, ability to cut sheet material in straight lines easily, safety considerations in use, ease of use and ability to quickly change jigsaw blades, and crucially the price point. Based on those it was a no brainer for me, I loved the Makita DJV180Z and whilst I loved the DEWALT DCS331N as well as the Makita DJV181Z 18V LXT Brushless Cordless Jigsaw which is more powerful, I just felt the price point completely won me over on the cheaper Makita cordless jigsaw and the performance on the 20mm Walnut flooring as well as the 18mm OSB was superb (that’s the thicker materials in the video examples below).
1. Makita DJV180Z 18V Cordless Jigsaw
After using this for a couple of years I’d have to say – there’s no way I would spend the extra on the Makita DJV181Z 18V Cordless Jigsaw – I don’t use one enough to need a brushless version, and I actually don’t like how it feels in the hand – plus I very rarely cut upside down. This is about the only reason not to pick this jigsaw over the more expensive one in my opinion when you compared them directly. Here’s a look at my updated video of this cordless jigsaw – I’m doing a bit of skirting this time:
Super tool this. You can normally get this for sensible money. They are the 18 V lithium batteries you shove into your cordless drill, cordless chainsaw (if you’re lucky enough to have one – what a tool), your cordless lawn mower, cordless nail guns, cordless pole hedge trimmers, cordless hedge trimmers, and my absolute favourite the Makita cordless brush cutter. So when you’re looking at these 4 and 5 amp batteries thinking they are expensive, consider the use over the whole range and the bare units become cheap with he batteries paid for….
The cuts are straight and neat as you’ll see in the video below and that’s when using rough blades, not just fine blades which offer even more accuracy. The jigsaw itself is very nicely balanced with a 4 or 5 amp battery. The light which they all have these days is a godsend when you’re pencil mark is on the weak side 🙂 Also there’s no kickback into the cut, unlike the brushless Festool I tested which jumped into the Walnut flooring a bit. It’ll handle 3 or 4 by 2 pretty easily as well. Softwood cuts very easily. Hardwood is a little slow going. Delivering all of 600 Watts means it chomps through a battery but I am fine with that for the power it delivers.
The price of the actual bare unit is a steal. Ten years ago a jigsaw with enough grunt to cut 18mm OSB was already considered good. Now, the batteries are outperforming because of the ability to use them so freely. It allows for neater cutting too. The Makita DJV180Z has absolutely zero trouble handling OSB. Here’s a look at that:
I tell you how good it is. I stopped using my circular saw so much. I actually am starting to prefer the jigsaw when cutting own engineered flooring for example. There is so little damage on the timber and of course it’s often going under a skirting anyway that it saves moving so many tools about. Here’s a look at a 20mm thick Walnut floor engineer board being cut. There’s plenty of power delivery and it’s a little slower with a fine wood jigsaw blade incase you don’t have a skirting to hide under on the cut.
I also at the end of the video just quickly show you how you can power through thin sheet material like 6mm MDF with ease and really fast. You can’t go much faster with a circular saw, hence in situations like flooring this is becoming the go to tool. When I compare this to the Dewalt, I definitely prefer the feel – the power is very similar but I don’t like the weight of the Dewalt or the balance – this could be down to what I am familiar with but it is certainly how I feel about it.
You just pull this arm forward to slide in a T shank jigsaw blade:
In terms of safety, the lock is well positioned but if I am honest, I rarely use it as I am always super careful about how I pick it up to avoid touching the trigger. I do so naturally these days without even thinking about it. You will still want to pay attention to locking the jigsaw blade yourself.
I will say I don’t notice much when I change the setting to a faster cut, the orbital / pendulum action of the jigsaw doesn’t seem to have much in the way of impact but you can see the blade poke forward a little which should give you a bit of extra speed. Perhaps I am not pushing hard enough but whatever way you look at it, the speed of cut for the level of accuracy it offers is superb at such a sensible price point. It could definitely do with a dust blower so you can see your pencil line, that’s probably the weakest point on this jigsaw. There’s just not much to say against this tool – if there was I’d love to chime in with a it more balance, hence why this is definitely the best cordless jigsaw for the money in the UK. You can also use it with your best cordless sander and cordless router too.
2. DEWALT DCS331N 18V XR LI-ION CORDLESS JIGSAW
Of all the cordless jigsaws to compete with the Makita DJV180Z I would have to go with the Dewalt for a sensible comparison – as I mention above these are very similar on power but personal preference leads me to Makita every time. Being similar in price this decision is a no brainer if you have Dewalt batteries, but far more of a split if you’re just about to start building your cordless kit. My preference is Makita but many favour Dewalt. I tell you why. A few years ago Makita set the game apart when they invented a cordless router to run on 5 amp batteries. At the time Dewalt didn’t have one and as I use this tool a lot for small straight flute cuts my heart was won then. That small detail has probably kept me from using Dewalt ever since 🙂 and not the actual quality of their tools.
The Dewalt Jigsaw is pretty powerful and rates at 400 Watts which is much less than the Makita at 600 Watts but I don’t feel the power is that disproportionate. I would say the Makita has the power edge but no where near the extra third of power you would expect based on Watts alone. Like the Makita it has a depth cut of 135mm but I don’t feel like it’ll cut much more than 4 by 2 just like the other cordless jigsaws.
It makes light work of kitchen counters that are made from chipboard and shelves are quicker/easier still.
One thing this beats the Makita hands down on though, is the dust blower. This jigsaw makes straight line cutting that little bit easier. You’ll probably notice in the videos I am forever blowing dust out the way to ensure I can see the line of sight for cutting. It really is a big deal so if you struggle with that as well Dewalt might well be for you in the mid power range that offers excellent value for money.
3. Festool Cordless Jigsaw PSC 420 Basic 576521
Andy, my carpenter and joiner mate claims it was the up cut blade that caused the jump and swears by the Festool Cordless Jigsaw PSC 420 Basic’s performance. Me on the other hand I like getting similar performance for far less money when you compare these tools, in some most cases Makita is less than half the price of the agreeably superior Festool kit. But as I say, that doesn’t make Festool the best overall because value for money is certainly in favour of Makita 🙂 I’ll probably be having an argument with Andy when he reads this print 😀 but the truth is unless you need the very best kit, pound for pound this doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. I get it for day in day out use as he most certainly does, but for us DIY enthusiasts it’s definitely overkill.
Anyway the tool itself is vastly more powerful than the Makita DJV180Z but similar to the brushless Makita I would say. Obviously this wasn’t Andy’s first time using one but anyone can cut reasonably straight lines with this much power and control. The Festool will make you the best because the tool is doing the work. When you hear it you would easily be forgiven for assuming its a cored power tool. The power delivery is incredible, you’ll feel the floor vibrating – it’s really no average mid range tool.
Also the particular one in the video below is already a few years old – as is the battery. You know the old saying, buy once, buy right. If you are one of those people then you would certainly go with the most powerful cordless jigsaw in this review.
I gave him a right working over when the board jumped cutting down grain 😀 as you will be able to see in the video, he told me to edit it and go again but I said no chance 😀 He had his shot to put forward his case for the Festool Cordless Jigsaw PSC 420 Basic 576521 being the top pick
4. Makita DJV181Z 18V Cordless Brushless Li-ion Barrel Grip Cordless Jigsaw
I prefer this over the desalt body grip tool for one key reason. This jigsaw has a lovely system that detects when the jigsaw isn’t under load and automatically lowers the revs giving less torque and vibration. Very importantly this model has a dust blower, something that is really lacking on the top pick. If they fixed that on the top pick it would be light years ahead of the competition without question.
The brushless motor is certain to last much longer than the D handle version, it delivers more power and control in the cut in my mind too. The only drawback is the price. It performs just like the Dewalt body grip and is normally marginally cheaper. Both tools are excellent but I could only justify spending the money if I was making a lot of cuts all day long and working upside down, or want to cut at angles.
As with many of the Makita power tools it has the two button start – so you release the electronic lock first, then turn the power on. For me that’s a bit more work than the Dewalt push start but I can tell you I haven’t ever come close to hurting myself with this system so it seems to be doing the job for me. It is definitely much harder to activate by accident than the Dewalt in my mind. If I needed a body grip cordless jigsaw then I would almost certainly pick from the Makita or Dewalt, it would almost certainly come down to my preference of manufacture as this tools feel and perform brilliantly and very very similarly with exception of the start button. You can’t go wrong with either of these best cordless jigsaw picks.
5. DeWalt DCS335N 18V XR Jigsaw Brushless Body Grip Tool
Closer in comparison for power to the Festool is the DeWalt DCS335N 18V XR Jigsaw Brushless Body Grip Tool. It’s close to double the price of the Makita top pick and Dewalt DCS331N but far better power rated to handle bigger and thicker cuts clean and accurately. And it’s truthful to say pound for pound I prefer it over the Festool too as its still vastly cheaper.
It cuts 18mm OSB with ease, the blade cut speed is also far superior to the cheaper models and its really well balanced when you’re holding onto this bit of kit, especially with a 5 amp battery that seems to feel the best to me. You’ll have no trouble ripping through 6 by 2 all day long. You might question the need for your circular saw when this tool is completely comfortable cutting your battens all day long. The reason you buy this type of cordless jigsaw for me though is when you’re making upside down cuts. You have far more control.
I think I prefer this over the push button setup too. If you’re making a lot of cuts it definitely beats a trigger press and hold. Make sure that you have a very firm grip on this thing when starting it up – genuinely it’s delivering a lot of power and you don’t want get to get caught out. If you need to make angled cuts the plate can be easily adjusted with a quick release arm. Just like the top pick Makita this also uses the T shank blades and has a quick release arm that you simply pull forward to change blades. This hooks up nicely to the Dewalt dust extraction system too which is great if you’re trying to keep your home or customers home clean.
Overall, if you’re cutting a lot of 50mm material frequently or cutting upside down you will be justified in picking this over the cheaper models above.
Cordless jigsaw conclusion
Are you tired of using a rubbish jigsaw that just won’t cut a straight line? Perhaps you’re new to the idea of a jigsaw and looking for your first one. My first question is very real, cheap nasty jigsaws will give you a shocking finish whilst professional quality will give you the ability to produce professional results. After using cordless tools for the best part of a decade I would previously tell you that Festool have the best cordless jigsaws and that was certainly true in the early days. However since then far more affordable professional grade tools came alone including Making, Dewalt, and Bosch too and albeit probably still not as good, certainly the competition are catching up and much cheaper too!