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How Does A Jigsaw Work?

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What is a jigsaw, how does it work, and how do you use it?  Glad ya asked!  Read on and all shall be revealed.

What a jigsaw is

A jigsaw is an electrically powered saw, either corded or battery operated, that drives a narrow, metal blade in a rapid up-and-down motion for cutting through wood, plastics, thin metal, and other materials.  The action of the blade is similar to the needle in a sewing machine.

Jigsaws are handheld power tools that usually weigh somewhere between 3-6 pounds, depending on the manufacturer, make, and model.  They have metal body containing the motor with a handle on top.  Beneath the front part of the body, there is a shaft that extends down to a foot very similar to a sewing machine, with the saw blade extending down below the foot.  The foot usually has an open side facing the front.

How a jigsaw works

An electrical motor turns a shaft connected to a set of what are called “eccentric gears”, gears that have axis’ that are off-center.  They convert the rotary motion of the motor into the up-and-down, or reciprocating motion of the blade, so it can “saw” back-and-forth across the material you’re cutting.

Picture of eccentric gears

Most jigsaws have a variable speed dial or setting on them which can be set from 0 to 3,200 strokes per minute (SPM).  The higher speeds are used for wood, the slower settings are used for plastic and metal.

The foot is placed firmly on the material you’re cutting, with the blade facing forward in the same direction you’re facing.  Because of the angle of the teeth, the blade performs the actual cutting on the upstroke.  Depending on the type of wood you’re using there might be some splintering.  It might be best to turn the material over so the front is laying face down, so if there is any splintering, it will be on the back.

How to use a jigsaw

First of all, never cut any material unless it is firmly clamped in place.  If you try to brace the material only with your hand, the jigsaw will bounce the material around, bounce itself around, and be a danger to you.  You’ll not only put yourself in danger, you’ll wind up with terrible looking cuts that waste time, money, and material.

Once the material is firmly clamped in place, chose which blade to use.  Thicker blades with larger teeth are used for rough cuts.  Thinner blades with smaller teeth are used for fine precise cuts  Put the blade in place with the teeth facing forward.

Now put the “toes” of the foot on the material, making sure the foot is flush against it.  Don’t hold it at any kind of angle.  Once you’re satisfied the foot is flat and flush, squeeze the trigger to activate the blade then slowly move it forward into the material.

A jigsaw is a “freehand” tool, which means you can create curves, angles, and other artistic cuts with it.  Draw a wavy line on the material then follow it slowly with the jigsaw and the result will be a wavy cut along that line.  From there you can branch out and get as fancy as your heart desires.

You might want to insert one or more pictures of a jigsaw being used.  Up to you.