Please note: Since this review was
published, Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and
is no longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot
be obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com
appears to still be available online and offers some product information
and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that
OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support
or spare parts for their products.
I must say that when I read about GMC's latest
jigsaw, it certainly caught my attention. A number of innovative features
not seen on jigsaws in the past is what had me reading more about it...
We had the opportunity to get our hands on one and we
waited for it to arrive quite anxiously. We have used pendulum jigsaws
before, no big deal, but the LS950SPJ is a scrolling pendulum
and with a laser guide as standard.
Now that is something different indeed.
Let's take a closer look.
First Things First
The LS950SPJ ships in a moulded carry case, which is handy for
transportation and to keep dust at bay in storage. A hex key, dust
connector and standard
blade is also supplied with the tool. Usually, the blades supplied with
most new tools are sub-standard. It was interesting to note that the
supplied blade was marked as "swiss-made" and certainly felt sharper than
what you would expect from standard blades shipped with tools. This proved
to be the case during the tests as well.
The manual supplied should be seen as a good example of
what all manufacturers should supply as documentation. Full color on thick
glossy paper with easy to read print and excellent photos. Layout and
design also makes the grade. It's obvious some thought, planning and
execution has gone into compiling the manual, rather than it being an
after-thought for a product, or worse yet, a photocopied sheet of paper
that you can't even read as found with some tools! Other manufacturers
should take notes of this example. We did spot one small error in the
manual in terms of the scroll function use. it mentions setting the
pendulum lever to the "o" position, when in fact, this should be the "S"
position. The manual isn't perfect, but it comes close!
||230-240V ~ 50Hz*
|No load speed:
||0 - 45 degrees
Cutting Depth in:
- power rating is given for Australian product. Power rating for
US/International version of product may vary.
The first specification one might notice is the power
input. At a whopping 920W, it easily surpasses the majority of jigsaws
sold by other manufacturers. In fact, I had a hard time finding jigsaws
from even the leading brands that came even close to this mark. As a
result of the large power specification, and the scrolling function we
will look at later, the jigsaw itself is quite large. Certainly one of the
largest jigsaws I have seen in recent times. Whether the size affects
performance or ease of handling we will find out soon.
The no-load speed of 800-3000 strokes per minute is in
line with many other models, however some other brand name models do drop
down to 500 or lower strokes per minute which may be more suitable for
cutting of specific metal compounds. 800 strokes is an acceptable lower
range figure and you probably don't need to go much higher than 3000 spm
for wood cutting.
Stroke length at 23mm is about average so no problems
there. Cutting angle from 0-45 degrees is also somewhat standard in almost
all jigsaws on the market and similarly, it is adjusted via a screw in the
base of the machine that allows pivoting movement of the shoe plate in
either direction. Fine woodworkers or cabinet makers would rarely consider
cutting bevels with a jigsaw. It is simply not very accurate for fine
work, no matter what brand of jigsaw you may have. For rough work however,
the bevel cutting feature is appropriate and useful if no other means of
producing accurate bevels are available. Obviously it is difficult to
carry a tablesaw to a jobsite. The jigsaw allows bevel cutting with
Cutting Depths in both wood and steel are within
reasonable ranges, however, you may find higher priced brands claim depth
capacities 10-20% greater than those listed here. This specification is,
in my opinion, highly variable and not always accurate. Again, on the
jobsite, cutting a 100mm thick piece of wood might be needed, but in the
workshop, a bandsaw (for curved cuts) or a tablesaw (for straight cuts)
can achieve this task much more easily.
What the jigsaw is very useful for is curve cutting in
the middle of pieces and cutting in workpieces that are already insitu,
i.e. already installed and not easily removed for the cutting process.
Jigsaws like the GMC LS950SPJ are also great for quickly taking the edge
off a corner of wood, or for cutting non-standard shapes or finishing a
cut made by a circular saw blade. There are countless more applications of
Your standard wheel-type variable speed control sits up top on the
handle and within the hand grip 'cavity' is your standard on/off
power switch, which does feature a power-on hold button so you can keep
the jigsaw running once going without having to depress the switch and
hold it continuously. A useful feature for jigsaws as it allows you to
free that hand up to grip the jigsaw
somewhere else for
Down on the lower right hand side of the LS950SPJ
(when looking from the rear of the saw) is the pendulum lever. The lever
has more than the 3 standard settings found on many other models. In fact,
the LS950SPJ has 5 settings.
The first setting, and the most significant is marked as
"S", presumably for the "Scrolling" setting. We will explore the scrolling
feature shortly. The second setting marked "0" is for standard cutting
action (no pendulum action). The next 3 settings enable pendulum action on
the jigsaw. This pendulum movement with the saw blade "swinging" slightly
allows for more efficient cutting. The settings 1, 2 and 3 control the
amount of pendulum action during the cut. Different materials will require
different settings for optimum cutting action. It is best to try cutting
samples first to determine the best setting for the type of material you
are working with. The pendulum lever moves relatively fluidly between the
settings, however, for the scrolling setting, you must make sure the blade
assembly is pointing forward before the lever will engage in that settings
The last control option is a simple yellow on/off button
on the front of the saw which turns the laser guide... you guessed it, on
or off! And speaking of lasers...
Laser Guided Jigsaw!
Well, it's really user-guided, but with the aid of a laser. GMC have
produced a number of woodworking tools with laser beams in recent times.
The effectiveness, or usefulness of lasers on woodworking equipment is
certainly a topic for hot debate. Some woodworkers love them, others don't
see the point. Lasers are becoming more common on miter saws these days,
and I know myself, the laser fitted to my
Bosch miter saw certainly comes in very handy and saves
time aligning workpieces before cutting.
The first jigsaw I owned was a very cheap home reno'
model and I had difficulty seeing the cut line in front of the saw. There
were obstructions near the cut line that limited visibility. This was
quite frustrating and resulted in less than accurate cuts. While it is
perceivable that a laser on a jigsaw might not be the most useful
addition, I will say that after using the LS950SPJ, that the laser can
help in following not only a straight cutting line, but can aid in
sticking to a curved cut line as well.
The laser assembly can be removed from the front of the
saw and this is necessary to do so to throw in 2 AAA batteries that power
it. The removal/assembly procedure is documented well in the manual. Once
powered-up and switched on (the little yellow button on the front of the
jigsaw), the laser generates a thin red beam projecting
out well in front of the saw (perhaps 10" as a rough estimate). Naturally it is a straight line beam (what
else) and can assist in cutting straight lines quite well. While I would
prefer to use a straight edge to make a straight cut, sometimes this
option may just not be available, or possible if working on thin pieces of
wood or steel. In these instances the laser beam may be useful. Outdoor
work with laser beams in bright sunlight can make them difficult to see,
so not in every situation will the beam work well. GMC does sell
laser-enhancing glasses designed to improve visibility of the beam,
however, I do not have a pair to give you an evaluation on those. Since
the majority of my work is inside a workshop, there was no problems seeing
With curve cutting, the laser beam is less useful in
principle. It does allow you to follow a curved line reasonably
accurately, but you must be looking at the beam where it projects just in
front of the blade or shoe plate for best effect. It is ok with larger
radius curves but with tight curve work, you are probably better to turn
it off and just use your eyesight on the cutting blade as your guide.
So with those things in mind, my conclusion on the
inclusion of the laser on this product is that it is an added bonus with
application in some instances, but not ideally suited to all jigsawing
tasks. Caution must be taken with lasers as well in accordance with the
As an accessory, a parallel guide is included in the package. This is
your standard run of the mill fence that attaches to the base plate and
allows parallel cutting to an edge. Useful for the contractor or at the
jobsite if you need to trim an edge of a piece or make parallel cuts for a
project or task.
I love any tool that doesn't require its own tools to switch blades or
cutting implements. I am forever misplacing the little spanners, hex keys
and paraphernalia that come with machines these days, so the less of it
the better in my opinion, although some tools you can't do without good
fastening items for safety reasons (i.e. router, drill press etc).
The GMC LS950SPJ does indeed feature a tool-less blade
change mechanism. Hoorah! To change blades, you must first pull the front
clear blade guard forward and it pivots upward and out of the way. The
switchblade mechanism is a small yellow spring-loaded latch-type assembly that can be
pushed to an upward position to release the blade. Once released, simply
pull the blade out. With the switchblade mechanism in the same up
position, you can freely insert a new compatible blade (accepts T-shank
blades) and then simply use
two fingers to pull the switchblade latch back to the down position to
lock the blade in place. Pretty simply procedure but you must be careful
as your fingers are always only millimeters away from the blade and,
naturally, ensure the power cord is disconnected before you go putting
your hands anywhere near a sharp blade hooked to a powered-motor!
Evaluation of the GMC LS950SPJ in action
Ok so with the many features discussed above, here is my evaluation of
the LS950SPJ after about 5 weeks of use. Firstly, I made sure the shop vac
was connected to the dust port at the rear of the jigsaw. I find it
amusing that my collection of vacuum attachments and adaptors built up
over the years rivals even the biggest vacuum store in town! A small
dust fitting is supplied that locks into the rear opening on the jigsaw
giving a 40mm outside radius for hookup to the shop vac.
The blade guide, which provides support for the blade
and prevents excessive twist during a cut can be adjusted underneath and
is held in place via a hex screw. This allows you to position the guide in
the best position for the blade you are using. When you switch to scroll
mode, this action moves the blade forward out from the guide wheel so you
can freely rotate the blade through 360 degrees without damaging the guide
or having it impact on the cutting action. Proper blade guide position
will ensure cleaner, more accurate cuts.
The scrolling feature of the LS950SPJ is its most unique
function. Using it allows to cut cut intricate patterns and curves in
really tight spaces. You simply cannot cut tight curves easily with a
standard non-scrolling jigsaw. This saw however makes cutting curves a
simple affair. Be warned though that it does take a bit of practice to get
a feel for the scrolling action and develop good control using it. I found
after about an hour of practice with the scrolling function, I was able to
follow tight curves and cut accurately with a good level of control over
the saw. You might notice the last two photos in the right column. The
second last photo shows how the scrolling function permits full 360 degree
blade action without ever having to turn the jigsaw body. The last photos
shows a bit of scrap MDF I cut some curves in using the scroll feature.
The photo is a little deceiving. It is actually a close-up shot and those
curves are tighter than you might think, probably only a 1/4" in diameter.
When you have strayed from the line in a normal curve cut, using a
combination of the scroll feature plus pivoting the base plate can quickly
get you back on track. This combination worked very well and illustrates
an advantage of the scrolling feature. All in all, while some may consider
it a novelty, with use I found the feature to be quite intuitive in
application, and it works great with the right blade. While it wont cut as
intricately as a scroll saw, the LS950SPJ is certainly more portable and
allows you to take the tool to the workpiece rather than bringing the
workpiece to the tool.
In terms of power, the 920W motor has more than enough
grunt for all applications. Admittedly, the bigger motor adds weight to
the tool, but this is not such a bad thing. A 'heavier' jigsaw goes a long
way in dampening vibrations that jigsaws tend to create. Since most use
would be benefiting from gravity anyway, it is not such an issue. Whether
we were scroll cutting 3mm ply or 2" hardwood, the LS950SPJ met the
challenge, although you must naturally adjust feed rates to compensate for
the material. Hardwood is slower going.
What I liked about this tool is that it is extremely
comfortable to use. All control grips are rubber padded and in use, it
feels like you have full control over the tool, rather than the tool
controlling you! I have used several brand jigsaws in the past and while
some are quite good, others have far too much vibration and they are
difficult to keep the cut to the line. Not so with the LS950SPJ. Despite
its price tag being well under some of the competitors, I will honestly
say that in use, it felt just right. Smooth, controllable and little
vibration. The end result is smoother, more accurate cuts, and that is a
good thing. The low-friction plastic base-shoe allows easy pivoting of the
saw, despite its heavier weight.
As mentioned above, the laser has some application, but
is not practical for all tasks. I did find there were no visual
obstructions restricting view of the blade in action, which allows you to
sight your cutting line and the blade very well.
Of course, almost every tool has a weakness. With the
LS950SPJ, it has to be dust collection. I used the saw several times
outdoors with no dust hose connected. Very little dust was seen coming
from the port and little dust residue after cutting stopped, even looking
right down inside the dust channel on the base of the saw. Of course, the
'sucking action' of the vacuum will actually aid greatly in drawing dust
up from the cut line, but with this attached, measurement of dust caught
is difficult to achieve. The dust portal for collection sits underneath
the blade guide. The guide itself probably blocks some of the dust getting
into the dust channel which is a limiting factor. It's no surprise that by
simple design of the jigsaw that dust collection is rarely good on any
model or brand. This is no different here, however, I have used more
expensive models which do seem to offer better extraction from the cutting
If we take into account the fact that the GMC LS950SPJ is priced at
AUD$149, several ladder rungs cheaper than the 'brand name' competition,
this saw offers excellent performance and value for money. Quite honestly,
after having owned other budget jigsaws, I wasn't expecting too much from
this saw. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The tool feels
solid, is finished well and incorporates not only a unique scrolling
function, but a useful laser guide for freehand work and a pendulum
cutting action which few budget model jigsaws have.
It is hard to judge durability after the short period of
use I have given it so far, but if we assume the saw continues to perform
well for at least 4-5 years, than I would recommend it to anyone. If it
breaks down in less than 2 years, well, you can have it replaced free of
charge with the standard GMC 2 year warranty (home use only). It is always
hard to justify a tool purchaser to someone. I can only tell you of my
experience and give my opinion on quality in relation to the price tag and
given that I have tested other GMC products on this site, I have to so
that this particular tool feels the most robust than any other and
performs like you would expect an industrial model tool to perform.
If the laser and scroll feature is not important to you,
than it might be a harder sell, but even then at AUD$149 I still think it
offers good value for money.
The choice is yours!