5 Main Things for Faster & Cleaner Cuts W/ Jigsaw / Jigsaw-Table (DIY BASICS)

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Introduction: 5 Main Things for Faster & Cleaner Cuts W/ Jigsaw / Jigsaw-Table (DIY BASICS)

About: I am an all-around DIY enthusiast that combines core skills from different fields like woodworking, electronics, 3D printing, and more to make all kinds of thoughtful projects.

If you used a jigsaw or have it integrated into a table, you probably encountered the problem of tear-out. This especially is a big concern on plywood if you are cutting the piece across of the top layer grain. But there are 5 main things that when combined will give you the fastest and cleanest cuts.

A viewer asked how I get such nice and clean cuts with a jigsaw. Well, this instructable/video explains everything in a quick and simple manner. I hope this information helps everyone to get those nice-looking cuts.

Provided Amazon links are affiliates.

Main Tools:

Main Components & Materials:

Step 1: The Blade Sharpness

The first one is pretty obvious. It is the blade sharpness. To know if it is sharp there is an easy trick. If the blade doesn’t bite to your skin and doesn’t want to stick up – the blade is dull. This will result in a rougher and longer cut.

It overheats very quickly as you basically get more rubbing than cutting. And as heat is a huge enemy for blade sharpness longevity, this blade will become unusable very fast. Not to mention that it can leave burn marks on a workpiece.

So the absolute first thing that you want is a sharp blade.

Step 2: The Blade Types

However, even if you have a sharp blade it can still result in a rough cut. This is where the second thing comes in – the blade types. Thinner blades with high tooth count will result in higher quality cuts than thicker blades with fewer and bigger teeth.

Blades designed for clean cuts are great for cutting smaller pieces, but if you want to do long cuts the blade can overheat quickly, and of course, heat leads to premature wear. Not only that, but the cut will take way longer compared to the low teeth count blade.

But can we have the best from both worlds? Well, actually we kinda can.

Step 3: The Zero Clearance

So, the third thing that will get you a big improvement in cut quality is some sort of zero clearance insert. To make it on a jigsaw table you can even 3D print it to perfectly fit as I did on my table. But if you want to go with a more traditional way, you can easily route the slot, push the insert and the jigsaw blade will cut a perfect zero clearance path.

And for the jigsaw itself – something like a shoe will work equally well. Some of them even come with replaceable inserts right away. These improvements will eliminate any noticeable tear-out and the cut quality comes very close to the clean-cut blade.

Now you can use a big tooth blade and get no tearout.

Step 4: The Jigsaw Speed / Orbital Action

But there are few more important points, so the fourth is the speed. This includes the speed of the jigsaw and the orbital action of the tool. Basically, the faster the jigsaw blade moves up and down the cleaner, the cut will be. So especially with bigger blades you always want to cut at full speed of a tool. Just remember that more speed = more heat. So for smaller blades, max speed is not always an option.

But nowadays jigsaws have the orbital action function usually with 4 different settings (0, 1, 2, 3). It makes the blade not only go up and down but also slightly forward resulting in a bigger bite. This allows for a way faster cut but at a cost of quality. 0 means the orbital action is off and 3 the orbital action is at maximum effect. As you see, the edges of the pieces will be rougher when using this function (last picture). So it is a balancing act to get faster and cleaner cuts.

On my jigsaw table, I almost always use orbital action. Without it is quite dangerous as you need to push the piece really hard and if your hand will slip, well you know the rest... Even the lowest orbital setting will provide a way quicker straight cut without almost no loss in cut quality (last picture). This of course also applies to all cuts when you using a jigsaw in your hand and not the table.

I use the 1-st setting if the workpiece edge needs to look good and for all other cuts, I lean towards the 2-nd setting as it is a great speed and quality balance.

Step 5: The Feed Rate

And finally the fifth and the last thing is the feed rate. This is how fast you push the workpiece or jigsaw itself when cutting. You can set the orbital function to the max and just plow forcing the workpiece through the blade or a jigsaw through the workpiece. It is a bad idea for safety reasons and you will get noticeably rougher cuts (last photo).

So, the best feed rate is one when you only apply moderate forward motion letting the blade cut at its own pace.

There you go, in my experience, these are the most important things to consider for faster and cleaner cuts. Combining a zero clearance insert, a little bit of orbital action, and a sharp big tooth blade can still result in excellent-looking cuts. I hope this information helps.

Step 6: Thanks for Reading

To sum up, for the fast and clean cuts you want:

  1. Sharp blade
  2. Blade with bigger teeth
  3. Zero clearance insert or a shoe for a jigsaw
  4. Max jigsaw speed with orbital setting set to 1 or 2
  5. Moderate feed rate without forcing the workpiece or the jigsaw itself

If you liked the instructable and you want to support my work you can become a patron. There, you will find post-project updates, 3D models of my projects, and extra DIY stuff. Feel free to leave any questions about this build. Thank you, for reading! Till next time! :)

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    15 Comments

    0
    LarryG7
    LarryG7

    2 months ago on Step 6

    Pretty good instructable.
    This paragraph however is mostly BS.
    quite dangerous BS BS
    push really hard BS
    quite dangerous BS
    all cuts BS

    "...On my jigsaw table, I almost always use orbital action. Without it is quite dangerous as you need to push the piece really hard and if your hand will slip, well you know the rest... Even the lowest orbital setting will provide a way quicker straight cut without almost no loss in cut quality (last picture). This of course also applies to all cuts when you using a jigsaw in your hand and not the table..."

    A jigsaw is a HAND tool that can be adapted to use in a table but is perfectly safe and acceptable when used as intended.

    3
    pguncheon
    pguncheon

    Reply 2 months ago

    All woodworkers have their methods of working and sometimes an iron clad rule may be true for one but not another. I have made close to 100 miles of cuts, both straight and curved, with a barrel grip Bosch "Scintilla" or Jig Saw. I have cut materials from marble to 4" expanded polystyrene, from 1" plexiglas to $500+/sheet book matched Koa plywood, from Baltic birch to OSB and I use the functions of the saw as they are needed. I do NOT use orbital blade motion for everything, and it has not been my experience that if you are using what you consider to be "too much" force to push the material through the blade, that the only solution is increasing the orbital thrust. And I rarely use the orbital action when I'm cutting curves as it tends to bend the blade... especially in thicker materials.

    When I am truly serious about clean cuts with a jigsaw,I turn the work over... jelly side down. If I cannot flip the work over, I run a razor knife and make a shallow cut along the cut line. I then cut with the blade on the waste side of that line.

    0
    maderuyter
    maderuyter

    Reply 7 weeks ago

    A jigsaw is to used to make jigs? Just a joke!

    0
    pguncheon
    pguncheon

    Reply 7 weeks ago

    Usually one uses a violin.

    Back atcha.

    0
    LarryG7
    LarryG7

    Reply 2 months ago

    I'd be willing to bet that the comment "...100 miles of cuts..." is more BS. Did you measure and record each cut? I thought not. I bet you cut a lot of marble with your trusty Bosch!

    You are evidently using the jigsaw for the majority of your cutting. That in itself is not what the saw was intended for and is not what it is good at doing. I don't think I could watch anyone using a jib saw to cut $500 dollar book-matched koa plywood. I'd have to leave the room.

    The jigsaw is not intended to be more than a compromise for straight cuts. Using it for straight cuts is a little like using a claw hammer to hammer metal back into shape.

    I note that in your first post you say, ".On my jigsaw table, I almost always use orbital action.." while in your reply to me you adamantly state that..."I do NOT use orbital blade motion for everything..." One of those is more BS.

    This statement by in your reply to me, "I do NOT use orbital blade motion for everything, and it has not been my experience that if you are using what you consider to be "too much" force to push the material through the blade, that the only solution is increasing the orbital thrust..." I didn't say anything close to saying I consider there to be "too much" force. That was your position.

    I've LIKELY cut well over 10,000 miles of cuts. No BS. But I'm way smarter than to use a jigsaw to do so. I use the correct saw for straight cuts. A jigsaw only when I can't make the cut any other way. A jigsaw is a last worse choice for almost any straight cut.

    0
    dsmith267
    dsmith267

    Reply 2 months ago

    LarryG7: Perhaps you didn't notice that 'pguncheon' is NOT the author of this article. That would be 'DIYPerspective' and his reply would have "author" after his user's name.

    For the record, I totally agree with your statements. I too have been using a Jig Saw (on and off) for over 40 years of woodworking. (It is not my most favorite cutting device.) It has only been recently that the orbital action has been added to Jig Saws. A table-based Jig Saw is similar to a Band Saw...and yet, you don't see ANY Band Saws with an orbital action. 'Nuff said...I'm going to go make some saw dust with my Table Saw.

    0
    pguncheon
    pguncheon

    Reply 2 months ago

    the jig saw I used 45 years ago had variable orbital action. Band saws (and circular saws including table saws for that matter) don't need orbital actionand adding it would not improve anything except perhaps making the saw heavier.

    1
    pguncheon
    pguncheon

    Reply 2 months ago

    Just to be clear, I am not the original author. I am a master scenic carpenter with almost 50 years of experience and I strand by my statements. We each use the tools we have in our own way based on our respective disciplinges. I am not interested in engaging in an argument.

    1
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    Tip 2 months ago

    MASKING TAPE!
    Figure out where you will make your cut. (roughly) Center a piece of MASKING TAPE over the area. Draw your cut line on the tape. Using sharp blade, pressing down on the saw so it is always in good firm contact with the material, make your cut moving no faster than teh saw/blade combination likes. Remove the tape and note the clean edge.

    0
    diyperspective
    diyperspective

    Reply 2 months ago

    If you need to do a lot of cuts, no way you are masking everything. The tape helps a little bit, but it is not even close compared to the zero clearance insert. I just don't play with the tape anymore. But yeah it is a valid bonus tip I guess.

    1
    Th3_Maj0r
    Th3_Maj0r

    2 months ago

    This is a great instructable. I was wondering what the 0-3 setting was (orbital - I understand now) and you had a great demo on testing blade sharpness. Thank you!

    1
    snowf7
    snowf7

    2 months ago

    These tips make sense and will be helpful in the future. Thank-you diyperspective for posting.

    2
    burzurk
    burzurk

    2 months ago

    100% helpful!

    3
    Fotmasta
    Fotmasta

    2 months ago

    All things I’ve wanted to know for years. Thank you.

    4
    Av0wvos
    Av0wvos

    2 months ago

    I like the summary at the end. It's a nice touch I haven't seen many people do here.