You have to admit that the design of the newest jigsaw from Ridgid
is a bit unique. It is a barrel-grip jigsaw with an extreme flat front –
as it sits on the bench, it reminds me of a small scale locomotive
engine with an even smaller cow catcher at the front.
The Ridgid R3100 jigsaw
is a single speed tool that produces 3000 strokes per minute with a
stroke length of 1/2″. That sentence alone, to me, is enough information
to make me look to other manufacturers for my jigsaw. The 3000 strokes
per minute is on par with other similar jigsaws, but the 1/2″ stroke
length, well, it comes up short when compared to the Bosch JS260 and a
DeWALT DW317K – all three are corded and all three are priced near the
$99 level. However, the biggest eye-opener in that first sentence is
that this jigsaw is a single-speed tool, and not variable-speed.
have a jigsaw screaming at full speed is not what I’ve found to be the
best method of work. It’s fine for flat out buzzing through a cut, but
when you’re working toward a precision cut it’s best to dial down the
speed in favor of more control. Not having the ability to back off the
speed means this jigsaw is best used to whack away at your board.
the on/off switch on the R3100 is a slide switch. While I’m not opposed
to a slide switch on my power tools – I picked Ridgid’s random orbit
sander with it’s slide switch in a group review (from our October 2008 magazine)
– I’m not a fan of that switch design on a jigsaw. You would think it
would be too easy to turn on and off. That’s not the case with the
R3100. The Ridgid jigsaw’s slide switch is very thin, difficult to
activate and positioned poorly for easy access. That’s not too easy to
turn on or off, but it’s not the right switch for this tool.
base on this saw is wide and includes a no-mar plate that is affixed
with screws (not intended to be removed). The base adjusts with a hex
key to 45 degrees left and right, and there are small detents to help
hold the base positioned as you twist it tight. But with the amount of
play while set in the detents, you’ll want to check all your settings
before going to work.
It’s in working with the jigsaw that I got
a surprise. Using the saw was very nice. As you switch the jigsaw on,
the soft start keeps the tool from jumping wildly as it builds to the
constant 3000 strokes. The tool didn’t bounce all over as I expected it
might (that could be due to the short stroke) and the grip was extremely
comfortable in my hand. Turning through the cut was easy even with the
orbital switch set to aggressive.
As on all Ridgid’s hand-held,
corded power tools, I truly appreciate the extra cord length – at 12′
I’m certain that in most shops an extension cord would not be a
necessity – and I especially like the lighted plug that indicates power
to the tool. The R3100 does include tool-free blade change, but the
blade will not pop out as you depress the rapid change blade clamp. You
have to allow the dull blade to cool prior to changing it out. That, or
pick up a pair of heat-proof mitts.
The R3100 jigsaw accepts both
T and U shank blades and has an LED that does actually light your
cutting path. The jigsaw also has a switchable air flow to either blow
dust out of the cutting path or aid in dust collection via a 1 1/4″
Variable speed on this jigsaw could have made it a
contender. A longer stroke length and a trigger-style switch would have
added to its appeal. Without those features, it’s not my pick for my
In the October 2006 issue of
Popular Woodworking Magazine, contributing editor Troy Sexton wrote a
great article on how to “Master Your Jigsaw.” To order a copy, click here.