June 23, 2022
At some point in woodwork, you will need to cut a curve into a wood piece. This applies whether you’re an amateur enthusiast or you’re already a veteran on the woodwork scene. Now you have the task, and we’ll present you with the solution – a jigsaw. Indeed, there is no doubt that a jigsaw is a powerful tool that can help you achieve beautiful and accurate curves on wood.
However, for many, the prospect of cutting curves with a jigsaw can be quite a daunting one. In light of that, let us first address your features. Using a jigsaw to cut curves on wood pieces is not at all a complex process. On the contrary, it is relatively straightforward. But, it does not take some technical know-how to use the jigsaw to create your required result.
This is where we come into the picture. In this article, we’ll walk you the steps on how to cut curves with a jigsaw. Furthermore, we’ll throw in some crucial tips on using the jigsaw to make your work process smooth. In other words, this article is your one-stop on everything you need to know about cutting curves with a jigsaw.
But first, let us take it from the basics. What is a jigsaw, and why is it an excellent tool for cutting curves in wood?
Table of Contents
- Facts You Should Know About using Jigsaw To Cut Curve Line?
- Items You May Need to Achieve A Perfect Curve Cut
- A Step-by-step Guide on How to Cut Curves With A Jigsaw
- Additional Tips for Making A Perfect Curve Cut with Jigsaw
- Why Do I Have Trouble Seeing the Cutline When I Cut Curves in Walnut?
- How Can I Cut Tight Turns with Ease Using My Jigsaw?
Facts You Should Know About using Jigsaw To Cut Curve Line?
Before we dive into our guide on how to cut curves with a jigsaw, you should know exactly what the tool is. This way, you can relate better when we start talking techniques and tips for cutting with the tool.
The jigsaw is a sawing woodwork tool that comprises an electric motor and a reciprocating saw blade. This reciprocating blade is the very reason jigsaws are ideal for cutting curves. The edge allows you to cut various shapes, even irregular curves such as in stenciled designs.
Moreover, jigsaw also has sole plates that have a bevel adjustment. As such, you can cut at angles up to 45 degrees, unlike the typical vertical strokes other tools offer. Indeed, with a jigsaw, all you need is the right blade and useful tips. In no time, you’ll be cutting curves like a pro.
That said, let us dive right into all you need to know about cutting curves with the jigsaw.
Items You May Need to Achieve A Perfect Curve Cut
Before we walk you through how to cut curves with a jigsaw, here’s a checklist to ensure that you have all you need. Depending on the type of cut you’re making or the work material, you may not need all the items on this list. Nonetheless, here are some essential items for cutting curves with a jigsaw.
- A jigsaw in good working condition (this is a no-brainer).
- Curve-cutting or scrolling blades.
- A workbench.
- A marker or carpenter’s pencil.
- A drilling machine (optional).
- A protractor (for when you need to mark out circles).
- Finally, safety gear or protective equipment.
A Step-by-step Guide on How to Cut Curves With A Jigsaw
Now that you know the materials you need to cut curves with a jigsaw, let us see how to do it. Read further to find out more.
Step 1: Prepare the Material You Want To Cut
Make ready the material you’ll be cutting. However, in terms of this material, there are some things you must know. The jigsaw generally works better on thinner materials. In other words, you can use it to cut pieces such as softwood, tiles, and even thin sheets of metal.
On the other hand, workpieces like hardwood may be more challenging to work with. This is because these materials are rather rigid and may bend the blade of the jigsaw. So, while you may indeed cut through the hardwood, you’ll not get square cuts. Moreover, the process is much more complex and may lack accuracy.
Step 2: Check the Equipment
Checking your equipment is a vital step that you cannot afford to skip before workshop activity. In this case, your equipment includes your workbench, and of course, the jigsaw itself.
First, you need to make sure that the read underneath your workbench’s cutting surface is unobstructed. This will ensure that when the blade of your jigsaw cuts through the wood, it can move freely. Then, examine your jigsaw to ascertain that it is in good work condition. Also, check that all screws and bolts are securely in place.
Step 3: Choose Your Blade
There are a variety of blades that can function in your jigsaw. What determines the blade you choose is the type of cut you’re making and your workpiece. For the purposes of this guide, we recommend using a T-shank blade. They are ideal for cutting curves and are less likely to dislodge at high speeds.
Also, we advise that you use a blade with a downstroke. This will ensure the upper face of your workpiece (where people will see) remains smooth. In addition, opt for a blade with higher teeth per inch (TPI) rating. Although these blades are slower, they make for a smoother and more superior finish. This makes them perfect as you don’t need speed while cutting curves.
Step 4: Set the Speed of Your Jigsaw
Next on our tips on how to cut curves with a jigsaw — setting the appropriate speed. There’s usually a dial on all jigsaws where you can set the speed you want. We recommend setting the dial to lower speeds while cutting curves.
This will reduce the risk of you making mistakes while cutting. Moreover, blades with high TPI ratings do not handle fast or aggressive cutting very well. So, whether you are a woodwork beginner or veteran, always use lowers speeds while cutting curves with your jigsaw.
Step 5: Test Cut on Scrap Material
If you feel the need to practice before working on your actual workpiece, please do so. It takes a while to get the hang of cutting curves with a jigsaw perfectly. We recommend using a part of the same material on which you will be working. This way, you can confirm if the sharpness and speed of the blade are on optimum levels.
Step 6: Set up & Properly Clamp The Workpiece
Next, place your workpiece on the bench. It is usually best to position your material on the edge of the workbench instead of in its middle. This way, you can move both the workpiece and jigsaw if you need to do so while you cut. This particular trick can go a long way in helping you achieve an accurate cutout.
Also, you will need to clamp the board to the workbench. In most cases, you may need only two clamps. But don’t hesitate to add more if you need them. Clamping your workpiece will ensure it does not move around while you cut the curve, thereby disrupting your workflow.
Step 7: Mark Out the Curve
We cannot overemphasize the importance of this step. Without markings on your workpiece to guard you, you’re more prone to making mistakes. Therefore, never assume that you can without marking out your curve or even straight lines.
You may use a carpenter’s pencil or a maker to map out the path of your curve. But, make sure the lines you create are evident and accurate. Also, ensure that your lines’ width is not wider than the blade’s, as this may become confusing.
Step 8: Making the Cut
Once you’ve done all the above, you are now ready to start cutting the curve. However, depending on the position of your curve, they are steps you must follow.
Curves at the Edges
Edge cuts are typically the more straightforward task. Here’s how to do it.
- Move the jigsaw close to the point you wish to start your cut. But, don’t place it directly against your starting point.
- Next, turn on the jigsaw and make sure it is at its lowest speed. Then, move it up to your starting line and slowly begin the cut.
- Then, as the cut progresses, press the blade into the wood and gradually increase the blade’s speed (Note it should not be too fast).
- While cutting, make sure the base of your jigsaw rests comfortably on top of the material you’re cutting. This way, it can easily slide along as your progress on the curve.
- Finally, guide the blade along the line you have mapped out until you reach the end.
Circular or Internal Cuts
Now, these are less straightforward. But, with the right tips, you can achieve such cuts without any hassle.
- By now, you should have marked out the circle or curve you’ll be cutting. So, using a drilling machine, make a hole inside the circle or on the waste part of your workpiece.
- The hole you make should be larger than the width of the jigsaw blade. Also, it must be big enough to allow a 360 degrees turn.
- Next, insert your saw blade into the hole you have just made.
- Once you’ve done that, turn on your jigsaw and then cut to the perimeter (edge) of your circle.
- Finally, guide your jigsaw to cut through the markings of your circle or curves.
Additional Tips for Making A Perfect Curve Cut with Jigsaw
Before using the jigsaw to cut curves, it will be best to know certain essential factors that could help you properly use it. Below are these crucial factors to consider:
Use Higher RPM Jigsaw
When cutting curves using a jigsaw, the first thing you need is a jigsaw. You can use any jigsaw model for this purpose. Nevertheless, it will be best to use a higher RPM jigsaw. Besides, you would need a jigsaw that features variable speed trigger options, allowing better cutting process control. You might not need orbital action for this purpose.
Use Scrolling Blade
The scrolling blades are the ideal jigsaw blade for cutting curves. These blades come with slim profile and offer sufficient flexibility. With these features, you can easily cut curves and remain faithful in following the cut lines compared to when using thicker and stiffer saw blades. Besides, with scrolling blades, you can alter the cut’s direction without worrying much about the saw blade snapping.
The quality of cuts and the level of safety when using the jigsaw will often depend on your saw blade selection. Therefore, choosing the right saw blade for your jigsaw at the onset will be best. Your choice will hinge on the wood type you will cut, whether it is hardwood, softwood, panel, board, etc.
Your choice of the saw blade will also depend on the shape you intend to cut. The best jigsaw blade, of course, for cutting tight corners or curves is the scrolling blade because it is thin and long.
Make Precise Cutline
The problem with inaccurate cuts usually stems from inaccurate cutline. So, it will be best if you mark your workpiece precisely. It will also help to use a compass, ruler, or pencil to create the perfect cutline as your guide. Without a perfect cutline, you can never expect an ideal cut.
Cut Outside the Line
When cutting along the cutline, you should make it a habit to cut outside the line. In this way, you will avoid destroying or damaging your board. Once done with cutting, you can use a sander to remove the excess wood and make a smooth curve.
Focus on the Blade
When cutting, you should not be listless or fidgety. Instead, you should focus more on the saw blade and follow the blade’s movement as it winds along the curved cutline.
Drill a Hole If You Will Make a Cutout
If you make a cutout, you can’t just cut from the edges of the workpiece, for that would ruin your workpiece. Instead, it will help to drill a hole along the marked line. Then, plunge cut the jigsaw blade along that hole to start making a cutout.
Hold and Guide the Jigsaw
When cutting curves using a jigsaw, you should guide the saw properly. Keep your hands just above the saw blade to keep the saw blade in the precise spot. Ensure that you grip the jigsaw handle firmly likewise.
Clamped the Workpiece Securely
When cutting curves using the jigsaw, any inordinate movement of the workpiece will ruin your cut. Hence, it is necessary to clamp the workpiece firmly to ensure it will not move while you move the jigsaw.
Why Do I Have Trouble Seeing the Cutline When I Cut Curves in Walnut?
When cutting walnut, for example, it will be best to apply masking tape to the workpiece. Then, draw the cutline or profile on that masking tape. In this way, you will better see your cutline as well as prevent the jigsaw base from damaging your workpiece’s surface. Furthermore, the masking tape will help prevent chipping when cutting plywood using the jigsaw.
How Can I Cut Tight Turns with Ease Using My Jigsaw?
When cutting tight turns, using a narrower jigsaw blade will be best. However, you can also make relief cuts running from the board’s edge to the curve’s edge. Relief cuts allow the waste or scraps to fall off in small sections rather than in a single chunk of scrap wood. When using this method, your blade will have sufficient elbow room for tight turns.
Hopefully, this article on how to cut a curve with a jigsaw will help you achieve your desired results. Always remember, mastering the principles of cutting curves with a jigsaw is not an impossible task. However, your first few trials may not be perfect. But, with practice, you’ll be cutting curves like a pro in time. Just take it slow and keep the pressure on!
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.