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How to Use a Jigsaw for Woodworking

Learn how to use a jigsaw hand tool in this woodworking tools video from Howcast with Makeville Studio.


If you don't have access to a whole workshop of woodworking machinery like we do here, you can still get a lot done with some handheld power tools. And I've got two of those right here. One is called a jigsaw, and the other is a handheld circular saw.

First, let's look at the jigsaw. The purpose of the jigsaw is to cut out curved shapes, and that's why it has a narrow blade. This narrow blade moves in an up and down motion cutting on the upstroke, and that's why the blades are shaped the way they are, with the teeth facing up. And you can put a variety of different blades in these tools. This one is a coarse blade for doing very aggressive rough cutting of thick wood. And you can put in finer blades when you're working on materials like plywood. If you have veneer on the face of that plywood, you don't want to use the rough cut. It'll just get torn out.

Now on my jigsaw I have a couple different settings and they're all different depending on the manufacturer. But there's some different speed settings, depending on what you're doing. And my fence down here is adjustable. You can bevel this table and put it on an angle.

Now what I thought I would do is, we would just do a quick demo to show you how to hold the jigsaw when you're working, how to safely position it and make a cut through a piece of plywood. We'll just do a curve, just demonstrate how that works.

To safely position the jigsaw on your workpiece, you have to be making contact with the base plate. And if you're not, if you're tipped off and angled in either direction, it's going to catch on the blade and bounce around and feel very unstable, and also not give you a good cut.

So at the beginning of the cut, this is really challenging. You don't have a lot of base plate to balance on, so you really have to focus on keeping this tool level, until you get into the cut and can get on the rest of the base plate. So let's try and keep the base level.

OK. That worked out pretty well. Now one thing you also have to keep in mind when you're cutting is positioning your clamps. I almost ran into my clamp there. And these have to be kept out of the way of your work as you're moving along.

The workpiece really does have to be held down very securely though in order for the jigsaw to do it's job. It will bounce around on you if it's not. Never freehand these, in that you're holding the wood with your hand. Always clamp down.

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