The jigsaw is an electric saw in which the cutting action is given by the vertical reciprocating movement of a cutting blade. For this reason, the jigsaw is also called a jigsaw. Or we will also find it as a jigsaw.
There are other wood saws in which the cutting blade has a reciprocating movement, or even that are not powered by an electric motor, but in this article we will focus on those that are electric and are used manually by sliding the base or machine skate on the wood to be cut.
In this blog I refer to the jig mainly as a carpentry tool, although it also serves to cut metals or plastics.
So, in this post we are going to see:
What is a jigsaw or jigsaw:
The versatile DIY woodworking power saw for straight or curved cutting
A jigsaw is a portable electric saw that cuts through the reciprocating movement, up and down, of a narrow, elongated cutting blade. And by using a narrow cutting blade, the jigsaw allows you to make, in addition to straight cuts, curved cuts. Hence its versatility. In addition it also allows miter cuts. As for miter cuts, these can be done at an angle to the edge of the wood and keeping the cutter blade of the jig vertically, or at a vertical angle by tilting the saw with respect to the skate or base.
As for the system that operates the jig, this is a Scottish yoke mechanism. And what we achieve with the Scottish yoke mechanism is to transform the rotary motion of the electric motor into an alternate rectilinear motion.
As a cutting tool it uses the typical jigsaw blades. These are small metal saw blades consisting of small metal strips with a flat edge and one with a sawtooth. Thus, basically depending on the size and shape of the teeth, we can cut some materials or others or make cleaner or faster cuts. Although the materials with which the cutting blades of these jigsaws are made, and their shape, also influence the cuts to be made.
As for the cutting blades teeth for jigsaw, these can have a variety of shapes and sizes. And it even varies the direction in which the cut is made, which can be during the upward movement of the blade (normal), or during the downward movement.
The jigsaw is a very versatile power tool, that allows to make many cuts in wood and other materials, and that does not impose as much with the circular hand saw. And since it can be used to cut in a curve, it is a saw that allows us to express our creativity when doing our carpentry or DIY projects.
Parts of the jigsaw:
The basic parts of a jigsaw, and what allow us to adjust, operate and work with it, are the following. Well, the parts that all jig saws have, plus some that only some models bring:
1.- Trigger: Serves for operate the jig. Contrary to other power tools such as the drill, it is not usually used to regulate speed, but only has an on or off position. And I say they are not usually referring to regulating it by pulling the trigger with more or less force. Because sometimes if they bring the typical wheel to regulate the speed. This can be on the trigger itself or on top of the machine.
2.- Trigger Lock Button: It is not usually used much, since the cuts that are usually made with the jigsaw are not usually very long. But for long cuts we can lock the trigger with this button. And although it may seem like a lie, not having to be pressing the trigger allows us work more comfortably and more rested. What we do is press the trigger and then press the button. We release both and the trigger is locked. And as soon as we press the trigger again, it unlocks.
3.- System cutting blade anchor: It is the system in which the cutting blade of the jig saws is fitted. And from there the back and forth movement is transmitted to the leaf. These systems can vary on the outside and inside for each brand and for each jig model. Thus, the interior of these anchoring systems determines the cutting blade models that we can use (we must take into account the shape of the upper part of the blade, which gets into the anchoring system. We will see them later). . And as for the external shape, there we can find even more differences between the different machines: from the first anchoring systems with a screw; going through lever systems; others that must be pressed on both sides of the sheet; or even systems that turn and eject the cutting blade by the action of a spring alone. The latter are highly appreciated if the cutting blade is too hot.
4.- Cutting blade guide wheel: It is a small metal wheel with a groove that helps to keep the cutting blade vertical and that the hooking mechanism of the blade is not forced. Although as many of us already know, everything we would like does not help and the cuts sometimes do not come out vertical. Also, in the pendulum jig saws, it is the one that helps provide the pendulum movement to the blade.
5.- Metal base or skate: It is the base on which the jigsaw rests. And this base or skate must always be well supported against the wood to be cut to prevent the saw from jumping. In it we have the grooves and the knobs to attach a parallel lateral guide. And in the skate we also usually have the system to change the inclination of the cutting blade. More details in number 11 of these list.
6.- Suction intake: Socket to connect the aspiration tube of the aspiration system that we have in the workshop. Helps reduce sawdust dust in the air and keep the cutting line clean so you can see where we cut. But on the contrary, it makes the operation with the jigsaw very difficult, since the tube usually pushes the saw to the sides. I prefer to put on a mask. In any case, if you work indoors, you surely prefer the suction tube. A smooth one would be of great help, since the typical ones with the rings that make it easy to bend are continually hooked on the wood to be cut.
7.- Sawdust blowing system: Some jigsaws have a system to blow the sawdust that accumulates on the wood when making the cut and that covers the cutting line (well, I only know it in the hand saw that I use). As I said before, connecting the suction tube makes it difficult to operate the saw. I prefer to use a dust mask. But that prevents me from blowing the sawdust to see the line and, let's be honest, sometimes I don't wear the mask to blow. With this system the problem is over. I can put on the dust mask, keeping my lungs protected, and the machine already blows the sawdust on its own.
8.- Cut protection: This system prevents objects from getting into, for example our fingers, in the area of the blade above the skate. Sometimes it is a transparent plastic casing that we can raise and lower and that covers the entire area. And other times it is a rigid protection, made of plastic or metal, as a halo or a safety arc like the ones in formula 1. Keep in mind that this does not protect the area below the base of the jigsaw. .
9.- Electric motor: The electric motor determines the power of the jigsaw. And to a large extent also the price. Although the latter is also influenced by the brand. The electric motor power of these woodworking and DIY machines is usually between 350W and 800W. And unless for lack of resources we have to resort to a very cheap saw, my recommendation is to buy a jigsaw from a recognized brand that is around 500W. If we want something more powerful, for example to mount it as a table jigsaw, a 650W should be enough. And if you are a professional you already know that there are professional ranges. My experience with very cheap brands is not good, so I would recommend a brand. In addition, branded machines tend to be of better quality, maintain better power throughout the cut, produce less noise (which is appreciated by our ears and neighbors) and less vibrations (which will be appreciated by our hands, wrists and arms) facilitating to make cuts with more precision.
10.- Lever to operate the pendular movement: It is usually a small lever with three or four positions. But sometimes it's a button that slides up or down. By operating this system, the cutting blade guide wheel will start to move back and forth, causing the blade to tilt back and forth during cutting. A movement similar to what we do when cutting with a handsaw. The result is that we get a faster cut. Although very fast cuts are usually less clean. But hey, it all depends on the cut we need to make at all times.
11.- System to change the cutting blade inclination: The most normal thing is that they have screws at the bottom of the skate that allow us to loosen the base and rotate it with respect to the cutter blade of the jig. Thus we can make miter cuts vertically. But sometimes we have wheels or some other system that allows us to do that task without tools. The tilt system is usually complemented by grooves at the base of the jigsaw to fit the top of the saw. These grooves come with different preset angles: 45º to the right or left, 90º and sometimes 30º to the right or left. Thus we can make vertical miter cuts that will be more or less precise depending on our ability and how well we are able to adjust the angle between the saw blade and the skate. The advice is not to totally trust the notches. I usually use a technical drawing squad to check the angle.
12.- System of the cutting blade direction: The first jigsaw I had, and which I still have, has a lever that allows the shaft to be raised and lowered with the cutting blade. This axis is connected to a knob at the top, so that by turning that knob we can change the cutting direction without having to turn the skate. This is supposed to improve precision when cornering in principle. But I never saw it very useful and I almost never used it.
Saws with handle
They are the typical DIY saws that we can find for sale. They have a trigger handle, making it easy to start and work with. They generally have somewhat less power than saws without a handle. I prefer this type of jig because they are more comfortable to handle.
Saws without handle
These saws are characterized in that they do not have a handle on the top. They are usually more elongated and have a large protrusion on the front of the saw. And instead of a trigger they have a button that we must slide to turn on the machine. These jig saws tend to be more powerful and they usually have a pendulum movement system for the blade. But in my opinion, because of the way they hold each other with their hands, they are more difficult to handle. And the power button is usually more difficult to operate. Also, having more power, they are heavier.
Electric jigsaw with cable
Not much more to say. It is the normal jigsaw to which the electric current reaches through a cable that we connect to an outlet. Avoid tripping over the cable and be careful not to cut it. But until the light goes out we can work with it indefinitely. As long as we don't overheat it, of course.
Battery-powered jigsaws differ from normal corded jigs in that, instead of receiving electric current from a cable connected to the mains, they receive it from a battery that is attached to them. Thus, we now measure the power of these power tools by the battery voltage. This voltage is usually between 12V and 18V or 24V in the professional ranges.
The current batteries are usually lithium ion, which allow many charge and discharge cycles with little loss of capacity. Nothing to do with the old batteries that quickly broke down. Thanks to these batteries, cordless tools have earned the trust of many DIYers and professionals.
The Ah (amp hours) of the jigsaw battery is also important, since it is the energy it can store. The more Ah the longer the battery will last before you have to recharge it.
I'm not a big fan of battery-powered power tools in the shop (except for the screwdriver), since an electrical cord (almost) always provides the necessary electrical power. And the batteries must be pending to charge them. Yes, I am very angry to have to leave a job due to lack of battery charge.
The advantage of cordless jigsaws, apart from not having the cord hassle, is that we can use them in areas without electricity (such as in the home garden). And also, since we do not have a cable we will not trip over it, it will not hinder us and we do not run the risk of cutting it. Ah, you never cut a cable? I do. With an electric hedge trimmer 🙁
How is a wood jigsaw used ?:
Security aside, which we will see later, we will see how to use the wooden jig:
a.- The first thing before cutting with a jigsaw is usually to draw the cut line. And if we want to be precise, we have to look at whether the cut line belongs to the part we want or if it is outside the part. That way we will know if we should cut to one side of the line or the other. And if we must delete the line while we cut (the line does not belong to the final piece) or not (the line does belong to the final piece). Also keep in mind that we may prefer to adjust the part size with a disc sander or belt sander.
b.- The wood to be cut should be held with sergeants. To prevent it from moving making it difficult to cut. And to avoid that when pushing the machine against the wood it falls.
c.- Assuming that we already have the cutting blade installed, we rest the front of the jig base on the wood to be cut. And we turn it on before the cutting blade touches the wood.
d.- With the machine on, we approach the blade to the wood and start cutting.
e.- If we want to make a cut inside, first we are going to make a drill. We put the sheet over there and proceed in the same way.
f.- During the cut we must keep the skate against the wood, preventing it from rising due to the reciprocating movement of the cutting blade.
g.- If we want to make a quick cut, we can activate the pendulum system and use a blade for quick cuts. Although the cut will not be very clean.
h.- If we want a clean cut we will use a blade suitable for cleaner cuts and we will avoid cutting too fast.
Un problem that we usually have is that if we want to cut very quickly, the cutting blade tends to go where the wood is softer. So, the sheet is folded to one side or the other, and in the end we find that the cut is not vertical. Although this would say that it happens more with soft woods than with hard woods. And it is that in woods like fir there is a lot of difference in hardness between hard and soft grains. I solve it with me guide to keep the cutting blade vertical of the jig on my table jig.
Also in the miter cuts with the cutting blade of the inclined saw we can find the same problem, with which the miter cut would be a disaster.
.- I usually put a finger next to the skate to help guide the saw. It is very effective, but it can be dangerous.
.- Just finished the cut the saw blade is usually very hotso we shouldn't touch it with our fingers.
Advantages of the jigsaw:
.- The main advantage of jigsaws is that they are very versatile power tools and less dangerous than other woodworking woodworking machines like the circular saw.
.- If we do not go to high powers or professional machines, the jig saws have a fairly affordable price. And there are also cheap and very cheap machines. Although my recommendation to buy one of these power tools is, if you can, buy a good brand. Although it has less power than the white label or a cheap brand.
.- Jigsaw blades are affordable. And we can buy cutting blades to cut various materials. In addition, in the case of wood cutting blades with the jigsaw, we can find blades for fast cuts, fine cuts, rip cuts, miter cuts ... A recommendation, good quality cutting blades make the difference.
Disadvantages of the jigsaw:
.- The main disadvantage of the jigsaw is that it is not an electric tool that makes very fast cuts. Even if we put a cut sheet designed for this purpose. The result is that when we have to make many and / or very long cuts, we end up noticing tiredness in the arms.
.- Another disadvantage is that the cutting blade, despite being metal, is not very rigid. So it is not unusual that after making a cut we find that the blade did not remain vertical during the entire cut, but was slightly bent to one side. The result then is that the cut is not vertical, but is inclined and irregular.
Jig Saws Hazards:
I guess we have already read the manual of this power tool and its recommendations, right :)? And it is that whatever I say in this entry or anywhere else, it should not be accepted as valid if it goes against what the manual of the jigsaw or its manufacturer says, in that or in any other place. With that said, let's take a look at some of the dangers I have encountered myself using this DIY and woodworking power tool. There are many things that I leave in the inkwell of the computer and that you can find elsewhere. Here I focused more on my experience / s.
.- Stop for a while read the manual of your jigsaw. There he will talk about electrical risks (before starting to make sure you will not cut the power cable) and others that I may not comment on here.
.- The jigger causes enough fine dust that can end up flying through the air. Put on a mask suitable for dusty environments. Dust masks usually have an FFP code which can be FFP1, FFP2 or FFP3, depending on the filtering capacity of the mask. I usually use FFP2, since FFP1, apart from having less filtering capacity, break down quickly. Also, if they have an NR code, it means that they are not reusable.
.- When cutting with the jigsaw, not usually many chips jump, but sometimes some jump. More if we cut boards like melamine. Put some safety glasses It is highly recommended.
.- The jig saws make a lot of noise. We must put hearing protection. There are ear plugs, but I prefer to wear hearing protection helmets.
.- I put glasses first and then helmets. If we do it the other way around and the rubber of the glasses is above the helmets, sometimes we can remove the helmets without remembering the glasses and they pull the rubber of the glasses dragging them. And the plastic of the glasses can rub the inside of the eye 🙁 (It happened to me and it is not pleasant)
.- I will not enter the debate of the gloves. I do not use them. But when putting or removing the cutting blade it is advisable to do it with gloves or with the help of a cloth. And it is that if when pressing the blade against the machine the fingers slide, we can cut ourselves with the teeth. In addition we must have this power tool unplugged.
.- When you have the jigsaw hanging in hand make sure not to press the trigger. You could cut your leg. Yes, it is not a good idea to have it like this.
.- Sometimes we stop the machine in the middle of a cut, leaving the sheet between the wood. We must avoid pulling the machine upwards, since having the fingers on the trigger will press it. The machine will turn on and start jumping. I usually pull my fingers off the trigger and tilt the machine back. Yes, unplugging it before does not hurt.
.- Sometimes I guide the skate with the big toe of my left hand as I stick my fingers under the board. And although I never have my fingers stretched out, I suppose it's a bad habit, since I don't see where the cutting blade is going. Any day I have a mishap :(.
.- When cutting our workpiece on the edge of the workbench it is easy for us to get closer to the edge of the bench. We must make sure to stop before reaching the workbench, or the machine may jump.
.- Just finished cutting the blade is usually very hot. Fingerprints turn white, but for now they always came out again. Wait for it to cool down, use a cloth or gloves ... or maybe you have one of those machines that when you turn the anchor system, the blade shoots out. Be careful that sometimes it makes a good jump.
The jigsaw power tool that I decided to buy:
As you may have already noticed, I have been buying several jig saws over the years. One of them was too small for me and it is old. Another one fell so many times on the ground that I said enough (yes, sometimes I am a bit of a disaster). And the hand jig I currently use is a Bosh PST 650, which despite being called 650 has a power of 500W.
What I like of this machine is:
.- The value for money is very good. Anyway, it is a Bosh saw, it has 500W and the price is affordable.
.- It does not vibrate too much, which is appreciated when using it a lot.
.- Cut loosely and without complaining thick and solid wood. Two half afternoons cutting 3cm thick chestnut wood without any problem.
.- The anchoring system is firm and without gaps. That helps make more accurate cuts.
.- It weighs little and is very manageable.
What I do not like:
.- I only have one problem to put to this jigsaw, which will be more or less important depending on the strength we have in our fingers. That system of anchoring the blade that it has (SDS System they call it) ensures that the cutting blade remains well attached and firm, without gaps. Which helps make it easier to cut accurately. But it is very hard. You have to put a finger on each side and push the system with a little force. And even if we can press it, sometimes it jams making it difficult to remove the cutting blade. Every now and then I do a little 3-in-one, but still.
But would I recommend buying it? Yes, definitely. Removing that inconvenience from the SDS System, I am very happy with this jigsaw. Although if you have little force in the fingers, you still prefer a jig that has a lever system to hold the cutting blade. The blades will be easier to put on and take off, but in return they have a little more slack and the cuts are not as precise. Total, we will always need to pass the sandpaper 😀
The jigsaw Bosh PST 650 neither does it have speed regulation or a pendulum movement system for the cutting blade. But I do not comment it on the things that I do not like because they are systems that I were not missing. In exchange, it has a blowing system that keeps the cutting line clean of sawdust and dust.
We see below what is inside a jigsaw power tool, with its electric motor, the reciprocating system and the system that causes pendulum movement.