A great jigsaw is the most appreciated tool that offers DIY-ers freedom to cut various shapes, both straight and curved. It works perfectly on a variety of materials, including plywood, wood, particleboard, plastic, metal, as well as ceramic tiles.
The best part about this saw is that besides being highly versatile, it is also pretty easy to use and maintain. However, like any other power tool, the excellence of results lies in its effective use.
No matter how brilliant jigsaw you have, if you do not know how to use it properly, you might fail to produce quality results.
In this article, let me tell you how to use a jigsaw power tool and bring out the best in your creative projects.
The efficiency of a jigsaw widely depends upon the type of blade you use. Just like your kitchen knife, the sharper the edges, the better you cut. But, in a jigsaw, the blade selection depends on the project itself.
The material you’re cutting and its thickness, as well as the type of cut you want to make will determine what blade you should go for.
With the right blade in hand, you can cut a variety of materials with precision.
Now let’s get into some technicality of the jigsaw blades. Jigsaw blades are categorized based on the type of shank, the number of teeth(TPI), and the material they’re made out of.
The way the blade is mounted in the tool will depend on its type of shank, T-Shank, or U-shank. A shank is a part of the blade that is locked in a blade clamp. T-shank allows keyless blade clamping, and for locking U shank type blade, you need an Allen key to do it.
TPI is measured in teeth per square inch on a blade. It would be best to use a blade with higher TPI for harder materials and lower TPI for softer.
The number of teeth also affect the cutting speed and cut finish(rougher or smoother). More teeth usually mean smoother cuts, but with wood, it’s not really significant as the final result can be smooth out by sanding.
Standard blade materials include High Carbon Steel, High-Speed Steel, Bi-metal, and Tungsten Carbide. The type of material used will depend on the task you want to perform.
|Softwood||High carbon steel Bi-metal||Side Taper Reverse|
|Hardwood||High-Speed Steel Bi-metal||Side Taper Reverse|
|Plastic||All materials vary according to composition||All types vary according to the composition|
|Aluminum||High-Speed Steel Bi-metal||Wavy Side Taper|
|Steel||High-Speed Steel Bi-metal||Wavy Taper|
|Ceramic, stone, and other masonry materials||Tungsten Carbide||Grit, no teeth|
Now that you have more understanding of jigsaw blades, I’ll move to the techniques used to cut a variety of materials.
For cutting wood, you must choose the right set of jigsaw blades to cut softwood or hardwood. Mark the pattern you wish to cut and let the action begin.
You should start by placing the saw shoe on the workpiece so that the blade is away from the edge. Now, pressing the machine gently moves along the cutting line.
You must maintain a steady pace to let the saw cut without deflection. An ideal combination of cutting blades and relief cuts will help you cut without binding the blades. You can make straight, curved, or many more or less complicated patterns with this type of saw.
Things to remember:
- You can use a jigsaw tool to cut softwood that’s no more than 1-1/2 inches thick and hardwood up to 3/4 inches thick. You can cut thicker wood but make sure your jigsaw can handle it and buy appropriate blades.
- For a quick cutting session, use a coarser blade. However, you will need to do a lot of sanding later, depending on the blade’s coarseness.
- You can use a jigsaw to plunge cut; all you need to do is put the saw shoe in the middle and put weight on the front lip.
You can choose between the upstroke and downstroke cutting blade. While upstroke blades are quick, downstroke blades produce finer results.
Cutting Ceramic Tiles
You can easily cut ceramic tiles with a jigsaw blade that is 1/4 inch thick. While cutting tiles, you must take care of lubrication and use water for misting the tiles to make them easier to cut.
Cutting tiles with a jigsaw, unlike cutting wood, demands more patience, concentration and I’d say experience as well. This is again a way to limit the tile breakage.
Things to remember:
- Carbide-grit, toothless tiles are the best for cutting tiles.
- Applying water for lubrication helps you cut precisely and minimize wastage.
- You may also put duct tape on the saw shoe to avoid scratching or marring the tiles.
A jigsaw is perfect for cutting a variety of metal objects, including steel, no-iron pipe, wood with embedded nails, hinges, bolts, galvanized & copper pipes, and metal sheets up to 10 gauge thick. But To achieve good results you have to choose the right blade.
With firm pressure and appropriate blades, you can easily cut patterns out of metal sheets. The metal cutting blades have tiny teeth that are sharp and hard.
Things to Remember:
- A tight grip ensures smooth and precise cutting.
- You must hold the saw in a way that at least three teeth contact the edge of the material.
- Typical metal cutting jigsaw blades have 20-24 teeth per inch (TPI).
Common Features of a Jigsaw Power Tool
Though different jigsaw comes with various features, some of them are widely common across all manufacturers. They are:
- Speed Control
Almost every jigsaw comes with a speed controller button. Usually, it is located on the top of the machine or incorporated in a trigger. It controls the speed of the blade.
- Blade clamp
A blade clamp holds the blade in place.
A saw shoe is a surface that directly comes in contact with the material and helps you hold the tool flat and square against it. It also guides the blade to move on the surface.
This versitile tool is one of the best saw for cutting shapes out of wood. And now that you know how to use a jigsaw tool, you can start to make all these funky projects you have planned.
If you’re interested in buying a new jigsaw for your shop, I recommend my guide on the best jigsaws that includes detailed reviews of different makes and models and some info on what to look for in jigsaw.
If you have any questions, let me know in the box below :) And don’t forget to pin it for later to your woodworking power tools board :)