It's been awhile since I switched from a Yankee screwdriver to a cordless drill, but I still remember how it revolutionized the way I installed door hardware. Like a lot of other carpenters, my first cordless tool was a Makita 9.6-volt pistol grip. About ten years ago, I went cordless with a second tool, a 14.4-volt DeWalt 5 3/8-inch circular saw. Although it looked a little like a toy when I first saw it, it turned out to be a sturdy and productive tool that changed the way our finish carpentry crew did business. As we continued to add cordless tools, we noticed we were accumulating many different kinds of chargers and batteries. The different voltages and manufacturers meant a lot of redundancy and additional expense, so we ultimately standardized by going to DeWalt's 18-volt cordless tools. Although most of DeWalt's cordless tools have performed well over the years, the jigsaw's reliability has been disappointing, so I recently went looking for a new cordless jigsaw, despite our commitment to a single 18-volt platform.

We tested 18-volt saws from Bosch, DeWalt, and Makita, along with a 19.2-volt Porter-Cable saw and a 12-volt Milwaukee saw. We put the saws out in the field for more than four months. Although our needs are fairly simple (tasks like notching window stools and cutting curves in wall caps for bull-nosed corners), the tools got a daily workout. I...

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