16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2013
This is a good, maybe very good, saw, and does an altogether adequate job at what it's intended to do. The biggest issue I have with its design is that the "Accu-Trak" cutting guide is inextricably tied to the orbital-cutting setting. What this means, for instance, is that you can't have the guide deployed when making a cut up to the end of a slot. (Admittedly, it's not beyond the realm of possibility to turn off orbital cutting and do without the guide for the last inch or so.) The thing that I find most frustrating is the result of poor planning on my part: I over-valued the "Accu-trak" feature, and under-valued the lack of an adjustable base plate for making beveled cuts. There's no implication of misleading product description, but think carefully about the relative importance to you of these features, or spring for a more elaborate saw.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2012
At first I was ready to return this saw to the local store where I bought it, and to phone Black & Decker, yet hoped I'd find a way to 'work' this saw, because I liked the possibility of an inexpensive tool for straight cuts in 4' x 8' sheets (of laminated wood). I tried everything, until finally I came to the right combination of tools for getting the most precise, straight cuts and square boards. I won't bore you with my failures, starting with using the saw free-hand, alone, without any aids (& just wouldn't recommend it). (For the 'short version,' the last step #8 is key):
1. choose a good, sharp blade, with a large number of tpi (teeth) for a fine cut
2. use a T-square & keep a perfectly sharp pencil to draw precise "cut lines," keeping your pencil at the same precise angle for the full length of drawing the line
3. use a machinist square as a guide for placement of your t-square when drawing "cut lines" for cuts that are perpendicular to initial cuts, (to ensure you end up with a 'square' board, in case your large board is not perfectly square & sliding the t-square along the edge will not give lines to produce a square board)
4. set your (unplugged) saw on the 'waste side' of your penciled "cut line" on the edge of the board, to determine the margin from the saw blade to the outer edge of the saw's heel plate. Mark the very edge of your wood (which is the most precise point) to indicate the outer edge of the heel plate
5. use a t-square to draw a second line exactly parallel to your 'cut line,' using the mark made in step #4. This 'heel plate line' indicates the margin needed for the heel plate of the saw
6. use a transparent ruler, and run it along your "cut line" & "heel plate line," (while keeping the ruler perfectly perpendicular to these two lines )to ensure the distance between these two lines is constant for the full length of the lines
7. attach a straight edge to your board, lining it up with utmost precision, along your 'heel plate line'; this straight edge will guide the saw for the full length of the cut; (I purchased a 'contractor' straight edge, with a nice built in clamp at Menards). I'd also recommend double checking accuracy, by placing your saw back up on the edge of the wood, resting against the straight edge, to double check a precise position before starting to cut. Also, fyi... Just because this saw has the straight edge guide on the bottom does not rule out use of a straight edge. Most jig saws like to turn alot, but the combination of the saw's straight edge guide, plus having a straight edge clamped on your board, combined, makes your setup 'solid' for the production of straight cuts.
***8. I found this step to be an absolute key to long straight cuts in sheet wood, because despite all of the above steps, my saw still veered off the course of my 'cut line,' jamming against the clamped straight edge, and forcing me to change the saw's setting to free cuts in the middle of the cut & quit using the bottom 'straight edge guide.' Once I realized a simple trick, I got perfect, precise cuts. At first I followed Black & Decker instructions in the manual, to make sure the straight cut guide on the saw's bottom looked aligned, by simply trying to sight it by eye. I finally discovered, this was the whole source of the problems I was having in getting straight cuts. The key to straight cuts is to ensure precise/ perfect alignment of the saw's bottom straight edge guide. Take a combination square (or small t square) and use that to ensure that the (unplugged) saw's bottom straight edge guide is perfectly aligned with the saw blade before each and every cut. Sighting it by eye creates inaccuracies. I take the combination square, and set the ridge of the square at the top- front edge of the (unplugged) saw's heel plate. I gently (without bending the saw blade in the slightest) place the straight ruler edge of the combination square against the blade, and finally, move/adjust the saw's bottom straight edge guide, by pushing it against the combination square straight edge ruler, so the saw's straight edge guide plate is perfectly in line with the saw blade; perfect alignment is indicated when both the saw blade and the saw's bottom straight edge guide both sit perfectly flush against the ruler of the combination square, without any gaps whatsoever anywhere for the full length of the saw's bottom straight edge guide. I then remove the combination square, and then gently place it on the saw again to double check for final alignment. (I'd add it also can't hurt to make sure your blade is perfectly straight, as I also ran into that problem. Just lay the blade on a perfectly flat table top, and examine if from both sides to make sure there are no gaps to indicate bends. I was able to bend mine into back into shape to get it perfectly flat and straight again). (Also, for very long cuts, I recommend stopping the saw after going a short distance, and adding a clamp to the gap created by the cut before proceeding all of the way, to keep the cut half of the board level while finishing the cut).
Following all of these steps with care and accuracy, I have now consistently had perfect, straight cuts, as this saw promises (and I would add that I also always use the 'continuous' operation mode, so that I do not have to keep the trigger pressed, and can then better focus on keeping the saw held firmly and squarely against the straight edge, and watching the cut in progress).
I had thought I'd need to buy a table saw for future projects, only out of a need for greater precision than my current project required, (since I am not a contractor, and do not need to rip off a ton of boards in seconds, and do not use the tool everyday. I can handle a slightly slower, but accurate cut with this jig saw and straight edge system). But now I find I get perfect cuts without urgently needing a table saw. Good news! (I also found the Dremel mini saw attachment worked great, but it will only cut 1/4" deep).
Now, I think these are the kind of useful instructions Black and Decker should provide with the saw. It would save people a lot of headaches and trial and error, and avoid people returning this product, as I was ready to do at first, disappointed, when it is actually a great product so far (I've cut about 20 small boards so far, off a 4'x8'). Maybe an employee in the United States who actually uses the tool could write the instruction booklet, since the booklet is currently the biggest flaw of this tool in my opinion.
Lastly, I came back to add, there were situations where I could not clamp down a straight edge (on a very long board), for some shorter cuts, and after following step 8, and making sure the bottom straight edge guide of the saw is perfectly aligned with the blade, I was able to make nice straight cuts free hand, without a straight edge, using the continuous mode, and going slowly, and the tool did a decent job of keeping the cut line cleaned of debris. For longer cuts though, I definitely consider the use of a clamped straight edge to be prudent.
I really like the saw so far. Time will tell its durability.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2014
I've had this thing for almost two years and am very impressed with it. I've never trusted anything by B&D before, so I was hesitant to purchase this, but I didn't have much money to spend and this fit in my budget. It works great and the variable speed is very easy and comfortable to use. For the price, it seems to be a great buy, granted I don't use it everyday. When I do use it, it's not typically for very long, so it's never been under much stress. I'm very glad I bought this rather than spending twice as much on a more trusted brand for my home renovation
The straight edge feature is a bit annoying. I never use it, I prefer to free-hand it
The blade case on the side that holds two blades isn't trustworthy. It's opened on me a few times while transporting or using. I just took the case off and keep my blades in a separate bag.