Several years ago, if you had asked me if I had any interest in a cordless jig saw, you probably would have received a very skeptical look. If you told me it was from a 12v product line, laughter might have followed. Last year at a media event for Milwaukee Tool, my thoughts on the feasibility, or even desirability of a 12v jig saw received a jolt. It was my first opportunity to see and lay hands on Milwaukee’s new 12v Max Jig Saw, and suddenly gettin’ jiggy with with a small, cordless jig saw no longer seemed like a bad idea.
Milwaukee sent us an M12 Jig Saw to review and it’s become our go-to jig saw, largely thanks to its cordless and small form factor convenience. It’s a fantastic tool, and here are a few reasons why:
Typically, you’ll find jig saws in top handle or barrel grip configurations. Milwaukee describes the M12 as a hybrid grip design. The result is a small barrel feel at the handle where the trigger is located. The top of the tool is also smoothly contoured, making it a natural place for your other hand to rest and help control the cut. There are some folks adamantly in the “barrel” or “top handle” camps, and for them, the hybrid design might be like sleeping with the enemy. I found the hybrid design more flexible than a top handle which tends to restrict your hand position more. It also gives you a bit more to hang onto at the top of the tool than the typical barrel design. Even if you’re a barrel or top handle loyalist, give this grip a try and you might just pull a Prius and go hybrid.
At just 3.8 pounds and 9″ long, the M12 Jig Saw is so compact and easily handled, you might find yourself reaching for it even if you don’t need a jig saw. The Quick Lok T-Shank blade mechanism makes changing your blade a breeze. Once your blade has been inserted, a metal blade guide keeps your blade from getting too jiggy during the cutting action. A 3/4″ stroke length and 0-2,800 strokes per minute deliver fast and very controllable cuts.
If you think of your typical corded, full-size jig saw as the limousine of the saw world, then the Milwaukee M12 Cordless Jigsaw is definitely a turbo-charged Mini Cooper. Without a cord to tangle up your arm or to worry about severing with the saw, you’re free to drive the M12 Jig Saw around twists and turns with ease. With a scroll blade attached, you’ll soon find yourself with an uncontrollable urge to cut out complicated celtic patterns just for kicks. The M12 Jig Saw is definitely a nimble performer and delivers more maneuverability than any other jig saw we’ve used to date.
Bevel cuts are a tool free affair with the M12 Jig Saw. A lever at the back of saw enables quick and easy bevel adjustments. You can cut at 0 to 45 degrees, and 15 degree marks are clearly shown on the tool. However, because the degree lines are so close to the saw housing, it can be a little tricky to precisely line up the bevel arrow with your preferred angle. One thing you won’t have trouble lining up is the default 90 degree setting, which is designated with it’s own slot and positive lock. Considering most folks cut at the 90 degree setting, the positive lock is very reassuring. I’ve used cheap jig saws in the past where the bevel lock would loosen during a cut and you would wind up with an accidental bevel cut. That is not something you’ll need to worry about with this saw. Be sure to read the next section for a key tip on setting up for bevel cuts.
The included anti-splintering device is basically a small acrylic window that snaps easily in and out of the base plate. On most jig saws without a blower, seing your cut line and the immediate area around your cut can be a challenge. Since the M12 doesn’t have a dust blower, I suspected this would be an issue. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the anti-splintering device actually does a great job of providing a relatively dust-free window on your cut. One critical point to keep in mind; the anti-splinter device is not intended for bevel cuts. In fact, if you don’t remove it for bevel cuts, you’ll likely splinter your anti-splintering device, resulting in a tragic, ironic end to that little accessory. We found the anti-splintering device useful even when cutting material we were not worried about splintering. The device snaps in and out easily, so make sure you pop that thing out before you dive into any bevel cuts.
Milwaukee sensibly put almost all the weight of the saw (which isn’t much to begin with), directly over the cutting area. The result of this design is minimized vibration. While you might expect a smaller jig saw like this to bounce around more than Carrot Top after a week-long meth binge, the M12 is shockingly smooth. I should probably clarify, I have no idea if Carrot Top does Meth, but it sure seems like it. Back to the m12: far from underwhelming, the M12 Red Lithium battery delivered plenty of power and runtime in our testing. Assuming you have a second M12 battery on-hand, with a 30 minute charge time you would need to undertake some pretty aggressive cutting to overtax the M12’s cutting ability. Even a single battery will handle most typical jig saw tasks with ease. It’s a strong performer despite deceptively low voltage for a jig saw.
Aside from the anti-splintering guard, an integrated LED light helps illuminate your cut line and makes staying on track that much easier. Even in a well-lit work environment, the motor housing of jig saws can create a dark area right where you need the most light. The LED light on the M12 is a welcome addition. Not surprisingly, Milwaukee also included an on-board fuel gauge to help prevent you from running out of gas unexpectedly.
Jig Saws are great, versatile tools, but it’s not often I get excited about them. The Milwaukee M12 Jig Saw brings enough innovation to this tool that it makes for a very exciting new product. If you plan to cut miles of material or use a saw daily at your cabinet shop, then a corded jig saw is likely still your best bet. However, based on our testing, we think there are few jig saw tasks a homeowner (or even a contractor) encounters that the M12 can’t handle. Best of all, it handles those tasks with cordless convenience, great small form-factor ergonomics and solid performance.
The Milwaukee 2445-21 12V Cordless M12 High Performance Hybrid Grip Jig Saw kit is available from our sponsor Tyler Tool for around $149 and includes the Jig Saw, one M12 Red Lithium Battery, Swiss-made wood blade, 30 Minute Charger, non-marring shoe, anti-splintering device and a Milwaukee branded man-purse (which Milwaukee wisely describes as a “Contractor Bag”). If you’re already on the Milwaukee M12 Bandwagon, you can buy the Milwaukee 2445-20 12V Corldess M12 High Performance Hybrid Grip Jig Saw (Tool Only) which still includes a wood blade, anti-splintering insert and non-marring shoe, for a bargain $119 also from Tyler Tool.