How To Use A Jigsaw: Our Top Tips & Key Techniques For Successful Cuts

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

man holding a jigsaw

A jigsaw is a great tool to add to your arsenal. If you don’t have one yet, now is the best time to get it if only for the convenience it can offer you. It is more comfortable and easier to use compared to just manually using a saw. It can cut through wood far more effortlessly than your manual saw.

It makes quick work of cutting jobs, so you can save so much time in your project. What would normally take you days to finish would take you hours with this tool. A jigsaw is also very efficient and is capable of making intricate cuts and shapes.

It might seem intimidating to operate one at first, but it actually isn’t in reality. With supervision, even younger people can use this successfully and easily. You just need to familiarize yourself with how it works and what the proper techniques are when it comes to using it.

 

Parts of a Jigsaw

The first thing you should do after acquiring your jigsaw is identifying all its parts and what their functions are. Here are the common parts of a jigsaw tool:

Blade

jigsaw blade on top of wooden blocks

 

You can easily spot the blade as this is the one that cuts through wood. It can either go up and down or do a reciprocating movement to cut through wood. The blade can be changed when it wears out or replaced by a different kind of blade if you need to make a different cut. Blades with upward pointed teeth, for instance, makes better upward cuts.

If you want downward cuts, go for the jigsaw blades with reverse teeth. It can also be converted into a grinding tool if you use a grinding blade. Look for diamond grit or even carbide blades and they should work in grinding materials such as glass or ceramic.

Clamp

jigsaw clamp

The clamp is what keeps the blade in place. This is needed to attach the blade to the rest of the machine. This also ensures that the blade is in complete alignment with the cutting area. Modern day jigsaw tools today come with either a U-clamp/Universal Clamp or a T-clamp/Multi directional clamp.

The U-clamp still requires you to permanently hook it up with a screw, so you need a screwdriver every time you need to change blades. The T-clamp dispenses with that need. This has been equipped with a quick release function that allows you to remove the blade with some mechanisms without the use of another tool.

Jigsaw Blade Guard

This can be made from either a metal or a plastic material. It is often used to prevent accidents and injuries. They also help in keeping the vacuum hose in place, so it can pick up more sawdust.

Roller Guide

This is what keeps the blade stable. If you are using thinner blades, you can also rely on the roller guide to prevent them from bending when working. In the past, only expensive jigsaws have this feature but nowadays, you can find many of the affordable ones there with it.

Handle

This is where you will hold the jigsaw while you guide it in cutting the wood.

Shoe/Footplate

This is what helps you keep the saw in the angle you prefer.

These are just some of the essential parts of a jigsaw. Yours should come with a manual and even an instructional video on how to use it. It will offer a more in-depth guide as to the parts of your jigsaw. It helps to read the manual first to see if there are parts that are not in other jigsaws.

 

Proper Technique in Using a Jigsaw

Now here are the steps you should take when using a jigsaw:

Hold your piece of wood down with the help of a clamp.

If the jigsaw comes with a clamping mechanism that will keep your wood in place, use it. You would want to prevent the wood from moving around. Make sure you have already made markings on the wood to indicate where you would cut it.

Make adjustments to the orbital action.

This will determine how powerful it is going to be. Choose the right orbital action that will correspond to the material you are working with.

Put your blade on.

Choose the right blade that will cut through the material you are working on. Insert it and then put the battery on.

Now position your blade.

Put the edge of the jigsaw base on the material you are working on. Make sure the blade isn’t in contact with the edge of the material just yet. You need to run the blade first to test its speed before connecting it to the material you are working on. You can try free-handing it or use an edge guide to make sure you cut your desired shape or line.

Let it come to a full stop.

Before lifting it out of the material, let the blade come to a full stop first. Once you are done, turn it off and even remove the battery to make sure you do not accidentally set it on.

 

How to Change Blades

There are two ways to change blades and this will depend on the type of jigsaw you are using. If you have one of those older designs of jigsaw, you need to use a screwdriver to remove the screw that holds the blade in place. For the ones that have a modern clamping system, you just need to push the clamp and it will release the blade. Insert the new one and lock it in place.

Can I Cut Metal as Well?

Yes, wood isn’t the only material a jigsaw can cut. With the right blade, it can cut through metal as well. It also works on copper pipes as well as galvanized materials. You can also use it to cut through hinges and materials that already have nails in them.

Using a jigsaw isn’t as intimidating as many people seem to think it is. Make sure you familiarize yourself with its use and try it on a few scrap pieces of wood first.

Ready to get your own jigsaw? View our best jigsaw picks in our roundup.