Is there really such a thing as an unneeded tool?

Posted: Jan 22, 2012

Bosch JS365 Variable-speed Jigsaw

Surprisingly bad performance from an otherwise well-designed jigsaw

Available for $110 from Amazon

Generally, I hate jigsaws. I've used a variety of them over the years and almost all of them have driven me nuts. My major complaint is blade drift, as in the blade bends during the cut, resulting in a non-square edge. The cheaper the saw/blade and the thicker the material, the worse it is.

I've had the pleasure of working with several Bosch tools lately and found them generally well-designed and well-built, so I thought I'd try out their jigsaw

Overall, the JS365 is typical Bosch, with its features and controls well thought-out and easy to use. The blade change system is very easy, just lift a small lever and the blade comes completely free, just pop in a new one and you're good to go. So much better than the old-style setscrew. The trigger and lock are perfectly positioned and easy to use, while the orbital action switch makes it very simple to control the aggressiveness of the cut.. The shape of the head and its integrated chip blower keep the blade clearly visible, the only thing that could be improved in this area would be an LED to light the blade path. On a side note, the chip blower is switchable, although I can't imagine why you wouldn't want it running. Nonetheless, you can turn it off if you like.

The JS365 package includes a hard case, anti-scuff plastic overshoe, allen wrench, anti-splinter insert, and one blade. The overshoe prevents scuffs/scratches on delicate material, while the replaceable anti-splinter insert helps control chipout on the upper side of the cut. The allen wrench is used to adjust the angle of the shoe for bevel cuts (blade changes are completely tool-less). Plan on buying extra blades (standard t-shank style) almost immediately, the included blade had a very short life.

In use, I found the Bosch very easy to control. The vibration inherent in a jigsaw is very well controlled, one of the smoothest jigsaws I've ever used, on par with the Festool Trion. The handle is comfortable and well-positioned and the soft start keeps the saw from jumping as you start it up.

One small thing to keep in mind. The speed (strokes per minute) of the blade are actually controlled by two things. The dial on the rear of the saw controls the maximum speed. However, the trigger controls the actual speed. To clarify, if you push the button just a little, the saw will run slowly regardless of the dial setting. But if you push the trigger all the way, that maximum speed is limited by the dial.

Overall, the JS365 is an excellent jigsaw. In fact, I'd have to say that it's only real issue is (unsurprisingly) blade drift. Cuts in thicker material, such as a 2x12 stair stringer, are rarely if ever square. In fact, they're normally horribly out-of-square. Look at this cut, you can see how bad it is. In the same piece of wood, with the same Bosch blade, a Festool Trion only deflected less than 1/4 as much.

Overall, given the severity of the blade deflection, I can't recommend the JS365 for anything other than fairly thin materials. If all you cut is 1/8" plywood, it would be awesome. But stair stringers, notched joists, etc is the main reason I need a jigsaw. If you really need a good jigsaw that cuts (mostly) square, check out a Festool Trion. Be forewarned: it carries a hefty price tag, ~$250!


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