The Black & Decker JS515 4.5 amp Jigsaw can be found for a reasonable “street” price and offers reliable, if simplistic, performance. The saw is your basic model and certainly doesn’t feature many frills besides tool-less changing of both universal and t-shank blades and a handy magnetic storage area for up to 3 blades. It will even store new blade types like the Spyder Tools Skeleton jig saw blades.
The first thing we noticed was that this jigsaw came without any sort of case or tool bag. Given that it has a plastic body, we’re certain it will scuff easily and likely encounter an early or tragic end if abused. The shoe assembly is made of 1/16″ stamped metal and has a rough adjustment. By rough I mean that you loosen two Phillips screws and manually tilt the mechanism to achieve a 45 degree beveled cut on either side. There are permanent detents on the shoe, so you’ll be out of luck if you’re trying to match an existing cut at a different angle. This is part of what makes this an entry-level jig saw and not a product intended for pros who need something with a lot more flexibility and options.
It did include a single wood-cutting blade (t-shank style) that fit nicely into the side-mounted magnetized blade holder. This holder is extremely convenient and can support up to 3 blades (two 4-inch blades and a single 3-1/4 inch blade).
The clamshell handle sports a nice variable speed 2-finger trigger that is extremely easy to use and provides a nice control over the blade speed. The trouble is that the 4.5 amp motor doesn’t provide much force, so you’ll find yourself wanting to be at maximum speed most of the time. If you hold the jigsaw in your right hand there is a slightly recessed locking button that can be activated by your thumb—if you happen to be extremely flexible or double-jointed. If not, then you’ll need to release the trigger, grasp the jigsaw with your left hand and depress the button with your right thumb. It’s not the best solution we’ve seen for a locking button—not by a long shot. A lot of newer tools, like the Festool Carvex jig saw (which is in a completely different class of course) also have speed dial controls for greater cutting precision.
In using the saw, we found that matching the blade to the job was of utmost importance. If you are too slow on the trigger or you have a dull blade (or the wrong type for the wood you are cutting) you’ll soon feel the full wrath of the Black & Decker JS515 on your hand. Vibrations are easy to come by and the saw, while light, doesn’t provide much in the way of stability for tougher or deeper cuts (run away from pressure treated lumber). This is one place where we enjoy using a heavier product.
We used the Black & Decker JS515 on a variety of tasks and found it to be a fine handyman tool. Pros will want to look elsewhere and probably get an orbital version that provides more cutting power and speed. If you can find this saw on sale you may have a deal, but paying retail isn’t something we’d recommend for this model.