What Is A Jig Saw- Overview
Hey hey ladies! If you are just starting out with crafting, a jig saw is a great tool to begin with. My roundup of 15- 1 Hour Jig Saw Projects For Beginners otta help get you started.
Now here are a few reasons why the jig saw is such a great tool to begin with:
1. They’re inexpensive
2. They’re versatile
So let’s go over the jig saw shall we?
1. It’s Inexpensive
A jig saw can start as low as $30 like this Black + Decker (pricing may change). The one that I use and has worked well for me is this Ryobi jig saw. Some come with cords and others run on a battery. If you want to get one with a battery and don’t already have one to go in it, then they can be a little more pricey to get started with. But remember in most cases, the battery is interchangeable with tools of the same brand.
For example I own 1 charger and 2 Ryobi batteries (click here for a starter pack that comes with 2 batteries and a charger) but I use them for 3 different Ryobi tools. The circular saw, the drill, and the brad nailer (it’s a nail gun that shoots small finishing nails, and it also happens to be my FAVORITE tool because it makes projects soooo fast and easy!)
2. The Jig Saw is Versatile
Imagine having a project that needs pallet wood, straight cuts, angled cuts and curvy cuts. You can use the jig saw for that!! In fact it’s my favorite tool for slicing the boards off a pallet. It makes the job very effortless.
Jig Saw Blades
This saw has a lot of blade options. If you’d like a straight cut there’s a blade for that. For the curvy cuts you can buy a scrolling blade that’s smaller and allows the blade to move around more fluidly than the bigger blades.
There are blades for hardwood and blades for softwoods, blades for wood, metal, laminate, PVC, and even ceramic tile.
When buying blades make sure you check to see if your blades are T- shank (pictured above) or U-shank and buy accordingly. If you have a newer saw, chances are it uses a T-shank blade. Your saw should come with a couple of blade options, but this is a great multipack of blades with all of the varieties.
Changing The Saw Blade
Make sure that your saw is unplugged or the battery is out, and the saw blade is cooled down.
Depending on the model of saw that you have, you will need to use an Allen wrench to change the blade, (on a lot of the older models) or release the lever, or use the quick change mount.
– For the quick change mount push it over gain and then put the new blade in until it’s tight and release the quick change mount.
– If your saw has a lever put the blade in while the lever is released. Push the blade in all the way and then tighten the lever.
– For the Allen wrench place the blade in until it’s tight and then use the Allen wrench to tighten the blade into place
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The Orbit of the Blade
The jig saw blade runs in an orbital (or circular) motion. The orbital motion makes it so the blade cuts through the material when the blade comes up, but then moves back and down so the blade doesn’t drag across the work surface. This is so the saw can cut through harder or thicker materials faster and more efficiently. The orbital motion makes it less likely for the blade to get wedged.
This setting can be controlled by a knob on your saw. On my saw I have the options of 0-3. 0 meaning no orbit and 3 meaning the highest orbit.
The higher orbit will get you through a cut faster but will be a rougher cut (the roughness of the cut will also depend on the type of blade you use. There are blades specifically for smooth cuts).
The low orbit setting will result in a slower but smoother cut.
When cutting scroll or curvy cuts the low orbit setting is recommended.
Jig Saw Speed
If your saw has this feature, you can start a cut at a low speed to get a more accurate cut at first. Then gradually add speed as you go. You will get the best results if your jig saw speed is set to high throughout the remainder of the cut.
Cutting With The Jig Saw
While cutting with the jig saw use firm downward pressure to keep the saw steady. The saw will naturally want to move forward. Don’t force the saw forward. Doing so can result in broken blades and an overheated motor.
Some jig saws have a lock button. This is where you hold the trigger down and press the lock button to keep the trigger locked so that you don’t have to continually hold the trigger down while cutting. this is helpful if you are doing long projects or if you’re cutting one handed.
Making Straight Cuts
While a table saw or a miter saw may be the best tools for this job, the jig saw is perfectly capable of doing it. The best way to achieve this is by using a guide to cut a straight line.
Make a guide by clamping a straight board to the surface you will be cutting, and running the saw along the side of the guide. Make sure the saw stays pushed up against the guide for the entire cut to achieve a straight cut.
Only cut in one direction. Don’t start a cut and go halfway and then come from the other direction. Make the whole cut in one direction.
Cutting Angles With The Jig Saw
This can be achieved two ways. If you want a beveled edge on a board (for example when joining molding at a corner) your jig saw should be able to angle the blade from 0-45 degrees by loosening the plate on the bottom. (Check your owners manual for specific directions on how to do this for the brand of saw you use.)
The other way is to use a triangle tool (for 45 degree angles) or a protractor (this one would be nice for drawing a guide line) to get the desired angle. Mark a line and then use a guide (like with the straight cut from above) and run your jig saw along the guide.
Freehand Cutting With The Jig Saw
This is where the jig saw gets fun! Let your imagination run wild and the jig saw can probably take you there.
Because the jig saw is not mounted to anything (like the scroll saw and band saw are) there is no limit to how big of a project this tool will cut (think in terms of 8′ x 4′ sheets of board!!). For freehand cutting you just need to draw your pattern or design onto the boards and follow the line.
A plunge cut is where you begin on top of the cutting surface rather then the edge. This type of cut can come in handy because it saves you the time of having to drill a pilot hole. (a pre-drilled hole that would allow you to start with the blade in the hole. Essentially creating an edge for the saw to start on.)
In order to make a plunge cut you will need to start the cut with the front of the shoe on the wood, and the blade angled back. Start with 50% power and slowly drop the blade down into the wood.
It may take some practice to get the hang of the way the saw wants to move but I think you’ll love it once your first project is cut out.
Need a little inspiration? Here are 15- 1 hour jig saw projects