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Buffalo Tools Jigsaw (Affiliate link, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you):
This is the second video in my “How Low Can We Go” series where I search for the cheapest tools on Amazon, buy ’em, and then put ’em to the test. You can find the drill video over here.
In this episode I’m looking for a jigsaw.
There aren’t any criteria this time since a jigsaw is really just a jigsaw. Cheaper jigsaws tend to be corded, so that what I was expecting.
Unlike in episode 1, I found the cheapest jigsaw, right away. It was selling for $23.95 and free shipping, so this was the jigsaw for me. It ended up being $26.29 with tax and that’s just silly-cheap.
The jigsaw arrived in a flat-rate shipping box which is a sign of an individual reseller. It wasn’t a promising sign and the label confirmed that indeed that was the case.
I don’t know much about this type of business, but you are able to buy existing, base products from Chinese factories, or elsewhere, and then label and package them with your branding. It seems this jigsaw is one of those tools.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be a useful tool, it’s just not screaming, “I’m a high-end jigsaw with great engineering.”
And, the jigsaw is already hard enough to use correctly, even if you have the best model on the market.
It arrived in its box, inside the postal box, with no other packaging. It had obviously been sliding around inside the postal box because the jigsaw box was wide open and its contents were spilling out. Sure, whatever. Not the end of the world.
What came out of the box was a generic “electric jigsaw” with a Buffalo Tools sticker across the front. It only takes U shank blades and luckily it came with three because I don’t have any.
I was aware that these blades are probably not great and would affect the outcome of the test. We’ll take steps to try and offset that. More on that later.
After installing the blade I noticed that the blade guide was pushing it forward quite a bit. That meant we had some adjusting to do. There’s a set screw on the bottom that holds the base plate in place, as well as, the plate that the blade guide is attached to. Once I loosened this screw everything sort of fell apart and it took probably ten minutes to get it all lined up and straight.
This assembly is a great example of the type of build issues that plague some budget tools and make them a nightmare to use. There isn’t a washer under the set screw and the plate is concave, so the screw only holds one side down, at a time. This causes the blade guide to tilt.
I managed to get the blade somewhat straight and close to 90 degrees to the base, but the guide was turned at an angle to the blade. This causes unnecessary blade wear, not to mention, it will constantly be trying to rotate the blade.
Testing the Jigsaw
The only thing left to do was to put it to work. This is where the drill, in the previous episode, surprised me. Not to ruin the surprise, but that wouldn’t happen this time.
I started with some 1/2″ MDF which should be really easy to cut through. The vibration with this jigsaw is so strong that I’m constantly fighting it. I had to readjust the board several times and it took forever to cut through it.
I then moved on to a 1/4″ piece of plywood and had much more success. It still took much too long, but at least it was reasonable. I was beginning to realize there may only be one possible use for this jigsaw.
The final test was to cut through a 2×4 and see how this jigsaw liked cutting through thicker pieces of wood. Well, it didn’t like it. It didn’t like it, at all.
It was bogging down during the entire test, but, when cutting through the 2×4, it was really having trouble.
At this point I decided to make sure that the blades weren’t the culprit here. So, I slapped one in my Dewalt jigsaw and cut through the 2×4. The Dewalt made the cut in half the time and the blade seemed to cut just fine. They aren’t the best blades in the world, but, since they’re brand new and sharp, they work well enough.
In the end, I wouldn’t recommend this jigsaw for any woodworker out there. The jigsaw is the hardest tool to setup and get consistent, straight cuts with. Having a cheaply made tool just makes it worse. Don’t buy this for your woodworking shop unless you have the smallest of budgets and have to cut some curves.
BUT, I think there might be a use for this on a smaller scale. Maybe for hobby model-making or something similar. If you need to cut out shapes from thin wood like balsa wood, and your budget is small, then I say give this a try.
Next up, I’m going to try and find three more tools to make a total of five. And, I’m trying to buy them all for $150 total. I might not make it, but we’ll definitely be under $200. Imagine that, five power tools for under $200 and you’re on your way.
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