How to Cut a Straight Line with a Jigsaw: Ultimate Guide

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

As we all appreciate, a jigsaw is designed for cutting curves. But that does not make it a slouch when it comes to cutting straight lines. So, how do you cut a straight line with a jigsaw like a pro?

To rip a straight line using a jigsaw, you mostly need a clear straight line on your material, and a razor-sharp jigsaw blade to trail it. With a jigsaw, you can make straight lines in different materials, from wood and plastic to laminate, and even ceramic.

Join me as I demonstrate how to cut a straight line with a jigsaw on a workpiece. I will also tell you what to pay attention to. It’s time to do it like a pro!

How To Cut A Straight Line With A Jigsaw: The Must-Have Items

Using a jigsaw to cut a straight line on your workpiece depends on the nature of the cut that you intend to make. Jigsaws can make rip cuts, miter cuts, plunge cuts, and even cross-cuts. So, when you want to cut a straight line, here are the things that you need:

Essentials

The first thing that you must have is a way to draw a straight line on your workpiece. The two most important essentials for this are a pencil and a tape measure.

Then, you will also need to have the right jigsaw blade for the job. We found the thicker blades a better option because they cut without flexing.

A Straightedge Of Guide

Having a guide to direct the jigsaw is important to ensure you easily trace the straight cutline from the starting point to the end. To use a guide, it is also important to have a set of clamps for holding the guide and workpiece firmly on the bench as you work.

The Right Jigsaw Blades

To cut a straight line, you need a blade that will not flex and wander away from the cutting line. It should remain stable even when you encounter tough parts of the wood.

Therefore, it is advisable to have a set of thick blades with medium-sized teeth. They make cutting quicker when making a straight line on your workpiece.

You might also want to have a set of reverse tooth blades if you are interested in getting the finest finish, especially on the upper part of a workpiece. Because the reverse blades cut on the downward stroke, they help to reduce tear-outs, resulting in a smoother cutline.

How to do a Long Straight Cut (Rip Cuts) with a Jigsaw

A long straight cut (rip cut) is done parallel to the wood grain. To make clean and impressive long straight cuts on laminate, wood, or metal sheets, you should use a fence.

To create a fence for the jigsaw, you need to clamp a straight edge running parallel to the line of the cut. When making the cut, the jigsaw’s shoe will slide against the fence. This implies that you need to clamp the fence at the right distance.

So here are the steps to follow:

1. Mark The Cutting Line On The Workpiece And Determine Where To Position The Fence

Using a pencil and a tape measure, mark where you want to make the cut. The next thing is positioning the fence. But where do you place it?

It needs to be some distance from the cutting line. This is the offset distance between the side of your jigsaw blade and the edge of its shoe. Then, clamp the fence ready for the cut.

2. Fit The Right Cutting Blade And Position The Jigsaw At The Start Of The Cutting Line

When making a rip cut, it is important to ensure you use the right blade, depending on the workpiece material. It is advisable to go for a blade with medium-sized teeth for a clean cut.

Position the jigsaw on the edge of the workpiece with part of the shoe sitting on it, and along the fence. Also, the blade should be perpendicular to the cutting line. Then, plug the jigsaw, turn it on, and bring it to speed.

3. Run The Jigsaw Blade Steadily Along The Cutting Line

Firmly holding the jigsaw blade and ensuring the shoe is on the fence, follow the cutting line steadily. The jigsaw will do the work, ripping the wood along the marked cutting line.

Note that you should not force the jigsaw against your workpiece. Instead, the focus should be on maintaining the jigsaw shoe against the clamped fence and the blade on the cutting line.

NOTE: Depending on the type of the blade you are using, and the workpiece, it might be important to adjust the jigsaw speed for a cleaner cut.

Besides, if you have a lot of workloads with many long cuts, it might be necessary to give the jigsaw some break to cool the motor. If you want to pause, ensure that the blade of the jigsaw has stopped before placing it down.

How To Make A Short Straight Cut (Cross-Cut) With A Jigsaw

To make a short straight cut using a jigsaw is relatively easy; draw the straight cutting line, place the jigsaw at the start, turn it on, and finally follow the line to the end. Cross-cuts are done against the grain.

In many cases, lumber and wooden boards are made with their grains moving lengthwise. Because of this, cross-cuts on such boards are short straight cuts. So here are the key steps to follow:

1. Mark The Workpiece And Check The Square Of The Blade

First, it is important to measure the workpiece with a tape measure and use a pencil to mark the cutting line. Also, make sure to note the waste part from the cut. Then trace the line with a square. The square works very well when dealing with small lumber or very short pieces.

Checking the square of the blade is one of the positive habits in carpentry because it helps to ensure it is square (perpendicular) to the shoe. If the blade is slightly bent or misaligned, there is a danger of ruining the cut in the middle. Because the old blades are likely to have seen their better days, the safer option is working with a new blade.

2. Position The Jigsaw And Carefully Follow The Cutting Line At 90 Degrees

With the workpiece carefully marked and the right blade on the jigsaw, it is time to make the cut. Place the jigsaw on the start of the workpiece, ensuring that part of the shoe is on the workpiece. Turn the tool on and allow it to speed.

Then, carefully and steadily bring the jigsaw into your workpiece, ready to start the cut. In some cases, although you should try this after gaining some experience, resting the blade on the material can help to avoid bouncing when it starts ripping the wood.

Holding the workpiece tightly, preferably, clamped down, carefully follow the cutting line perpendicularly to the edge. This should give you a nice straight cut.

How To Make A Straight Cut With A Jigsaw Using A Rip Guide

Some jigsaw models allow you to use guides, especially when cutting straight lines down long pieces. Unlike using a fence that is clamped onto the workpiece, the rip guide is fixed on the jigsaw so that they move together as you follow the cutting line.

Here are the steps to follow:

1. Mark The Cutting Line And Fix The Rip Guide To The Jigsaw

Using a pencil and a square, mark the cutting line on the workpiece. Here, you need to be careful to ensure that the edge of the workpiece is straight. Then, fix the rip guide so that the blade will follow your cutting line with precision.

You can do this by placing the jigsaw on the right position and measuring the distance to the edge of the workpiece

2. Position The Jigsaw At The Edge And Follow The Cutting Line

Just like making a straight cut with the help of a fence, position the jigsaw at the start of the cutting line, bring it to speed, and follow the cutting line steadily. Put a lot of focus on ensuring the blade follows the cutting line and slides together with the rip guide for a smooth cut.

Conclusion

This post has demonstrated that how to cut a straight line with a jigsaw can be fun and rewarding if you follow the right procedure. You should aim at using the right blade, keeping the workpiece secure, and following the cutting line with accuracy.

But even with all the essentials, the cut you make might not be as smooth. Well, do not worry much, you will be able to make a perfectly straight line as you take more time practicing with the jigsaw.

Special thanks to Woodies TV and Rockler Woodworking and Hardware. Your videos were truly awesome in making this guide complete.

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