Jigsaws have been around for many years and have not changed significantly in that time. The principal of how they work is the same, the blades move up and down at a high rate of speed as the saw is pushed into the wood and thus a cut is made ... pretty easy eh? .... Well, not so fast. There are a few things that we can all learn about jigsaws that can make them far more useful.
First of all, there are 2 basic jigsaw blades available. The newest version is called a "T" connection, the older one is often called a "U" connection because at the very top of the blade there is a tiny "U" cutaway. As usual, the blades are not interchangeable. The quick way to tell (in most cases) if you jigsaw has some sort of a screw at the point where the blade enters the mounting slot in the saw, it is likely the older type, the "U" connection. If your jigsaw has some sort of twisting lever, it's likely a "T" connection type blade required.
The newer jigsaws now have variable speed motors, and locking switches so that if you are making a long cut, you can not only adjust the speed accordingly, you can also lock the motor on rather than trying to hold the on switch for the entire cut. What about blades you ask ... well ...
One of the nice thing about the "T" adapter blades is there is an excellent selection available from metal cutting (softer metals like aluminum and brass) to a variety of wood type blades, even some diamond edged blades for cutting ceramic tiles and similar products. Lots of different blades to choose from.
One of the complaints from many jigsaw uses is the chipping that occurs when cutting a simple piece or wood. The reason for this is the that the blades of jig saws are oriented UP, and when this is the case the blade will chip out the wood on top of what you are cutting. The reason the blade's teeth are oriented up is because it help to hold the tool into the wood when cutting. When the teeth are oriented down, it is harder to hold the tool into the wood as the blades keep wanting to push the tool and blade out of the wood. The disadvantage of course is chip out along the top of what ever you are cutting ... BUT, there is a solution. The answer to solve this is to flip your wood over, just like you would if you were using a circular saw. When you do this, the "good" side of you board will have a much cleaner cut as the blades, just like a circular saw are cutting into the wood, and are therefore making a cleaner cut.
One of the old tricks of using a jigsaw is how it can start it's own hole in sheet goods, like plywood or just natural wood. If you want to cut through the wood you can simple orient the tool and the blade so that the tool is standing on end, and the blade is facing more-less faced into the wood. With some jigsaws that have a shorter toe to blade distance, they will bite into the wood quite readily, with others that have a longer toe to blade distance you may have to drag the saw along for a couple of inches to get a better bite into the wood, but either way, you can get a fairly nice clean cut into a flat wood. This technique is handy for installing air vents in floors, windows in existing walls and skylight openings in a roof.
What I like best about Jigsaws is they are quite portable. Here is a saw that can cut through as much as 2" wood, cut circles, arcs and manuever around knots, nails and other distractions and give you a pretty decent cut with not too much effort. A great little tool to add your workshop.
Copyright Colin Knecht