How to Use a Jigsaw A Beginner s Guide. Smallest jigsaw tool

How to Use a Jigsaw. A Beginner‘s Guide

If I could choose one saw that should be in every homeowner’s toolbox, it would be the jigsaw. It’s one of the safest power tools available, making it perfect for a beginner. It’s capable of making a variety of different cuts in a wide range of materials, including bevels and curves. It is not the perfect saw for every project, but there are times when only a jigsaw will do the trick!

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What is a Jigsaw?

A jigsaw is a powered handheld saw that cuts material using a thin, straight blade that moves up and down. The jigsaw is also known as a sabre saw, and is a portable version of a scroll saw.

What is a Jigsaw Used For?

Jigsaws have a wide range of uses. With a jigsaw, you can make straight cuts, beveled cuts, and (with practice) plunge cuts.

However, where the jigsaw shines is curved cuts, like circles, arches and more intricate designs. The jigsaw’s ability to cut tight curves and angles makes it similar to the bandsaw and the scroll saw.

I’ve used a jigsaw for countless projects over the years, from a rocket bookshelf to a wooden Christmas tree! It’s my go-to tool whenever I need to cut a circle in wood that’s bigger than a hole saw can handle, like the 6″ diameter hole in this cornhole board.

Parts of a Jigsaw

Before we start learning how to use a jigsaw, you should first know all the different parts and what they do.

jigsaw, beginner, guide, tool


There are two different jigsaw handle styles: bow handle, which can also be called “D handle” and barrel grip.

On a D handle jigsaw, the handle sits up on top of the saw and can easily be used one-handed. This is the more traditional style of the two, and you have probably seen one before.

Barrel grip jigsaws are a more recent invention. They have two grip points instead of handles. One is fabricated into the body of the saw with another protruding above the blade. It is usually easier to get more accurate cuts with a barrel grip saw since they are specially designed to be used with both hands.


This is the switch that turns the saw on. On a D handle style jigsaw, you need to press and hold the trigger underneath the handle as you make the cut to keep the blade moving. On a barrel style jigsaw, there’s a switch that turns the blade on, so you don’t have to hold the trigger down throughout the entire cut.

Trigger Lock

Some jigsaws have a small button or switch next to the trigger. It enables you to lock the trigger in the “ON” position. This can come in handy when you are cutting a lot of material, because your finger may get tired and sore from holding the trigger down.

Speed Control Dial

This feature allows you to adjust the speed of the blade to get the best results on a variety of materials. No matter how far you pull the trigger, the blade will only go as fast as the setting on the dial.

When you are cutting fragile pieces such as acrylic or plexiglass, the speed at which you are cutting is critical. It can be stressful to try and maintain that speed while you are paying attention to everything else about the cut. Using the variable speed dial, you can ensure that you will go the right speed with the trigger fully depressed.

Orbital Action Switch

If you have an orbital jigsaw, the blade not only goes up and down but can also go forward and back. Not all models have this feature, or it could be built into specific speed settings instead of a separate switch.

The orbital setting is great for cutting quickly, but not so great if you are cutting more detailed work. DO NOT use it when you are cutting tile and other brittle material, or you will break it. Many saws have different degrees for this setting, allowing you to adjust it more precisely.

Footplate or Shoe

The footplate or shoe slides along your material and supports the saw as you are cutting. It ensures that you keep the saw flat throughout the cut. Most shoes are adjustable so you can tilt the angle for beveled cuts.

On more recent saw models, there is usually a handy lever that allows you to adjust the angle of the shoe. If there is no quick-release lever, look for a screw or small bolt which you can loosen with the appropriate tool.

Your saw may come with a protective covering for the shoe. This is not meant to protect the shoe; it is intended to protect the material you are cutting. For instance, if you are working with plexiglass, the shoe will easily scratch the surface. You can achieve the same result by applying painter’s tape to the bottom!


There are two different types of jigsaw blades: U-shank blades and T-shank blades. The “U” and the “T” refer to how the blade locks into the saw. T shank blades are quicker and easier to install without any tools.

You should always match your blade to the specific type of material you are cutting. You can find blades that are meant for cutting wood, plastic, plexiglass, tile and more! The recommended material will be listed somewhere on the package.

How to Change a Jigsaw Blade

The process for how to change a jigsaw blade varies slightly from saw to saw. The part of the blade which is inserted into the blade clamp is called the shank. There will be a little button or lever which will release the blade from the clamp.

For some models, you twist the blade clamp to release the blade, then hold it in that position to insert the new one. Make sure that the teeth are facing towards the front!

You should reference your saw’s user manual for specific blade change instructions. If you don’t have the manual anymore, you can probably find it online in PDF form. Just Google your model number to find the right one!

How to Use a Jigsaw

The jigsaw is super easy to use, making it a great option for beginners! Let’s over the steps you need to take to make your first cut.

Secure the Board

The first thing you will want to do is to clamp your board down. The movement of the jigsaw blade will cause the board to vibrate, and if it’s not clamped down, it could start bouncing around. This makes it much more difficult to get an accurate cut, and could lead to injury.

Also, remember to leave space underneath your piece so that there is room for the blade to move. Otherwise, you might break your blade or cut into something you don’t mean to. If the cut is at the end of the board or along the edge, you can just hang it over the edge.

But if your project is too big to hang over the edge, you have a few options. One thing you can do is put a bunch of wood blocks on a workbench or table, then place your piece on top of the blocks. I use these anti-skid risers on my t-track table to elevate the workpiece.

You can also use a thick piece of foam insulation to support the work piece throughout the cut. I keep a 2’x4′ sheet of 2″ foam board in my workshop just for this purpose! You can cut into it hundreds of times before it needs replacing (so long as you don’t cut all the way through!)

Insert the Battery or Plug in the Saw

You’ll get the best results with a fully charged battery, so make sure yours are ready to go! If you’re using a corded saw, plug it in and check that you have enough cord length to make the entire cut without yanking it out of the wall.

Make the Cut

After you have your piece secured, place the front of the shoe on the edge of your material. Start the saw with the blade off the material, then slowly bring the blade to the edge and begin your cut.

Never follow the middle of your line as you are cutting. You will achieve a much more accurate cut if you choose one edge of your line and follow that instead.

If the end of your cut is on the edge of your piece, you can simply push through to complete it. However, if the cut ends in the middle of your material like in the photo above, stop and take your finger off the trigger.

Let the saw come to a complete stop before lifting the blade out of the wood. Otherwise, the blade may catch in the material and buck back at you. When you’re finished with your project, unplug the saw or remove the battery.

How to Cut Curves with a Jigsaw

If you are cutting along a curved line, make sure the radius isn’t too tight for the blade. Jigsaws are very flexible, but you can’t just twist and turn anyway you want. If the curve is too tight, the saw may buck up and out of the wood, or the blade may snap.

If you need to cut a curve that is too tight for the saw, you can use this trick. First, make a rough cut away from the line to remove the bulk of the material.

Then make a bunch of little relief cuts at an angle, stopping at your cut line. Once you remove enough material to fit the blade in the gap, you can finish the cut along the line.

How to Cut Straight Lines with a Jigsaw

Since the principal purpose of the jigsaw is to cut curved lines, keeping it straight can actually be quite tricky. The flexible blade makes it difficult to get clean, straight lines.

Most other saws, such as a circular saw, will do a much better job. You can learn more about the difference between a jigsaw vs a circular saw here!

However, if the jigsaw is all you have, straight cuts can be achieved with a little help from a straight edge guide. You can buy one, or make one similar to this circular saw cutting jig that’s customized to your jigsaw. But for a shorter cut, all you’ll really need is a speed square!

Speed squares have a lip on one side of them, which you can use to make sure that the cut is square to the edge. Align the jigsaw blade with your cut line, and butt the square up next to the side of the shoe. Then you can hold the square in place with one hand and make the cut with the other.

If the cut needs to be more precise or you don’t want to worry about it shifting, you can clamp the square in place and make the cut with both hands.

How to Cut Out a Hole with a Jigsaw

Cutting a hole is just like any other cut except for the first step. To start your cut, first drill a hole large enough to fit your jigsaw blade near the cut line inside the hole you want to cut.

Then use this to put your blade through and start cutting. Don’t make your hole too close to the line. Your drill bit may drift as you start and damage the material outside the line. You can always cut away more, but you can’t put it back on!

Mastering the Jigsaw! A Beginner‘s Guide To Using A Jigsaw!

How to Cut a Bevel with a Jigsaw

Cutting beveled angles with a jigsaw is another thing that can be a little tricky, but it is possible. This type of cut is most common when installing trim, or to make a French cleat. Keep in mind that the flexible nature of the blade will create a cut that’s not a perfect 45 degree angle, but sometimes you work with what you’ve got!

Adjust the angle of the shoe to your desired bevel. There should be an angle gauge near the knob to help you get in the ballpark. If you’re making a 45 degree cut, you can check the accuracy of the angle with a speed square or combination square. It should fit between the blade and the shoe without any gaps.

Make sure that nothing will impede the progress of the blade underneath while you make the cut. Keep in mind that the cutting depth will decrease when you cut at an angle. Use a straight edge guide to keep the saw from wandering during the cut.

How to Avoid Tear Out with a Jigsaw

Tear out is the term for the splinters which occur on one side of the wood when making a cut. Tear out happens because the last little bit of material is pushed out of the way instead of being cut, causing the wood fibers to break off instead of being sliced through.

Switch to a Reverse-Tooth Blade

Most jigsaw blades cut on the upstroke, which means that there will be tear out on the top side of the piece. You can try to prevent this from ruining your project by cutting with the “good” side of the board facing down.

If this isn’t possible, you can use a reverse-tooth blade, which cuts on the downstroke. For even better results, try a dual cut blade that has teeth going in both directions!

Apply Pressure to the Wood Fibers

Another trick is to use painter’s tape to hold the wood fibers in place while you make the cut. This is especially helpful with plywood, which is the most prone to tear out.

You can combine a reverse-tooth blade with a backer board underneath the cut line to avoid tear out on both sides of the board. A backer board is just a scrap piece of wood clamped to the back of your work piece to hold the wood fibers in place so the blade cuts through them instead of pushing them away.

Frequently Asked Questions about Jigsaws

Why Won’t My Jigsaw Cut Straight?

One of the downsides to the jigsaw is difficulty cutting a straight line. You may just need to practice. Cutting a straight line with a jigsaw is a skill. However, you could try a jigsaw guide. These attachments will keep your saw on track.

Can You Cut 2x4s with a Jigsaw?

Yes, but make sure your jigsaw blade extends at least an inch below the wood when fully extended. If you use a blade that is too short, the saw could buck the wood.

Why is My Jigsaw Cutting at an Angle?

The blade may be bent, or you may need to check the angle of your base plate. Ensure your blade is set to a 0-degree angle. Also, remember to keep your base plate flush with the material. this will minimize side-to-side wiggle.

I hope this article answered all your questions about how to use a jigsaw! This versatile tool is easy to use, and is a great first saw for beginning woodworking!

Check out these other beginning woodworking tutorials!

How to Use a Jigsaw

Kamron Sanders is a home improvement expert and writer with over 15 years of hands-on construction, remodeling, woodworking, home repair, and landscaping experience. He has also written for HGTV. Kamron’s expertise ranges from troubleshooting saws and lawnmowers to painting kitchen cabinets.

Deane Biermeier is an expert contractor with nearly 30 years of experience in all types of home repair, maintenance, and remodeling. He is a certified lead carpenter and also holds a certification from the EPA. Deane is a member of The Spruce’s Home Improvement Review Board.

Jessica Wrubel has an accomplished background as a writer and copy editor, working for various publications, newspapers and in public libraries assisting with reference, research and special projects. In addition to her journalism experience, she has been educating on health and wellness topics for over 15 years in and outside of the classroom.

A jigsaw is rightly regarded as the most versatile of all handheld power saws. Its narrow blade and reciprocating blade action make it ideal for cutting curves in just about any building material, but it can also make straight cuts of various types—even miters and bevels, though sometimes accessories such as straightedge guides or miter gauges are needed for specialty cuts. The main advantage of a jigsaw is its ability to use a wide variety of interchangeable blades. This makes a jigsaw an extremely versatile tool that most DIYers will want to own.

What Is a Jigsaw?

A jigsaw is a handheld power saw with a straight serrated blade that is open on one end and cuts through a variety of materials in an up-and-down motion.

The term jigsaw was once used for the stationary saw now known as a scroll saw, but since the 1960s, the label jigsaw has increasingly come to refer to a hand-held motorized saw with a narrow reciprocating-action blade. The term “sabre saw” is now synonymous with jigsaw, though at one time a jigsaw was considered to be the version with a shank control knob that allows you to turn the blade sharply for very tight curves.

Jigsaw vs. Reciprocating Saw

A reciprocating saw is very similar to a jigsaw in its action—the blade cuts by a back-and-forth motion, but with a reciprocating saw the shank and blade are oriented in the same line as the body of the saw, with the gripping handle and controls at the end of the body. By contrast, a jigsaw’s spindle and blade are arranged perpendicular to the saw’s body and handle. While some jobs can be accomplished with either tool, the shape makes a jigsaw more effective for carefully controlled, precise cutting, while a reciprocating saw is better for coarser cutting, such as severing plumbing pipes or doing demolition work.

Parts of a Jigsaw

A jigsaw consists of just a few main parts, as well as some smaller components that vary depending on the design of the tool.

  • The base plate of the jigsaw that smoothly rides across the top of the work material is called the shoe and, on most jigsaws, this can be rotated to make it possible to cut material at different bevel angles.
  • The part you hold is the handle and tucked beneath the handle is the trigger or on/off button.
  • The last major component is the blade, which is attached to the reciprocating shank of the saw.

advanced saws have a variety of electronic controls that make the tool more versatile. When purchasing a saw, you may want to consider features like:

  • Variable speed: Different materials have different optimal cutting speeds, and a variable speed saw makes it easier to cut all materials, from hard metals to the softest woods.
  • Variable orbit action: High-end saws allow you to change the elliptical shape of the cutting orbit, which lets you increase the aggressiveness of the cutting action.
  • Integrated dust blower: Some saws have a built-in air blower that clears sawdust from around the blade.
  • Job light: Better saws have built-in LED lights that make it easier to follow a marked cutting line.
  • Keyless blade shank: Better tools have a spring-loaded blade release that makes it easy to remove and attach blades without any additional tool.

What Blades to Use

Jigsaws are useful for cutting materials like wood, particleboard, plywood, metal, plexiglass, vinyl, plastic, cement board, and even tile. Blade manufacturers typically label blades according to the materials they are designed to cut, which makes it easy to choose the right one.

Jigsaw blades are also categorized according to the number of cutting teeth per inch (TPI). In general, the larger the number of teeth, the smoother the cut will be since individual teeth are smaller. Fewer teeth-per-inch means larger teeth and a coarser, quicker cut. For smooth cuts on finer woodworking projects, a high TPI blade is recommended. Cutting metal also generally calls for a fine-tooth blade.

Aside from TPI count, blades vary in their thickness and width. For curved cuts, narrow, thin blades work best, while for straight cuts, wider blades will be more stable and less likely to wander away from the cutting line.

There are a vast array of jigsaw blade styles to match almost any type of cutting need and any material—from plastic and leather to high-carbon steel and stone. Along with a good jigsaw, a DIY toolbox should include a good array of basic metal-cutting and wood-cutting blades in fine-cut and coarse-cut variations. Additional specialty blades can be purchased as the need arises.

Safety Considerations

Before using a jigsaw or any other power tool, first put on eye protection to guard against flying sawdust. Contrary to popular belief, you should not wear gloves, as the blade can grab the loose materials and pull your hand in with it. For the same reason, loose clothing should be avoided when operating a jigsaw and hair should be tied back out of harm’s way. To prevent the material from jumping, you should clamp it down to a work surface. Lastly, always ensure the power cord is out of the way where you can’t trip on it or cut into it.

How to Use a Jigsaw

Prepare the Workpiece and Accessories

Jigsaws cut on the upstroke of the blade shank, and the reciprocating action can cause the workpiece to bounce and “chatter” unless it is clamped in place to a workbench or sawhorses. Because they cut on the upward stroke, jigsaw blades can sometimes cause some splintering on the top side of a workpiece, so a common technique is to cut with the finished side of the workpiece facing down. This prevents splintering on the side that will be visible. Finish-grade plywood, for example, is often cut with the finish side facing down to ensure that the cut will be smooth, without splintering. After clamping, mark a cutting line on the workpiece, using light pencil marks. A jigsaw is not the best tool for making straight cuts, so it is best to clamp on a straightedge guide if you are making long rip cuts or bevel cuts. A straightedge guide provides a surface for the side of the saw foot to glide against. This ensures the cut will be as straight as possible.


A variety of commercial straightedge guides are available, but you can also make a suitable guide simply by clamping a straight 1×4 to the top of the workpiece with a pair of C-clamps. A carpenters level or carpenters square can also be used as a temporary edge guide.

Choose and Mount the Blade

Choose a blade appropriate to the material you will be cutting and mount it in the saw. In general, higher TPI blades have many small teeth that provide smooth but slow cuts, while low TPI blades have large teeth that perform rough but fast cutting. Make sure to choose blades labeled for the material you will be cutting—wood and metals require different blade types.

Adjust the Saw Foot

Make sure the saw foot is adjusted for the bevel angle required. Normal straight or curved cuts will require a 0-degree (horizontal) setting, but for bevel cuts, you will need to tilt the saw foot at the angle required. Most saws can bevel up to 45 degrees.

Adjust the Saw Controls

Adjust the saw speed and the orbital action to settings that are appropriate for the work material. Refer to your saw’s instruction manual for guidance on this. In general, a wider elliptical action of the saw’s blade shank will create aggressive, faster cutting, while more vertical action and a flatter ellipse will create slower, smoother, and more controlled cutting. For curved cuts, the orbit should be set to zero. In general, slower speeds are used for metals or precise cutting of harder woods, while faster blade speeds are used for more aggressive, rougher cutting. Most jigsaws let you change the speed of the blade action according to how much you depress the trigger, but there there is usually a dial that allows you to control the top speed.

How to use a Jigsaw. Basics

Begin Cutting

Position the saw foot firmly on the workpiece with the blade resting either directly on the cutting line, or slightly to one side. (For fine woodworking projects with precise tolerances, you may want to keep the cutting kerf slightly off the line to the waste side to preserve the wood.) The blade can just touch the workpiece. Slowly squeeze the trigger of the saw, activating the up and down action of the shank. As the blade begins to cut, squeeze the trigger further to full speed and slowly feed the saw into the workpiece while watching the blade progress along the marked cutting line.


If you are making a cutout inside a workpiece—cutting a hole in the middle of a plywood sheet, for example—you can drill a starter hole inside the cutout area and use this to insert the jigsaw blade to start the cut.

Continue the Cut

Watch the cutting line carefully as you feed the saw through the workpiece. Avoid using too much force, as this can bog down the motor and make for rough cutting or a broken blade. When cutting curves, it works best to slow down both the feed rate and the saw’s motor speed as you rotate the saw and blade to navigate the turns. Twisting the saw too fast often leads to a broken blade. For extremely tight scroll curves, some saws have a rotating scrolling knob that allows you to turn the blade shank without twisting the saw itself. Such tight curves depend on using a very thin blade and moving very slowly. If making straight cuts, make sure to keep the saw foot firmly against the straightedge guide as you move the saw forward. Because their blades are so narrow, jigsaws can easily wander away from a straight cutting line if you aren’t careful.

Finish the Cut

At the end of the cutting line, slow the speed at which you feed the saw, but keep blade speed high as the blade clears the edge of the workpiece. This will reduce the chances of splintering. Release the trigger and allow the blade to come to a complete stop before lifting the saw away.

Buying vs. Renting

Although they are available for rent at home centers and tool rental outlets, jigsaws are so versatile that most DIYers will want to own one. Rental costs are inexpensive enough that just a few uses are enough to pay for your own saw. A quality jigsaw will be used often and is a worthy investment for DIYers of any level.

Keeping a Jigsaw in Good Condition

Keeping your saw clean and dry will ensure long life and tip-top operation. When buying, opt for a saw with a quality case or purchase a small toolbox to store the saw. Always remove blades after use to avoid blades locking in place. Use compressed air to thoroughly clean any dust and debris from the saw’s parts. Lastly, properly use the saw. If you abuse it by forcing the blade and overworking it, it will not last as long.

When to Replace a Jigsaw

A good quality jigsaw should last for decades if you care for it and use it correctly. A burned-out motor is the only event that requires tool replacement since it’s quite possible to have power cords and other parts repaired or replaced when necessary. With a good quality tool, it’s always worth a trip to the tool repair shop before you consider a replacement.

However, cheaper saws often have fairly weak motors, and it’s possible for hard use to burn them out rather quickly. If you’ve paid less than 50 for your saw, don’t be surprised if you need to replace it after a few years of hard work.

Use a versatile jigsaw tool to cut lumber, plywood, metal and tile.

Family Handyman

A jigsaw tool is the grand master of cutting shapes in a variety of materials. All you need is the right blade. We’ll show you how to use this versatile power tool for cutting intricate shapes and for making compound and bevel cuts in boards and other materials.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Time An hour or less Complexity Beginner Cost 51–100

Jigsaw: Cutting a range of materials

Jigsaw blades

Using the right blade is the key to cutting various materials.

My jigsaw often sits for months just gathering dust. But then I’ll need to cut out an intricate pattern for a hobby project, saw into a countertop to install a kitchen sink or cut a material like thin tile or metal that my other saws can’t handle. That’s when I remember why I love this jigsaw tool. It’s a versatile tool a novice can safely operate, control and—with minimal instruction—enjoy good results from within minutes of picking it up. We’ll show you how to get superior results cutting wood, plastic laminate, ceramic tile and metal.

Cutting wood with handheld jigsaw

Photo 1: Keep the saw shoe on the workpiece

Cut smooth curves in wood. Begin by pressing the saw shoe firmly on the workpiece with the blade away from the edge. Start the motor, guide the blade along the outside of the cutting line (for finer sanding later) and move from curves to inside corners. Always move the saw forward at a pace that allows the blade to cut without deflecting and doesn’t make the motor labor. Prevent the saw blade from binding on tight curves by using relief cuts to remove waste.

Photo 2: Use a fence for perfectly straight cuts.

A jigsaw is versatile enough to make straight, compound and beveled cuts through boards. Hold the workpiece firmly and guide the saw steadily against a saw fence. Avoid driving blades into the bench top (bending and breaking them) by using rails to raise the workpiece.

Photo 3: Finish cuts made with a circular saw

A jigsaw can precisely complete cuts begun with a circular saw in stair stringers, wood flooring and sheet materials. To avoid bumps in your final stair stringer, hold the jigsaw blade tight to the inside of the stringer cutting line.

General purpose wood cutter blade

Jigsaws are ideal for cutting curves and complex shapes in wood (Photo 1). They also work well for making short crosscuts on a board (Photo 2) and finishing inside corner cuts (Photo 3) that you start with a circular saw. Jigsaws are not good for making fast, long, straight cuts. Use a circular saw instead. When cutting wood, follow these guidelines:

  • Jigsaws work best for cutting softwood that’s no more than 1-1/2 in. thick and hardwood up to 3/4 in. thick. Jigsaw blades tend to bend when cutting curves in thicker boards, leaving a beveled edge rather than a square one. To keep the cut square, use a sharp blade and avoid forcing the saw through the cut.
  • To “plunge cut,” that is, make an entry saw cut into the middle of your wood, tip the jigsaw so that the blade is parallel to the workpiece and the saw’s weight rests on the front lip of the shoe. Start the saw at maximum speed, tilt the shoe and steadily lower the stabbing blade into the wood. I usually reserve plunge-cutting for rough work so that an errant blade doesn’t slash and mar expensive woods. In fragile material, drill a 1/2-in. starter hole to safely position the blade for a cut.
  • For quick cutting, use a coarser blade. But note that the coarser the blade, the more sanding later.
  • Most wood-cutting blades for jigsaws are designed so the teeth cut on the upstroke. For fine work demanding less chipping—in wood veneers, for example—choose a “downstroke-cutting” blade (Photo 4). An alternative is to place painter’s or masking tape on the cutting line path before drawing on the pattern line.

Cutting countertops

Photo 4: Drill a hole to start the blade

Make precise, no-chip cuts in laminate by drilling a 1/2-in. starter hole in the countertop for the blade. Use a special laminate blade that cuts only on the downstroke, and follow the cutting line drawn on masking tape. Avoid marring the countertop by taping the bottom of the saw shoe.

Down-cutting laminate blade

A jigsaw is perfectly suited for making the curved (or short diagonal) cuts at the corners of countertops and for the final long cut parallel to the backsplash. When installing a sink, make the front and two side cuts in the countertop with a circular saw. It’s faster and there’s no blade deflection to deal with.

The narrow space between the sink cutting line and the backsplash won’t accommodate the wider circular saw shoe but lets the narrower shoe of most narrow-body jigsaws sneak in perfectly (Photo 4).

If you’re not comfortable making countertop cuts with a circular saw, use a jigsaw for the whole job. Cutting through a countertop with a jigsaw is slow-going. Choose a special down-cutting laminate blade. Its 5/16-in. wide blade, with eight teeth per inch, minimizes laminate chip-out. Use short relief cuts inside curves to ease the blade through the turn.

Cutting ceramic tile

Photo 5: Cut slowly when working with tile

Use a carbide-grit abrasive blade to make curved cuts in ceramic wall tile that’s up to 1/4 in. thick. Speed the work and reduce tile breakage by clamping the tile and using a light mist of water to lubricate the saw cut. Jigsaws that have a movable scrolling head work best to move the blade through tight curves. This is slow work that demands patience, blade changes and relief cuts to open the tightest turns.

Carbide-grit ceramic blade

Use this blade for cutting ceramic tile up to 1/4-in. thick.

Cutting curves and shapes into tile with tile nippers and ceramic rod saws is slow and results in a lot of tile breakage. If you’re cutting wall tile no more than 1/4 in. thick, try your jigsaw for this task.

Use special toothless, carbide-grit blades for tile cutting. For thin tile, apply water frequently to lubricate the saw cut. Thicker tile requires lubricating the saw cut with cutting oil.

To minimize tile breakage, it’s imperative that you clamp your tile down tightly and hold the saw firmly on the tile to control saw and blade vibration. Avoid marring the tile by applying masking tape to the saw shoe. Go slow, using short relief cuts to remove waste and ease the blade through the turn.

Cutting metal

Photo 6: Clamp metal between plywood to cut it.

Cut sheet metal without shredding it by clamping the workpiece tightly between two thin sheets of plywood. Begin by drilling saw blade starter holes inside all pattern circles. Cutting through a plywood sandwich is slow-going. For the smoothest cuts, select metal-cutting blades that have 21 to 24 teeth per inch.

Metal-cutting blade

Use blades with 21 to 24 teeth per inch to cut metal.

With the proper blade, jigsaws can cut through wood with embedded nails, 1/8-in. mild steel, no-iron pipe and sheet metal up to 10 gauge thick (Photo 6).

For cutting sheet metal, choose a finer blade with 21 to 24 teeth per inch. To avoid shredding sheet metal or raising a lot of edge burrs, tightly sandwich the metal between two layers of thin plywood. Cut metal plate and pipe on low speed. For pattern cutting, drill blade starter holes instead of making plunge cuts. Expect it to take a while to cut through the sandwich. When cutting over a workbench or sawhorses, prop the sandwich on rails for adequate blade clearance below.

Features such as higher saw power, long blade stroke, variable speeds and orbital cutting action are all pluses for cutting metals, and are found on more costly jigsaws. Saws that are equipped with vacuum hose connections to keep the pattern cut sightlines free of dust also are a plus. Cutting pipe and mild steel plates wears out blades fast. Keep plenty of blades on hand, select a coarser blade (like 14 teeth per inch) and lubricate the saw cut with cutting oil.

Blade and Saw Basics

A jigsaw (also called a saber saw) cuts in a Rapid up-and-down motion. The key to excellent results with a jigsaw is to match a specific blade to the type of material you’ll cut: wood, metal, plastics, tile, etc. The blade package will indicate what material the blade cuts best.

Most blades are carbon steel, 2 to 3-1/2 in. long and either 1/4 in. wide for making tight radius cuts or 3/8 in. wide for general-purpose cutting. Six-teeth-per-inch blades cut fast but rough; finer blades with 10 or more teeth per inch deliver smoother cuts. Special toothless blades cut everything from leather to tile. When buying blades, consider investing in bimetal blades. They can last 10 times longer and are less likely to break.

When purchasing a saw, check to see what type of blades it uses. Most jigsaws accept blades with a 1/4-in. universal tang that locks into the blade clamp with a set screw. Some saws accept only specially designed blades (like bayonet-mount) from their own manufacturer. Once you discover the blades you use the most, stock up to avoid running out in the middle of a job.

If you’ll only use a jigsaw once in a while, you may want to buy just a basic model. When you’re ready to move up, you can spend more than 200 for a heavy-duty saw that performs better and has more features, such as:

  • Orbital cutting action. If you’ve ever rocked a handsaw up and down while cutting a board or firewood, you’ve noticed how this speeds the cutting action. Jigsaws with this feature have dialed settings that change the pitch of the blade from straight up and down for metal cutting to angled forward for aggressively cutting wood.
  • Longer blade stroke. Using a jigsaw that delivers a 1-in. long blade stroke will get you through a job faster than using a saw with a 1/2-in. long stroke.
  • Blade guides. Saws so equipped have a pair of rollers or other guides below the blade clamping assembly (Photo 4) to steady the blade for less bending and greater accuracy.
  • Variable speeds. A jigsaw with preset speed settings or a variable speed trigger allows you to customize each cut and to slow down when you’re at a tricky point in a pattern. This helps you work with a wide variety of materials and densities, too.

Required Tools for this Project

You’ll also need a jigsaw blade for the material you’re cutting.

If you’re cutting countertops, you’ll need a drill and a 1/2-in. drill bit to make a starter hole.

The Best Jigsaw for the Money – Complete Buying Guide Reviews

Out of all the specialty saws available, one flirts with the definition of both “specialty” and “everyday” saw…the jigsaw. The jigsaw, or sabre saw for those who prefer it, is a versatile tool that fulfills the contoured needs of the do-it-yourselfer when straight lines are not on the menu.

If you’ve ever tried to navigate curves, circles, or inside openings with a circular saw (the essential power saw everyone should own) you’ve probably quickly realized why it isn’t intended for anything other than straight cuts.

  • Quick Overview: Our Top Jigsaws
  • The Best Corded Jigsaws
  • Best Jigsaw – Overall
  • Is it Time to Cut the Cord?
  • Barrel Grip vs D-Handle or Top-Handle
  • Orbital Action
  • Bevel Capacity and Bevel Adjustment
  • Variable Speed
  • Laser Guide
  • LED Light
  • Dust Blower
  • Vibration Reduction
  • Trigger lock
  • Tool-less Blade Changes
  • All About the Blades
  • T-Shank Blades
  • U-Shank Blades
  • Safety Considerations
  • DeWALT
  • Makita
  • Bosch
  • Black Decker
  • Hitachi

Quick Overview: Our Top Jigsaws

The circular saw will bind and splinter the wood, creating more mess, hassle, and potential risk than it’s worth. If you have a project that calls for curves, circles, inside openings, or a long list of other unique cuts, the jigsaw is the preferred tool. Which jigsaw is the best jigsaw for you? Let The Saw Guy help you discover just that.

With the blade being only ¼-inch to ½-inch wide and very thin, a jigsaw blade is small and flexible enough to make it ideal for cutting curves. A jigsaw works by a reciprocating up and down movement, usually cutting on the upstroke.

Typically, a jigsaw is used for cutting wood or similar strength materials but with the right blade, jigsaws can also be used to cut metal sheeting and straps or even stone. While they are not the most efficient way to cut through metal, they manage to fill the role when they are occasionally called upon.

There are two basic styles of jigsaws; barrel and D-handle or top-handle. Most manufacturers have both styles in each model. This provides the user with their choice. While the top-handle is the more traditional style, users of barrel style jigsaws rave that they are easier to control.

Since maintaining control over the blade and the cut is a major factor when using a jigsaw, these models are worth your consideration.

If it is within your tool budget, the better quality jigsaws are worth buying.

The amount of adjustment the saw offers for blade speed, stroke length, and oscillation style, more than makes up for the cost of the saw. The payback will come in increased efficiency, both in faster cuts and in less damage caused by the saw.

Some of these units come with LED work lights or laser guides. These are great options to have, making it easier to cut straight and follow the line you’ve laid out.

While I am strongly in favor of these features, I wouldn’t make them the top priority when choosing a jigsaw. Even the best jigsaws on the market will have their flaws. However, when cost isn’t a factor, if it comes down to a saw with all the features and one without, the features are certainly justifiable.

The best jigsaw for each individual depends on a number of factors. But before you jump into buying a jigsaw here are just a few questions you can ask yourself to assess your needs:

  • What kind of projects are you anticipating?
  • How often will you use the jigsaw?
  • What is your budget?
  • What is your work environment?
  • What is your skill level?

It is important to answer these questions before making a decision on a saw. Entering the world of “jigsawing” without doing a bit of research can leave you paying too much by purchasing a jigsaw with features you will never need.

Why should You educate yourself about features? It would be like buying a truck and paying for a 4×4 model, when chances are, you will never use it. It just doesn’t make sense.

The Best Corded Jigsaws

Bosch JS470E 120-Volt 7.0-amp Top-handle Jigsaw

We have to give the best jigsaw overall to the Bosch JS470E 7.0 Amp Top-Handle Jigsaw. This jigsaw stands out among the rest for its rugged durability (the footplate arm will withstand up to 546 lbs of load) and raw power to tackle most any job you can throw at it with a top SPM of 3,100. It will also bevel up to 45° and can cut through soft wood up to 5 7/8 inches thick.

In addition to its great performance the JS470E has some nice features such as a dust blower, variable speed, tool-less blade changes, and an orbital-action with 4 settings to adjust your cut from a slower but better finished cut to faster but rougher cut. The JS470E is also designed not to transfer a lot of vibration to you hands and includes an ambidextrous trigger lock. So, it’s comfortable to use for longer periods.

There were some negative reviews that complained the blower was underpowered and didn’t move much dust and some had problems with the quality right out of the box. That’s forgivable and can be expected from any manufacturer in a small number of units sold. Overall, people have been very pleased with the Bosch JS470E jigsaw.

  • Powerful 7.0-amp motor
  • Variable speed with SPM range 500 to 3,100 SPM
  • Cutting capacity of up to 5 7/8 inches in soft woods
  • Bevels up to 45°
  • Tool-less blade changes with blade ejection to prevent handling hot blades
  • Orbital-action with four settings
  • Ambidextrous trigger lock
  • Low vibration with smooth performance
  • Adjustable dust blower
  • T-Shank blades only
  • 1-year warranty

PORTER-CABLE PCE345 6.0-amp Top-handle Jigsaw

The PCE345 jigsaw from PORTER-CABLE is a stout and affordable piece of machinery. It’s no frills and focuses on competing with performance rather than a load of features. It packs a 6.0-amp motor capable of reaching up to 3,200 SPM. That’s some pretty serious cutting speed and you’ll be hard pressed to find a high-end jigsaw that matches it.

To get even more mileage out of that 3,200 SPM, the PCE345 also includes orbital action with four different settings. While it is technically variable speed in that you can adjust the speed, this is done with a dial on the bottom side of the trigger rather than by trigger pressure alone.

One great feature is that it will accept both T-Shank blades as well as U-Shank blades and is equipped for tool-less blade changes. I could not find any official information on the beveling capabilities of this jigsaw but many reviewers said it will bevel up to 45° and in looking at the shoe this does appear to be the case. I’m not sure why PORTER-CABLE isn’t advertising that particular capability.

Owners of the PCE345 were overall very satisfied with what they saw as a powerful saw for your typical homeowner. Some had issues with the saw cutting square and with not holding the blades firmly but those were few and PORTER-CABLE is backing this saw with a 3-year warranty.

  • Powerful 6.0-amp motor
  • Will bevel cut
  • 7-position adjustable speed dial up to 3,200 SPM
  • Tool-less blade changes
  • Orbital-action with four settings
  • Trigger lock
  • Rubberized overmolding to reduce vibration
  • T-Shank and U-Shank compatible
  • 3-year warranty

BlackDecker BDEJS600C 5.0-amp Top-handle Jigsaw

Talk about a jigsaw on a budget… With the Black Decker BDE JS600C you are getting a whole lot of tool for the little it costs. But you get to do it without sacrificing too many features or quality. You could almost by two of these for the price of the PORTER-CABLE or five of them for the Bosch.

Having said that, it’s true you won’t be getting the same quality as those other two tools. Some users had the parts of the tool falling off shortly after purchase and really had a problem with the blades staying inserted. But BlackDecker does give this tool a 2-year warranty. The 5.0-amp motor is solid and will handle almost any job the typical homeowner could toss at it but it may struggle getting through harder woods or metal.

The upside is this thing is loaded with features for it’s price. It’ll bevel 45° both ways, is a true variable speed, has orbital action, tool-less blade changes, and a blower. On top of all that, it’s compatible with both T-Shank and U-Shank blades. If your looking for a great tool that won’t end up with you sleeping on the couch, the BDEJS600C is a great choice.

  • Solid 5.0-amp motor
  • Bevels up to 45° both ways
  • Variable speed up to 3,000 SPM
  • Orbital-action with four settings
  • Dust blower
  • Tool-less blade changes
  • Trigger lock
  • T-Shank and U-Shank compatible
  • Rubberized overmolding for comfort
  • 2-year warranty

The Best Cordless Jigsaws

DeWALT DCS331M1 20V Max Lithium-ion Top-handle Jigsaw

DeWALT makes some fine tools and the DCS331M1 jigsaw is definitely one of them. This battery-operated jigsaw runs on the 20V Max Lithium-ion platform which gives it plenty of stout power for most professional use. So, the average homeowner will likely find very little they can’t accomplish with this saw.

This jigsaw includes variable speed that will reach up to 3,000 SPM and has four orbital-action settings. It also allows for tool-less blade changes and has a dust blower you can adjust to limit how much air is forced out.

As it is cordless, you won’t have to fuss with pulling around an extension cord while you’re working with it but you are also limited to the charge a battery can hold. This does make the saw heavier as it includes the weight of the battery as well but the DCS331M1 is still very comfortable to use and is well balanced.

The quality and battery convenience are reflected in the price though as the bare tool alone will cost as much as the Bosch without batteries. If you have to purchase the batteries and charger too you can plan to double the cost. However, if you are already a member of the DeWALT 20V Max Lithium-ion club, this is much less of an issue.

Overall, there weren’t that many complaints about this saw other than occasionally a thinner blade might get pulled out in a particularly tight turn and that the saw struggled with cutting through thicker metals. Struggling with really hard materials is kind of to be expected with a cordless saw though as they just don’t have the power of the corded ones.

  • Stout 20V Max Lithium-ion power
  • Excellent run time
  • Variable speed up to 3,000 SPM
  • Orbital-action with four settings
  • Adjustable dust blower
  • Tool-less blade changes
  • Trigger lock
  • T-Shank only
  • Rubberized overmolding for comfort
  • 3-year warranty

Makita XVJ02Z 18V LXT Brushless Top-handle Jigsaw

The Makita XVJ02Z is easily the most expensive jigsaw on our list but it’s a solid pick for anyone looking for a feature rich, battery-operated jigsaw. It has a powerful 18V LXT motor that will ramp this puppy up to a whopping 3,500 SPM. Luckily, that speed is adjustable.

Like the PORTER-CABLE this saw will make bevel cuts but it’s not advertised exactly what it’s capabilities are. The XVJ02Z also includes the dynamic duo of having both a dust blower and dual LED work lights. You shouldn’t have any issues spotting your cut line with this saw.

This jigsaw has three different settings on the orbital action which is slightly less than the usual four and is really very light at just 5.8 lbs with the battery. That means it will be easy to maneuver and comfortable to use.

The biggest complaint I have found about this particular jigsaw is with the No-load speed reduction. Basically, what this feature does is provides the speed and power as it is needed to save on battery life. The problem users had with this is when cutting thinner material the blade just wouldn’t get up to the speed they needed to make a nice clean cut and often just bounced around shaking the devil out of their project. Besides this, most owners were very happy with the saw.

  • Powerful 18V LXT motor
  • Adjustable speed from 800-3,500 SPM
  • Will bevel cut
  • Orbital-action with three settings
  • Brushless motor optimizes run time
  • Tool-less blade changes
  • Soft-start
  • No-load speed reduction
  • Only weights 5.8 lbs with battery
  • Dual LED work lights
  • Trigger lock
  • Dust blower
  • Rubberized overmolding for comfort
  • 3-year warranty

Hitachi CJ18DGLP4 18V Lithium-ion Top-handle Jigsaw

I like options, so if you were hoping to find a cordless jigsaw that didn’t mutilate your book I included the Hitachi CJ18DGLP4 and it’s a solid choice by any metric. The 18V motor is easily powerful enough for what most homeowners could ask of it and will still reach up to 2,400 SPM.

It will make bevel cuts of up to 45° both ways and has a three-setting orbital-action for cuts that need more gusto. It is very light weighing just 4.0 lbs without the battery. On top of all that it will accept both T-Shank and U-Shank blades. So, more options there, as well.

For its price it has some nice quality of life features such as on-tool blade storage and an LED work light. This is all backed by Hitachi’s Lifetime Lithium-ion tool warranty.

While the majority of owners were very pleased with this jigsaw, some felt that the saw lacked in power as they struggled to make some cuts. This could be attributed to using 1.5-amp versus the 3-amp batteries. Some users also were unhappy with the run time they got out of a single charge.

  • Powerful 18V motor
  • Variable speed up to 2,400 SPM
  • Bevels up to 45° both ways
  • Orbital-action with three settings
  • Tool-less blade changes
  • Only weights 4.0 lbs without battery
  • LED work light
  • Trigger lock
  • On-tool blade storage
  • T-Shank and U-Shank compatible
  • Rubberized overmolding for comfort
  • Lifetime warranty

Choose The Right Type Of Jigsaw

Is it Time to Cut the Cord?

Battery-operated tools are rapidly gaining in popularity and capability. While there used to be just a handful of tools (namely cordless drills) that ran on batteries, nowadays you can find most any tool with a battery-operated version. Battery-operated jigsaws have struggled to become as widely used as other cordless power tools. It makes sense when you think about it.

Jigsaws aren’t typically used like most power tools, where you cut your piece of wood or drill a hole and you’re done. Often times, the application of the jigsaw is for cut’s that will take time and expend more energy, thus decreasing the battery life much quicker.

However, with the recent surge of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, the cordless option is much more viable than ever before. Li-ion batteries have a much longer battery life and recharge very quickly, allowing the jigsaw to be used for longer periods with less downtime.

Battery operated may be the wave of the future as batteries become more reliable and more powerful but for now there are still enough drawbacks to using a battery-operated tool versus a traditional corded tool to warrant a discussion.

A corded jigsaw will generally cost less than a similar grade battery-operated one and it will be more powerful. A corded jigsaw is also lighter and will give you unlimited cutting time as there are no batteries to run out on you.

On the other hand, a battery-operated jigsaw has the advantage of being very portable and if you will be cutting a long ways away from a power source…Well, battery power is way better than no power at all.

Battery-operated also means you won’t be fussing with a cord when making complex cuts which makes the jigsaw more maneuverable. And while they are generally more expensive, if you have already bought into a brand platform you can buy the tool only and use your other batteries in the jigsaw which might make it actually cheaper than a corded version.

Whether you decide to go with a battery-operated or corded jigsaw also depends heavily on your habits and how you intend to use the jigsaw. Is there a reason you couldn’t make the cut within reach of an outlet that makes battery operated a requirement? For some tools, like a cordless drill, I can’t imagine being tethered to a cord and for others it’s not a problem for me.

Barrel Grip vs D-Handle or Top-Handle

While our list consists entirely of top-handle jigsaws, I’d like you to be aware of the barrel grip and what it means. Many of the models listed will also come in a barrel grip if that’s your fancy. As far as features go, a barrel grip and top-handle should have identical features for a model. Only the way you hold the jigsaw changes.

The barrel grip is a matter of preference. Many users who prefer the barrel grip prefer them because they feel it gives them more control over the blade as their hand is lower and closer to the blade. Those who don’t like them say that the larger grip wears out their hands quickly.

The majority of jigsaws out there are of the top-handle variety, so take that for what it’s worth.

Features that Matter

Orbital Action

Orbital action, also sometimes called oscillating action, refers to how the blade of the jigsaw moves when cutting. This is specifically referring to along the cutting face of the blade, no funky side to side action is happening.

The orbital action changes the path of the blade when cutting. The blade can move straight up and down, which would be no orbital action, or at higher orbital settings will move in a sort of lazy loop driving itself forward into the material with each stroke.

There are advantages to both settings. Having no orbital action will produce a cleaner more precise cut but is slower. With the orbital action set, the jigsaw will cut more quickly but leaves behind more tear-out.

Bevel Capacity and Bevel Adjustment

A bevel cut is any cut where the blade is not perpendicular to the material. The ability to tilt the saw housing (or shoe depending on how you see it) is certainly a handy feature when you need it.

Some jigsaws do the job better than others. For instance, some include preset stops at common angle intervals and include a lever for quick adjustments. Also, easy to read scales help ensure you’ve got the saw in the right place and those stops will help take nearly all the fuss and worry out of some of your cuts.

Variable Speed

This is such a small thing but can make a huge difference depending on your comfort and skill level. Variable speed is really simple in that it allows you to fine tune the speed of the blade based on how much you squeeze the trigger of the saw.

You may be the kind of person who just likes to go full bore all the time but I personally like to be able to slow down and control the speed of the blade when I am coming to either a corner or a tricky curve. This particular feature is very dependent on the individual user.

Laser Guide

While they sound cool and are fun to brag about, I haven’t personally found them more than slightly useful for setting up a cut initially. On curved cuts, the laser guide is even less useful. Not only are they just nominally accurate, but once I’ve begun cutting, I’m too focused on paying attention to the guide on the shoe or my cut-line to really be able to use the laser. Combine that with accuracy problems on the lasers and I personally don’t get a lot of mileage out of them.

LED Light

As opposed to lasers, this is a feature I can really get behind. An LED work light is a small flashlight on the saw that turns on when the trigger is engaged even a little and shines the light right where it’s needed. This makes seeing your cut-line significantly easier if you’re in any place other than outside on a sunny day.

My shop is in my basement, so standing in the wrong place can throw a shadow on the work piece and make the line almost impossible to see but sometimes, that’s right where I need to be. Couple the LED work light with a dust blower and you’ve got a really handy combination.

Dust Blower

Using any saw will create dust and that dust will be thrown all over the place with careless abandon. Sometimes that means even your cut-line will get covered in sawdust making it difficult or impossible to see even with a laser or LED work light. Obviously, this can negatively affect the quality of your cuts.

This is less of an issue on short cuts (trimming a 2×4 for instance) as the cut is finished before a lot of dust has time to settle. But on longer cuts, this can be a big problem. Enter the dust blower.

The dust blower is exactly what its name says it is, it blows the dust away that collects ahead of the saw when you’re cutting. It really is a handy feature and pairs well with an LED work light or a laser. The downside is that the strength of the blower is usually tied to the speed of the motor. So, if you’re not running at full throttle the blower may not move much.

Vibration Reduction

Most power-tools are going to create vibration of some sort. Some create significantly more than other do though and jigsaws create a ton. It’s sort of like trying to hang onto an angry Jack-Jack. It seems like a minor thing but too much vibration can lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome.

That’s why a tool that does it’s best to reduce the amount of vibration that reaches your hands will be more comfortable to use and can reap benefits for you in the long run. Some tools will reduce vibration strictly through the types of material used on the grips.

Not only will vibration reduction save your hands but it will help you cut cleaner by allowing you to follow your cut-line more accurately and the saw won’t be slamming up and down into the material.

Trigger lock

A trigger lock is another feature to save your hands, in this case, your grip. If you have any prolonged cutting to do you’ll quickly come to appreciate this feature as your hands and forearms can quickly tire and cramp from trying to hold down the trigger while maneuvering the blade.

The trigger lock locks the trigger into the on position so you no longer need to hold it down manually. This allows you to adjust the way you hold the saw as you are cutting.

Tool-less Blade Changes

The saw blade is your main contact with your material and the quality of the blade can have a significant impact on the quality of your finished product. Jigsaw blades are thin and can bend and break. They are also relatively inexpensive compared to the material you’re using and the time spent.

So, if you think the blade your using is not cutting it, either it’s dull or bent or just the wrong tooth count, it’s a good idea to change it out for a better one.

With tool-less blade change, or quick change, this is very easy and can be done in seconds. Without tool-less blade change you’ll need to have an Allen wrench handy to loosen the set screw holding the blade in. While this is not difficult by any means, it can take a little time and the faster you can make the change, the more likely you are to do it and ensure the best cut quality.

jigsaw, beginner, guide, tool

All About the Blades

Jigsaws have greatly evolved away from the primitive and inaccurate tool of their origin. Where they were originally used exclusively for rough-cutting curves, jigsaws are now used in many intricate applications requiring accuracy and splinter-free finishes.

This difference comes from a combination of small steps made to improve both the saws and the blades used in them. The cutting blade has always been a weak point for jigsaws.

A typical jigsaw blade is about ¼-inch wide and 1/32-inch thick. They really aren’t a sturdy piece of steel and will warp as you are pushing sideways when trying to cut out a curve. That flexibility is a double-edged sword in that it allows the jigsaw to make a curved cut without breaking the blade, but keeping the edge square takes a bit of skill and experience.

Adding to this inherent weakness is the fact jigsaws only secure the blade on one end with the other being free-floating.

Modern blades come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are designed to reduce friction. Also, you’ll want to be aware of standard and reverse-tooth blades. A standard blade is designed with the teeth facing in such a way that the blade cuts on the upstroke. This means any tear-out will occur on the top of your material. A reverse-tooth blade instead has the teeth facing the opposite direction and cuts on the downstroke. So, tear-out will be on the bottom with a reverse-tooth blade.

It is essential for you to know which type of “shank” your jigsaw requires. Although, some jig saws are compatible with more than one shank some may only be compatible with either T-shank or U-shank blades. The shank type denotes how the blade will be fastened to the jigsaw.

T-shanks and U-shanks are the most common; however, some brands may only use shanks specific to their jig saw models. That’s something to be aware of whenever you’re making a purchase.

T-Shank Blades

T-shanks are generally the most common in modern jigsaws and have a cone shaped end with two flanges. These are more widely used because they do not require external tools to change the blade and can be “quick changed.” T-shank blades will also generally work in U-shank jigsaws.

U-Shank Blades

U-shank blades have a convex end that looks a bit like, well, a “U” and are fastened to the jigsaw with a set screw that usually requires an Allen wrench to change the blades.

Safety Considerations

Compared to circular saws, table saws, and chainsaws, jigsaws are relatively safe mainly due to a lack of kickback. That isn’t to say that kickback can’t happen, it can. But jigsaws don’t use the rotational force other saws do and they are not as powerful. There are still ways to ensure you don’t hurt yourself when using a jigsaw though.

For one, make sure you are familiar with your tool and all it’s parts and use the proper kind and a sharp blade for the cut you are making. If you have to change a blade mid-cut because you feel like you are forcing the saw forward, watch out because that blade will be hot. And make sure you unplug the saw first. It’s only six or eight feet away.

Whenever possible try to clamp your material down. This will allow you to keep both hands on the saw and prevent the material from moving on you when cutting. It’s a bad situation when your material gets pushed around as your cutting or if it gets pushed of the saw horses with the trigger locked on full bore.

Also, be aware of where the cord is when you are cutting. With jigsaws you can make cuts that turn right back around on themselves so know where the cord is. And lastly, be sure to wear the proper eye and ear protection.

Best Jigsaw Brands


DeWALT was founded in 1924 with the creation of a universal woodworking machine. Since then, DeWALT has become a household name known for professional grade and durable products. And their product line is vast, ranging from radios and work lights to axes and nail sets.


Makita got its start more than 100 years ago in 1915 as an electric motor sales and repair business. In that time, Makita has grown into a well-known global giant in power tools. Whether it runs on gas, electricity, or battery, there isn’t much Makita doesn’t make of professional quality.


Bosch was founded in 1886 by Robert Bosch who is known for having said he’d “rather lose money than trust.” Since then Bosch has cultivated a reputation for quality and innovation across a broad spectrum of equipment and services beyond just power tools. They create auto parts and accessories, have automotive service centers, garden tools, appliances, and more

Black Decker

Black Decker has a unique history in that it’s start in 1910 had nothing to do with tools but with machines that made milk bottle caps. But in 1916 they changed the tool world when they patented the first electric drill with a pistol-grip and trigger-switch. Now, they make consumer grade everything under the sun. Power tools, lawn and garden equipment, appliances, and even home cleaning products.


In 1906, R.E. Porter, G.G. Porter, and F.E. Cable started a jobbing machine and tool shop out of their garage in Syracuse, New York. By 1914 the business had begun to FOCUS primarily on power tools and eventually would design several portable tools such as a belt sander and Band saw. Their design of the helical gear driven circular saw, better known as the sidewinder, is still the most popular design of modern circular saws. After more than 100 years, PORTER-CABLE has built a solid reputation for their quality and reliability.


Hitachi is one of those brands you didn’t realize was into making power tools and then you realize that not only do they make them, but they make some great tools. Hitachi was originally founded in 1948 manufacturing coal mining machinery and electric power tools. Since then, they’ve grown their tool lineup to include pneumatics, metalworking, woodworking, drills, saws, and much more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use my jigsaw to cut metal, stone, or laminate?

A: That depends on the saw and the blade. For cutting laminate you would simply need a laminate blade. When cutting metal or stone you not only need the proper blade but a saw with enough grunt to handle cutting through those harder materials.

jigsaw, beginner, guide, tool

Q: Will I need a specific saw blade for certain cuts?

A: Yes. When cutting different kinds of materials, you’ll want to be sure to use the proper blade for that material. If you are cutting thick material, you’ll need a blade that extends roughly 1-inch or so through the material. When cutting curves, you’ll want to use the most flexible blade you have.

jigsaw, beginner, guide, tool

Q: Can I sharpen my jigsaw blade?

A: I’ll go ahead and put this in the realm of possibly but it’s more effort than it’s worth. Jigsaw blades are already small and inexpensive making sharpening them pointless (pun intended). If you really were set on it, I’d imagine you could though.

Q: What size extension cord should I use?

A: Not all extension cords are equal, they vary significantly on the amperage they are rated for. So, you’ll need to ensure you also have an extension cord that can meet the power needs of your saw.

Failing to get enough power to the saw not only prevents the saw from performing at its maximum, but will also shorten the life of your saw. However, jigsaws are not incredibly power-hungry tools so as long as you’ve got a quality extension cord, you should be fine.

Final Thoughts

Be sure to determine if a jigsaw is the tool you need for the job. Don’t get me wrong, a jigsaw is a fantastic tool and it’s versatile. But if all you’re doing is lopping off 2x4s or ripping down plywood, there are other tools that will do this better and you’d working harder than you have to.

If a jigsaw is what you need, then you need to spend some time considering how you will use the tool and how often you will use it. For me, and LED light is a great addition because most of my work is done in low light conditions but for you it could just be a gimmick.

Be honest with yourself about your budget and what you want. You may want the best jigsaw there is but if you only bring it out once every two years that may not be a practical use of your tool budget.

About Brandon Potters

Hi, I’m Brandon and I can’t express how excited I am that you chose The Saw Guy as your resource for project ideas, tool reviews, and all-around guide to the world of DIY. I spent years in the construction industry refining my knowledge of various trades and even spent a few years working at a major hardware store. ​If there is anyone who can help you make a well-informed, unbiased, budget-conscious decision, it’s me and my team.

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