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There are tons of different jigsaws lining the shelf at your local big-box, and every one of them is at least twice as expensive as the Task Force Orbital Action Jigsaw.  When we saw the Task Force at the local big box proudly wearing its “under $20” tag, we decided to find out whether or not it could get through some hardwood on a typical project, and we shelled out a few bucks to find out.

The result: surprising.  Read on past the jump for our experiences with the Task Force Orbital Action Jigsaw — and lots of pictures.

Unboxing

This a serious no frills unit.  Most power tools these days arrive with at least an attempt at a hard case or soft carrying bag.  The Task Force comes in a cardboard box.  The box you see sitting on the shelf?  That’s the one.  It’s not a big deal but case or bag would be nice.

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Note: Click on smaller pictures for larger ones.

Once we removed it from its cardboard packaging storage case, we came to immediately realize that all the weight from the box came from the unit itself.  At 5.3 pounds, it isn’t that heavy, but the balance of the tool makes it feel a bit unwieldy and heavier than it really is.  The shape also inspired one of our friends who stopped by during the unboxing to say, “It looks more like an orbital egg beater than a jigsaw.”

Did we mention it costs less than $20?

It does offer a few standard features such as a trigger lock and a variable speed dial that are both located near the trigger on the handle.  There’s a dust collection port at the bottom rear of the unit and a large, red, three-position orbital action knob that controls the amount of, well, orbital action in the blade.

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You can also adjust the plate on the bottom by loosening two screws and rotating the plate up to 45 degrees for bevel cuts.  The plate also has a slot for a rip fence to slide into the base.  The fence is secured by a tightening screw.

In Use

After a quick glance at the instructions to see if there were any hidden features we missed — there weren’t – we decided to load up bit and see what happened.

First of all, the blade locking mechanism is a royal pain in the ass to operate. After several attempts to get at it from the front or sides, we finally reached in from the bottom with a finger on each side and pushed down unbelievably hard on the two buttons to open the lock and slide a blade down in the slot.  When releasing the lock we got a painful pinch from the buttons locking back in place and squeezing the finger between the lock and the casing.  You can see where it pinched in the red cricle below.

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Normally we’d write something like this off to our own mistake, but it happened to two people more than once the same way during our testing.  On the other hand, we should also mention that you’re in absolutely no danger of the blade coming out on accident.  Once it’s in there, it’s seriously in there.

With the blade finally loaded, we went about setting up a cut or two.  We chose 1″ thick red oak for this test because it’s a hardwood and should prove more of a challenge than something like pine.

The first straight cut went fairly well.  It came out more or less straight, and we had little issue with it.  However, we found the unit makes a great deal of vibration even for a jigsaw, which is known for that sort of thing.  The cut was a bit wavy, but considering that we didn’t use a guide or rip guard, we sorta expected that.

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Next we tried cutting a curve.  We lined it up and began to cut.  About half way through, the saw kicked and caused a large disfigurement in the cut line.  After close inspection the blade was found to be faulty, and we switched it out for another one (finger pinching included).  After that we had no further trouble with it for the rest of the test.

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We tried a few more straight cuts as well as a few small and a few long curved cuts at different angles and found the Task Force more than capable of plowing though the hardwood without much difficulty.

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Read on to page two for our conculstions.

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17 Responses to Hands-On: The Task Force Orbital Action Jigsaw

  1. TourPro says:

    That was an excellent review. $20 bucks for any kind of power tool is simply amazing. Personally, I always shop for value and price point is certainly one of the important variables. Considering you are testing with oak, I’m pretty impressed. Question: Where’s the break-even-point for this unit? At this price, it almost seems disposable. At the very least abusable.

    The other side of the coin. Once I asked my Dad why he never cleaned the chain on his bike. He told me the average lifespan of bicycle drivetrains where he rides is about two years, then he just gets a new bike. Will we be facing mountainous landfills of cheap tools in the future? I can very realistically imagine “Joe Homeowner” disposing of this unit once the blade got dull and simply buying a new one. Like one of those plastic razors.

  2. nrChris says:

    I mentioned being skeptical when you first featured this saw. While I am still a little reserved, I would buy one now. Thanks for the high class review.

    I don’t know about high end places, but my local barber told me something interesting. He gets more mileage with a series of $80 razors than he did with a $400 razor. As they say, your mileage may vary, but if you abuse your tools you may be better off going with a string of the $20 models…

  3. HunterB says:

    “Orbital Egg Beater” That’s awesome!

    I’ll admit that I am always skeptical about reviews you see people do but this was handled nicely. You did what I’d do. Stick it in front of some wood and see if it blows up. Kudos. I have always avoided cheap power tools like the plague but you have me thinking it might not be so bad an idea. Something is better than nothing right?

  4. Bobby Heil says:

    As a collage student I don’t have much cash so this looks sweet for ramp building. Good review too!

  5. Cybergibbons says:

    I’ve had two cheap jigsaws in the past – not this cheap, but as cheap as you can buy them here in the UK.

    The first one was truly awful – it had no features such as orbital motion, except for a unusable quick release blade lock. Problem was it quick released while you were using it, and was almost impossible to release when you wanted to change the blade. It didn’t have nearly enough power to cut through what it said it would, but made 10 times more noise than it should have done. And it broke.

    The second one was much better, orbital motion, variable speed, much better balanced. It uses two screws to hold the blade. It’s a bit slow to change, but at the end of the day I spend more time cutting than changing blades, so I don’t mind. It’s still going after a couple of years of abuse.

    Experience with cheap tools is so varied. I’ve yet to use a cheap hand drill that is ok. And my cheap angle grinder sucked as well. But I have a £10 150W bench grinder, which despite the crap duty cycle (10 on, 50 off), is excellent, a £25 pillar drill which is fine for light metalwork, a £30 air compressor which is fine for cleaning and impact wrenches, and a £30 Dremel-clone with flexible shaft, which has probably been my best buy.

  6. TimG says:

    I’m a newb here, but what is the point of ‘orbital’ action on a jigsaw? Doesn’t the blade just go up and down (not in an orbit?)

    Also, I’m in the market for a real cheap jig saw.. anybody know if this is available in Canada?

    Tim

  7. Rick says:

    I just wanted to make a comment about the quality of tools in general. I think it’s true when they say that “they don’t make them like the used to” But at the same time, stuff like this is evidence that the most mediocre today is usually a much better performer than the best power tools 15 years ago.

    I don’t know how old you guys are, but I remember seeing my dad buy power tools – his would last him on the order of 15-20 years.. And today he’s seeing tools that I’m getting, and coming away really impressed with a.) the performance, and b.) the price point. In some cases durability is also impressive, but like TourPro said – it seems we’re heading in the direction of a disposable society where things aren’t made to last.. they’re made to perform. So yeah, maybe a 25 year old BMW will last you forever if you take care of it – a modern Hyundai will school it in performance and fuel economy. (except maybe in the twisties).. Though the modern Hyundai will be lucky if it lasts you 10-15 years.

  8. Fernando Vigil says:

    Orbital action increases cutting speed in softer materials by moving the blade forward and backward as it moves up and down. You might imagin it sort of as a moving in a circle (or orbit).

    For harder materials, or when you need a more precise cut, or if splintering is an issue, you can turn the orbital action off or down.

  9. Jeff T says:

    I had a $180 Bosch Jigsaw (the regular one, not barrel grip) for about 1 year, and it was the very best $180 I had ever spent on a tool. The only reason I don’t have it now is that I had to get rid of it to make ends meet late last year. I know that sounds like a fortune, but let me tell you why it was worth it.

    It would cut anything like butter. It didn’t matter what. The tool-free blade holder worked so well, that once I broke a blade in half, right in the middle of the blade, but that blade clamp still kept the other half just sitting there.

    Among other things, one day I decided that my deck was just turning into an old rotten disaster, so I borrowed a sawsall from work to cut the deck down quicky. 10% through the (expensive) blade was all chewed up. I went in my shed and got out the Bosch just to try the new jigsaw out on the deck. I thought it wouldn’t hold a candle to the recip saw. But, even on non-orbital it sawed the deck right in half with a Bosch Progressor blade. So, to finish it all off I set it on orbital setting 4 and that *ONE* single blade cut all the rest down of this deck in record time! I was just beside myself. And the jigsaw was not overheating, stinking, or anything out of the ordinary. It just kept on cutting!

    An expensive jigsaw can really do more than just a normal jigsaw can do, in my opinion. Problem is, I don’t have $180 to blow on another one. So, I thought this review was pretty sweet. Keep up the good work.

    What ever happened to the review of the Irwin mini tools you were gonna do?

  10. robert verdi says:

    Thank you. I bought this because it was a bargain, you helped me get the blade out when it broke in their. It was a pain to get out, but 2 people and a pair of needel nose pliers finnaly got it.

  11. Curtis Peagler, Jr.. says:

    I have all types of tools by some of the best manufacturers, bt it amazes me that when lowe’s started with the task force brand, they would be so dependable and cost efficient (purchasing price). one thing that surprised me was the salesperson told me there was a lifetime warranty on all their handtools (I don’t believe this includes electrical tools, e.g.: bandsaws, drills, and etc.). I have had no trouble with any of my Task Force electrical types, but I have had several problems with the switches on my Milwaukee tools. The best part of these handtools (non-electrical) is I don’t need the receipt to carry back a defective tool, just like at Sears with the Craftsman tools I have, I also have noted on some of my non-electrical tool, they were actually made in the good old U.S.A., unlike some of the ultra expensive tools from high end companies, that have “made in ….” stamped or decaled all over them. I like my Task Force tools. thanks for a great product.

  12. Henry says:

    Where do I finds parts for the Task Force 4 X 6 Disc/Belt Sander, I purchased it at Lowe’s

  13. Sean O'Hara says:

    I found luck calling this number with my sander 1.800.243.5114

  14. Bill Phipps says:

    Well, it worked okay until the blade broke. Thanks for the advice and yes…while trying to get the blade out, I broke the whole thing. So, it was cheap and worked while it lasted, until the blade broke…the great finale…I give up!

  15. Brian Hodgson says:

    Does anyone know what type of replacement blade this Task Force jigsaw requires? I am currently serving in the military in Iraq, and I found this jigsaw in an abandoned closet. I build stuff for stress relief and wanted to round some corners on some countertops I made for my office. The tool did not have a blade, and my wife stated that the Lowe’s employees have never heard of this brand and don’t know what blade to recommend to her to ship over here? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  16. Jeff says:

    I just picked this saw up at the pawnshop today ($10) for some baseboard coping. I had to choose between a dozen or so saws, and between this and the various old Skil and B&D models, this one had the most substantial feel to it. The 4 amp motor also seemed to lend it a margin of credibility. Although I had never heard of the Task Force brand, I was convinced by my eyes and hands that it was a decent quality tool, and figured it would be worth the $10 to take it home and give it a shot.

    It helped when the pawnshop also threw in a 30 pack of blades, which is probably worth twice as much as the saw.

  17. Ann says:

    Thanks for your information! I haven’t used mine in a long time and could not remember how to load the blade. Your article was a great help!

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