Review – Craftsman Sabre Saw

(Unless otherwise noted, I have not received any compensation or consideration for any of the reviews listed. These have been purchased with my own funds at regular or sale prices publicly available.)

I had two jigsaws I wasn’t particularly fond of: an older corded Black & Decker that required set screws to change the blade (and one screw was missing) and a Ryobi One+ 18v model that couldn’t cut the mustard when it came to big jobs (it literally vibrated itself apart). So I started shopping for new jigsaw to replace the B&D. My initial thoughts were to find one with a barrel handle for more control.

I researched for a few months and narrowed my choices down to one of the venerable Bosch barrel grips, the Ridgid and a top handle Bosch. The Bosch models were nice, and got great reviews, but were a bit more than I wanted to pay. The top handle Bosch was in my preferred price range, but I still wanted a barrel grip. I was leaning toward the Ridgid when some negative reviews and missing features steered me away. Single speed was a concern, as were some complaints about vibration.

A model at Sears caught my eye that seemed like a unique feature – a top handle jigsaw whose handle removed for barrel use. I was intrigued. It was also a pretty nice price, being on the order of around $75 on sale. When I got home I realized that not only was it a dual handle jigsaw, but it also has a knob at the top to free scroll. Pretty nice feature, I’m sure I’ll make use of it someday as I have no plans on acquiring a scroll saw. It has multiple speed settings, which is nice, along with a switch on the side to select materials. I didn’t rule out the Ridgid just because of the lack of multiple speeds, because I’m not sure if I need them. But as they say, it’s a nice option to have. It has a blower switch that inverts to allow use of the vacuum port. I’ve only tried it on the blower setting, I’ll try out the vac setting next time I use it and amend this review. Because I usually have to sweep up from my other tools, I didn’t consider it a major aspect of it’s usability.

The switch between handles (and I say that for lack of a better term. There’s one handle, and it’s removable to hold the body/barrel instead) is very easy. Use in top handle mode is as you would expect. The power switch for barrel mode isn’t great. It’s hard to turn on with just your grip hand, and can switch off easily, without intent. That said, it works. If I could switch it on and off with my thumb, it would be great. The saw base can store a blade or two, but I use a Bosch set that has it’s own case so that’s of little use to me. I suppose if I were switching back and forth between speed and clean cut blades, I could put them there for easy access. Like most of the Craftsman corded tools lately, it has a light that is green when the tool is plugged in. Nice feature when you have kids in and out of your shop. The switchable laser light seems accurate, although my cuts so far have not exactly reflected that. More likely a user error than the tool, as the laser shines right down where you expect the blade to follow. The scroll feature is neat, although I will have to do some research and see if there are blades available to make those tight cuts you’d normally get with a dedicated scroll. The base angle has been perpendicular so far, no testing was done on any bevels as I’ve not had the need thus far. The saw has a slot for a guide, the power cord has a nice strap and a hex key is stored at the rear of the saw.

This saw has at least met my expectations, and we’ll see if it provides long-term justification of the purchase. I have to list the pros as easy blade change, laser, cord management, conversion between the handle and barrel grip, the scroll feature and the blower. For cons, I’d have to put the barrel grip power switch as the major gripe. As I said it’s not a deal breaker, but something that if it was done as it should have been, could have made this a real contender to the Bosch. As is, it has to be rated as a good-very good saw, but not a fantastic one.

I sat on this review for a few weeks as my first few experiences with this saw weren’t any better than my B&D. I got lots of vibration and chatter. However with subsequent uses I found the saw to be smooth, and give a decent finish on the cut and be fairly accurate. I had to chalk up my first impressions to not having the workpiece properly secured and using the wrong speeds on the saw. The saw comes with a canvas zippered bag.

4 out of 5 stars. Tested with Bosch T101B blades.

Direct link – Craftsman Sabre (Jig) Saw 28223

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