November 19, 2022
“Why would I use the jigsaw to cut straight lines?” you might ask. Given the availability of circular and table saws, it is quite preposterous to use a jigsaw to cut straight lines. Yet, if you only own a jigsaw due to a limited budget, you got no choice but to use it for cutting a straight line. But can a jigsaw really cut a perfectly straight line when it is designed for cutting irregular curves?
Of course, you can cut straight lines using a jigsaw. Nevertheless, you need an accurate cutting line to make it happen. Besides, you need to ensure that the jigsaw blade is sufficiently sharp. Jigsaw, of course, can be very productive of good results when properly used for this purpose.
Use Jigsaw for Cutting Straight Line with Jig or Freehand?
Once you cut a straight line using a jigsaw, you can do it freehand or use a jig. Making a smooth cut freehand using a jigsaw would be very difficult, even if you have a steady hand. Of course, if your intention is only to make a somewhat straight cut without regard to perfection, then cutting a straight line using the jigsaw would be a piece of cake.
But if you need precision cuts, you’re simply pushing the jigsaw to its limit. Nevertheless, if you can make or buy a jig to complement your jigsaw, the task of cutting a perfectly straight line becomes doubly easy.
Based on my experience, cutting straight lines freehand using a jigsaw only applies to a shorter line. If you want to cut a straight line more than 1 foot long, I suggest you use guides and straight-edge jigs for more precise line cuts.
Things Needed to Cut Straight Line Using a Jigsaw
Cutting a straight line is easy if you got a circular or a table saw. But if you only have the jigsaw at hand, you need the following materials to ensure you can cut a perfectly straight line on the wood:
1) Guides or Straightedge
You can use a piece of scrap wood to make a guide. Yet, you need to ensure that the wood piece is perfectly straight. Otherwise, you can never achieve a straight cut. Remember that a scrap of wood might look straight, but they are not. So, it will be best to use plastic or metal straight edge instead. You can opt for a manufactured one to ensure it is of quality.
You can also use your level as a straight edge. You can clamp it to the wood. Make sure that the jigsaw shoe can rest against the straight edge to ensure a straight cut. Remember that with a good set of guides, you can ensure that the jigsaw can cut a straight line well.
2) Cutting Using a Rip Guide
You can use a rip guide if you need to make an extended rip cut. The rip guide usually comes in a package with a circular or table saw. Yet, if you’re using a jigsaw, it might not have a rip guide or fence.
A rip fence or guide is a metal bar that runs parallel to the table saw blade. Now, if you use the jigsaw, you will need this metal plate or bar as your guide to rip through the wood.
Let the rip guide work just like the way it would work when used with a table saw. You only need to fasten it to the jigsaw to let the tool slide through the workpiece. Then, adjust the widths of the rip guide to three inches or more.
3) Blade for Making Straight Cut
You will have, for sure, a set of jigsaw blades with your jigsaw. From this set of saw blades, you can choose the thicker blades because thicker blades do better because they don’t bend easily. Go for jigsaw blades that don’t flex much.
This way, you can keep the jigsaw blade from wandering off the cutline, despite hitting a knot in the wood grain. Besides, thicker jigsaw blades exhibit better rigidity which works well with the orbital action of the jigsaw, making the cutting process faster.
You can use a reverse tooth blade if you want a better finish. The reverse tooth blade will cut downstroke, minimizing tear-outs on the material’s good side. However, reverse tooth blades do not jive well with orbital action.
Another thing is if you are desirous of a smoother cut, you can opt for a higher TPI blade with 12 TPI or more. Nevertheless, jigsaw blades with higher TPI will only cut slower because they are meant for cutting metal. So, the cutting process becomes slower and requires more patience from you.
How To You Rip-cut Straight Line with a Jigsaw?
If you make a long cut parallel to the wood grain, you’re doing a rip cut. A rip cut is an extended straight cut for which the jigsaw might not be made. Yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a rip cut with the jigsaw.
You can use a guide fence to ensure the cut is straight. You can clamp a straightedge running parallel to the cutline. Ensure the distance between the shoe edge and the blade side is correct. Besides, you should ensure you’re using the right orbital setting and the right jigsaw blade for the material type you are cutting.
To begin cutting, you can turn on the jigsaw and get it to the correct speed. Afterward, you can set the jigsaw blade consistently and steadily. Ensure that the shoe is rested against the guide fence while eyeing if the jigsaw blade is on the right track.
You don’t need to exert extra effort in pushing the jigsaw. You only let the jigsaw blade do the cutting. Adjust the jigsaw speed to compensate for the varying thickness of the material. It will be best to give your jigsaw a break after every cut to let the jigsaw rest its motor.
Before putting down the jigsaw, ensure that the jigsaw blade has already stopped completely. Remember that it is always best to be on the safe side when using tools like a jigsaw.
Jigsaw is such a versatile tool, capable of making different types of cuts like rip cuts, cross cuts, miter cuts, and even bevel cuts in various materials. You can also use it to make a plunge cut and cut straight from the middle of the wood piece. With its versatility, it is indeed a handy and a must-have tool.
Although the jigsaw is not designed to make an extended rip cut, you can still manage to complete that cut using this tool. Yet, you would need a good guide setup and the right jigsaw blade to ensure you can come up with good results.
If you were still unable to make a perfect straight line cut, then I suspected some misalignment issues on your jigsaw and blade itself.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.