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How to use a jig saw correctly and safely

Skill Level: Beginner

Introduction

Jig saws are a really handy tool to have in your kit. A jig saw has many uses around the home, and has made many saws used up until the 20th century – now obsolete. A jig saw will cut through wood, metal or plastic– with the change of a blade, it takes only a moment.

 
In the right hands, and with a bit of experience, you can do a multitude of jobs that before would have been more time consuming, and perhaps beyond your ability. Intricate shapes and curves are easily achievable with a jig saw.

 

Keep safety in mind

Power jig saws will save you a lot of time, especially on bigger projects where there is a lot of cutting to do, or where it’s fiddly, and time consuming. Apart from learning how a power jig saw operates, you must also be aware of safety - this equipment operates at extremely fast speeds - so there are several important points to keep in mind before starting.

Work safely

When using a power jig saw make sure that your work surface is stable and will not tilt, slide, or trip over when you are cutting! As you are using the jig saw, moving along the cut line, keep electrical cables clear of the saw blade and the line of cut when the saw is operating. Work comfortably and try not to use power jig saws when working at height – wear eye protection at all times. Jig saws generate a lot of dust, so wear a dust mask and overalls. Where possible cut wood outside, where you must work inside, cover as much as you can with dust sheets.

Jig saw blades

There are different blades for the different materials you may encounter around the home. Jig saw blades are defined by the number of teeth per inch.
 
As a guide, a fine cut blade suitable for metal and thin plastics would have typically, 32 teeth per inch of blade.
 
A blade of 14 teeth per inch would be suitable for most general work – plastics, some metallic materials, hardboard and chipboard, plywood and timber.
 
A blade with 10 teeth per inch is suitable for solid wood, cutting cross grain, as well as board and timber. A very coarse cut of 8 teeth per inch is used when ripping through solid wood along the grain.
 
When changing blades, check twice before you turn on that the blade is fully located and secure. Keep the roller guide clean and lubricated. A well maintained tool works better and safer.

Marking out

Unlike a traditional hand saw, the blade of a power saw cuts on the up stroke, not the down stroke. When sawing through veneered or laminated wood make sure you lay this surface away from you, face down on the work bench otherwise you may chip and spoilt the decorative finish side. To do this, mark your cutting guide lines on the underside of the board, the side that is not seen.

Using the jig saw

If you are cutting a narrow strip with a jig saw then you may wish to use the fence guide that will be supplied with the tool. However, in many cases, for most applications, the saw can be controlled quite adequately, achieving straight cut lines, by simply cutting free hand. Just take it slowly and don’t force or try and speed things up. Keep the wood dust continually clear of the blade as you move along the cut line, or you may loose sight of it and start deviating. 

Tools you will need:
Black & Decker 450W Variable Speed Jigsaw
Black & Decker 450W Variable Speed Jigsaw
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