How To Use A Jigsaw

How to use a jigsaw

Learning how to use a jigsaw is essential for homeowners and apartment renters. This helpful tool can give you the power to cut accurately into a range of materials, from wood to metal and even tile. This comprehensive guide will delve into the intricacies of using a jigsaw effectively.

We’ll start by discussing different handle styles, such as bow handles and barrel grip jigsaws, before moving on to selecting the right blade based on TPI numbers and material type. You’ll also learn how to use a jigsaw for cutting laminate countertops and tiles with specialized blades designed specifically for these tasks.

Furthermore, we’ll provide tips on making straight cuts with minimal surface damage as well as techniques for cutting curves and inside corners. Finally, we will cover methods for preventing surface damage or splintering when working with delicate materials like metal or tile.

By the end of this post, you’ll have gained valuable knowledge on how to use a jigsaw efficiently while achieving professional results in your projects.

Jigsaw Basics and Handle Styles

A jigsaw is a versatile power tool that is essential for homeowners, apartment renters, and DIY enthusiasts. It can effectively cut curves in various materials such as wood, steel, fiberglass, drywall, laminated countertops, and tiles. Jigsaws come in two different handle styles: bow handle and barrel grip.

Bow Handle Jigsaws for Comfortable Operation

The bow handle style is the most common type of jigsaw on the market. The bow handle design provides a comfortable grip, allowing users to easily manage the speed of their cuts with the conveniently located trigger switch. The trigger switch is conveniently located within reach of your fingers so you can easily control the speed of your cuts.

Barrel Grip Jigsaws for Better Control

In contrast to bow handles, barrel grip designs have a cylindrical shape without any protruding elements at their topside portion. Some users find this more comfortable due to its ability to provide increased stability during usage, especially when making intricate cuts requiring precision movements like those found in woodworking projects. This layout also offers improved maneuverability, allowing individuals greater access to tight spaces that are otherwise difficult to navigate using traditional models currently available today.

  • Versatility: A well-equipped jigsaw can tackle tasks ranging from cutting straight lines to creating beveled cuts or even plunge cuts into various materials.
  • Ease of Use: Both bow-handle and barrel-grip styles offer user-friendly designs suitable for beginners as well as experienced DIYers looking to upgrade existing equipment they already own.
  • Adaptability: With the right jigsaw blades, you can cut through a wide range of materials, including wood, metal, tile, and more.

When using a jigsaw, it’s important to choose the right blade for the job. Jigsaw blades come in various types, including blade cuts, blade clamps, and jigsaw shoes. For cutting wood, use a blade with larger teeth and a lower TPI (teeth per inch) count. For cutting tile, use a diamond-grit blade with cutting oil to prevent overheating. For cutting sheet metal, use a carbon steel blade with relief cuts to prevent blade deflection and edge burrs.

To make straight cuts, use a straight edge or guide to keep the jigsaw on track. For beveled cuts, adjust the base plate to the desired angle. To make curved cuts, start by drilling a starter hole and then use relief cuts to prevent the blade from bending. If you encounter embedded nails or other obstacles, use a metal-cutting blade and proceed with caution.

A jigsaw is a versatile tool that can help you tackle a wide range of DIY projects. With the right blade and technique, you can easily cut curves, make straight lines, and create beveled cuts. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced DIYer, a jigsaw is a must-have tool for your workshop.

Jigsaw basics and handle styles are essential to understand before using a jigsaw. A good grasp of jigsaw basics and handle styles is key to choosing the most suitable blade for your task. Next, we will discuss selecting the right edge in order to achieve optimal results with your jigsaw.

Selecting the Right Blade

When choosing a blade, please take into account the material it is intended to cut and its teeth-per-inch (TPI) number which will be specified on the package. The package will specify this information along with teeth-per-inch (TPI) number. A higher TPI count indicates finer cuts, while lower TPI is suitable for rougher cuts and faster work. Popular Mechanics provides an excellent guide on understanding TPI numbers.

  • Choosing blades based on material type:
    • Wood: Select carbon steel or high-speed steel (HSS) blades with a low TPI count for cutting wood.
    • Metal: Bi-metal or HSS blades are ideal for cutting metal; choose one with a higher TPI count.
    • Laminate and plastic: Use down-cutting jigsaw blades specifically designed for these materials to prevent chipping and splintering.

The width of the blade should also be considered when cutting curves or making short crosscuts on boards. Narrower blades allow you to make curved cuts more easily, while wider ones provide better stability during straight cuts. It is important to ensure your jigsaw has a compatible blade clamp before purchasing new jigsaw blades.

How to Use a Jigsaw

A jigsaw is a versatile tool that can be used to make various cuts, including straight cuts, beveled cuts, and curved cuts. Here are some steps to follow when using a jigsaw:

  1. Choose the right blade for your project based on the material you’re cutting and the type of cut you want to make.
  2. Secure the blade in the jigsaw’s clamp, ensuring it’s tight and secure.
  3. Mark your cutting line on the material you’re cutting.
  4. If you’re cutting wood, drill a starter hole at the beginning of your cutting line to prevent the blade from wandering.
  5. Start cutting along your marked line, using a steady hand and keeping the jigsaw’s shoe flat against the material.
  6. Make relief cuts for curved cuts to help guide the blade around tight corners.
  7. For embedded nails or other obstacles, use a blade designed for cutting metal and be prepared for some blade deflection and edge burrs.
  8. For cutting tile or sheet metal, use cutting oil to lubricate the blade and prevent overheating.

With these tips, you’ll be able to use a jigsaw to make various cuts in different materials. Happy cutting.

Selecting the right blade is essential for a successful jigsaw project. To ensure accurate and precise cuts, it’s important to understand TPI numbers and choose blades based on material type. Moving forward, let us discuss cutting laminate countertops and tiles with down-cutting blades for laminate countertops and carbide-grit blades for tile cutting.

Cutting Laminate Countertops and Tiles

For specific projects like cutting laminate countertops or tiles, choosing the right blade for a clean and precise cut is essential. Special down-cutting blades are designed for laminate countertops that help prevent chipping on the surface. For tile cutting, toothless carbide-grit blades are ideal as they provide smooth cuts without cracking the material.

Using Down-Cutting Blades for Laminate Countertops

Opt for down-cutting jigsaw blades with teeth facing downwards to ensure a neat finish when cutting laminate countertops. This helps prevent chips and scratches on the decorative side of your countertop while making straight cuts or curved shapes. Covering areas where cuts need to be made with masking tape can further protect surfaces from damage.

Carbide-Grit Blades for Tile Cutting

Cutting tile materials requires extra care due to their fragile nature. Using carbide-grit abrasive blades specifically designed for tile cutting will reduce breakage caused by the excessive force exerted upon these delicate surfaces. When working with tiles, it’s also helpful to create relief cuts before making actual plunge cuts into your desired shape, ensuring smoother finishes.

For cutting laminate countertops and tiles, it is important to use the right blades for each material in order to ensure a clean cut. When making straight cuts with a jigsaw, drilling starter holes can help you make precise cuts while avoiding surface damage.

Making Straight Cuts with a Jigsaw

It is essential to follow proper techniques and use the right accessories to make straight cuts using a jigsaw. This section will discuss how to drill starter holes and prevent surface damage while cutting wood or other materials.

Drilling Starter Holes

When you need to cut straight lines within larger surfaces, such as creating holes in centerpieces or removing sections from boards, begin by drilling starter holes. These should be large enough for your jigsaw blade to fit inside comfortably. Start by making a small opening at one end of the line to cut with an appropriate drill bit. This technique works particularly well when working with delicate materials prone to scratching since bottom shoes often leave marks during operation.

Preventing Surface Damage

  • Jigsaw Shoe: Ensure your jigsaw shoe is clean and debris-free before starting any cuts. A dirty shoe can cause scratches on the material’s surface.
  • Tape: Cover the area where you plan to cut with painter’s or masking tape to protect delicate surfaces like laminates or veneers from potential damage caused by the jigsaw shoe.
  • Straight Edge Guide: For accurate straight cuts without blade deflection, use a clamped-down straight edge guide alongside your jigsaw. This ensures that your tool stays aligned throughout the entire cutting process. Bob Vila provides a helpful guide on how to achieve this.

By following these tips and techniques, you can make precise straight cuts with your jigsaw while minimizing the risk of surface damage or imperfections in your project.

Making straight cuts with a jigsaw is an easy and efficient way to cut through wood, metal, plastic or other materials. With the right techniques and tips for cutting curves and inside corners, you can get even more creative with your projects.

Cutting Curves and Inside Corners

When it comes to cutting curves with a jigsaw, precision is key. To achieve smooth curve designs on softwood or hardwood pieces up to 3/4 inch thick, follow these steps:

  1. Mark the curve: Draw your desired curve onto the material using a pencil.
  2. Select the right blade: Choose a narrow blade with high TPI (teeth per inch) for better control when making curved cuts. Blades made of carbon steel are ideal for cutting wood.
  3. Maintain steady speed: Move the jigsaw slowly along the marked line, maintaining an even pace throughout the cut.

To cut inside corners without causing blade deflection or damaging your material, follow these tips:

  • Drill starter holes: Before starting your cut at each corner point, drill small holes large enough to fit your jigsaw blade through them. This will make it easier to start cutting and prevent any unwanted damage from occurring during initial entry into the material.
  • Make relief cuts: If you’re working on tight inside corners where there’s little room for maneuvering around obstacles like embedded nails or edge burrs in metal materials such as sheet metal – consider making relief cuts beforehand by removing small sections of waste material along straight lines leading towards each corner point; this will provide additional space needed for jigsaw blade movement during the operation process itself.

Cutting curves and inside corners with a jigsaw can be tricky, but by following the techniques mentioned above you will find it easier to get clean cuts. Consider applying painter’s tape before making each cut to prevent surface damage and splintering when using your jigsaw.

Preventing Surface Damage and Splintering

To prevent surface damage or splintering on the “good” side of your material while cutting, face it downwards and use a reverse-tooth blade in combination with painter’s tape for added protection. This section will discuss using reverse-tooth blades and the proper application of painter’s tape to ensure a clean, smooth cut.

Using Reverse-Tooth Blades

A reverse-tooth blade is designed to cut on the downstroke instead of the upstroke, which helps reduce chipping and splintering on delicate materials like veneer plywood or laminates. These blades have teeth that point upwards rather than downwards, ensuring any potential damage occurs on the backside of your workpiece.

Painter’s Tape Application

Painter’s tape, also known as masking tape, can be used as an additional layer of protection when cutting wood or other sensitive materials with a jigsaw. To apply painter’s tape:

  1. Clean the surface where you’ll make cuts to remove dust or debris.
  2. Carefully place strips of painter’s tape along both sides of your intended cut line so they overlap slightly at their edges.
  3. Press down firmly on each strip to ensure good adhesion between them; this prevents paint from seeping underneath during later stages such as the painting process itself.

In addition to preventing surface damage caused by jigsaw shoe marks or blade deflection, these methods also help minimize edge burrs left behind after completing cuts – giving finished projects a more professional appearance overall.

To ensure a clean, smooth cut and prevent surface damage or splintering when using the jigsaw, it is important to use reverse-tooth blades with painter’s tape application. Moving on to cutting metal and tile materials, downstroke-cutting blades are more suitable for these types of material in order to reduce breakage during work.

Cutting Metal and Tile Materials

Jigsaws can also be used to cut metal materials when equipped with downstroke-cutting blades. However, avoid cutting iron-free pipes as they may not withstand the pressure applied during this process. For tile projects, masking tape alongside special carbide-grit abrasive blades will help reduce breakage caused by excessive force exerted upon fragile surfaces. Relief cuts made before the actual implementation stage ensure smoother finishes for the overall product created afterward.

Downstroke-Cutting Blades for Metal Materials

To cut sheet metal or other thin metals with your jigsaw, make sure you choose a blade specifically designed for metal cutting. These downstroke-cutting blades have higher TPI numbers and are often made of carbon steel or bi-metal materials. Before starting the cut, apply some cutting oil on the surface to reduce friction and prolong blade life.

Reducing Breakage When Working With Tiles

  • Select the right blade: Use a toothless carbide-grit abrasive blade specially designed for cutting tiles.
  • Masking tape: Apply masking tape along the line where you plan to make your cut; this helps prevent chipping and provides better visibility while cutting.
  • Create relief cuts: If making curved cuts in tiles, create small relief cuts around curves before attempting the main cut; these provide more space for maneuvering without breaking edges.
  • Maintain steady speed: Keep a steady pace while working through tile material to avoid applying too much pressure and causing breakage.

When cutting tile or metal, it’s important to remember that jigsaws are versatile tools that can make straight cuts, beveled cuts, and even plunge cuts. To cut straight lines, use a straight edge as a guide. For beveled cuts, adjust the jigsaw shoe to the desired angle. Start cutting from the edge to make curved cuts and work your way in. When cutting metal, be aware of embedded nails or other objects that may cause blade deflection or edge burrs. For cutting curves, use a drill bit to create a starter hole and insert the jigsaw blade.

FAQs in Relation to How to Use a Jigsaw

How to Use a Jigsaw Step by Step

To use a jigsaw, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the appropriate blade based on your project’s material and desired cut. Consider using jigsaw blades made of carbon steel for durability.
  2. Prepare your workspace with proper safety gear and secure the workpiece.
  3. Adjust the jigsaw settings, such as speed and orbital action if applicable.
  4. Begin cutting along your marked line, guiding the saw steadily while applying gentle pressure.

What Are Three Uses for a Jigsaw?

Jigsaws are versatile tools used for various tasks including:

  • Cutting curves or intricate shapes in wood, plastic, metal, or other materials
  • Making straight cuts, especially when working with sheet goods like plywood and using a jigsaw shoe to guide the saw
  • Cutting tile for flooring or wall installations

How to Use a Jigsaw for Dummies

Using a jigsaw is simple:

  1. Select an appropriate blade based on material type and cut requirements. Consider using blade cuts for faster cuts or beveled cuts for angled cuts.
  2. Clamp down your workpiece securely to prevent movement during the cutting process.
  3. Adjust any necessary settings, such as speed or orbital action.
  4. Start at one end of the pre-marked line/pathway while holding the tool firmly yet comfortably and apply steady pressure forward until completed.

What Is the Main Use of a Jigsaw?

The main use of a jigsaw is to make precise, intricate cuts in various materials such as wood, metal, plastic, and tile. It’s especially useful for cutting curves or irregular shapes that are difficult to achieve with other power tools like circular saws or table saws. When cutting wood, consider using cutting oil to reduce edge burrs. When cutting metal, consider using a drill bit to create a starter hole and embedded nails may require relief cuts to prevent blade deflection.

Sources: Popular Mechanics, Bob Vila


In conclusion, using a jigsaw can be a versatile and valuable addition to any homeowner or apartment renter’s toolkit. By understanding the basics of handle styles, blade selection, workspace preparation, cutting techniques, and specialized projects such as metal and tile work, you can confidently take on DIY projects with ease.

Remember to always prioritize safety by wearing eye protection and taking precautions to protect surfaces. Practicing and being patient are key for becoming a pro at wielding the jigsaw.

If you’re ready to tackle your next project with a jigsaw in hand, check out our wide selection of projects at American Dorm.

Tom Whitford
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