Black and Decker JS680V Linefinder Orbital Jigsaw Review
The new Black & Decker JS680V Linefinder Orbital Jigsaw takes all the guesswork out of how much orbital action and what speed to use to make all types of cuts in different materials. This saw comes with many quality features like a cast metal shoe, keyless blade clamp that positively holds both T and U shank blades, and a powerful motor. Homeowners and do-it-yourselfers owe it to themselves to have a decent jig saw and this one fits the bill for both performance and price.
Black and Decker JS680V Linefinder Orbital Jigsaw Features
Our test saw came in a brightly decorated cardboard box. No real assembly was required other than inserting three AAA size batteries (included) into the black light housing on the front of the saw. You can pretty much pick this saw up at the store, tear open the packaging when you get home and you are ready to cut. (You might want to read over the included owner’s manual to make sure you know what you are doing though.) The saw actually has a good heft to it and we would attribute that to there being numerous metal parts. We like when a jig saw has some weight to it because it makes for a better cut because you can hold it steadier. The shoe is all metal covered on the bottom by a tough plastic base plate that helps ensure you will not mar the surface you are working on. Just above the shoe is a large metal flip out leaver for you to adjust the cutting angle of the shoe in relation to the blade. There are notches for the angle of the shoe that is calibrated in common degree measurements, so once you flip the locking lever closed, the shoe stays put. The only problem with this is say you needed to cut a 23.5 degree angle; the shoe will not lock down in this position. Of course if you have to make that precise of a cut, you might want to rethink your selection of cutting tools.
Now, one of the features we liked best about this jig saw was the SmartSelect Dial on the side. What this dial does it take the guesswork out of how much orbital action to use and what speed the motor should be running at. These are critical questions because, depending on the type of cut, the type of material and what you are trying to do, you really need to set up your saw correctly. For quick straight cuts in softer materials like pine, you would normally use a higher speed with maximum orbital action. But say you wanted to cut a piece of PVC pipe, you would want to use a slower speed and no orbital action. For the end user, these options and choices are simplified. Just glance at the dial, select the type of cut and material, then turn it to the correct position and go to town on your work piece.
Now with all the nifty innovation that went into this saw, we have to questions the usefulness of the black light Linefinder system that is also integrated into the saw. The idea is you use a colored marker to draw on your work piece, then you turn on the black light and you can easily see your markings. While this is mostly true, we did find it a little gimmicky. There are several things that did not make sense to us. One was that you had to use batteries to power the black light, so this means that if you leave the light on accidentally or store the tool for long periods of time, your batteries will probably go dead. This makes little sense since this is a corded tool. The other thing that we noticed was that when using the included marker, it was difficult to see the markings under bright sunlight – and of course the only way to see the marking was with the Linefinder. For us, it might have made more sense to make this a bright LED light that was simply switched with the saw’s trigger switch with no extra batteries to have to worry about.
Black and Decker JS680V Orbital Jigsaw Testing and Use
We will have to say this saw surprised us with its power, ability to cut very cleanly, and its great control. Our test material was comprised of 1×8 white pine which we find is a very common type of project material. First off, we had to try out the Linefinder system. We marked out a diagonal line with our Speed Square using the included marker. Selecting the proper cut type on the SmartSelect dial, we turned on the Linefinder light. It was very easy to see the marked outline on the piece of wood which is what we expected. One small thing we did not like was that the included marker gave a pretty wide line and after a lot of use and wear we would expect the felt tip to make the line wider and wider. For those interested in precise cuts, this wide marker line is about double the width of a common pencil line which many are used to. At the end of the day, did the Lindfinder system work? The answer is yes, but we wonder if it is really necessary and all that practical.
To further test the capabilities of the saw’s use, we continued trying various types of cuts using the included wood blade. To test how rigid the saw would hold the blade and how well it would do at keeping the blade perpendicular to the cutting surface, we tried cutting some extreme curves and circles. With the SmartSelect Dial set to the curvy cut setting for wood, we went to town. These cuts were done freehanded and what we were most interested in seeing was if we could get smooth, flat cuts in the material. In these tests the saw experienced no stress or strain on the motor, the blade did not twist in the quick change blade holder, and the cuts were very square and smooth. Another feature that we noted while cutting was the saw’s ability to keep saw dust and debris clear in the area where the blade was in contact with the wood. This was very nice since it made it easier to see where we were going to be cutting.
The new Black & Decker JS680V Linefinder Orbital Jigsaw is a fantastic performer and really makes it easy for a novice, homeowner, and even the contractor on a budget to have a very capable performer. With a great build quality, decent heft, plenty of power and a good price point, this saw is a great choice. We really liked the SmartSelect Dial because it works and makes sense. We do have to question the long term usefulness of the Linefinder light, but we’ll say that it did work as advertised and some might actually like it. Personally, we would have rather had a built-in LED work light instead. For our Performance rating we gave this saw an 8/10 since it does give orbital action and many quality options to the user. For our Value rating, we gave the saw an 8/10 since it provides power, performance, and features at a price that is more than fair. We actually have seen this saw for less than half off the MSRP at one of our local home improvement centers.