Introduction: 5 Main Things for Faster & Cleaner Cuts W/ Jigsaw / Jigsaw-Table (DIY BASICS)
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.
- Jigsaw https://amzn.to/2rg4uXx
- Router https://amzn.to/2DVXXZC
- Blades on my jigsaw table https://bit.ly/32b8Lhc
- Similar big blades https://amzn.to/3e2JeMF
Main Components & Materials:
- Plywood https://amzn.to/2R1IsVL
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:
- Sharp blade
- Blade with bigger teeth
- Zero clearance insert or a shoe for a jigsaw
- Max jigsaw speed with orbital setting set to 1 or 2
- Moderate feed rate without forcing the workpiece or the jigsaw itself
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