A Beginner’s Guide to Using a Jigsaw Safety and Efficiently
Jigsaws have gained quite the popularity for its convenience to accurately and efficiently cut a broad range of materials.
But working with a jigsaw is not a simple as it seems. Without proper knowledge, you may end up hurting yourself or make a wrong cut.
Whether you are DIY’er or a beginner, this article can teach you the right way to use this tool. Here, we have provided step-by-step instructions of how to use a jigsaw efficiently and other safety information.
Before getting into the instructions on how to use a jigsaw, we shall look into the different parts of a jigsaw.
Components or Parts of a Jigsaw
Below, we have mentioned some of the common parts of a jigsaw. Understanding the parts helps you with the steps and using the tool correctly.
Jigsaw blades are usually straight and long. Typically, they are available in different materials, width, shanks and tooth counts. With jigsaws, they have either a T-shank or U-shank blade.
Usually, the base of a jigsaw is referred to as a shoe which is sits over the material that needs to be cut. It is essential for the shoe to lay flat over the material for making an accurate cut (be it straight or curved). For plunge or bevel cut, the shoe has to be angled differently.
The best jigsaw comes with a convenient and comfortable handle that makes an entire cut safely. Usually, the jigsaws come with either a top handle (D-handle) or a barrel grip handle.
On the tool, you can see the ‘On’ switch located usually inside the top handle jigsaw. When you make the cut, the trigger has to be hold for the blade to keep running. When the trigger is let go, the saw will come to a stop.
This part locks the trigger of the jigsaw in ON position so you don’t need to hold the trigger while making the cut. This is helpful in situations where you are going to make the long cuts.
Speed Control Dial
Most of the jigsaws come with a dial which lets you adjust the jigsaw blade speed. The speed at which the jigsaw blade has to run depends on the material you are making the cut.
Blade Roller Guide
It is located just over the shoe. The roller guide is slotted while the blade rests between the slots. This ensures the blade is maintained square over the work piece.
Jigsaws come with one of the two cutting actions – the straight or the orbital. In the straight auction, the blade moves up and down for making the cut. With the orbital action, the blades move forward while cutting including the up and down. This provides faster cut and rougher. So, you should never use orbital action for cutting hardwoods and metals.
It lets you tilt the saw for making the bevel cuts. This tilting varies based on the model you are using.
How to Use the Jigsaw
Now that you have understood the components of a jigsaw, lets take a look at the step-by-step process of using this tool. We have provided the steps of using the jigsaw below for your reference.
Choosing the Right Blade
The package containing the jigsaw blade will indicate the material is made from, stating “wood” and “metal”. Over the package or on the blade, the blade’s teeth per inch (TPI) number will be listed. For most woodworking project, TPI of 10-12 is acceptable. Lesser TPIs let you to cut more quickly, but will result in a slower cut. Higher TPIs allow for faster cuts and smoother results. Appropriate blade width is another consideration.
The width of your blade should be chosen to fit the radius you are cutting. The Jigsaw blades are available in two different widths, 1/4 ” is suitable for cutting tight radius curves while the 3/8″ for gradual curves. Make sure you are familiar with the direction of your teeth. A standard jigsaw knife has teeth that point upwards for cutting the blade’s upstroke. This is the appropriate option for cutting all kinds. To reduce chipping and nicking, a reverse blade where teeth pointed downward has to be used over the material that has a pre-finished surface.
Setting Up the Jigsaw
First, insert the blade into your jigsaw. Next, unplug the saw. To change the blade, some jigsaws require that you loosen the bolt with an Allen wrench. The blade grip is loosened by pulling down on newer jigsaws. When you remove the black lever, ensure that the blade faces in the correct direction. The teeth of the blade should face towards the front of your jigsaw. Now you can plug in your jigsaw and get ready for the cut.
Setting Up the Material
You should mark where you intend to cut your material. Using a T-square, you can make a straight line at the end of material if you require a square or even cut. Even when the cut is not necessary for to being a square, you can mark the required shape using pencil over the material. Although jigsaws can be used to cut curves, it is important not to make too many curves. If you go around sharp bends, the blade could bend.
Any material that you have intended to cut have to be secured to the table with adequate clearance which ensures the jigsaw will not run into the clamps. If the edges of a large wood piece are too long to fit on the table, you can place two tables next to one another so that you can cut efficiently and safely between them. Make sure both sides should be secured.
It is okay to allow wood ends to hang from the table for smaller cuts. You should leave enough room to let the foot pass through the clamps, but not so much that the saw is forced off-track.
Cutting the Material
Before you set jigsaw for cutting, ensure that the foot is placed flat over the material. Before you pull the trigger, make sure the blade is not in contact with any material. After aligning the blade with the cut, release the trigger for the blade to pick up the speed. You can slowly move the jigsaw blade forward until it reaches full speed. The blade will then cut through the material. You can apply some forward pressure, but don’t force the saw too fast. The blade will cut through the material naturally. Pushing too hard can cause it to reshape or break. You must ensure that the blade does not stop after you have gone through all of the material.
If the blade suddenly stops mid-cut, release the trigger and gently pull the blade out. If you cut with your foot at an angle, if the curve is too sharp or if it is moving too quickly, the blade may stop.
To avoid any splinters, sand the edges of all your material after you have finished cutting. This can be done using an orbital sander or a belt sander depending on the material.
Make sure you unplug the jigsaw and remove the blade. Then, store them in the correct place. Vacuum your work area and sweep it clean. Place large amounts of scrap material in an area designated for scrap material.
How to Cut Curves with a Jigsaw?
When cutting over a curve, ensure the radius isn’t too small to cut using the blade. Jigsaws can be flexible however they cannot be turned and turned in any way. If the curve is actually too tight, then the saw might snap.
This trick can be used if you have to cut a tight curve with your saw. To remove bulky material, initially, you have to do a rough cut along the line.
How to use a Jigsaw | A Beginner‘s Guide
Next, make several small relief-cuts over at an angle and stop at the cut line. You can complete the cut over that line once you have removed enough material.
How to Cut a Hole Using a Jigsaw?
The initial step is the most important. Initially, you have to drill a hole big enough to accommodate the jigsaw blade. This will allow you to insert your blade and begin cutting. Make sure your hole is not close to the line. The drill bit could drift when you start drilling and cause damage to the material beyond the line. So, you can always remove more material, but it is impossible to place it back.
How to Cut a Bevel With a Jigsaw?
It is possible to cut bevelled angles using a jigsaw. However, it can be difficult. This is most commonly used to install trim. The nature of the flexible blade can create cut that is not perfectly 45 degrees, but you have to work using what you have.
You can adjust the show angle to achieve the desired bevel. To help you find the right angle, there has to be an indicator close the knob. A speed square can be used for checking the accuracy of a 45-degree cut. It should be able to fit properly between the blade of the shoe and the sole.
While you are cutting, make sure nothing is in the way of the blade’s progress. Remember that cutting at an angle will result in a decrease in cutting depth. To prevent the saw’s from sliding during the cut, use a straight edge guide.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
How difficult is it to use a Jigsaw?
A jigsaw can be used by both professionals and DIYers to create straight or curved cuts in woodworking projects.
How can you make a smooth cut using a jigsaw?
To prevent the blade from vibrating when cutting, hold the saw down tightly. The work surface is affected by vibration and downward force. Apply a few layers of masking tape to the bottom of the jigsaw to reduce marring.
How do you cut 2×4 using a jigsaw?
Straight cuts in 2×4 lumber can be achieved by guiding the jigsaw slowly and in one pass. You will be fine if the pace is consistent and slow. The blade will do all the work for you. Keep your eyes on the cutting line and control the speed and pace.
What thickness of wood can a saw cut with a jigsaw?
Jigsaws are best for cutting softwood less than 1-1/2 inches. Hardwood can be up to 3/4 inches thick. thick. When cutting curves in thicker boards with a jigsaw blade, it tends to bend and leave a bevelled edge instead of a square one.
Is it possible to use a jigsaw for cutting a 4×4?
A majority of jigsaw blades are capable of cutting to a maximum depth 1 1/2 inches. This is much less than the depth required for cutting through a 4×4. A jigsaw blade cuts perpendicularly to the guard, using an up-and-down motion. It cannot cut through thicker material than a circular saw, miter saw, or circular saw.
What type of lumber is difficult to cut with a saw?
Jigsaws can cut almost any material, including wood. As it pertains to wood, jigsaws are capable of cutting both hardwood and softwood. The process of cutting hardwood is slightly different. Although a jigsaw may not be the best solution for hard woods, it can work well as long as you take your time.
Better Jigsaw Blade Guide
Be it a professional carpenter or beginner, jigsaws have been a preferred choice for cutting different materials. Compared to traditional saws, they are convenient and offer accurate cuts.
However, it is important to know how to use the jigsaw. If not, this can lead to rough cuts or you may harm yourself. Especially if you are beginner, make sure to understand the process before attempting your first cut.
To help you with process, we have provided a detailed step-by-step process with all the information. We hope the process and instructions mentioned here have helped you understand the process.
If you still have any doubts, write to us in the comment section below. We will reply at the earliest.
Jigsaw Blades: Which Jigsaw Blade Should You Buy
A good jigsaw blade for the type of tool you commonly work with will give you a nice, even and straight cut. It’s needed to increase the lifespan of the tool that you’re using. So, which jigsaw blade should you buy? The following guide and review will try to give you the answer.
What Materials Are You Going to Be Cutting Through?
The first question to ask yourself, is what materials you are likely to use the jigsaw blade on? Depending on the construction and the specifics of the blade, it could be used to cut through one or more types of materials.
There are jigsaw blades out there created for use on wood (hardwood, laminate, and softwood varieties), ferrous and non-ferrous metals, mild steel, plastics, tiles, fiberglass, plexiglass, masonry, leather, and thick fabrics.
The blade itself should be provided with information about the types of materials that it can be used on. There could also be blades advertised as capable of cutting through a range of materials such as non-porous substances.
Blades are designed differently to address these specific needs. Thus, looking at the blade should give you some additional information about its intended purpose and whether it’s the right product for your needs.
Jigsaw blades come in many varieties, designed for high speed, fast cuts, and long life. However, the most important distinction to make is the shank type. It will be determining for the manner in which the blade gets attached to the machine and whether it’s compatible with the equipment you own.
There are two common varieties out there: t-shank and u-shank blades.
A t-shank blade is a more popular pick. It works with all jigsaws that come with a quick blade change option. An external tool is not required for the removal of the old one and the attachment of the new blade, which simplifies the process.
U-shank blades have to be fastened manually and usually; a tool will be required to complete the task. There’s a locking screw that keeps the blade in place, which ensures stability.
Size and Shape Considerations
The blade size will depend on the specifics of the jigsaw itself and on the type of material that’s going to be cut. The machine’s manual should provide more information about blade sizes that are compatible.
A general rule of thumb is that the length of the blade should be at least one inch longer than the thickness of the material you’re going to be cutting through. Keep in mind that the bottom of the blade is not supported by a machine, which is why it could potentially bend. Thus, longer blades tend to be thicker to reduce the risk of distortion.
Thinner blades will give you clean and fine cuts. At the same time, there’s some risk of warping, especially when the blade has to handle a tougher material. This is why choosing the right blade for the particular job is so important.
Materials Used to Make the Blades
A jigsaw blade could be made from an array of materials. These will once again have an impact on the toughness of the blade. A few of the most popular possibilities out there include:
- High-Speed Steel Blades: A high-speed stainless steel jigsaw blade is very hard and highly resistant. Because of these characteristics, such a blade is capable of cutting through a wide array of materials. The problem with HSS blades is that they have limited flexibility and they can be damaged by the heat generated during the cutting process.
- High Carbon Steel Blades: Anyone looking for flexibility and cost-efficiency will be drawn to high carbon steel blades. These do get damaged quicker than HSS options and they’re not as tough. Still, high carbon steel is an excellent pick for woodworking.
- Bi-Metal Blades: This type of blade combines the best of both worlds. A bi-metal blade brings together the flexibility of high carbon steel blades and the resilience of the HSS jigsaw blades. Carbon steel bodies come together with high-speed teeth that are bonded to the body. Such versatile blades can be used to complete a wide array of cutting projects.
- Tungsten Carbide: The final option is a tungsten carbide blade. Of all the options on the market, this is the most expensive one. It’s predominantly suitable for specialized applications. The blade is made of tungsten and carbon that are bonded to a steel shaft. It delivers incredibly smooth cuts and will bit produce chips or cracks in even the toughest of materials.
Types of Teeth
The considerations for the selection of the best jigsaw blade include a few additional essentials. Now that you’re done with the type of blade and the material it’s made of, it’s time to FOCUS your attention on the teeth.
Teeth can be milled or ground with the milled being blunter and lasting longer. Milled teeth are best for use on rough surfaces but they can’t produce the smoothest of cuts. Ground teeth tend to be sharper, they produce smooth cuts but they also wear out faster.
Other than the type, you can also look at the design of the teeth.
Wavy teeth get their name from the wave-like arrangement. They produce very straight and smooth cuts for maximum precision. Teeth that are taper set tend to be straight. While the cut will be slow, it’s also going to be incredibly precise.
Reverse teeth are similar to the tapered variety but the arrangement is in the opposite direction. If you’re working with a material that can crack or chip easily, a reverse toothed jigsaw blade will be the right one for you.
Finally, side aligned teeth allow for very fast cutting. The downside is that the cut will not be precise and polished but rather rough.
There isn’t a single rule for the selection of the best jigsaw blade out there. It all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Each of the varieties and specifics mentioned in this guide is ideal for a specific use. Acquaint yourself with the possibilities and make a good choice on the basis of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Jigsaws and reciprocating saws are versatile tools, but their uses are often confused. Let’s take a closer look.
By Bob Beacham | Published Nov 17, 2021 2:43 PM
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Reciprocating saws and jigsaws are both popular tools capable of a multitude of DIY and professional tasks. While both mimic the action of hand sawing to an extent and are available as corded or cordless models, their design and uses are quite different.
The reciprocating saw is a great choice for general sawing tasks, remodeling, cutting pipework and conduit. The jigsaw is more often a woodworker’s or carpenter’s tool, and it’s also found on job sites. A closer look at a few important details will reveal the differences and answer many jigsaw vs. reciprocating saw questions.
Reciprocating saws feature a horizontal hognose design while jigsaws are more compact and vertical.
Jigsaws have a handle along the top of a compact body, often incorporated in the same molding. The blade is at 90 degrees to the bulk of the jigsaw, sticking out from underneath, close to the front. A transparent shield that slides up and down is a common safety feature.
The reciprocating saw is a much larger tool than the jigsaw. It is designed to be used with two hands. One grips the rear handle which incorporates the trigger and the other hand supports the body closer to the blade. The blade is in line with the body, and protrudes from the end. The blade is unshielded.
Occasionally we see questions regarding reciprocating saw vs. sawzall, and what the difference is between the two. They are actually the same thing. The Milwaukee tool company introduced the first reciprocating saw in 1951, and called it the Sawzall. It has since been so widely copied that the terms reciprocating saw and sawzall are now used interchangeably.
Both tools utilize a push-pull blade mechanism, but blade motion may include orbital or pendulum action.
Fitting blades to both types of saw is a tool-free operation, though the mechanisms can vary slightly. All reciprocating saws have universal blades, whereas there are two different kinds of jigsaw blades. So with the jigsaws it’s important to check type when buying. Reciprocating saw blades vary in length anywhere from 4 to 24 inches, though few exceed 12 inches. Jigsaw blades are usually 3 or 4 inches. Blades up to 10 inches are available, though these are rare.
Reciprocating saws take their name from the straight back-and-forth blade stroke. However, some models also offer an orbital action (also called a pendulum action). This is common on jigsaws. In effect, the end of the saw blade traces an elliptical (orbital) path, which generally provides faster cutting, and helps spread wear along the blade. However, the motion can make a reciprocating saw harder to control, so for precise cuts it is generally recommended to use the normal reciprocating action. Jigsaws often offer several speeds of orbital action, which range from fast for aggressive cutting to slower for a smoother finish.
Reciprocating saws are best for heavy-duty cutting and demolition.
So what is a reciprocating saw used for? While relatively lightweight, they are robust and powerful tools designed for Rapid sawing of thicker materials. If you want to demolish drywall and stud partitions, a reciprocating saw like this Makita option available at Amazon—a favorite in our researched guide to the best reciprocating saws—is ideal. With the right blade they can even cut masonry and concrete. Their ability to cut all kinds of materials makes recip saws popular for trade and contractor use.
Reciprocal saw blades are generally longer, giving greater capacity. They also have a deeper profile. This offers more support when cutting thicker material and they can chop through lumber, plastic and metal pipework, and electrical conduit. The only downside is that they may leave a rougher surface that needs tidying up.
Jigsaws are designed for more intricate cuts and curves.
What is a jigsaw designed to do? While they are more than capable of cutting plastic and sheet metal with the right blade fitted, jigsaws are mainly a woodshop or carpenter’s tool. Their limited blade length means they are mostly used for boards or sheet materials.
Fitted with a coarse blade, a jigsaw like this DeWALT option available at Amazon—selected “best overall” in our researched guide to the best jigsaws—can produce Rapid cuts in straight lines. Change to a more slender blade, and they can cut all kinds of curves and circles. For example, there’s no better tool for cutting a large hole out of the middle of a 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet of plywood. If it was a question of scroll saw vs. jigsaw, then the former can produce far more intricate detail, but a jigsaw is the better general-purpose tool.
Recip saws can make cuts anywhere whereas a jigsaw works best when the foot is flush against the cutting surface.
Much like a manual hand saw, a reciprocal saw can be used just about anywhere. Providing proper safety precautions are taken, the user can saw at ground level or above head height. The tool can saw vertically, horizontally, or anywhere in between, on both flat and curved surfaces. A pivoting shoe can be rested against the workpiece, which offers extra stability, but often these saws are often used freehand.
Jigsaws have a large plate on the bottom (also called a sole or foot) which, like the shoe in the reciprocating saw, offers stability when cutting. However, it’s important that the plate stays in contact with the workpiece while the cut is made. Trying to lift the jigsaw usually results in a loss of control and possible wrist injuries. Frequently the blade bounces out of the cut, bending or breaking it. Cutting a large diameter pipe can be achieved, but care is needed. The big advantage the plate offers is that the jigsaw can be adjusted and fixed at different angles, allowing the accurate cutting of bevels. With care, compound joints can also be cut.
Both power saws feature variable speeds and many blade options for cutting different materials.
Both reciprocating saws and jigsaws have variable speed, but there are differences in the level of control. Reciprocating saws have a variable speed trigger. The harder you squeeze, the faster the blade moves. These triggers are easy to operate, but precise control is difficult. While a cut may be started at a slow speed, full speed is often used most of the time.
Jigsaws also have a variable trigger, and many have additional speed control either via a dial or selectable ranges. This feature allows more precise setting of speed for cutting different materials.
Selecting the correct blade is also important for optimum performance. The variety of blades for jigsaws usually includes metal or wood cutting (the latter also used for most plastics). Reciprocating saws also have these blade choices, but specialist blades are also available for cutting concrete block, fiberglass, or for tree pruning. These underline both the heavy-duty nature of reciprocating saws and their versatility.
So what’s a quick summary of jigsaw and recip saw uses?
As to the original question of jigsaw vs. reciprocal saw, we hope the information above has clarified their uses, explained what is a reciprocating saw and jigsaw, and helped you choose the right saw for the task.
The reciprocating saw is generally the go-anywhere, cut-anything tool for yard and job site use, whether building, remodeling or demolishing.
Jigsaws are capable of Rapid cutting but their main advantage is greater control and therefore better accuracy, particularly when cutting boards or sheet material.