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Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw
The power to go cordless
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 11-21-2011
The advent of the lithium Ion batteries allowed manufacturers like Milwaukee Tool to get serious about eliminating the cord from tools that previously didn’t fare well with older battery technologies such as NiCad’s. Now armed with Milwaukee’s potent M12™ RED LITHIUM™ battery system they were able to create a legitimate cordless jig saw.
The Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw kit #2445-21 shown in this review includes the M12™ Jig Saw itself, one M12™ Compact RED LITHIUM™ battery pack, a 30-minute charger, a Milwaukee® 10 TPI, T-shank wood cutting blade, an anti-splintering insert, a non-marring shoe cover and a canvas contractor bag to carry it all around in.
Milwaukee says that the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw is the most compact and lightest weight professional tool in its class and I can’t find anything to refute that. Part of the trim size comes from the Hybrid Grip™ that incorporates the battery and its holder. Rubber overmolds on the top and bottom surfaces give the operator a secure and comfortable grip. The layout of the handle and motor case gives the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw a good feel of balance during operation.
The variable speed trigger is located to be comfortable and is easy to control. With a ¾”-stroke and a speed range of 0 to 2,800 SPM (strokes per minute) variable speed is more than just handy. Above the trigger is a slider-type lock out switch that lets you disable the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw for safety and transport.
When the trigger is pulled a front-mounted LED “headlight” makes following a layout line easier. I originally thought the idea of a headlight on some power tools was more glitter than substance but having used tools equipped with one I am convinced. This light can be especially handy when working inside of a cabinet or other space. Another nice feature of the headlight is that it stays on for several seconds after the trigger is released so you can align the blade with the next cut without having to keep the blade moving.
The shoe is adjustable to 45-degrees right or left using nothing but the built-in release lever. The kit comes with a non-marring plastic shoe cover to prevent marking fragile woods. You also get a snap-in anti-splinter insert for when that becomes an issue.
The Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw uses the popular Quik-Lok™ T-Shank blade which means that you can find one to cut metal or wood at virtually any home center. A simple lever on the front of the saw releases the blade. To install a new blade just push it into the socket and it click into place. It doesn’t get much easier!
The Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw uses a roller blade guide to support the rear edge against the forces of cutting. The roller is low enough that it helps prevent blade flex when the operator guides the tool correctly. Bad technique can overpower virtually any blade system but the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw is very good at making square cuts with some cooperation from the operator.
Battery & Charger
The Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw kit includes a 30-minute, 115V charger that handles all of the technical parts of that process for you. Plug the batter pack in and watch the LED lights on the charger to see what is going on.
The lights on the charger and the graphical legend above them show where in the process the pack is. The Red Lithium™ packs have a keyed stalk-type connector that makes it impossible to put them in the charger or tool wrong. Another row of LED’s on the side of the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw itself give you an “on-the-fly” indication of the remaining charge in the pack. Because the Red Lithium™ packs provide a very steady level of performance right up to when they reach the discharged state you get more work done between charges.
In the Shop
The Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw is just 8-3/4”-long and weighs 3.8 lbs. with the battery in place. The trim size makes it easier to work in confined places and the low weight lets you work longer without fatigue.
Despite the rapid up and down stroke of the blade there is surprisingly little vibration at the handle because Milwaukee built a counterbalance system into the mechanism. Not having the cord to contend with combined with smooth operation makes it much easier to be accurate with the M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw than with many other jig saws on the market.
The available power from the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw battery packs allows the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw to handle virtually any work a corded version can for the professional or home-shop user. I cut up a bunch of my scrap and despite using many different species of wood, the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw cruised through all of them. It was easy to be accurate in part because there is so little vibration that I was not fighting that to keep the blade on line.
If you have been wishing for a cordless jig saw the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw should be very high on your must-see list. In keeping with the Milwaukee tradition of well-made, tough tools, the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw represents a big step up in the cordless market. Battery life is very good and re-charging quick. The power and features of the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw also give it lots of uses in metalworking and woodworking shops.
The Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw kit shown here has a current street price of just $149.99 (11-19-2011). This low of a price point would have been unthinkable just a few years ago for a tool of this quality. You get to take advantage of a growing and competitive market to get a high-quality tool without busting the budget. Keep in mind that the battery and charger that comes with the Milwaukee M12™ Cordless High Performance Jig Saw are compatible with the rest of the Milwaukee M12 tool lineup so you can build a selection of these tools cheaper than you might expect.
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