Beginner’s Guide on How to Use a Jigsaw Effectively
The jigsaw is a versatile and indispensable tool used for intricate cutting tasks. It’s the best saw for cutting shapes out of wood and any other material. However, if you haven’t tried using a jigsaw before, it might look intimidating to you. I have created this guide to provide you tips on how to use a jigsaw safely and effectively.
Why Using a Jigsaw to Cut Wood is Recommended
In case you’re wondering, the jigsaw is a power tool which any DIY person should have. It’s really a good tool to cut intricate shapes in wood, metal, plastics, and more. However, there are actually a few good reasons why you should have a jigsaw in your toolkit. They are as follows:
- First off, jigsaws are very easy to use. They are kid-friendly and can be used straight from the box regardless of your experience level. Simply insert the blade and press the Start button, and you’re ready to start cutting intricate shapes in wood.
- Second, a jigsaw is capable of cutting almost anything! With the right curve cutting jigsaw blades, you can cut woods of different thickness, metal, plastic, drywall, fiberglass, etc. This makes the jigsaw one of the most versatile and must-have tools in your workshop.
- Third, jigsaws are the only power tool capable of cutting curves in thick wood along with other intricate patterns. This will help you finish your cutting task faster compared to a handheld coping saw.
- Lastly, jigsaws can go cordless. This eliminates the hassle of a dangling cord as you perform any cutting task. With a battery powered jigsaw, you can carry your tool even without a nearby power outlet.
Materials Necessary for a Cutting Project
Before you tackle cutting jobs with a jigsaw, make sure you prepare the following materials:
- Extension cord – if you have an electric jigsaw, you will need an extension cord to ensure uninterrupted cutting sessions. This is particularly helpful if you’re dealing with a project that is a few feet away from a power outlet.
- Clamps – clamps will hold your material in place. This also helps you control the saw and minimize vibration significantly.
- Safety glasses – it’s important to wear protection for your eyes to prevent chips and sawdust from possibly blinding you.
- Sawhorse – a sawhorse helps support a plank for sawing, thus making it a lot easier for you to make cuts
- Jigsaw blade – this is the one that does the cutting of your workpiece. The choice varies depending on whether you’re cutting metal, hardwood, or any other material.
How to Use a Jigsaw Properly
Now that you’ve gathered the necessary materials, it’s time to start cutting. Here are the steps on how to use a jigsaw to cut curves, circles, or any patterns you want:
#1. Fasten your workpiece
Using your clamps, fasten your workpiece on the sawhorse. This will help you ensure stability as you start cutting.
#2. Adjust the saw’s settings
Adjust your jigsaw’s orbital action with the adjustment knob on its side and speed settings at the top. The higher the orbital action and speed setting, the faster you can cut. However, this will leave you with rougher cuts. If you’re dealing with other materials such as plastic and metal, you’ll have to lower the orbital action and speed.
#3. Insert the blade
You need to use the appropriate blade depending on your workpiece. If you’re cutting wood, you need a jigsaw blade for hardwood and so on. While inserting the blade, make sure your jigsaw is unplugged or the battery removed.
#4. Position your saw on top of the material
After mounting the blade, make sure you position the tip of your jigsaw’s metal base (likewise known as shoe) on top of your workpiece. Also, choose which side of the cut line you want to start cutting, and place the blade a bit further from your starting point.
#5. Start cutting
Slowly pull the jigsaw’s trigger and wait for it to gain full speed. Afterwards, place the saw firmly into the workpiece. Make sure not to move too fast as it will only damage your saw blade, create rough cuts, and even damage your saw’s motor. If too much sawdust accumulates, pause your cut and wipe it off before you resume.
- If you want to make curved cuts, you simply have to follow the line which regulates the speed of your cut that your workpiece allows. For example, cutting curves on a metal workpiece requires a slower cutting speed than wood.
- For a straight cut, you will need a guide for your saw to follow. This is because the jigsaw blade can easily go off path due to its small size unless it’s guided. You can use a straight piece of wood clamped at both ends as a guide.
Tips to Consider
- There’s a limit to the thickness of a material a jigsaw can cut. The maximum limit is around 1 ½ inch. Anything beyond that will cause the saw to overheat and the blade to go off path.
- Jigsaws cut in an upstroke direction. This means you need the front side of your workpiece to be facing down.
- Make sure your cutting blades are always sharp. They’re relatively cheap and facilitate a quicker and easier cutting job.
- It’s ideal to choose a saw that comes with a variable speed feature as this will help you gain full control of your cuts.
- Choose the right blade for your cutting material to ensure smooth and efficient cuts.
- Perform the cut slowly. Don’t try and cut too fast as this will only cause your blades to snap.
How to Use a Jigsaw Safely
A jigsaw may not be that intimidating of a power tool. However, it is still important to ensure your safety by following these safety precautions:
- Make sure to wear protective glasses designed for working with power tools.
- Wear hearing protection each time you perform a cutting job with a jigsaw.
- Don’t touch a jigsaw blade after each cut. Blades are heated due to friction created while cutting, and touching them will only give you burns.
- Don’t forget to read the owner’s manual before you use this tool.
- Make sure to unplug the cord or remove the tool’s battery when not in use or when making adjustments.
To be honest, I didn’t really know how to use a jigsaw before. For the most part, cutting circles and curves were the most difficult process. You will need a bit of practice to finally get better at this step.
I hope you’ll learn how to use a jigsaw properly after this tutorial. Also, if you have other tips you can share, please feel free to leave a comment and share this with your friends!