Reviews say that less-expensive jigsaws use less-precise blade guides but are fine for rough cuts. For example, the new Bosch JS5 compact jigsaw (*Est. $80) and the older Bosch 1587AVSP (*Est. $100) lack the "Precision Control" blade guides found on the top-ranked Bosch 1590EVSK (*Est. $145). Along with the Hitachi CJ110MV (*Est. $85), however, the budget-priced Bosch jigsaws get good reviews as long as precision isn't a priority.
The Bosch JS5 is too new to be covered in any professional comparison tests, but it has accumulated enthusiastic single-product reviews. It's light at 5.1 pounds, and the motor is slightly more powerful than the Bosch 1587AVSP's. The latter comes with more accessories, including a no-mar baseplate attachment for vulnerable surfaces, a steel footplate for cutting metal and an anti-splintering insert for tiny cuts. The Bosch 1587AVSP has acquired an excellent reputation over the years, earning near-perfect reviews from owners at Amazon.com and doing well in older comparison reviews, too. It even has one advantage over the newer Bosch model - it accepts the Collins Coping Foot (*est. $30), which makes it easy to cut inside corners on curved moldings.
The 5.8-amp Hitachi CJ110MV (*Est. $85) is Fine Homebuilding's budget choice. Tests there show that although it vibrates more than the high-end Festool and the Bosch 1590EVSK jigsaws, the Hitachi is comfortable to maneuver and cuts smoothly. Unlike the Bosch jigsaws, it comes with an LED light to illuminate the cutting line, a feature that reviewers say is truly helpful. Like the Bosch JS5, it weighs in at a light 5 pounds. At Lowes.com, owners rank it just slightly below the Bosch 1587AVSP but well below the Bosch 1590EVSK.
As a budget jigsaw, Woodworker's Journal recommends the Ryobi JS550LK (*Est. $70). So does ConsumerGuide.com, though no testing is documented there. However, owners reviewing the Ryobi JS550LK at HomeDepot.com give it unusually low ratings, ranging from one to three on a five-point scale. Quite a few of the complaints are about the non-adjustable laser guide that owners say hinders more than it helps, but other complaints focus on base and blade looseness.
Sears is a good place to look for a budget jigsaw, although weight is the main drawback. The 5-amp 6.6-pound Craftsman 17255 (*Est. $80) is simpler than the Ryobi, with no laser guide. But at the time of this report, it had perfect ratings from the handful of owners reviewing it at Sears.com. It has a new design, incorporating a bevel-assist handle. You still need an Allen wrench to change the bevel, but it's stored onboard, and owners say the handle does make bevel changes easy. There's a shop-vac port but no dust blower.
The less-expensive Craftsman 17235 (*Est. $45) also gets high owner-written reviews. It has a blower as well as an LED light. The design looks similar to that of the discontinued Craftsman 27719 - a good performer despite a tedious tool-free blade-changing system. The main drawbacks are the 8.8-pound weight and short 11/16-inch stroke length. Also, two of the most recent reviews at Sears say the owners received a jigsaw that looks different from the Craftsman 17235's picture and specifications, so be alert for a mixup.
You can find even less-expensive jigsaws made by quite a few other brands: Skil (owned by Bosch), Black & Decker, Grizzly, and various Asian brands. The 6-amp Northern Industrial 399982 (*est. $45) gets mostly good reviews at NorthernTools.com. For the most part, however, reviews say these very inexpensive jigsaws are frustrating to use for anything but very rough cuts. Owners at Amazon.com give extremely low ratings to the 5-amp Skil 4580-04 jigsaw (*Est. $100). They say the Skil jigsaw just doesn't cut accurately and has a dangerous two-finger trigger design (which doesn't give enough control of the saw).