Review By Dean Bielanowski  Ryobi Website -

Ryobi 18v Cordless Jigsaw
Models CJS1801K / OJ1802K /

By Dean Bielanowski

The humble jigsaw has been an invaluable tool for woodworkers, carpenters, tradespeople and general DIY enthusiasts for many years. It is not as widely used by pro woodworkers, in favor of workshop machines like the band saw or even the scroll saw, however, it is still used widely in the trades, particularly with kitchen/cabinet installations or where curved cuts are required in stationary or immobile surfaces. They are a great tool to use for rough-cutting shapes, or even for finishing stopped cuts on a table saw or straight stopped cuts made with a circular saw.

As battery technology and performance improves we are seeing more and more tools going cordless. This is excellent if you want to make a cut quickly, or even infrequently and do not wish to waste time setting up an extension cord or power supply, particularly on a building site, or in the backyard where a power outlet is not within 'arm's length'.

The Ryobi 18v Cordless Jigsaw is available in many countries around the world. There are several model numbers distributed depending on what part of the globe you are in, but these units are essentially identical, except for the battery chargers which are regionalized due to differing power supplies and connections etc. So this review encompasses the OJ1802K model (as sold in the USA) the CJS1801K model (as sold in Australia/New Zealand) and the CJSP-1801QEO (sold in the UK).

Packaging and Contents
The jigsaw comes shipped in a molded plastic carry case, and this is great for carrying the tool around to worksites or for keeping all the contents and accessories together. It's personal preference as to whether you keep it in the case or not. I like to keep them in the case as it makes for neater stacking and storage in the workshop. Unlike some cases supplied with tools this one is not much bigger than the tool/charger itself, so 'wasted' space is kept to a minimum.

Inside the case you will find the jigsaw itself with battery attached, an 18v battery charger, printed manual and a couple of jigsaw blades to get you started.

The manual is black and white with line-art style images which are clear and easy to follow. The contents of the manual are pretty standard fare - safety instructions, basic operating and feature explanations, maintenance info etc. Naturally, you should read the manual first to ensure you get the best, and most efficient, and safest use out of the tool.

Tool Features & Specs
Out of the box the Ryobi 18v jigsaw is quite well finished. The design is of the classic grip variety, as opposed to barrel grip, and all major functional features are easily accessible. Up top the rubber over-mold grip provides user comfort and better control of the tool. The trigger becomes active once the trigger release slider in front of it is pushed either left or right. It provides variable speed control to the jigsaw allowing stroke control in the range of 0 - 2,100 strokes per minute. The trigger was easy to use and you don't feel as if you have to wrestle with it to move it through its entire range. There is just enough resistance to give it a durable feel, without implementing undue resistance.

A stroke length of 1 inch (25.4mm) is quite reasonable and the tool has a listed wood cutting capacity of just over 1.5 inches (40mm) in thickness. This will be suitable for most woodworking tasks. For thicker material you may need to use a band saw, or an industrial corded jigsaw for better results. I tested the unit on various types and thicknesses of hardwood/softwood. The jigsaw performed very well in most tasks, although you naturally have to slow feed rate down on the more dense hardwoods. Having a sharp blade makes a world of difference and reduces cutting time while placing less strain on the tool. Performance does drop away as the battery charge level drops low but this is to be expected and the battery seems to provide good power right up until near depletion, when the charge drops away fairly rapidly. An hour on the charger and you are back in business.

Interestingly, there is no plastic blade cover 'door' over the front cutting part of the tool. Instead a hard wire frame guard is used. While a safety guard would be preferred, the guard on this tool will help in keeping your fingers away from the blade. I don't want to undermine the risks of using power tools, however, the jigsaw is not the most dangerous tool to use. I rarely hear of accidents resulting from the use of a jigsaw, although they do exist. The lack of a front cover does make blade changing far simpler without attachments getting in the way of your hands.

The base is fairly standard, and can tilt from 0 - 45 degrees left and right. You will need an allen key/hex wrench to tighten and loosen the screw holding this in place. One is supplied on a holder on the top of the jigsaw's base/shoe. Pivot positions are marked at 0, 15, 30 and 45 degrees, and small indents in the pivot slot allow you to position the base fairly accurately at these locations. At the 0 degree point, i.e. so the blade is at 90 degrees to the base, the base can slide forward in a milled slot to ensure the base returns back to 0 with repeatable accuracy. This however is not actually what this feature was designed for. In sliding the base at the 0 degree position, it moves the blade into a narrow slot on the base. This is designed to reduce chip-out on material such as ply or laminates, or even just on wood itself by providing support to the material right up close to the blade. The theory behind the design is nice, however, the blade does not sit far enough back in this slot to make full use of it.

You should check the angle of the blade vs the base with a reliable square or other angle measuring device to ensure accuracy. Out of the box the various angle detent settings were reasonably accurate, but the base can be adjusted infinitely throughout its range for perfection. Cutting extremely accurate bevels or miters with a jigsaw is a hard thing to do anyway, so this type of cutting with a jigsaw is usually reserved for those projects where fine accuracy is not an issue.

The jigsaw utilizes a variable orbital cutting action to help cut through your material. There are 4 settings for this action controlled by a turn of the orbital adjustment knob on the left side of the saw. Settings are marked - 0, I, II, III - and represent the degree of orbital motion. Higher orbital motion, which is aided by the movement of the blade support assembly underneath, allows faster cutting in softer material by allowing the blade to cut more efficiently on the upstroke, and reducing blade drag on the downstroke. Lower or no orbital action can be used on more dense materials. Choosing the right setting comes down to experience and practice on scrap material.

The tool does a good job with both straight and curved cuts. "Jigsawing" certainly does take a lot of practice to be able to follow a line or curve accurately. Choosing the right settings and the right blade can make that task much easier. With the wrong blade and cutting action, you may well find yourself veering right off course and far from your cut line. It is important to become familiar with your tool and practice on off-cuts and scrap material. Practice makes perfect, as they say!

A fence is included in the case, allowing you to make straight parallel cuts referencing an edge. There are no special features with this fence, although the markings are etched into the fence, rather than marked on the surface. On the CJS1801K model, markings are provided in both inches and millimeters. It slots into the middle section of the base and is secured on one side via the same hex type screws as used to adjust the base tilt feature.

Battery & Charger
Supplied with the jigsaw is one 18v, 2.0 Ah battery, plus a suitable 18v battery charger. I would have liked to have seen two batteries included, but I'm not the one making the decisions. Ryobi have designed the batteries in their pro series line to be somewhat interchangeable with each other, so if you have some of the newer 18v products from Ryobi, those batteries may also fit the jigsaw, and hence, you can have a backup ready to go when needed. The charger is fast charge capable, allowing a completely discharged battery to be fully charged within 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Led lights on the charger base itself provide information to the user as to the current stage of the recharging cycle. Additionally, the lights can indicate if a battery is damaged or not taking a charge. The connection stem on the battery itself is not symmetrical in shape, and hence, you can only insert it one way into both the tool and the charger. This means you do not have to remember to orientate the battery correctly when connecting it to either item. It can only go in one way. Battery life is very good. Ryobi are using quality cells with these new line products so extended use (for a cordless tool) is possible and the battery will give solid performance if looked after well. You should completely discharge the battery before re-charging it however.

By looking at the tool itself you may think the battery position would make the tool rear-end heavy, however, this is not the case. There is a hint or rear bias in weight balance, but it is very minimal and does not effect the tool in use at all. Without the battery installed most of the jigsaw's weight is toward the front of the machine so the battery adds as an equalizing weight, so to speak.

Blades & Blade Changing
The included blades are fairly standard, and with the CJS1801K, three blades were included. A basic wood cutting and metal cutting blade are thrown in, but these are rather ordinary in quality. A third blade in the kit has alternate ground bevels and is much higher quality, and much sharper. You will however probably need to pick up a set of good quality blades from the local hardware store to make the most of the tool.
The blades used can be either of the "U" or "T" shaped variety, often referred to as "universal" or "Bosch" type respectively (shank capacity = 6.35mm). You should have no trouble at all finding blades of this type at any hardware store, so supply should not be an issue. Like blades for other tools, jigsaw blades come in all different styles and types depending on the material you are cutting. Select an appropriate blade for the task at hand.

The Ryobi jigsaw requires no additional tools to change blades - it is a tool-less blade changing design. To change a blade you simply lift the blade lock release lever up as far as it will go, insert the blade, then release the same lever to lock the blade in place. The blade lock provides a very secure grip on the blade and we did not experience any blade slip or dislodgement in use. Always remove the battery before changing blades. There is then no chance that the tool can accidentally start up during the process, causing personal injury.

A very handy feature on this tool is the blade storage compartment. It is located at the lower rear of the jigsaw's main body and will hold half a dozen or so blades. Because it is a fully enclosed compartment, there is no chance for the blades to fall out. Unfortunately however, it will only hold shorter blades. Blades longer than say three inches probably won't fit.

Overall Opinion
This is my first cordless jigsaw, so I can't compare it to any other models available on the market. I didn't expect a cordless jigsaw to pack much grunt, but surprisingly, this model does. At full stroke speed, the unit can certainly make its way through material. I didn't test the metal cutting capabilities s as I had no spare metal sheet material lying around during the test period, but I'd imagine it would achieve good results with a good metal cutting blade fitted. In wood cutting tests the jigsaw exceeded my expectations. While it isn't on the same level as some of the higher priced corded jigsaws, as a cordless unit, I'll certainly be grabbing that first for those quick two minute jobs where I don't require a high-end saw to make the cut. Being able to grab it out of the case and be cutting within seconds is a real benefit of cordless jigsaws. While this model does not have any dust extraction features, I have not really found those to be terribly good on corded jigsaws anyway, so for me, this is not a turn-off factor. The Ryobi 18v jigsaw is comfortable to use, can be tackle plunge cutting, bevel cutting and scroll cutting well and offers good battery life for a tool requiring a good amount of power.

The Ryobi CJS1801K is available in Australia from outlets such as Gasweld, Total Tools, Glenfords and Mitre 10 stores with a recommended retail price of AUD$219.

The Ryobi OJ1802K is available throughout the USA from Home Depot stores with a recommended retail price of around US$99.

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Ryobi Cordless
Jigsaw Photos
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Ok... Who stole the cord?

Four-position orbital action dial.

wire-frame safety guard up front.

Blade storage compartment at the rear of the tool.

The battery pack is easily added and removed from the saw.

18v charger and blades come standard with the package.

Tool-less blade change. Swap blades in seconds!

A 45-degree cross-cut

It's not cabinet-grade joinery, but good clean results were achieved.

Good tool balance and constant power delivery allow smooth curve cuts to be achieved.

The jigsaw in action.

The included fence allows parallel straight cuts.

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