Last week I was at the North American headquarters of Bosch Tools, part of a group of woodworking journalists taking a look at new offerings of the company’s products. The first woodworking tools we were shown were a pair of new jigsaws, the top-handle model JS572EL and the barrel-grip model JS572EBL. My first thoughts were “what could they do to improve the old ones?” Bosch product manager Jim Stevens must have read my mind because he said “I like to think of these as enhancements, not improvements. There really wasn’t anything wrong with the old saws, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better.”
Jigsaws don’t get a lot of press, but I consider them a necessary tool and when we launched our “I Can Do That” series several years ago, we recommended that a jigsaw should be one of the first power tool purchases for a beginning woodworker. In my career as a professional cabinetmaker, I saw more Bosch jigsaws than any other brand. So what did they do to make a good thing even better?
One area that Bosch is emphasizing with many of its new tools is lighter, more powerful and more efficient motors. The new jigsaws are noticeably lighter and have 7.2 amp motors compared to the 6.4 amp motors in the previous models. The new motors also have electronic controls to maintain speed under load. The tools have a solid feel, and no noticeable vibration in use. There is also a new blade-guide system that reduces blade deflection.
One new feature that those of us with “elder vision” will appreciate is the inclusion of switchable LED lights aimed at the blade. With the top-handle version, the trigger can be used to speed up or slow down the tool, up to a maximum speed set with a dial located at the back of the tool. There is also a button to lock the tool in the “on” position that can be reached from both sides of the handle. The barrel grip version also has the speed setting dial at the back, but the switch only turns the tool on or off. Both versions have comfortable over-moulded grips and excellent ergonomics.
Another new feature is an articulating vacuum port that fits on the rear of either saw. It is sized to fit both European and American shop vacuum hoses, and will swing from side to side as needed while cutting. In addition to the difference in hoses on each side of the Atlantic, there is also a distinct difference in preferences for style of jigsaw. In Europe, the vast majority of saws sold – between 80 and 90 percent – are barrel grip. In the United States, the numbers are reversed in favor of top-handle saws. In Canada, the split is almost even.
I like the barrel grip for its lower profile and the way it fits my hand. I feel like I have more control and it’s easier to see and guide the saw, in spite of the fact that I can’t reduce the speed on the fly to get around a tight corner.
What’s your preference? Leave a comment below and tell us which type of saw you prefer, and the reasons. If you’ve only used a top-handle jigsaw, try a barrel-grip some time; I think you’ll like it. I’ll be sharing more in the next few weeks about other new tools from Bosch.