DeWalt DW317 Jigsaw

DeWalt Jigsaw

Manufacturer:  DeWalt

Model:  DW317

Amperage: 5.5

SPMs:  3,100

Cost:  $120

DeWalt DW317 JigsawI perform a lot of scroll type sawing on jobs, especially when doing finish carpentry.  Needing a “beefy” jigsaw was a must.  Over the years I probably owned a half dozen jigsaws but really never found one that satisfied me.  There are your Skills, Black & Deckers, and Craftmans but they all had some major issue with them.

Then I found the DeWalt DW317.  For a jigsaw this tools is heavy (6.2 lbs).  Unlike other cutting tools where weight can cause the problem with fatigue, the jigsaw to me needs the weight.  In the past I used to get frustrated with the way my jigsaws would wonder.  I attribute this wondering to two things.  First the weight of the tool.  Heavier tools, like the DW317, stay put on the workpiece.  They tend less to bounce around, which means you fighting the tool to keep it steady, which leads to fatigue.  When I place the DW317 on my workpiece its weight allows me to concentrate on the cutting and not on keeping the tool on the table.  Second, the blade guide bearings.  All of my previous jigsaws had no guide for the blades, so I ended up breaking a lot of blades and making wavey cuts.  The DW317 has guide bearings that the blade rest upon and keeps it centered.  This feature is not unique to DeWalt.  All of your more expensive jigsaws have guide bearings or some type of blade stablizer.

The DW317 has a very fast mechanism for changing blades (T-shank blades).  Its called a Keyless Blade Clamp.  Simply lift a lever and the blade drops out and then you insert another and release the lever.  This lever on other jigs usually becomes worn over time and gets hard to move.  I have had this saw for 5 years now and the lever is as easy to lift as it was when I first purchased it.

The handle is “solid”.  When you grab it you know you have control.  The handle incorporate the trigger and incorporated in the trigger is the speed control knob.  That means that you do not have to take your finger off the trigger or use your other hand to adjust the strokes per minute (SPM).  Also incorporated in the handle is the trigger lock.  When cutting and you do not want to continue to hold in the trigger (especially for long cuts) you can press your thumb on the lock and take your finger off the trigger and the saw will continue to cut.  To release the lock, just press the trigger.  I use trigger lock a lot when I am coping molding.  Sometimes I like to hold the jigsaw by its body and not the handle (especially when coping).  The DW317’s body is perfect of this type of action.

The construction of the DW317 appears to be made to withstand a nuclear blast.  The transmission housing is cast steel.  In fact, I do not see any plastic on the parts that count (where the cutting is performed).  A lot of power tools use a lot of plastic, especially the housing for the transmission.  You can bet that this is the first place the tool will fail.  The DW317 however is steel throughout.  The only plastic on this tool is the housing around the motor and the handle cover and that is only for comfort.  Yes, like all my tools, I have dropped it many times on the jobsite.  It has never lost a beat (or stroke).

There are a couple of concerns I have for the DW317.  One is that the guide plate (the part that sits on the workpiece).  The guide plate is made of steel, so working with expensive wood can be a problem.  It would be nice if DeWalt provided a cover made of non-scarring material to put of the guide so you do not mar your workpiece.  I have ended up putting tape on the bottom of mine.  Two is the angle adjustment.  In order to change the angle of the blade (for example, cutting bevels) you have to have a straight head screw driver available.  It takes a little bit of time to adjust the guide plate to the angle you need, then you have to hold it still while you tighten the screw.   Most of the time when you tighten the screw the guide plate has moved.  That really annoys me.

The DW317 Jigsaw has four (4) settings for the blade action.  Setting 0 (zero) has the blade moving straight up and down.  Setting 3 the blade has a higher orbital movement.  Orbital movement is nice when you are cutting through hard wood over a long distance.  However, the lever that controls the blade action is situated under the motor housing which is kind of a pain to change.  The change must be made when the saw is not running.  I would like to see this feature moved up to the handle so you can change blade action without stopping.  After all, its all about being efficient as well as precise.  The other thing about the blade action lever that I have noticed is that it tends to change positions all by itself.  This has happened over time and is a sign of something becoming loose.

I would not trade the DeWalt DW317 Jigsaw (except for an improved version of it).  I still really like the tool even with its deficiencies.  I have just learned how to work around them and move on.  However, I would love to see some improvements in the features I have mentioned.  Again, I use this tool a lot.  If you are a DIY’er and will use the tool occassionally, these deficiencies will mean nothing.

The DeWalt DW317 Jigsaw is highly recommended.

Posted June 12, 2014 by admin in Tool Reviews

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