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Tips & Tricks for Using a Jigsaw

If you want a tool that offers maximum versatility with a minimum investment, look no further than the jigsaw. Many people think of them only for cutting curves, but a jigsaw is capable of a whole lot more. In fact, a jigsaw is one of the most versatile saws you can own—as well as one of the most portable and affordable. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most from your jigsaw.

Choose the Best Blade Header
Choose the Best Blade Image The first thing you need to do when you’re cutting with a jigsaw is match the blade to the material you’re cutting and the type of cut you need. For example, if you’re cutting wood and speed is your priority, you can choose a “fast cutting” blade. You’ll cut quickly, but the edge will be rough. If you’re looking for a smooth edge, choose a “clean cutting” blade. You won’t be able to cut as fast, but you’ll end up with a very smooth edge.

Of course, you’ll find many more types of jigsaw blades, too. There are wide blades for straight cuts, and narrow blades that make it easy to cut curves. Plus, you can get blades that are designed for cutting metal or plastic, as well as “general purpose” blades. The bottom line is that you can inexpensively equip your jigsaw to give the results you need in most any material you’d want to cut.


Create Curves with Ease Header
Sort by Thickness Regardless of what else it can do, a jigsaw does excel at cutting curves. That’s because the saw has a narrow blade that will follow a curve with ease. Plus, the top-mounted handle on most jigsaws makes it easy to guide the saw with your hand.

For best results when cutting curves, first keep in mind that tighter curves require narrower blades. Also, don’t force the saw into the cut. You need to give the blade time to work. Concentrate on pushing the saw forward gently and pivoting your wrist to keep the saw on track, rather than pushing with your arm. Using your arm will flex the blade and lead to an edge that’s inconsistent and not perpendicular to the surface. For best results, cut just outside your layout line, and then sand to smooth the cut and achieve the exact curve you desire.


Use a Guide for Straight Cuts Header
The design of a jigsaw and jigsaw blades makes them great for curves, but not necessarily for cutting straight. The trick is to use something to guide the saw, such as a straightedge, a square, or a tool like the Kreg Square Cut. Just position the guide so your saw blade is on the cut line and the guide is against the edge of the saw. Then, make your cut while keeping the saw base tight against the guide.

Cut a Corner Notch Header
Sort by Thickness Using a jigsaw and a guide is a great technique for cutting notches at the corner of a piece, which is common in situations like creating the toe-kick area of a cabinet, trimming the back of a bookcase to fit over base molding on a wall, or cutting a shelf to fit around a table leg. Just cut in from one edge, and then move your guide to the other edge and make a second cut.

Cut a Notch along an Edge Header
Sometimes, you may need to cut a notch along the edge of a workpiece rather than at the corner. In that case, you’ll appreciate that a jigsaw can make straight and curved cuts. Start by making straight cuts to create the ends of the notch (sometimes called shoulders). Next, make a sweeping cut from the edge toward one corner of the notch. Finally, cut the remaining waste out with a straight cut along the back toward the other corner.

Cut a Notch along an Edge


Rough Cut Project Parts Header
Rough Cut Project Parts Image Sometimes when you’re working on a project, you may need to cut multiple pieces from a single board or sheet. A jigsaw can be handy there, too, because it will let you slice up the workpiece in ways that a circular saw or table saw won’t. After you draw out the parts where you want them on your workpiece, use the jigsaw to cut the pieces to rough shape. You may have to clean up the edges later with additional cutting or sanding.

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From Kreg and Woodsmith Magazine
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2013 August Home Publishing

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