Jigsaw Guide

Jigsaw Guide: Introduction

Versatile and portable, a jigsaw should be part of every professional and amateur craftsman’s toolkit. With many jigsaws available on the power tool market, there’s one to suit every pocket, level of ambition, and skill level.

If you’re new to the world of jigsaws, it’s wise to gain a foundation of knowledge to make sure a jigsaw is right for you. This is why we’ve created the simple and easy to understand jigsaw guide, carry on reading to learn more.

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What Is Jigsaw?

Electrically powered and usually handheld, a jigsaw’s reciprocating blade enables its user to cut intricate shapes from various materials, including wood, metal, and masonry. For instance, a carpenter could use a jigsaw to cut curved pieces from medium density fiber wood (MDF) to construct furniture.

Used widely today, it wasn’t until the mid-twentieth that inventor and engineer, Albert Kauffman, created the jigsaw as a means of cutting wood precisely and efficiently in various shapes.

Nowadays, numerous hardware companies and power tool manufacturers produce jigsaws, including giants such as DeWalt and Black and Decker.

Types Of Jigsaws

There are many brands and variations of jigsaws available, but generally, all jigsaws can be categorized into one of two families: Corded jigsaws and Cordless jigsaws.

What Is A Corded Jigsaw?

As the name suggests, a corded jigsaw features an electrical cord that connects to a mains power supply, delivering continuous power to the jigsaw without the need for charging. Corded jigsaws are suitable for indoor and outdoor use provided a suitable electrical socket can be accessed from the work area.

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What Is A Cordless Jigsaw?

In contrast to the corded jigsaw, a lithium-ion battery enhances the portability of cordless varieties. Also, the absence of an electrical cord reduces the potential for trips and falls in workshops. However, the power of a cordless jigsaw is dependent on the voltage of the battery and whether or not it has sufficient charge.

How To Use A Jigsaw

As with any power tool, the effective use of a jigsaw is underpinned by the thorough observation and practice of safety measures. Always ensure that attention is given to the safety tips below before, during, and after operating a jigsaw.

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  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential. Wear goggles, ear defenders, and a dust mask when using a jigsaw.
  • Do not operate a jigsaw in dimly lit areas. Ensure adequate lighting in your workspace.
  • Remove debris from the workspace to avoid accidents such as slips, trips, and falls.
  • Be careful not to allow the electrical cord of the jigsaw to come into contact with the blade.
  • Cutting through the electrical cord could result in electrocution.
  • Before operating a jigsaw, check that it is fully functional and that regular maintenance checks have been carried out.
  • Use only sharp blades and make sure they are correctly aligned.
  • Operate the saw on a stable surface.
  • Pets and children can create hazards in areas where electrical power tools are in operation. Keep them out of your workspace.
  • Refrain from operating machinery, including jigsaws, if under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Operating any tool while intoxicated can result in severe injury or even death.
  • Always store jigsaws in a safe place away from children and animals.

Cutting Plexiglass With A Jigsaw

Jigsaws are particularly handy when it comes to cutting plexiglass, also known as acrylic glass. High temperatures can cause plexiglass to melt, but a jigsaw blade’s low heat generation means that one can cut all manner of intricate patterns in plexiglass without fear of your materials melting.

These tools will also be required for the cutting of plexiglass with a jigsaw:

  • Measuring tape 
  • Marker/pencil/pen
  • PPE (see Jigsaw Safety list above)
  • Masking tape
  • Clamp
  1. Using the measuring tape and your marker, measure the material to be cut. Mark cut lines as clearly as possible. Accuracy at this stage can save potential headaches.
  2. Apply masking tape along the cut line. This will help to prevent chipping and splintering. If your plexiglass is already coated with protective plastic, leave off the masking tape.
  3. Clamp the plexiglass down on to a stable surface.
  4. Power on your jigsaw. Depress the trigger to start the motor and get the blade moving. Getting the blade moving at full speed is a crucial part of cutting plexiglass as too low a speed can result in poor quality cuts.
  5. With the blade moving at full speed, bring the blade into contact with the edge of the plexiglass.
  6. Push the jigsaw steadily with moderate speed through the plexiglass. Avoid moving it too slowly as this can distort the cut.
  7. Continue to push the jigsaw through the plexiglass until the cut is complete. Pausing mid-cut can also distort the plexiglass as heat builds up.
  8. Release the trigger once you have completed the cut.
  9. Power-off the saw at the mains and unplug the device.
  10. Return the saw to a dry, safe storage area away from children and animals.
  11. Clean the area thoroughly by removing dust and debris.

Cutting plexiglass isn’t easy because the material tends to warp when exposed to high temperatures. However, using a jigsaw to cut plexiglass reduces the potential for distortion due to heat. The use of lubricants can also further reduce complications caused by heat during the cutting process.

Maintaining A Jigsaw

All power tools require regular maintenance to ensure their safe and efficient operation, and the jigsaw is no exception. Maintenance checks should include checking the cord for tears or loose connections.

Also, the saw’s blade should be regularly cleaned and assessed as the sharpness of a jigsaw’s blade is a critical factor in determining how accurately and efficiently it can cut through materials.

How To Change A Jigsaw Blade

Aside from wear and tear, there are other reasons why one may wish to change a jigsaw blade. One reason is that some blades may lend themselves better to cutting particular materials. For instance, tungsten-carbide blades are ideal for cutting ceramics due to their heat-resistant and durable properties, while steel blades are adequate for cutting wood.

The following steps outline how to change a jigsaw blade safely (please note the steps may differ between makes and models of jigsaws):

  1. Ensure that appropriate PPE is worn throughout the blade changing process.
  2. Disconnect the Jigsaw from its power supply.
  3. Locate the blade release lever and disengage it to release the blade.
  4. Remove the old blade and set it down carefully.
  5. While holding open the blade release lever, insert the new blade so that its teeth point away from the jigsaw.
  6. Ensure the blade and the release lever is secure.
  7. Switch on the power supply.
  8. Depress the trigger to check that the saw is operating correctly.

Jigsaw Guide: Summary

Jigsaws offer DIYers and professional craftsmen and women the ability to make precise and intricate cuts in a variety of materials, including wood, plexiglass, and ceramic.

There are pros and cons to both corded and cordless jigsaws, and buyers ought to consider these before making a purchase.

Also, buyers should be prepared to maintain jigsaws through regular cleaning and the servicing and replacement of parts such as blades. For any discerning DIY enthusiast or accomplished tradesperson, a jigsaw is an investment that could pay dividends.