Stanley FatMax 6-Amp Orbital Jig Saw

Whle not overly feature rich, it does a good job at general purpose cutting

stanley_jigsaw_lead

Stanley FatMax 6-Amp Orbital Jig Saw



There are a number of things that I look for in a jig saw, with the most important being power delivery, speed control, stroke length, blade tracking, sightline, and bevel adjustment. Quality of cut is, of course, ultimately important, and determined almost as much by the choice of blade as it is by the quality of the saw.


 
Stanley has recently announced a new line of over a dozen FatMax power tools that include the top handle grip FatMax 6-Amp Orbital Jig Saw(FME340). These tools are only available in Canada at Rona stores.


 
The handle and rear portion of the motor housing is made of an impact resistant ABS plastic, while the shoe and the front part of the motor housing is made of cast aluminum. Overall weight is 6 pounds (2.75 kg), standard for this style of saw. 


 
The FME340 has a fairly short, 6' power cord, which means that invariably you'll need to haul out an extension cord. As well, it doesn't come with a storage bag, and Stanley doesn't appear to offer a rip fence or circle cutting guide (though it will likely accept third party accessories). 


 
The 6.5 amp motor delivers a maximum 3,200 strokes per minute, with a stroke of 13/16". This is a standard speed range and stroke length that you'll find quite a few corded jig saws. You regulate speed via a 7-positon dial on the top of the handle - there is no variable speed trigger. The instruction manual doesn't specify what the settings are for the speed dial - I assume that at the lowest setting the motor delivers about 450 IPM, and that each setting increases speed by 450 SPM up to the maximum of 3,200 SPM at position 7 on the dial. A speed dial is a good feature for DIYers, particularly if using the saw for rough cutting plywood or solid wood. The speed dial makes it easier to control speed rather than relying solely on trigger pressure. However, for precision cutting, particularly when making intricate cuts, I find that a variable speed trigger offers greater control.
 

01
Large trigger and recessed lock-on button
 
The FMT340 has a large, easy to depress trigger. The lock-on button, located on the side of the handle just above the trigger, is recessed below the surface of the handle, so that you're much less likely to inadvertently trip the button.
 

02
Recessed speed control dial
 
The speed control dial, which is also recessed below the surface of the handle, is difficult to rotate with the thumb - nearly impossible if you're wearing work gloves. Again, Stanley likely chose to recess the dial as a safety precaution - so that the user doesn't accidentally rotate the dial when the saw is in use. Good intentions, poor design.
 

03
Straight and orbital cutting action
 
You get to choose from four cutting actions with this saw - straight (0 position), and three orbital modes (positions 1 to 3). In straight mode the blades moves up and down, with the teeth cutting on the up stroke. In orbital mode the blade moves down, and then moves forward and upwards. At the top of the stroke the blade then moves slightly backwards, ready to make the next orbital cut. This method puts less stress on the blade, so that it generates less heat, and cuts faster. The lowest orbital action (mode 1) produces a smoother cut, while the most aggressive action (mode 3) cuts the fastest at the expense of smoothness.
 

04
Tool-free blade change
 
The tool-free blade change mechanism works well. Simply press against a yellow locking lever, insert the blade, and then release the lever. Pretty simple. If a blade is already installed in the saw, it will pop out when you press the locking level - a feature you'll like, as blades can become too hot to touch when used aggressively.


 
The FME340 only accepts T style blades, a fairly common blade style. Stanley includes a 4" 7 TPI high carbon steel blade with the saw. It does a good job rough cutting plywood and dimensional lumber.
 

05
Blade support roller
 
As found on most, if not all jig saws, is a support roller that helps prevents the blade from moving backwards under pressure, and probably provides a bit of lateral support. This helps keep the blade running straight when cutting, particularly in thick stock.
 

06
Bevel adjustment lever
 

07
Pre-set detents
 
The FME340 also features tool free bevel adjustment. You can tilt the shoe from 0° to 45° left or right, and there are pre-set detents - 0°, 15°, 30°, 45° - making bevel adjustment that much easier and quicker.


 
I found that the bevel adjustment mechanism worked reasonably well, though it felt somewhat clunky. You have to push the shoe forward to unlock it, tilt the shoe, and then pull it backwards to lock it in place. Works, but not overly smoothly.
 

08
Removable shoe sleeve
 
The shoe is 3" wide by 6-1/2" long, so provides a lot of stability in use. You can replace the plastic sleeve in the event it gets damaged. There is no zero-clearance, anti-splintering insert on the saw. While they aren't the answer to splinter-free cuts, they do help, especially if you use them in conjunction with a down-stroke blade. I found they make a big difference when cutting laminates. 


 
If you do use a down stroke blade exercise a bit of caution, as the saw is more likely to push upwards and jump about. To counteract this movement use a firm grip and apply steady downward pressure. In any event, jigsaw blades aren't overly expensive, so it's a good idea to keep a selection of blades on hand - for general purpose cutting, fine cuts in plywood, soft metal, and plastics.
 

09
Work light illuminates the cut line - more or less
 
There is a work light located just above the blade holder. I didn't find it overly useful, since the FME340 doesn't have a chip blower - which channels exhaust air from the motor towards the blade to remove chips). In use, dust covers up the cut line.


 
Neither is there an attachment to connect a shop vacuum to the saw, which would provide a more effective way of controlling dust.
 

10
The FME340 - a general purpose jig saw
 
Though the Stanley FatMax FME340 isn't overly feature rich, it does a good job at general purpose cutting. It's 6.5 amp motor, equipped with a top quality blade, will cut through sheet goods and dimensional lumber without much trouble, especially when you use the orbital cutting mode. With the right blade you can expect to cut up to about 3" in lumber, 1/2" in aluminum, and 3/8" in mild steel. I like that you can adjust the bevel either to the left or right. And best of all, it's competitively priced and comes with a 3-year warranty.
 
KEY FEATURES:


  • 6.5 Amps 
  • 0 to 3,200 SPM 
  • 7-position speed dial 
  • Lock-on button 
  • 13/16 stroke length 
  • Straight and 3 orbital cutting actions 
  • Bevel detents: 0°, 15°, 30°, 45° 
  • Dual-bevel capacity 
  • Accepts T style blades 
  • Tool-free blade change 
  • Blade eject 
  • Cast shoe 
  • Non-marring removable shoe 
  • 6' power cord 
  • 6 pound (2.74 kg) weight 
  • 3 yr warranty 
  • Includes: 4" T-shank 7 TPI wood blade HCS

CONPANY:Stanley Black & Decker
MODEL:FME340
PRICE:$79.99
MADE IN:China
SOURCE:Rona Canada
Carl Duguay, July 2012
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