jigsawIf there is one power tool to have in the DIY collection it should be the jigsaw, also known as a sabersaw.

The jigsaw has ingenious beginnings, devised by a man who removed the needle from his wife's sewing machine and replaced it with a saw blade, in order to make detailed cuts in wood.

The versatility of a jigsaw is remarkable - it can cut through timber, plywood and sheet metal, the jigsaw can also cut through ceramic tile, it all depends on the blade being used.

With jigsaws the blades are interchangeable and this means you need to be aware of what type of blade cuts what type of material.

Luckily, when buying blades for the jigsaw, they are labeled for use; however for quick reference the more teeth on the blade the finer the cut.

There are various cuts a jigsaw can do from crosscuts to bevel, mitre, and plunge cuts also scrolling curved cuts. However, one thing to keep in mind is the thickness of the material being cut. Ideally, you want to keep the material being cut to less than 1/2 inch as the blade will become too hot and this in turn will lead to less control over the jigsaw and breakage of the blade. To avoid breaking the blade, let the jigsaw to naturally cut through the material - never force or push the jigsaw. Thankfully, jigsaws are fairly lightweight and can be used with one hand, which enables you to feel if the jigsaw is having trouble cutting through the material. If the jigsaw is not cutting smoothly through the material it is possible you have either the wrong blade or the material is too thick.

The majority of jigsaws come with variable speed options; wood works well with the use of the faster speeds, however for materials which will heat quickly, a slower speed will be of benefit. If used in conjunction with the correct blade, using a jigsaw will be suitable for most intricate cutting jobs.

Most jigsaws have an adjustable base which allows the blade to be tilted from the vertical so that angled cuts can be made through the material being cut.

Mains powered jigsaws are generally more powerful than cordless models, so a corded jigsaw is the best for heavy work such as cuttings hardwoods or other tough materials. However, cordless models have the advantage that they can be used where mains electricity is not available.

As with all power tools, the safety aspects of using a jigsaw need to be considered, the use of eye protection is a must, even when using a jigsaw with a dust collector, there will still be some particles floating in the air. Even though the jigsaw is lightweight and controllable and many jigsaws have blade guards you still need to keep in mind where your spare hand is placed. If you are using a corded jigsaw, keep the cord away from the cutting surface and also ensure legs and feet do not become entangled with it.

Jigsaws are relatively inexpensive compared to other power tools, however they are well worth the investment, from the weekend enthusiast with the occasional home improvement project, they provide an excellent addition to the power tool collection.