Whether you are engaged in flooring, roofing, wall framing, making boxes, and many other woodworking tasks, you will indeed find the jigsaw a convenient tool to use. The jigsaw can cut lumber, metal, plywood, plexiglass, and other types of plastic. It can also cut circles and curves. Moreover, it can easily cut non-standard patterns, which you can’t do using the circular saw.
The jigsaw, however, comes with an obvious limitation. It can only cut up materials within a specific range of thickness. Generally, with the jigsaw, you can cut softwood as thick as 1-1/2 inches and hardwood with a maximum thickness of 3/4 inch. Yet, you can expect the jigsaw blade to bend if you force it to cut thicker boards resulting in a beveled edge. If you intend to cut harder and thicker wood, you might use a band saw instead.
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The Recommended Depth for a Jigsaw
As you use many jigsaws, you will notice that jigsaw blades mostly come in 4 inches (length), but its workable length is 3 inches only. Hence, many newbies would get tempted to use the jigsaw to cut thicker wood pieces. Yet, it will be good to avoid from using it on thicker wood pieces. Moreover, you should also look for longer blades, especially when dealing with thicker materials.
Once you attach the blade to the saw, you will have a usable blade length of around three inches. Many experts usually determine the thickness of wood they could cut with the jigsaw by subtracting an inch to the saw blade’s total length. After subtracting an inch, they get the effective length of the jigsaw blade.
But to be very effective, you should at least cut wood that is one inch thinner than the effective length of the jigsaw blade. In this way, you give the jigsaw blade enough elbow room to keep it from breaking or jamming. It also lets the jigsaw blade expel sawdust efficiently.
Essential Factors to Consider When Choosing a Jigsaw Blade Length
Jigsaw blades come in different lengths, and it will be best to choose the best length for the needed cuts. So, to figure out which saw blade length is perfect for your needs, it will be best to be cognizant of the following important factors to consider when choosing jigsaw blade length:
Thickness of the Wood
If you want to cut thicker woods, it will help if you consider the TPI (teeth per inch) of the jigsaw blade. It will be best to choose a jigsaw blade with fewer teeth if you cut thicker wood. The reason is that with fewer teeth, there will be more space in-between teeth, allowing the saw blade to clear more material.
You should also set the jigsaw at a slower speed when cutting thicker materials. You can slow down the feed rate by pushing the jigsaw slowly. Nevertheless, some inexpensive jigsaws will not permit you to adjust its speed, though the good ones will let you have perfect control of cutting speed.
Are You Making Curved or Straight Cuts?
This question is crucial to aske when choosing a jigsaw blade because the size and length of the saw blade will be a factor when making straight and curved cuts. It will be best to choose wider jigsaw blades if you make straight cuts, especially if the cuts are long.
However, if you intend to make curved cuts, a narrow jigsaw blade is perfect, allowing you to wiggle your way through your curved cut lines.
When cutting a material using a jigsaw, it will help if you consider the jigsaw blade length. The reason is that you can only cut material according to the length of the jigsaw blade, subtracting 1 inch. You can’t cut wood with thickness longer than the jigsaw blade. So, make sure that you check on this before you cut any material.
Another factor to consider is the wood type. The wood type will factor well in your choice of the jigsaw blade. The reason is that the harder wood is more difficult to cut because the rubbing of the grain and the jigsaw blade will cause more friction than when you are cutting softwood. On the other hand, the softer the wood, the thicker you can cut using the jigsaw.
Moreover, it will be best to remember that the jigsaw may not be the ideal saw to use when cutting hardwood, though it can work fine as long as you cut slowly. With thicker wood, it will be best to go slow not to break the saw blade.
Another factor you must consider is the power of the jigsaw motor. As mentioned above, jigsaws come in different brands and models, and you can buy cheaper jigsaws. If you’ve purchased an inexpensive cordless jigsaw, you may find its motor less powerful. It may also struggle to cut certain wood types. So, it will be best to buy something with a powerful motor so as not to have problems when making more challenging cuts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Aside from knowing the crucial factors to consider when cutting using a jigsaw, it will also help if you are mindful of the frequently asked questions about the use of the jigsaw. These questions may also be the ones you have in mind at present:
Can I Cut a 2×4 with a Jigsaw?
Yes, you may cut 2x4s using a jigsaw. But it will indeed be a challenge. To cut consistently, you need to minimize the drift and flexing. If you are inexperienced in using a jigsaw, you may end up with a beveled cut as the saw exit the wood.
As mentioned above, the jigsaw can make straight and curved cuts. So, you can use the jigsaw for cutting 2x4s and other materials. The deepest that you can cut using a jigsaw is up to six inches. So, you can indeed cut a 2×4 using a jigsaw.
Can I Cut 4x4s with a Jigsaw?
The maximum depth that a jigsaw can cut is 1-1/2 inches. Thus, the 4×4 is beyond the maximum-depth capacity of the jigsaw blade. For this reason, it’s not advisable to cut a 4×4 using a jigsaw. Nevertheless, there are specialty jigsaw blades that are 5-1/4-inch long. These blades are capable of cutting wood up to 3-1/2”-thick wood.
However, the motor may bog down if you force the issue. It will be good to note that most jigsaw motors are not powerful enough to allow you to cut through excessively thick material. You might end up with a bent blade or beveled cut if you force the issue.
So, if you are aiming for a quality cut, you might be in for some frustrations. You can use instead a miter saw or a radial saw for cutting thicker materials. A circular saw or a reciprocating saw may also come out better for cutting thicker materials.
A jigsaw is a fantastic tool that you can use for many cutting applications. It is also called the saber saw. As a tool, it is excellent for cutting curves and other irregular shapes. It is also great for framing and cutting notches. Moreover, it works well when cutting circles. Jigsaws may come in two types, depending on how you would grip it. Some have a top grip, while others have a barrel grip that positions your hand behind the motor.
Your choice, however, would depend on your feel and your preference. Your choice of jigsaw blade, moreover, is critical to the success of your cutting job. So, at the onset, it’ll be best to ask yourself why you are cutting and what you are cutting. Besides, you should be mindful of the abovementioned tips when choosing a jigsaw blade to zero in on the ideal jigsaw blade for a cutting job.
Liam is a 37-year-old woodworker and interior designer who loves to make every furniture project an art piece. He is very experienced in furniture design and woodworking project planning.