Best Jigsaw Blade For Wood, Metal, And More!
Jig saw blades are used to cut wood or other materials. They come in various shapes and sizes.
Some of them have sharp edges which may cause cuts if not handled carefully. Other kinds of blades are made from softer material such as plastic or even glass. These blades are less likely to cause cuts than those made from harder material.
The most common type of blade is the one with a straight edge, called a “straight” blade. There are many different types of these blades, but they all have two main features:
They’re usually square-shaped (or oval) and They’re usually sharpened at both ends so that when you push down on either end, it will cut through the material.
There are several types of blades, including:
Square-Shaped Blades – These blades are often rectangular in shape. They’re made from a single piece of material.
The top and bottom sides are joined together, while the middle section is flat. Most commonly found on tablesaw and router table saws.
Hollow Ground Blades – They are typically made from a piece of flat metal that is bent into a square- or diamond-shape. They consist of a thin blade with a hollow in the middle that removes material on both sides to thin it out.
Skip Tooth Blades – They have the appearance of a saw blade, but they don’t have any set pattern. The spaces between teeth are larger than the teeth.
This allows them to cut through softer materials without clogging.
Rip vs. Crosscut Teeth – These blades have either a set number of teeth (typically 10 per inch for softwoods, and 14 tpi for hardwoods) or they have a ratio (e.g.
24 teeth per inch). The number refers to how many teeth there are in an inch. The larger the number, the more wood the blade can remove with each pass.
Coarse vs. Fine Teeth – If you look really closely at a blade, you might notice that the teeth are either angled or slanted.
The smaller the angle (or slant), the smoother and cleaner the cut will be on the finished product. For example, cutting a 2×4 would be faster with coarse teeth, while cutting soft pine would be more efficient with fine teeth.
Alignment vs Uni-Directional Teeth – When you look at a blade, some of them have teeth that are designed to cut in only one direction. Others have teeth that are designed to be able to slide in either direction (unidirectional).
The most important aspect of the tooth design is the size. The larger the tooth, the larger the kerf (the width of the cut), which means there’s less material being removed with each pass.
This is beneficial if you want to avoid burning the edge of the workpiece.
The other important aspect of a tooth design is how sharp the tooth is. The sharper the tooth, the smoother and cleaner the finished cut will be on your material.
These are just some of the most common types of blades you’ll come across in your jig saw adventures. You can find more information about each type of blade here.
There are two main types of blades: abrasive and ballistic. Abrasive blades are the ones with teeth (obviously), and they’re either made out of glass, ceramic or tungsten carbide.
These materials are used to form the teeth.
The big difference is that glass and ceramic blades can be used to cut through multiple types of material, while tungsten carbide can only be used on harder materials.
Ballistic blades are different. These blades use small metal spheres to do the cutting for you.
The design is similar to chainsaws, and they can only be used on softer materials like wood or plastic.
Jig saws come with a range of discs sizes. The most common are the 4-3/4 inch size, the 6 inch size and the 8-1/2 inch size.
The larger discs are obviously faster and give you more cutting power. They also do less work when it comes to cutting through large sections of material.
However, they can be difficult to control.
Smaller discs let you work in tighter areas and give you better control. They’re ideal for working with detailed designs.
These tools can get pretty loud while they’re running. If you’re using one inside, you might want to wear ear protection.
A Quick Note About Safety
Before we get too far into this, I should mention that these things come with a lot of safety warnings for good reason. These saws can throw pieces of wood at you, so be sure to wear eye protection.
They can also kick back, meaning the motor might suddenly work in the opposite direction if you put a bind on it (for example, if you try to cut through something that’s too thick). Kickback could send the saw flying back towards your hand, which could lead to some serious injury.
Make sure you read and understand the safety information that comes with your saw before using it.
Alright, now let’s have some fun!
How To Choose A Jig Saw
When it comes to choosing the right jigsaw for you and your projects, there are a few things you should look out for.
Power Source – The first thing you need to decide is whether or not you want an electric jigsaw, or a cordless one. As you might expect, cordless models run off of batteries and are a lot lighter than their electric counterparts.
They also tend to be a bit noisier and aren’t quite as powerful, but there are some high-end models that can rival their electric cousins.
Electric jigsaws on the other hand tend to be a little cheaper, a lot quieter and a bit easier to work with. Just make sure you have a long enough extension cord so you don’t kick it or accidentally slice it while you’re working.
Blades – You usually get what you pay for with blades. The cheaper blades tend to get dull after just a few projects, but higher quality ones will serve you well for years.
You usually have a choice between carbon steel and stainless steel blades. Carbon steel blades are typically cheaper, but they require more maintenance, as they tend to rust if you don’t clean them immediately after use.
Stainless steel blades will keep their edge a lot longer, but they’re also more expensive.
Special Features – There are a few special features you might want to look for in a jigsaw. For example, lighter models are better for overhead work since you’ll have less arm strain.
Models with bigger batteries tend to have longer run times.
Another feature you might want to look for is whether or not the blades have a shield covering the tip. This will prevent wood pieces or other debris from getting lodged behind the blade and causing it to twist while it’s cutting.
Tips For Using A Jig Saw
Jigsaw blades tend to cut on the pull stroke rather than the push stroke you might be used to with other power saws. The general rule is to keep the blade as tight against the wood as possible without it actually touching.
Any space could allow the blade to catch and kick back toward your body.
Cut slow and take your time when making a cut to get the best results. Wear ear protection since these tools are pretty loud.
It’s best to clamp the wood you’re cutting into place so it doesn’t move around while you’re making your cut. This will also prevent the piece you’re cutting from splitting or chipping out too far.
If what you’re cutting has an obvious top and bottom (like a tabletop), it’s best to cut from the bottom up to prevent splintering.
Be sure to use a fresh blade when making a cut. If the blade is dull, it could catch or get stuck in the wood and kick back towards you.
Don’t apply to much pressure when making a cut. Cutting forces are supposed to be applied by the blade, not by you.
If you’re finding that you have to push down forcefully to make a cut, it’s an indication that the saw isn’t powerful enough for the material you’re working with.
Be sure to wear safety gear! This should go without saying, but in addition to ear protection, you should also wear safety glasses and a face shield.
Jigsaw blades can sometimes (mainly due to shipping accidents) have their edges chip or crack. These are still fairly sharp though and can cause serious injury if used anyway, so they should always be placed in a special container for disposal.
Just because a blade is in this container, it doesn’t mean you should ignore the possibility of a cracked or chipped blade.
Never try to remove a jammed blade by hand. These blades are spinning at around 30,000 RPM and even if you think it’s not moving at all, it can easily cause a nasty injury.
Always use the tool’s ejection button or red button to release the blade.
Don’t over tighten the blade when trying to prevent it from moving. On some models, there is a screw that goes through the top of the blade that holds it in place.
Over tightening this screw can cause the blade to crack or even break. Just snug it down good and get rid of any unnecessary play, but don’t go overboard.
For maximum safety, wear protective gloves whenever you’re working on a project. This might not be absolutely necessary for every job, but if you’re going to be doing a lot of work with your jigsaw or other power tools, a good pair of work gloves will help protect your hands from accidental nicks and cuts.
There are a lot of different jigsaws on the market, so you’ll have to decide which one will work best for you. I like the DeWalt models because they are of good quality and durable.
The key feature to look for is one with a strong motor that can take on a wide variety of projects. Your wood pieces should be no thicker than what the maximum cutting depth of the blades is.
If you’re a professional and plan on doing a lot of work, look for a durable metal jigsaw like the Milwaukee 6955-20. While these cost a bit more than the plastic bodied ones, they are better for tough jobs as the plastic ones tend to melt or break when working with materials like hardwoods.
Whatever you do, DO NOT buy one of the cheap $20 plastic battery operated ones from a grocery store. They are very unreliable and will most likely break within a few months.
If you’re a hobbyist or amateur that doesn’t do a lot of this type of work, save yourself some money and get a plastic bodied jigsaw like the Black & Decker JS6C. While these only have a 1.3 amp motor, it’s still powerful enough for most of the work you’ll do.
These tools can be dangerous, so please be careful when using them. Even if you’re experienced, accidents can happen if you don’t use the proper safety gear.
Safety Glasses – Also known as eye protection, you can get a pair at most any hardware or home improvement store.
Ear Protection – These are essential if you plan on using these tools a lot. Even with the ear protection, you’re still likely to damage your hearing if you use these tools everyday.
Respirator – This is only necessary if you’re cutting a lot of plywood or working with certain wood types. These create a barrier so the dust doesn’t go directly into your lungs.
You can pick one up at most hardware stores and home improvement stores.
When working with wood, you’ll need some other types of accessories to complete your project. While these aren’t as important as the saw itself, they will help to make your job a lot easier.
Masking Tape – This is a cheap and easy way to mark out where you will be cutting. It’s easier to mark your lines with this rather than trying to draw them in with a pencil.
Pencil – While masking tape is easier, sometimes you just need a good old pencil for those more intricate cuts.
Chalk Line – This is handy if you need to make exact measurements. Just snap it along the edge and it will create a line of chalk which you can easily see and line up your saw.
Clamps – These are essential when gluing two pieces of wood together. Any bar clamps will work, but these are by far the most popular choice.
Wood Glue – Wood glue is essential for any woodworking project as it helps to bind the pieces together stronger than the wood itself.
Safety Goggles – If you’re using a jigsaw to cut anything, these are essential. The fine wood dust that gets kicked up can cause major irritation to your eyes if you don’t protect them.
Safety Gloves – You don’t want to risk getting a splinter or any type of cut when cutting wood. Protect your hands with a good pair of work gloves.
Strut – This is called strut because it looks like the metal bars you see holding up the front end of cars. You use this to keep the joints you create from breaking.
It can be bought at most hardware stores and home improvement stores.
Work Mat – When cutting or drilling wood, you’re going to create a lot of saw dust. You don’t want this going all over the place so it’s best to place down a large work mat to catch it.
Cordless Drill – This isn’t an essential tool, but they do make building a lot easier. You can use one to drive in screws or bolts or even drill holes.
Just make sure to keep them charged and don’t forget the charger!
So What’s Next?
Once you have everything you need, it’s time to put all these skills to use. The next step is to head on over to the tutorial and start building your very own working pipes caddy for all your smoking needs!
Sources & references used in this article:
- Compass saw for cutting workpieces of wood, plastics and metal (P Maier, G Hansel, R Henzler, H Walter… – US Patent …, 1987 – Google Patents)
- Self-aligning anti-splintering insert for shoe of jig saw (GW Mccarty – US Patent 2,996,089, 1961 – Google Patents)
- DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION AND PERFORMANCE TEST ON JIGSAW MACHINE (S Paul – 2018 – academia.edu)
- Jig saw (LV Naslund – US Patent 3,236,111, 1966 – Google Patents)
- Apparatus for variably controlling work feed rate for cutting wood, metal and other materials (HR Smith – US Patent 6,701,816, 2004 – Google Patents)
- Apparatus for variably controlling work feed rate for cutting wood, metal and other materials (HR Smith – US Patent 6,378,408, 2002 – Google Patents)
- Tapered sabre saw blade (PE Lou, JJF Ewig – US Patent 3,111,970, 1963 – Google Patents)
- Jigsaw blade (BL Bucks – US Patent 9,364,907, 2016 – Google Patents)