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New Bosch Barrel Grip Jig SawLast 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?

LED Light on New Bosch Jig SawOne 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.

Articulating vacuum port on new Bosch Jig SawAnother 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.

– Bob Lang

My good friend Glen D. Huey is a jigsaw maestro. In his video “Cheating at Hand-cut Dovetails” he shows how to cut these joints several ways, including with a jigsaw.


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Showing 14 comments
  • dejure

    My first Bosch was a barrel type and required a long screw driver to change blades. I only ended up with a barrel unit because it was the only one available and I needed to get work done.

    I had been burning up all the Craftsmen, Black and Decker and Skill saws I bought. Even the high end B&D went south way too quick. For that reason, I gritted my teeth and spent the significantly extra to try a Bosch. I used it for seven years, then sold it to my brother, when I was opting for an upgrade.

    Though I’d used D handle saws for years, I became a barrel convert almost immediately. I liked the feeling of control it seemed to give, being closer to the work.

    Compared to what I’d been using, the Bosch had more power. It used far better quality [bayonet] blades. Too, it had real bearings, rather than a brass “ball” with a hole drilled through it and called a “ball bearing” (the commercial B&D of the time). Instead of breaking a blade every time I turned the saw on and got it near wood, they lasted until dull. Then there was the fact it was the only saw with functional blade guides. So you could say there was a bit of an apples-and-oranges thing going on, regarding comparison of the Bosch to its competition.

    I lived an hour from tool sale civilization and had a friend pick me up one the new Bosch, which didn’t require tools to change the blade. He brought back a D handle and I, immediately, began missing the D handle. I finally gave it to a friend headed to his gold claims in Alaska, where, years later, it yet resides. Meanwhile, I was able to buy the upgrade barrel, which need no tools, even to adjust for angle cuts.

    I’m still sold.

  • stevenrt

    I agree a barrel grip lowers the center of gravity and it helps control. I had a barrel grip saw many years ago ,my only complaiant with it the barrel got hot in use, but kept it till it quit a top handle saw after that cause no one was selling a barrel grip saw in my area. I probly would have gotten another had any one was selling them. If the stores only handle one kind that is what is popular.

  • ronin4711

    Bosch makes good power tools and I own a few, among them 3 jig saws, 2 D handle and one barrel grip, I find the D handle the most comfortable, all with variable speed control, one of them starts at zero to full speed which I find it the most useful, from some odd reason, Bosch dropped this line and all of them start at 150 spm. if I’m not mistaken, I find it disturbing sometimes, specially when you have a piece of soft wood and you don’t wish to destroy it.

  • Sylvain297

    I bought the barrel grip because I read it had better control. I do not like the barrel grip. The barel is just to big for my hand. Than I bought the top handle. I love it.

    I think it might be a matter of hand size. Everybody I shake hands with says I have big hands. I have a big fat hand.Maybe the barrel type is better for somebody that have long thin hand like Christopher Schwarz?


    I always understood the barrel grip was a U.S. favourite. Here in the U.K. in my experience the D handle is the most popular whatever about the rest of Europe

  • jeffgrut

    barrel grip gives me more control.

  • JohnC

    I bought the older barrel grip two years ago, but I could not get used to the lack of speed control when I needed it. I also felt the barrel was a bit too big to grip even though I have large hands. I gave it away, and now I have a D style cordless DeWalt that I like better.

    It seems to me that all jig saws have a problem with blade ‘lean’ and it is hard to get a 90 degree cut. I may have to try out the top handle version some time.

  • pvanderlugt

    I have a 6.4 top handle, love it. Have never had the opportunity to try the barrel handle, I think I might prefer it, and I suppose I will have to try on someday to make sure.

    BUT, why would they leave the variable speed trigger off of the barrel type? It’s a valuable feature on a jigsaw.

    That baffles me.

  • B Jackson

    The only jig saw I ever owned I still have with me – a D-handle almost as old as I am. Having said that, it seems putting your hand closer to the work gives you better control, hence the barrel grip, kind of like choking up on the bat with two strikes on you and you really need to get on base for the home team to tie the game. Can anyone tell me why it is that American manufacturers are so behind the times on the latest and greatest in tool ergonomics / safety? Or is anyone really, really irritated by that? I surely am!

  • Jim McCoy

    The first jigsaw I owned was a top-grip style. One day a number of years ago I was in Woodworkers Supply and there was a demo of jigsaws. I got to try both styles side by side cutting both hardwood and some pine. I bought the Bosch barrel grip version that day and have been using it ever since. I don’t think I could go back to a top grip model. I probably wouldn’t have considered upgrading to the new model until you mentioned the LEDs. Definitely a deal maker for my older eyes. Thanks Bob.

  • Bill Lattanzio

    I own the Bosch 6.4a. Never had an issue with it, good power and the blade change works great. It was the best $100 I spent on a power tool.

  • Maurice

    Love my barrel grip Bosch! Now I’m kinda lusting the new version. Damn you, Robert!

  • willcon

    Having used “D” style (top handle) for years and years, I was unsure I would like a barrel grip saw. However, now having owned my Festool Trion jigsaw for a while, I am hooked on the barrel grip.

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Tom Moser