Before we get started, remember this is by no means a complete set of instructions. It's not meant to replace reading your owner’s manual. It's not a comprehensive safety guide. It's more of an introduction to help you get started! If you have any further questions, drop by your local Dunn Lumber and talk to any of our sales associates.
What is a jig saw?
A jig saw is a reciprocating saw, meaning that it has a blade that moves back and forth. It is a very versatile and fairly inexpensive tool to have in your DIY tool belt; perfect for curve cuts and cut outs, jig saws can also be used for straight cuts, angle cuts, and even bevel cuts. Beyond wood, jig saws can be used to cut a variety of materials including laminate countertop, ceramic tile, sheet metal, and Azek pavers.
Basic Jig Saw Safety:
Safety is very important when you’re using power tools. Understanding, not only the rules of use but also, the “why” behind them goes a long way to protecting yourself and making smart decisions when you’re DIYing
When using a hand held power saw requires your undivided attention- not the time to multitask. It’s especially important to keep everything out of the path of the blade. If you’re wearing long sleeves, take a minute to roll them up before you start working. Wear fitted clothing that won’t hang down. You don't want to risk getting that caught in the blade. You should remove any jewelry that isn’t firmly set in place (i. e. a dangling necklace). Long hair can be a danger if you’re not careful, so go ahead and tie it up or pin it back to keep it out of your face and away from that blade.
A saw blade is most in your control when it’s standing still or when it’s running at full speed. You're at the highest risk when the blade is in the process of starting up or slowing down. At half speed, the blade isn’t powerful enough to cut through wood, but it is likely more powerful than you and is likely to buck or to catch the wood and throw it.
Always make sure to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.
Power saws can be extremely loud and are potentially damaging to your hearing, so protect your ears with earmuffs or earplugs.
To keep the saw blade in your control, start the blade moving away from the wood and don’t make contact until the blade has reached full speed. If ending the cut in the wood, allow the blade to come to a complete stop before raising it out of the wood. Otherwise, cut through the wood fully before releasing the trigger and allowing the blade to come to a complete stop. While cutting, keep both hands on the saw.
Always unplug your saw when not in use or when performing maintenance. Remove blade when not in use.
Measuring and Cutting:
Before using a jig saw, securely clamp down the material you’ll be cutting. Position the clamps as close to the cut as possible for stability. The teeth on the blade point up, which means that a jig saw cuts on the upstroke causing more tear on the wood in this direction. If you’re working with material where one side is a higher grade (such as plywood) make sure this side is facing down. Cutting through masking tape can also help prevent these jagged edges.
Using a pencil and guide, mark the path for the jig saw blade to follow. Position the base of the saw on the wood, lining up the saw with the pencil line but keeping it away from the wood. Start the saw before making contact with the wood. Jig saw blades are very narrow and can be broken when the saw is not used correctly. Don’t over apply pressure while cutting; let the saw do the work. Trying to turn a corner too sharply can cause the blade to catch and get stuck in the wood. This is called binding and when it happens, release the trigger and hold the saw still until it comes to a complete stop. Jiggle the blade loose and reposition. Restart the saw and resume sawing on a softer curve. Another option is to direct the saw in a straight line until you cut through the edge of the wood. Returning to the cut, this will release pressure on the back end of the blade allowing you to make a sharper curve than before.
Change blades when they become dull, when working with a different material, or when needing a finer (or rougher) cut. Remove the blade when storing the saw, or when the saw is not in use. Most jig saws hold their blades with a spring mechanism, so be careful when releasing it that the blade doesn’t fly across the room. Always unplug the saw before adjusting or removing blades.