Aside from choosing the best jigsaw brand and model for your woodworking activities, your proper blade selection will also factor well and make a big difference in your jigsaw’s cut quality and performance. For this reason, you should carefully select your jigsaw blades and make sure that you use the right jigsaw blade when cutting a particular material.
Jigsaw blades come in different types and varieties. Some jigsaw blades, for example, can cut metals easily, while some can cut plywood, plexiglass, and many other types of materials better. Choosing the right saw blade, of course, will let you make quality cuts and facilitate the use of the jigsaw in your different projects. But before you can zero in on the right jigsaw blade, you need to know more about the jigsaw blades.
- Classifying by Shank Types
- Classifying by Blade Material
- Classification Based on Materials that You Would Cut
- The Teeth Count of Jigsaw Blades and Teeth Properties
Factors that Help in Jigsaw Blade Classifications
Experts classify jigsaw blades according to several factors. These factors include shank types, TPI and teeth design, their make, and the materials they could cut. Here is a rundown of these factors and a short explanation of each one of them:
Classifying by Shank Types
The blade part that locks into the jigsaw blade clamp is the shank. The shank is essential because it is the main factor in classifying jigsaw blades. Jigsaw blades, of course, can come with either U-shank or T-shank design.
1) T-Shank Blades
The most widely used jigsaw blade type is the T-shank jigsaw blade. It is also compatible with most modern jigsaws. The popularity of the T-shank jigsaw blades hinges on the ease of their use and better compatibility with most modern jigsaws. You will also notice that T-shank jigsaw blades are easy to replace. This type of blade has a tang at its shank’s top that fits into the blade clamp of the jigsaw.
2) Universal Shank Blades of U-Shank Blades
U-shank blades feature a U-shaped cutout at the shank top. If you have an older jigsaw, you will need a hole just under the U-shaped cutout in the shank. This U-shank blade is the type of blade that was most commonly available for most jigsaws before. However, nowadays, the U-shank is no longer generally used because of the increasing popularity of the T-shank jigsaw blades. It had its heyday. So, when buying a jigsaw blade, it will be best to check whether your jigsaw blade is compatible with the jigsaw you are using.
Classifying by Blade Material
Jigsaw blades come in different materials and make. You will find jigsaw blades made of high carbon steel, high-speed steel, bi-metal blades, and tungsten blades. Below are the brief descriptions of each type of jigsaw blade based on the materials that constitute the blade:
1) High Carbon Steel (HCS)
High carbon steel blades are the most flexible and most reliable jigsaw blades. These blades are a combination of iron, carbon, and manganese. These blades are highly flexible, and you can use these blades for different types of materials. These materials include plastics, laminates, and timber.
These blades are best for curve and fine cutting in chipboard, plywood, wood, laminated chipboard, and plastic. They are also durable and are perfect for a jigsaw with no orbital action. There also produce splinter-free cuts.
2) High-Speed Steel (HSS)
The high-speed steel jigsaw blades are less flexible than the HCS blades. Yet, they perform better in more challenging tasks. They are also more durable and feature a more heat-resistant make. For this reason, they are perfect for cutting plastic, metal, and wood. Besides, this type of blade comes with module designs and is perfect for professional use.
3) Bi-metal Blades (BIM)
The BIM blades consist of composite materials. Their teeth come with HSS material, and the main body consists of HCS material. With this composite make, these jigsaw blades overcome the limitations of the abovementioned types of materials. These blades are flexible without easily breaking and can cut metals and other hard materials sans dulling their teeth.
Thus, you can use these blades for cutting curves in hardwood and tougher materials. Because these blades have undergone additional manufacturing processes, they are usually more expensive. Yet, their properties make them a good investment.
4) Tungsten Blades (TC)
Tungsten Blades (TC) feature the most durable jigsaw blades among the abovementioned jigsaw blades. These jigsaw blades come with a combo of tungsten and carbon that make them very durable. They sport a sandpaper-like grit to allow for a smooth cut.
These jigsaw blades can cut fiberglass, ceramics, and steel. However, you can use the jigsaw blades to cut caustic materials like bathroom or kitchen tiles, fiber cement boards, glass fiber, and other materials.
Moreover, these blades are the most expensive, and you can rely on these blades to cut the most challenging materials. These blades also offer the greatest heat resistance, and they got teeth coated with tungsten carbide.
Classification Based on Materials that You Would Cut
The jigsaw blades usually have teeth that face upward. Hence, these blades cut upward, and you will see that the chips and sawdust get ejected from the top. For this reason, the dust gets collected by the dust extractor at the back of the jigsaw. The type of material you will cut will factor well in the classification of the jigsaw blades. Here is a rundown of the materials you would usually cut using the jigsaw:
1) Jigsaw for Cutting Laminate and Wood
When cutting wood and laminate, you would usually use wide-toothed jigsaw blades. These blades should be straight or set. They are also either milled or ground blades with 150 mm or less in length. The higher the TPI, the better the output of the saw blade.
The setting of the tooth is also a factor when cutting. You can use the wide jigsaw blades for straight cuts. If you would cut circles and curves, you need to scroll the saw blade. The scroll saw blade is thin and got teeth that face forward.
2) Jigsaw for Cutting PVC and Plastic
It will help if you use a medium-toothed blade when cutting plastic and PVC. These blades usually have different lengths. They may also have straight or set blades.
3) Jigsaw for Cutting Non-ferrous and Steel
There are also blades meant for cutting steel and non-ferrous materials. These blades are usually fine-toothed. Cutting steel, of course, is a considerable challenge, and you can cut steel with thickness from 1 to 8 millimeters using the jigsaw.
You can set the jigsaw at a low speed when cutting steel using fine-toothed jigsaw blades. You can also use a lubricant to lessen the overheating of the jigsaw blade. Use the suitable lubricant when using the jigsaw when cutting stainless steel.
4) Jigsaw for Cutting Glass and Ceramics
You will sometimes cut glass and ceramics using your jigsaw. You can use toothless blades for this purpose. You can use tungsten carbide-coated blades to facilitate the cutting process through ceramics and tiles. Ensure that you have water at hand and put the water near the cut. If you cut glass, you should use a glass lubricant and make a test run to avoid any miscut.
The Teeth Count of Jigsaw Blades and Teeth Properties
The thing with the jigsaw blade is that the higher the tooth count, the finer it would cut. Nevertheless, the cut will be slower likewise. So, if you want to make more delicate cuts, it will be best to go for jigsaw blades with higher teeth counts. However, if you wish to cut faster, you should go for jigsaw blades with lower TPI. Yet, with the lower TPI jigsaw blades, the cut becomes rougher.
Moreover, the material you intend to cut also factors well in your choice of TPI. If you’re looking for jigsaw blades for cutting metal, you can quickly identify this blade by the fine teeth it has. The jigsaw blades for cutting softwood will be coarse and come with larger teeth to cut rapidly through the softwood.
The teeth count, of course, will factor well in the quality and speed of cuts. For example, jigsaw blades with fewer teeth will cut faster and produce rougher edges, while those jigsaw blades with more teeth will cut slowly but end up with a smoother finish. The jigsaw blades with six to twenty TPI will indeed be perfect for cutting wood. In contrast, jigsaw blades with 14 to 36 TPI will be effective in cutting hard materials.
The jigsaw blade has an obvious limitation. Since the jigsaw blade is thin and long and its shank end is its only support, it sometimes leaves angled cuts when cutting through thicker workpieces. Yet, you can overcome this by carefully choosing your jigsaw blade.
You can choose, for example, a jigsaw blade characterized by increased thickness from top to bottom. This type of blade tends not to wander. If you buy Bosch jigsaw blades, for example, you will see that their jigsaw blades have a P suffix on their code. One example is the T1044 DP. Other manufacturers also follow the lead of Bosch when tagging their jigsaw blades.
If you want straight and square cuts, you should go for a thick blade. Yet, thinner blades can also hold their own when making straight and square cuts. They also offer better maneuverability for negotiating curves. Moreover, they are not very demanding to the jigsaw motor. Thus, if you are using a battery-powered jigsaw, you will have a longer runtime using thinner jigsaw blades.
Tooth Configuration of the Jigsaw Blade
You will find that most jigsaw blades cut using upstroke movements. They also have teeth pointed towards the shank. Nevertheless, you can also buy jigsaw blades that feature reverse configurations. These jigsaw blades are called reverse tooth or down-cut blades. These jigsaw blades are perfect for cutting laminated worktops.
When cutting a laminated worktop, the surface’s top side gets a rougher finish because the teeth push the laminate away from the workpiece or material. You can avoid this scenario by positioning the jigsaw on the material’s opposite side. Yet, if you don’t want to do this, you can also use a reverse tooth blade. This jigsaw blade will provide you with a cleaner and neater cut sans flipping the workpiece or working along the underside.
You can never, however, use this type of blade in pendulum modes. So, your working time gets extenuated, especially when cutting more extended materials.
Furthermore, you also need to consider the jigsaw blade’s design. You should also consider whether the jigsaw blade’s teeth are milled, side set, ground, straight, or wavy. These factors will eventually affect the cutting speed, performance, longevity, and finesse of the blade’s cut. So, you should check out the blade’s part code online to learn more about the specifications of the jigsaw blade you are using.
Teeth Arrangement and Shape
The jigsaw blade’s teeth arrangement and shape will also factor well in the quality of cuts you can make using the jigsaw. Jigsaw teeth can be either ground or milled. Each type of teeth arrangement comes with its advantages. So, before buying, it will be best to decide which type of teeth shape and arrangement you would like to have:
Milled Teeth : Milled jigsaw blade’s teeth feature less refined teeth and offer a more aggressive attack on the workpiece, resulting in rougher but faster cuts. Milled jigsaw blades also tend to last longer. It will be best to use these jigsaw blades with denser materials. Milled blade teeth may be milled side set or milled wavy set.
The milled side set can cut faster but allows you to finish cut faster and rougher. These milled side set can make your cutting quick and is best to use if you don’t bother with quality edges or finish. On the other hand, the milled wavy set comes with a wavelike design. This milled wavy set allows for finer straight cuts.
Ground Teeth: Jigsaw blades can also have ground teeth. The teeth of these blades have undergone filing to ensure that they are sharp-edged. You can use these in softer material, especially if you need smooth edges. Ground teeth can be ground taper, ground side set teeth, and ground reverse set.
The ground taper and ground teeth feature a straight alignment that can make delicate and clean cuts. Ground side set teeth, on the other hand, can cut fast. They offer a more precise cut and come with thicker blades that don’t flex. With minimal movement at the blade’s end, these blades provide greater accuracy.
You can maximize the use of these blades with pendulum action if your jigsaw is capable of this motion. In this way, the teeth pull away the fibers to allow for less distortion of the blade.
Ground reverse set, however, offers cut in a reverse direction. These sets are perfect for keeping the cutline smooth. The jigsaw gets positioned above the cutting surface, and thus, it cuts using downstroke movements. The blade’s upward movements pull up the wood fibers.
Choosing the right jigsaw blade for your use can be tricky, especially if you are a newbie who has recently jumpstarted your woodworking career. As for every beginning in a field, beginners would get confused with the myriad of options at hand. Yet, if you know the abovementioned properties of jigsaw blades and essential factors to consider when choosing a jigsaw blade, you can indeed zero in on the right jigsaw blade.
As a beginner, it will help if you research these essential factors to figure out the right jigsaw blade you will use. As you read through this post, you will be cognizant of these critical factors to consider and will have a solid basis for choosing the right jigsaw blade.