The main mission of a jigsaw is to cut curves in wood, and it’s easy to overlook its other abilities. Instead of slaving away with your hacksaw, grab your jigsaw to quickly cut steel, copper or any metal. You can also cut plastics and tougher stuff like ceramic tile and fiber cement siding. The key to success is to match the blade to the material.
Get the Right Saw For You
It’s helpful to think of jigsaws in three categories: For $50 or less, you’ll get a jigsaw that will do its job just fine, but you’ll probably sacrifice features and power. For most DIYers, a saw in the $50 to $100 range is a good choice. It will have some special features and adequate power. Saws that cost over $100 will have large motors and all the best features.
Our favorite features are toolless blade change, toolless base plate bevel and oscillating control. Bonus features include an LED light, a blower to blow away dust, a larger base plate and a speed control dial.
If you’ll be cutting a lot of material that’s 1 in. or thicker, look for a saw with a higher amp rating (listed in the specifications). Smaller saws draw 5 amps or less; larger models go up to 7 amps. Larger motors also add a little “heft” to the saw, which helps cut vibration.
Some jigsaws have handles; some don’t. Many pros like the no-handle “barrel-grip” style. They feel they have better control with their hands closer to the action. Folks with smaller hands often complain about the barrel being too large to grab.
Square the Blade
To get a square-edge cut, the blade has to be perfectly perpendicular to the base. So before you make a cut, make sure the blade isn’t bent. If it is, just toss it or save it for jobs where a clean, square cut isn’t important. With a straight, new blade in the saw, square it up. There’s not a lot of surface area on the base, so a smaller square is easier to work with.