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Small, nimble and portable, a jigsaw is an indispensable tool in any DIY inventory. Most of us are familiar with it for its ability to cut simple shapes in wood, but it can do a lot more than that. We’ll take a look at some of those after we get an idea of what it is and how it works.
While jigsaws are most commonly thought of as tools that cut wood, and they do perform best making cuts in softer wood, they can cut lots of things and help you finish jobs you didn’t think they had any application for.
A key part of that is having the right blade. Your jigsaw can cut metal, fiberglass, drywall, laminate, and tile, but you need to get the right blade for that. When buying jigsaw blades, check the packaging to make sure they are suitable for your intended use.
Let’s look at some of the reasons you’d want to cut these materials.
Jigsaws are intended to cut wood, especially softwood. Because their blades are thin, they’re perfect for cutting curves, and they’re usually associated with woodworking projects.
There is a lot more they can do when it comes to cutting wood, however. You can use them for cutting holes in countertops, and some of them even come with angling so you can use them to make beveled cuts.
With the right kind of blade and set to one of the faster settings, a jigsaw is an ideal way to cut and shape tile. It can cut quick, precise angles and curves that would otherwise require a much larger, more expensive specialty saw.
It might sound strange, but a jigsaw is actually the recommended way to cut sheet metal. The reason for that is that it’s more accurate than metal shears and less dangerous than using a cutting torch. Once you’re done, use sandpaper to smooth down the edges. Those will be capable of snagging and cutting your skin.
If you do this, you’ll need to lay the metal over the top of a piece of wood you don’t mind cutting. Depending on how it’s going to work, we recommend either taping or stapling it in place so it doesn’t move while you’re cutting.
A jigsaw is a perfect way to make the curved cuts required when installing laminate flooring. It’s thin enough to get the saw’s blade through and isn’t so dense as to overpower it. Most of the time, you’ll want to cut with the bottom facing up in case the saw creates chips. With a specialty blade and some skill, you can use your jigsaw on the laminate’s face.
You can use a utility knife and change the blade a hundred times trying to install carpet, or you can take measurements, flip the carpet over, draw a pattern matching the shape and size you need, and use your jigsaw. If you do this, we recommend that you go slow and keep an eye on your blade. You might still need to change it several times, but at least it’ll save considerable strain on your wrist.
You didn’t actually think your neighbors carved the face of that dead celebrity on their Jack O’ Lantern using a knife and imagination, did you? They used a pattern they drew out ahead of time and a jigsaw to cut it out. These make short work out of tough pumpkin rind and let you carve intricate designs to wow Trick or Treaters … or at least the kid who comes to smash it on the street.
Although it looks like a small saw intended to cut curves in light wood, a jigsaw is a much more versatile tool. It’s portable, lightweight, and can apply enough power to cut most things, especially if you have blades intended for that kind of work.