My crew and I have had the pleasure of building custom homes for some very talented designers (and demanding clients) for over twenty-five years in the Adirondack Region of Upstate New York. The standards for craftsmanship are high, which we like because we get to develop and refine our skills on a daily basis. The projects typically offer views that can’t be beat, but that often means they come with the added challenge of navigating difficult terrain via pump jacks, scaffolding, and ladders. For that reason, we’re always on the lookout for lightweight cordless tools that perform well.

So when I was recently offered the opportunity to give Bosch’s new JS120BN barrel-grip cordless jigsaw a test drive, I jumped at the chance. While it’s not going to replace a corded jigsaw or even a larger cordless jigsaw, this compact beauty nicely fills a need for a very lightweight and versatile saw.

My crew and I are in the middle of installing unique siding on a home: poplar bark shakes. Given the complexity of the design, we’re faced with all sorts of cut-ins needed around windows, doors, and rafter tails, so the JS120BN couldn’t have come at a better time. What stands out the most is its size and ergonomic design. It comfortably fits into the hand for a sure grip that gives great command over intricate cuts. And perhaps best of all, the tool tucks nicely into a tool pouch. Working on a ladder 20 feet up is trying in its own right, and not having to figure out where to hang a larger tool makes things easier.

Some of the features of the JS12OBN that I like are the easy one-hand blade change, adjustable orbital action like the bigger models with up to ¾-in. stroke, and a maximum cutting depth of 2-¾ inches. It also comes with a clear plastic insert to prevent tearout, as well as a nifty removable no-mar plastic shoe – both nice features for fine finish work.

The saw performed very well for us on our siding job and it perfectly handled cutouts on poplar beadboard ceiling we installed, as well. As great as this saw is, I did find it lacking a couple of features - neither of which are deal breakers for me, but important to note just the same. For one, the saw lacks a blower, which I found disappointing but not detrimental; it’s easy enough to blow dust off the cut line as you’re going, but when you’re working up on a ladder it’s another thing to think about. The other thing that I found clumsy was having to separately turn on the built-in light (which does come in handy). Those two points aside, Bosch has come up with a real winner in a compact tool that's found a permanent place in our tool cache. Maybe a cordless trimmer router is next?

Robert Courtney is a custom home builder, trim carpenter, and mechanic specializing in building and restoring expedition vehicles.