How to Use a Jigsaw – Beginner’s Guide

Scott
| Last Updated: April 12, 2021

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A jigsaw is a precision cutting tool that can be used to cut many different types of materials with accuracy and reliability. In the article below, we’ll show you how to use a jigsaw correctly and various common techniques used. 

Using a Jigsaw Safely and Accurately 

Just like any piece of machinery or electric tool, there’s usually a step-by-step guide on how to safely set up and operate the tool. In the section below, we’ll walk you through that exact procedure. 

Wear The Required Safety Gear

Operating a jigsaw will require three pieces of important safety equipment. The first being protective glasses; they’re usually made from reinforced plastic to protect you from any flying shards that are cut from the material. 

The second is a dust mask to stop you from inhaling dust particles that can cause respiratory issues. The final piece of safety equipment and often the most underrated is earplugs to protect you from loud noises. If you’re exposed to any noise over 80 decibels for longer than ten minutes, this can damage your hearing. 

Ensure All Power Is OFF 

Before you begin setting up, you’ll need to make sure that the power is off. If you by accident switch the machine on when fiddling about with the blade, this could cause some serious damage to your hands. 

Fit The Required Jigsaw Blade 

Most Jigsaw blades can be inserted by using an Allen Wrench to loosen the blade screw, which holds the Jigsaw blade in place. Modern Jigsaws will have blade-locks that will need to be disabled in order to adjust the blade; you do this by applying pressure to the mechanism. 

Adjust The Pendulum To Suit The Material

The Pendulum is a mechanism used to increase the cutting speed when used on certain materials. If you’re cutting softwoods or synthetic materials, the maximum pendulum setting will be best for a fast cut. Non-ferrous materials or tough lumber the lowest setting would suffice. However, for thin cuts in brittle materials, it’s best to remove the Pendulum completely. 

Attach The Dust Extraction

Pretty straightforward, the reason we do this is that there’s plenty of dust created by a jigsaw that, even with a dust mask, it’s still relatively dangerous if you don’t have an effective dust extraction system.

If you don’t have anything you think is satisfactory, complete the cut outside or in a well-ventilated area. You can find jigsaw’s with the vacuum attachment or just a small compartment that stores the dust, which needs to be cleaned regularly. 

Turn The Power On & Begin The Cut 

Now that you’re ready, you’ll want to find the entry spot first and once you know which path to follow, hold the jigsaw firmly with both hands and slowly but steadily begin the cut. You don’t want to apply too much pressure, otherwise, it’ll create a rough cut. 

The greatest advantage of using a jigsaw is that you’ll have great versatility in the type of cuts you can make. We’ll talk more about this in the next section. 

Tips for Using a Jigsaw in Various Situations

As we’ve previously mentioned, Jigsaws are great tools as they provide exceptional precision and versatility in the types of materials they can cut through and different cuts they can make. 

Aluminum

Aluminum is a soft, non-ferrous metal which is why we’d probably remove the Pendulum before cutting. A few other key tips for aluminum is to have a blade with as many teeth as possible; most people tend to use a 24-tooth blade as it leaves a smooth cut. 

It’s also important to remember that the more accurate your markings, the more accurate the cut will be; make sure to spend time drawing out the markings. 

Laminate Countertops

Laminate countertops usually have a brittle plastic top layer which means they’ll chip easily. It’s important you choose the right blade for the job; we’d go for ground teeth, reverse cut blade. 

These blades provide a smoother cut without the risk of splintering. The composition is also important; you should go for either a carbide or bi-metal tipped blade. 

Cutting Plexiglass

Plexiglass can easily shatter and splinter if not cut correctly, it’s important to reduce the risk of that happening by placing masking tape across the marked area, and you can then cut across the masking tape. The masking tape will reduce the vibration, which stops splintering. To keep a uniformed cut, many people opt for a clamp-on guide. 

Cutting Plywood

Plywood is another brittle material that’ll require care when cutting. The best thing to do is remove the Pendulum from the jigsaw, as this will only lower the quality of the cut. Similar to the plexiglass issue, the vibrations will often lift the top layer; we’d recommend that you place masking tape over the cutting area for a cleaner cut. 

Cutting a Square Hole in Wood

The key to cutting a square hole inside a piece of wood is to drill a hole at the end corner of your marked out square. It has to be big enough so that each of the two corner sides of the square is being touched by the drilled hole. This gives you enough space to slide the jigsaw blade through and slowly begin carving out the square. 

Cutting a Circle

You firstly want to draw an outline for your circle; this can easily be done by using a compass. You could also create a circle using a pencil and some string; we’ll talk more about that in an article dedicated solely to cutting a circle. 

The actual cut is similar to cutting a square; begin by drilling a hole anywhere inside the circle, doesn’t matter where inside exactly, but as long as your jigsaw can reach it; from this point, you insert the blade through the hole and begin carving out the circle from the inside. 

Cutting a Straight Line

The simplest of cuts anyone can make. Although it may seem this way, it’s easy to mess up if you don’t prepare correctly. A common mistake is cutting messy and uneven lines; this problem can be solved by using a simple guide rail to provide you with uniform cuts. 

Conclusion

A Jigsaw can be a flexible tool used to create many cuts on various materials. This versatility only stretches as far as the user’s skill level. If you spend the time learning all of these cuts, you’ll get much more value for money.