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Jigsaws: How to Use and Cut With a Jigsaw

With a jigsaw, metal or wood can be easily cut. Just find the right blade, and you’re good to go. This tool is able to cut a variety of materials straight and in rounded corners. This guide will show you how to use a jigsaw by setting it up and making basic cuts safely. 

However, it is also very important to keep the cord away from the path of your saw while changing the blade and to always unplug the saw when you are changing blades.

Cutting Various Materials With a Jigsaw


It is not uncommon for jigsaws to sit untouched for months. A pattern for an art project might require cutting, a countertop may need cutting for installing a kitchen sink, or a thin tile or metal may require cutting that may be beyond the capabilities of other saws. This is when jigsaws are best used. This durable tool can be picked up by a novice in seconds and used to produce good results without a lot of training. Here’s how to get exceptional results when chopping wood, ceramic, plastic, or laminate etc.

Table of Contents

1.1. Cut Ceramic Tiles

The curves and shapes of tile can take a very long time to cut with tile nippers and ceramic rod saws. Using a jigsaw is a good option if you intend to cut wall tiles only 1/4 inch thick. When cutting tiles, opt for toothless blades made of carbide.

Frequently apply water to thin-tile cuts so there is no friction. Oil is needed to lubricate the saw during thicker tile cutting.

The tile must be clamped down tightly and the blade must be held firmly to control vibrations. The saw shoe should be covered with masking tape to avoid marring the tile. To allow the blade to turn easily, reduce waste with short relief cuts.

1.2. Handheld Jigsaw for Cutting Wood

Wooden curves and intricate shapes are readily cut with a jigsaw. Moreover, you can also use them to finish off inside corner cuts made with a circular saw and to make small crosscuts in boards.

When it comes to fast, straight, long cuts, jigsaws show poor performance. Circular saws are better for that purpose. Following these guidelines will help you cut wood safely:

Jigsaws are best used for cutting softwood to 1-1/2 inches thick and hardwood up to 3/4 inches thick. Knife edges bend more heavily with thicker boards, resulting in beveled edges as opposed to square ones.

If you want the cut to remain square, make sure the blade is sharp and that it is not pushed through.

Whenever you make a “plunge cut,” which means cutting the piece of wood through the center, ensure the blade of your jigsaw is parallel with the piece of wood, and make sure to lower the saw so its weight rests on the shoe.

To stab the blade into the wood, accelerate the saw at its maximum speed. Slowly lower the shoe to lower the blade into the wood. Plunge-cutting is most commonly used in rough-and-tumble jobs by preventing expensive wood from being slashed or marred.

Make a 1/2-inch starter hole for a blade so you can position it safely for cutting fragile material.

Using a sharp blade will permit you to cut quickly. Remember, though, the coarser the blade, the higher the sanding requirement.

Jigsaw blades with teeth that cut on the upstroke are typically used to cut wood. When cutting wood veneers with a finer blade, it is best to choose one with a downstroke cutting pattern.

To avoid cutting the pattern line as you draw on it, place painter’s tape along the path before drawing on the pattern.

1.3. Countertop Cutting

Making parallel cuts along the backsplash and cutting curved corners on countertops are best accomplished with a jigsaw. Circular saws are the best tool to use to cut a countertop’s top and two side edges for a sink installation.

The blades are also less likely to deflect, so it’s faster. A circular saw shoe won’t fit into the narrow space between the backsplash and the sink cutting line, but a narrow-body jigsaw shoe will.

You should use a jigsaw to make all countertop cuts if you are uncomfortable using a circular saw. With a jigsaw, cutting a countertop is a slow process.

Make sure to use a special laminate blade for down-cutting. With a blade width of 5/16 inches, this minimizes laminate chipping. Make shorter relief cuts inside curves so your blade is not stressed.

1.4. Metal Cutting

When equipped with the right blade, a jigsaw is capable of cutting through thick metal plates up to 10 gauge, mild steel strips up to 1/8″, and wooden surfaces containing embedded nails. A finer blade that has 21 to 24 teeth per inch is recommended for cutting metal sheets.

You can tightly sandwich sheet metal between two thin layers of plywood to prevent shredding and edge burrs. Reduce the speed when cutting metal plates or pipes. Pattern cuts should be made by drilling blade starter holes, rather than by plunging.

Cutting through the sandwich will take some time. Whenever you have to cut over a table or sawhorse, make sure the sandwich is raised on rails so the blade has thorough clearance.

For cutting metals, more expensive jigsaws have features like higher speed and power, long blades, and variable speeds. A vacuum hose connection on the pattern saws is desirable for keeping dust from accumulating on the pattern lines.

Taking apart pipe and plates of mild steel wears out blades quickly. If you are cutting with a saw, keep several blades handy. Use a coarse blade (such as 14 teeth per inch) and lubricate it with cutting oil.

A Guide to Using a Jigsaw

Choosing the Right Blade

If you intend to cut various types of materials, you will need different blades. Using a wood blade will accelerate the cutting process when cutting wood. The best metal blade for cutting metal is one with 21-24 teeth per inch. The type of blade can be identified by the number of teeth on the blade, or by its packaging.

Putting together the Jigsaw

To begin, make sure the saw is unplugged before you put the blade in. Jigsaws sometimes have a bolt that needs to be loosened with an allen wrench so that you can replace the blade. There is a blade-loosening lever on more recent jigsaws that can be used for replacing a blade when it is pulled down. When you release the black lever, turn the blade so that the teeth face forward (the teeth should be facing forward). Additionally, make sure that the jigsaw is securely gripping the blade end. Your jigsaw must now be plugged back in in order to prepare for cutting.

Setting up Materials

If you are going to cut material, make sure your cutting lines are properly marked. If you’re trying to make an even cut from the end of the material, a t-square is the thing to have. In any case, mark the shape you’ll be cutting with a pencil on the material, regardless of whether it needs to be square.

When using a jigsaw, ensure the curves aren’t too tight. Using a jigsaw around a bend with a very sharp bend could cause the blade to bend.

To ensure you don’t run the jigsaw into clamps or the table itself, whatever material you are cutting must be clamped securely to a table.

Cutting two pieces of wood from one big piece of wood is a lot easier if you push two tables close together. That way, you will be able to see the cut between the tables. Neither side can be allowed to loosen their grip.

The wood can be let hang off the table when cutting smallsmaller wood pieces. In order to prevent the jigsaw from running off the track, please make certain that it does not pass the clamps.

Getting the Material Cut

Ensure that the material is flat against the foot of the jigsaw when it is in the cutting position. When pulling the trigger, don’t let the blade touch anything. Using the trigger, accelerate the blade when it lines up with the cut line. As the blade is cutting into the material, the jigsaw should be slowly pushed forward.

Don’t let the saw go too fast, but do apply some forward pressure. Using the blade will easily slice through the material, and pushing too hard may lead to the blade recoiling or breaking, as well as doing serious damage to the material. Be careful not to let the blade stop before it has completed the process of cutting.

Let go of the trigger while cutting, and gently attempt to pull the blade straight up or through the cut. If your blade stops during the cut, let go of the trigger. Using your foot at an angle, cutting too sharply, or going too fast can cause the blade to stop.

Cleaning Up

After you have cut your material, make sure you sand all of the edges to prevent splinters. An orbital sander, belt sander, or file can be used for this purpose, depending on the size and material you are working on.

Ensure the jigsaw is unplugged, the blade has been removed, and that they are both stored properly.

Make sure that all scraps are disposed of after you’ve swept and vacuumed your work area. Placing scrap material in an area designated for scrap around the facility is a good idea if it is large or bulky.

A Basic Guide to Blades and Saws

When using a jigsaw (also known as a saber saw), you move it rapidly up and down. It is always best to match the blade on the jigsaw to the type of material you will be cutting: plastic, hardwood, metal, etc. You will find out what type of material the blade will cut on its package.

Read more about various saw types.

In most cases, carbon steel blades range in size from 2 to 3-1/2 inches long and 1/4 inches or 3/8 inches wide for cutting a broad variety of materials. Fine blades with 10 to 12 teeth per inch produce smoother cuts than blades with six to eight teeth per inch.

Using toothless blades, you can cut many types of materials, including leather and tiles. Bimetal blades are an excellent investment when purchasing blades. Their lifespan extends by 10 times, and they are less susceptible to breakage.

You should check the type of blade that goes with your saw before purchasing it. The majority of jigsaws accept blades that have a 1/4-inch universal tang that is locked into the blade clamp by a set screw.

There are some saws that only accept blades made by the manufacturer. As soon as you know which blades you use most frequently, stock up so you don’t run out of it during mid-job.


The cordless drill/driver and impact driver are useful tools to perform certain tasks. However, each of them is specialized in its own way and you must identify your task first before you can know what’s the right pick for you. So, why not pay heed to the above-said points to ease up your work and get the best results?

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