After an extremely poor experience last week with my jigsaw, I decided that I either needed another way to accomplish the tasks normally reserved for one, or I needed an upgrade. In the world of jigsaws, there are many options, but only a select few seem to consistently rise above the rest.
I have a few jigsaws, or at least I did. I leave room for maneuvering because I honestly don’t remember which ones I’ve sold and which ones I still have. A Ryobi 18v, a B&D corded model were at least in the arsenal at one point, but the one I’ve turned to for the past year or more is the Craftsman 28223.
This is a unique item on the market, as it does two things I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a jig. The first is that it is a convertible – The red and black button on the back of the handle unlocks the D-handle for removal, making it a barrel grip. This was particularly appealing at the time of purchase because I wasn’t sure what I wanted, with the previous jigs all being a D-handle. It turns out I much prefer the barrel configuration. It’s really rather innovated, though, with the only issue of barrel mode being that the red power switch on the side of the barrel can be sticky to operate. Otherwise, the experience is the same in either configuration.
The other thing it does is function as a scroll saw – somewhat. In scroll mode, you can turn the knob at the very top of the saw 90° in either direction to control the blade. With short (depth) blades, you can make some impressive turns in material that you can’t afford to waste.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason this saw suffers from blade drift and deflection.
The deflection is off by a few degrees, and wouldn’t be too bad of a deal for simple rough cutting of stock down to length. However, it’s totally unacceptable for finish cuts, like I did with the toe kick. The drift is even worse if you don’t account for it. I had been trusting the laser line to keep everything lined up, and it resulted in some very crooked cuts.
I had a choice between the Bosch 470 and the Trion, after eliminating everything else. The difference was about $90, what other jigsaws retail for. After weight Festool’s return policy and the convenience of the Plug-It system, I decided to try out the Trion first. When it arrived Thursday I set up some comparison cuts between the Craftsman and the Festool.
Unfortunately, I did get a bit too wrapped up in random cut tests to take pictures for this. I did find that the Craftsman left a rougher cut than the Festool, which had the benefit of the zero clearance insert. The Festool cuts were dead-on perpendicular, but the Craftsman had a slight deviation. It was noticeable in plain sight. I did use the exact same Bosch blade and switched back and forth between the two, so there was a good basis for comparison. I was starting to doubt my purchase, even with the deviation.
So, I decided to replicate the cut that gave me issues the other day: the toe kick cutout. This has to be dead-on perfect if I’m going to use this tool and this technique. I cut with the Festool then the Craftsman.
Here is the Festool
It was a very clean cut, perpindicular, and most importantly the tool followed the cut lines perfectly. That would be a finish-ready cut.
Here is the Craftsman
That’s a big deviation/drift from the line right at the start. I noticed when I was really working hard to keep the blade on the line, the laser was nowhere near it. That answers my question on what happened on the project last week, and why it looks so bad. The deflection wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t awful. If I could have stayed on the line it might have been acceptable for something in the shop. The cut was also rougher and would require some sanding, although you can see on the surface there wasn’t a lot of fuzz or breakout.
This was a piece for the house, though. The ease of use, cleanliness of cut and ability to get dead on where I needed it to be means the Festool is going to stay. What to do with the Craftsman though? I could sell it, or give it to someone, but I may just keep it around for rough cut or scroll saw use. It doesn’t really cost me a lot of room, and I doubt I would get more than $30 for it anyway. If I still have any of those other jigsaws around I would probably get rid of, except for maybe the cordless – it has to be better for breaking down stock than the crappy 18v circular saw.
Oh, one last pic. The other day I needed to cut a piece of my large sheet of 1/4″ ply and couldn’t access any other tool except for the jig, and I couldn’t take it outside. I cut it right where it was and got awful tearout. I tried that same cut with the Trion, and you can see the results below.