What is a jigsaw used for

Jigsaws are quite possibly the most versatile wood cutting tool you can own.

With a jigsaw, you can cut straight lines and complex curves. You can also make bevel cuts up to 45° in a straight line and even in curves.

Wood is not the only material you can cut with a jigsaw. It can be used for cutting virtually any construction material, including the following: 

  • all types of wood
  • laminates
  • particleboard
  • hardboard
  • medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
  • melamine
  • aluminum
  • sheet metal
  • steel
  • iron
  • ceramic tile
  • sheetrock
  • plastics

The most significant limitation to the jigsaw is how deep it can cut, and that is determined by the length of the jigsaw blade.

Jigsaw blades are available so you can cut up to 6-inch material, but the average depth of cut is one and a half to 2 inches.

How does a jigsaw work? 


Jigsaws are a simple reciprocating saw driven by an electric motor.

The teeth on the jigsaw blades are angled upwards toward the saw, so as the blade moves upward, the wood is cut.

NOTE: Reciprocating: means the blade goes up-and-down, in-and-out or back-and-forth.

What are the parts of a jigsaw?

If you have read any of my previous articles about saws, you'll start to notice some similar terms here, as we talk about the parts of a jigsaw: 

Parts of a Jigsaw
  1. Variable speed trigger: As you squeeze the trigger, the speed of the motor increases from around 800 to 3000 RPM
  2. Trigger lock button: Holds the trigger in place for continuous cutting
  3. Blade ejection switch: A button or switch that ejects the jigsaw blade from the blade clapping mechanism
  4. Blade clamping mechanism: Holds the jigsaw blade in place
  5. Blade guard: Prevent an accidental finger, or anything else from slipping into the saw blade
  6. Blade roller guide: Keeps the blade aligned and supported
  7. Orbital control knob: Controls the amount of orbital action for the sawblade
  8. Blower on-off switch: On some models this switch controls how much air is allowed to blow sawdust out of your line of cut
  9. Shoe or foot plate: The flat plate that supports the saw and rides on top of any material you're cutting
  10. Bevel adjustment: Changes the bevel angle of the shoe from 0° to 45°
  11. Air vents: Draw air into the motor to cool it and prevent overheating
  12. Dust collection port: (not pictured) Some models have a round sawdust exhaust port that can be connected to a dust collector or extraction system

Types of jigsaws

Corded and cordless jigsaws are available. You can find an excellent jigsaw model available in both versions.

Brushed and brushless motors are also available in jigsaws with the higher end and newer tools using brushless motors.

What is orbital action?

A lot of jigsaws now have what is called an "orbital action" to the saw blade. This means as the blade moves up-and-down, it also follows a slightly elliptical pattern.

This "orbital" pattern can be adjusted depending on the type of material, the speed of cut and, the smoothness of the cut you want.

  • Orbital action is excellent for making fast cuts in softer materials, where the smoothness of the cut is not a concern.
  • For cutting hardwoods and metal, the orbital action should be turned to a minimum or entirely off depending on the hardness of the material. 

How to use a jigsaw

I love the simplicity of the jigsaw. It is one of the most straightforward power tools to use.

The jigsaw is also an excellent first power tool for anyone who has never used them before. Just follow these simple steps:

  • As with all power tools, be sure to wear eye protection and hearing protection and follow shop safety practices.
  • Before using your jigsaw, be sure you have the appropriate blade for the material you plan to cut.
  • Check the shoe of your jigsaw to make sure the bevel adjustment is set to the proper angle.
  • Your material should be marked with a clear line for you to follow.
  • Place the front edge of the shoe on the material to be cut and line the cutting edge of the blade up with the cutting mark, but NOT touching the material.

Note: Always start the sawblade before letting it contact the cutting material. Not doing so can result in damage to your tool and personal injury.

  • Activate the blade by pulling the trigger and slowly guide the moving blade into your line of cut. Be sure to keep the shoe flat against the cutting surface.
  • For cutting straight lines, the use of a fence or guide rail is very helpful. Since jigsaws have such a narrow blade, they are harder to control when making perfect straight-line cuts.

Jigsaw maintenance

Taking just a few minutes to care for your tools will keep them in top working condition for years to come.

Before use

  • Make sure you have the correct blade for the material you're cutting and that it is installed securely.
  • If your jigsaw has a power cord, inspect it for cuts or cracks. If the cord has any bare or frayed wires, it is unsafe for use.
  • Ensure battery-operated jigsaws are fully charged.

After Use

  • Unplug the tool or remove the battery and use a small brush to clean sawdust from the blade clamping mechanism, blade, and guide rollers.
  • Brush any dust or debris away from the motor air vents, and generally ensure your tool is clean. This will prevent your jigsaw from overheating in the future.
  • Any dirt, grease, or oil can be removed using a damp cleaning cloth and mild detergent. Just ensure no water gets inside the motor housing.
  • Keep your jigsaw stored in a tool bag or plastic carrying case to keep it away from dust and moisture.

Jigsaw accessories

Jigsaw blades:

  • Jigsaw blades: There is a blade design for cutting just about every material you can imagine.
  • Choosing the correct blade is as simple as reading the package label and making sure it has the proper shank design.
  • Jigsaw shank: The jigsaw shank fits into the blade clamp mechanism.

Note: It is essential to know what type of shank your jigsaw requires. It will be either a T-Shank or Universal Shank.

Edge guide:

A simple fence attachment that is clamped to the shoe of your jigsaw. It aids in cutting a straight line when you have a straight edge on the wood that you are cutting.

Circle cutting guide:

Clamped to the shoe of your jigsaw, and as the name implies, helps you to cut perfect circles.

Dust Collection System:

Some jigsaws are designed with a dust extraction port. Others have a dust collection accessory that can be purchased and attached to the saw.

Conclusion

Thank you for stopping by and reading my post!

We have answered the questions:

We discovered more about:

I hope you now have a better understanding of jigsaws in general.

Can you imagine all the ways a jigsaw and the various accessories will help you build projects for your own home and garden? I hope so.


Please comment below and let me know what projects you have going. I’d love to hear what you think about jigsaws or any other woodworking topic!

 

https://howtogetstartedwoodworking.com

14 thoughts on “What Is A Jigsaw For”

  1. Hey there,

    This post has been helpful. I have always wanted to make time to spend it at my wood shop. Well it technically is my dad’s wood shop but I now live in this house with my family so I’m the one that has access to it now. My wife still calls it “your dad’s wood shop”.

    All I know about wood I owe it to my dad. And these days we have been staying at home, I’ve gone down there and attempted to create a few things. I notice that the jigsaw he had is old now and I’ll need to replace it soon. That’s why I’m here reading about jigsaws.

    I’m trying to brush up what I remember from working with wood. I won’t craft super difficult stuff. Which would you recommend me? A corded and cordless jigsaw? A brushed or a brushless motors?

    Thank you very much for this post.

    1. Hello Abel!

      I think it’s wonderful that you can use your dad’s wood shop! You are very fortunate my friend, to have a dad that taught you about woodworking and I’m sure much about life as well.

      My recommendation for buying a jigsaw is to get a cordless jigsaw. The main reason for this is jigsaws are designed for cutting curves in wood. Having a cordless jigsaw means you won’t have to be concerned with the cord getting caught on anything as you are turning the jigsaw around your work. For the average hobby woodworker the type of motor either brushed or brushless will make very little difference. Most of us only use jigsaw for a couple minutes at a time. I have had a brushed motor jigsaw for over 20 years, and it still works fine.

      Have a great time building things! And feel free to share what you’re working on too. I’d love to see what you’re making!

      Greg

  2. Surina Dragonflyer

    I appreciate your information.  This is probably one of the most versatile tools that I should have in my tool box.  Being a female and not acquiring tools on a regular basis, I could see many uses for this.  I love being able to do different crafts and odd jobs around my house.  You offer very basic information which is what I needed.  Asking any male about what they would suggest for tools usually gets me an answer of: “let me do that for you.”   I will need to keep you bookmarked for further study.  Thank you.

    Love, Light and Blessings, Gabrielle

    1. Hi Gabrielle,

      Thank you for your kind comments. I hope you have time to make some creative crafting projects and take care of some of those projects around your house during this time when many of us are at home

      If you don’t already have one, one of the most useful tools you can have around the house is an Electric drill. I wrote a brief article about portable electric drills here.

      Take care,

      Greg

  3. Thank you for writing this post on jigsaws. I hadn’t known too much about them but can now see that they are an incredibly useful and versatile tool! Unfortunately, I live in an apartment and don’t really have the capability right now to use one. However, I would love to someday be able to do some woodworking, and a jigsaw would definitely be one of the first tools I pick up. It’s great that it is good for beginners! Thanks!

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you read my article and found some useful information. 

      Best,

      Greg

  4. Since we are all stuck in during these strange times, we’ve been trying to do a little DIY. Honestly, we know next to nothing. I’ve watched a few youtube videos on home DIY and I’ve noticed that I need one of these Jigsaws. I’m trying to build a climbing wall in my kid’s rooms and I first need to put a piece of wood on the wall, which of course needs to be cut. Thanks for the explanation and recommendation!

    1. Hello Hollie,

      Wow! You score “super cool parent points” by putting a climbing wall in your kids room! I’m so glad you found some helpful information in my post.  Please do let me know if you have any questions about your project. Also I would love to see picture of the finished climbing wall.

      Have fun building!

      Greg

  5. Hi Greg,

    I’ve been a fan of woodworking for most of my life. My grandpa has an entire garage dedicated to everything woodworking and welding. From a band saw to a drill press, it really has everything you could need. However, I still have a fear of the lathe, specifically that it’ll grab my cutting tool and smack me in the face.

    But of all the tools I’ve used, I have to say a jigsaw is definitely one of my favorites. It gives you an incredible amount of versatility and it’s just fun to cut stuff out of wood. Although, I never realized jigsaws could cut so many other materials that aren’t wood. You’ve definitely got my brain thinking about the possibilities!

    Also, I’m glad you mentioned some proper techniques to use when cutting because power tools can be dangerous. I remember one time I was grinding a metal piece while wearing a cotton sweatshirt and the sparks ended up catching the thing on fire. Now there’s a big hole on the front of the thing. I’ve been sure to wear a leather jacket ever since.

    Anyways, thanks for the informative article,

    -Isaac

    1. Hello Isaac!

      I really appreciate your comments! Amazing how many things can be made in a good Wood shop if you have the right tools. I appreciate your comments about safety, a lot of things can go wrong that we never expected. I’ll be sure to wear a leather jacket or apron when I do any metal grinding in the future. I didn’t realize the sparks could start your clothing on fire either!

      Have fun building stuff!

      Greg

  6. Hello there thanks for this article on this tool. The jigsaw is a handheld tool that anyone can use by just following the necessary instructions. It is an excellent simple and straight forward tool which can be used in cutting different materias especially wood. My question is does the jigsaw consume a lot of electricity power?

    1. Hello Philebur,

      Thank you for leaving me a comment on my article. I really appreciate it! One of the best things about a jigsaw is it is one of the quietest and most energy efficient saws there are. I hope you get a chance to create something out of wood in the future.

      Best regards,

      Greg

  7. Thanks for such a concise article.I believe this exactly what my uncle needs in his  business (carpentry). There are some questions I have that beg for answers. Where is the easiest place can I get one in Italy, what is the cost of purchase, does it come with warranty,?

    Thanks best regards.

    1. Thanks for your comments! I’m sure your uncle will find a jigsaw very helpful for all of his projects. I’m not sure what stores you have available in Italy, but I’m going to bet that Amazon Will sell a good quality jig saw with a good warranty for you. I’m pretty sure you can find a jigsaw for under €100.

      Have a great day!

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