Tool Review #1: Ridgid Jig Saw

Recently, I picked up a Ridgid Fuego Jig Saw. I was working on a Thein-baffle dust collector for my shop, and quickly grew irritated and tired of my old cordless jig saw, so I decided it was time for an upgrade. And considering almost every other power tool in my shop is Ridgid-branded, I figured I’d keep in line with this purchase.

Now, I don’t have a ton of experience with other jig saws, so my statements might not be true for you if you pick up this saw for yourself, but in general, I trust that they’re pretty on point.

My first impression when gripping the jig saw is that the barrel-grip design was very unique.  I liked that it brought my hand closer to the workpiece, and really brought down the size of the tool itself.  This is not to say that the jig saw didn’t feel like it had any heft to it, it surely felt solid, but in a way it felt like I had more control.  However, the downside of the shorter, barrel-grip design, is the loss in stroke length.  The saw operates at a constant 3000 strokes / minute rate, with 1/2″ stroke length which has its downfalls when working with various species and thicknesses of wood.

So far, I haven’t used the jig saw on anything extremely thick or tough (mainly just 3/4″ birch plywood, some cheap 2×2’s, and composite panel siding), but overall it’s had sufficient cutting power without getting bogged down or dragging.  I’ve experimented with using orbital action switch, but I can’t tell any performance difference in the cuts regardless of the material.  However, I’ve really only been using brand new Bosch blades, so this might affect how apparent the improvements from using the orbital blade motion are.  Regardless, while this Ridgid jig saw only uses a 3-amp motor when some of the similar competitors are using anywhere from 4.5 to 7 amps, I was very content with the its ability to cut through the materials I put in front of it.

Another component that I appreciated, was the wide and solid base platform.  The cordless jig saw that I had been using for years had more of a skid-style base, that was sometimes difficult to keep level on the workpiece when there wasn’t a large amount of support underneath.  But with this jig saw, aside from the small cutout for the blade, the base is a complete and solid platform.

Continuing on with the base platform, I was not impressed with what it took to secure the beveling of the base plate, or rather how well it locked into the desired angle setting.  There are clear ‘clicks’ when the bevel is at some specific angles (ex. 45°), but I wasn’t confident that the plate was actually locked in at this setting when tightening the set screw with the provided allen wrench.  In fact, for one cut, I was sure that I had locked the base plate at the standard 90° to the blade but after making my cut it was clear that it was 5-10° off.  Now, yes, this was really my own fault, I should have noticed that it wasn’t square, but at the same time, I don’t believe it should take a great attention to detail to lock in the base plate at the standard setting.

Other aspects of the tool that I appreciated included the easy-access quick blade change, the light indicator on the power cord that indicated whether or not the tool was getting power, the LED lights at the front of the saw, the soft start of the motor, and blade storage in the base plate.

One more factor that I wasn’t overly impressed with was the dust control, or rather the lack there of dust control.  There is a switch on the side for directional dust control (whether to blow the dust forward away from the blade, or suck it back towards the port in the back), but neither seemed to be too effective.  And of particular annoyance was that when I used the reducer attachment for my Ridgid shop vac to tap into the dust port on the back of the saw, the thickness of the shop vac hose behind the tool was greater than the height of the dust port above the base plate.  This meant that I couldn’t really use the tool with a shop vac attached to the back for dust collection.

Overall, I’m glad I purchased this saw.  For the price I paid, and Ridgid’s lifetime service agreement, it is well worth the price.  Some functionality could be improved, but the saw itself was a great improvement over the saw I was using.  If I were able to go back in time, I’d probably still make the same decision I did.  There are other, more powerful saws out there, but I’m sure they also bring with them some sacrifices, whether they be missing features or a significantly inflated price tag.

 

Wrap Up:

  • Pros
    • Comfortable grip
    • Increased sense of control
    • Lots of surface area on the base plate
    • Quick and easy blade changes
    • LED lights on front to improve vision
    • SoftStart motor
    • Blade storage in the base plate
  • Cons
    • Weaker motor compared to competitors
    • Poor dust control
    • Base plate doesn’t always lock into desired angle position
    • Shorter stroke length means the saw has to rely on more cuts to remove the same amount of material other saws can take in fewer strokes

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