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This is what you get when the major player in jig saws refines the industry standard - again. Bosch really does have the jig saw concept figured out!
This saw finished 5th in our annual Top Ten Tools of 2010!
Click image to enlarge

Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw

Leading the industry is never enough for these guys!

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 11-1-2010

Bosch jig saws have long been the standard by which all others were judged. Competing jig saw manufacturers may have made Voodoo dolls or cast evil spells on Bosch engineers and while I have to respect that kind of effort it was but a nice try because here they are again. Bosch just released what looks to be the most powerful, smoothest running jig saws that you can buy including those with a price tag just this side of stupid. The Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw shown in this review has a top handle brother (the JS470E) that matches all of the specs we look at here other than the top-handle.

The Basics

The Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw features a new 7.0-amp motor, stronger than any other jig saw that I can find. Bosch builds in their Constant Response™ circuitry that maintains the selected speed despite varying loads on the blade. Because of the extensive Bosch capabilities with electric motors and their ability to make them smaller and smaller the barrel grip area is surprisingly trim. And while they were looking at the grip area Bosch added a rubber over mold that gives the operator a secure sense of grip.

The new 7.0-Amp motor (left) is more powerful but Bosch kept the barrel grip area surprisingly small. Bosch also gave the grip area a rubber over mold and added insulation (right) to the gear cover area.
Click images to enlarge

The remarkably low levels of vibration in a reciprocating tool like this Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw are not easily achieved. Bosch uses high quality materials and ultra-precise machining to create a plunge system that runs very smoothly and allows the operator to focus on following layout lines rather than trying to tame a vibrating tool at the same time.

Bosch also added a new layer of insulation to the front gearbox area that gives the user additional protection in case the blade should accidentally cut into electrical wiring. The gear case can get rather hot during extended usage and while not dangerous to the workings within the case its surface can rise to temperatures that are uncomfortable to the hand though I don’t know why the operator would be holding it there anyway.

This heating of the front gear case cover has been vilified by some as a deficiency but I think the more likely cause is a simple function of the close tolerances necessary to combat vibration and something going up and down thousands of times per minute. Every good jig saw that I have had (and not all were Bosch) developed noticeable heat at the front gear case and none of them ever failed including the Bosch I have been using frequently for well over three years at this writing.

Most of the controls are grouped on the left side of the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw. The slider ON/OFF switch is within easy reach of the thumb for right handed users. This switch stays in the ON position until it is pulled back so left handed operators also can use this tool with relative ease. The top strap version (JS470E) uses a trigger ON/OFF switch. Next to that trigger is a lock-on button that allows the trigger to be locked in the ON position for long duration jobs.

The controls for the orbit, blower and ON/OFF are grouped (left) on the lower left side where they are easily accessible. The speed control (right) is recessed into the rear of the body where it is easy to get at but hard to bump accidentally.
Click images to enlarge

A pair of levers controls the four orbital-action settings and the three blower settings. The orbital action lets you make the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw cut more aggressively with higher orbit settings or more smoothly with the lower orbit settings. The lower settings are also used for fine-toothed blades or abrasive blades used for cutting ceramics, plastics and metals. The blower lever lets the operator control how much air is used to clear dust from the cutline to improve visibility.

Speed Control

At the rear of the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw motor housing is a recessed speed control dial. This dial has 6 numbered detents that let the operator select between 500 SPM (strokes per minute) and 3100 SPM. The dial has tiny detents between the majors one to offer ultra-fine control over the blade speed.

I like the rear-mounted location of the speed control along with its recessed access. The speed control dial is easy to reach even while working but the depth of the recess makes it all but impossible to accidentally change the speed by bumping the dial. I like to tweak the blade speed but only when I mean it!

Blade Changing and Control

The Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw retains the tool-free blade changing system from earlier models because it works very well. And like the last versions the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw uses the uber-popular T-shank blades.

Push the slider lever across the front of the tool and the blade is ejected. You do not have to touch it which is exceptionally nice when the blade is very hot. To install a new blade you push the slider across to line up the slot for the blade, push it into the slot fully and release the slider. That locks the blade in place and you are ready to go to work. It takes about three times longer to explain the blade installation procedure than it does to actually install it!

The super easy blade changing system (left) comes from the previous versions of the Bosch jig saw. Sometimes even Bosch can't improve on Bosch! The new foot plate is tougher, comes with the plastic no-mar base plate and a chip reducing insert.
Click images to enlarge

I keep waiting to see if Bosch can make changing blades in their jig saws any easier but it is looking like they may have maxed out the engineering of blade changing. To make changing blades any easier Bosch might have to send a technician along with each jig saw to change the blades for you.

The new plunge mechanism design goes a long way toward stabilizing the blade during the cut. Since much of this happens within the gear case we don’t have much to look at but it means that we can cut straighter easier and without the little arms that used to grip the blade on either side. Bosch also retains the roller guide at the rear of the blade to both support it against cutting pressure and to help to keep it running straight. This is a good system that works very well without needing tweaking by the operator.

Tougher Footplate

The Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw features a redesigned footplate that makes it tougher and easier to work with. The footplate is made from precision cast aluminum and fitted with a steel insert. Bosch says in their literature and the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw “footplate and its mount is optimized to withstand the toughest conditions and survive accidental drops intact.” Don’t look for words like that from the cheapo manufacturers.

The footplate comes with a snap on plastic no-mar cover that not only prevents marking of the wood but also lets the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw slide along very easily. It also includes a snap-in plastic zero clearance plate for use when cutting fragile woods that tend to splinter or chip along a cut. Combined with the orbit control this insert can help make exceptionally clean cuts for a jig saw.

The top strap version (JS470E) use all the same features except of course for the top strap and trigger style ON/ODD switch. a lock-on button next to the trigger makes long duration jobs easier to cope with.
Image courtesy of Bosch Tools

The footplate has onboard storage for the hex wrench used to adjust its angle for bevel cuts. A scale read from the footplate bottom shows the angle being set, up to 45-degrees to the left or right. The zero (90-degrees to the blade) has a slide in detent that makes returning to that setting quick and positive.

In the Shop

If I had my wish all hand tools would weigh about half of what they do right now. The Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw is actually light for this kind of tool so I will learn to live with it! There is a weight penalty when high quality metals and durable designs are combined. Like many of you I am more concerned about a quality, long-lasting tool than in weight anyway. Besides, the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw is only heavy when I am carrying it around. Set it on the wood and turn it on and it “feels” much lighter probably, because of the reciprocating action. Whatever is causing the sensation of reduced weight the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw feels way lighter while it is cutting and that is when I care about it most.

I like the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw because of how it feels when actually making cuts. The barrel grip makes it easier for me to focus on steering the front of the blade to follow the line. That helps eliminate the operator induced side loads that can make a perfectly good jig saw cut at an angle.

Have you ever seen the people in woodworking show booths steering a jig saw by the cord to show how it doesn’t cut at an angle? Well a big reason that it doesn’t cut at an angle is because they are steering it by the cord. That prevents them from putting side loads on the blade that cause the angled cuts. Here endeth our smoke and mirrors lesson for today.

In terms of power and control, the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw is first rate on all counts. Keep a reasonably sharp blade in it and this jig saw cuts well regardless of what kind of wood is being cut or how thick. As long as the blade reached through the bottom of the wood I never had an issue with the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw making cuts. The orbital and blower controls work as expected and do what they are supposed to.

After using the Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw in the shop for everything I could conjure up I caught myself thinking that, “it works as well as a Bosch.” After contemplating that bit of circular logic I realized that comparing the new industry standard to the previous one can get confusing but there really isn’t an alternative. When the manufacturer of the industry standard comes out with an improved version the only thing that is not confusing is that the woodworker benefits.

Conclusions

Video Tour

While some other jig saw manufacturers continue to try their lame version of the Jedi Mind Trick, “Bosch is not the jig saw you are looking for” Bosch continues to develop solid, user friendly jig saws that simply do the job for which they are designed. And most importantly, they do that job for a very long time despite carrying a decidedly moderate price tag. The Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw in this review has a street price of just $186.99 (11-1-2010) and the top strap version sells for $154.95.

A jig saw may not be an everyday tool for many of us but it is close to it in most shops. I keep my Bosch jig saw in my small power tool drawer. Not surprisingly it is always on top because it comes out more than everything else in there. The Bosch JS470EB Barrel Grip Jig Saw is the latest of the greatest line of jig saws and deserves a very close look if you need this type of saw.

Visit the Bosch Tools web site – Click Here

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