my Old Workshop

Jigsaw cutting tips

While it can help you make unique cuts, you need to get a feel for its unique handling and learn the techniques to make the cuts properly.

Here are some tips.

1. Let the blade do the work. Pushing the saw forward won’t speed up your cut; in fact it might slow you down, wreck the cut, and wear out your blade faster. Let the up and down action make the cut, and just follow along.

2. A straight line can be tricky, so clamp a guide to the stock when a perfect line is important. Again, let the blade do the work; if you push it along, you may end up with an unintentional bevel cut. Use a slower blade speed, and if you have one, a wider blade.

3. To cut a bevel, you adjust the shoeplate so the entire saw rides along at the angle of the cut. Do a test cut first to make sure you have it right.

4. To cut curves, cut slowly along the line. If the curve is extremely tight, make two separate cuts, and come at the tight corner from both sides. Use the waste area to come at the curve from various angles.

5. To start a cut in the middle of a piece of wood, either drill a hole in what will become the waste area, or if there won’t be any – say in a decorative S-curve in a panel – make a plunge cut. Tip the saw forward so that the blade is parallel to the wood. Turn it on at high speed and slowly tilt it back into the wood so the blade stabs at it and eventually plunges through the wood.

6. To avoid splintering, try and cut along the grain as much as possible. As well, many saws allow you to slide the shoeplate to allow for a tighter gap on either side of the blade. You can also mask the cut line with tape.

7. It’s tough to cut a sharp right angle, so instead, make a series of cuts toward the cross-angle cut, until you have a big enough space to turn the blade around a full 90 degrees, and come across.