Pro Woodworking Tips.com
Choosing A Jig Saw
Portable and capable of cutting curves in a number of different
In this photo, a portable power tool, known as a jig saw, is being put to
the test, cutting through 8/4" Mahogany. Notice it is cutting about an 1/8" outside the line. While it may seem
like I missed the mark, I am cutting outside the line for a reason. (even if I did miss the mark, I wouldn't
admit to it). Actually the reason for doing this is the fact that in a thick material like this, there is too
much chance for the blade to flex, and wander into the area I don't want cut. While I'm slowly and carefully
cutting along the line, the bottom side could be wandering all over the place without me knowing. (I'm not
falling for that again).
Also, it is much faster to cut outside the line, and then using a router and a
jig, along with a pattern bit, and clean up the cut. Done this way, there is no chance of any difference in the
four quarters of the table. I can hear it now. What four quarters is this guy talking about? The answer to that
is with the full length pattern of the curve, I only rout half of the length of the table. Then I flip the jig
end for end, and do the next section. The same process is repeated on the other side of the table. Doing it in
fashion guarantees that the table is exactly the same shape all the way around. (a smaller pattern was used on
the ends, but it was done the same way.
Jig saws are pretty consistent in the direction that the blade tends to bend.
I'm not 100 percent sure why that is, but over the years, using different jig saws, they have always proven to
pick a side to lean towards, and stick with it. The new FesTool Jig Saw claims not to do that, even in four inch
thick material, but until I actually test it out, I can't vouch for it. So far though, this company's claims
have been 100% accurate.
These saws range in price considerably, as does the quality. It is safe to
say that the higher priced ones are generally better, but there is, as always the exceptions. My suggestion would
be to try them out if it can be arranged, prior to buying it. I know this isn't always possible, but in some local
retail stores, it can be arranged. Other items to check would be ease of blade changes, length of stroke, or blade
travel, amperage of the motor, ease of tilting the base for miter cuts, an option I rarely have had a need for, and
will it cut in an orbital action as well as vertically. A saw with this capability will make rough cuts much faster
than just a verticle stroke. The blade support system is very important, as it plays a major role in producing
The other thing to check, is the type of blade it will accept. Although I
haven't seen any in recent years that use a brand specific blade, just keep it in mind, prior to making a
Speaking of blades, they are available to cut wood, plywood, melamine, tile,
steel, aluminium, and plastic. I may have missed something, but you get the idea.
Return to Portable Power