Ryobi 18V Cordless Jigsaw/ Sawzall Hack (Defeating the Safety Switch)




If you use tools frequently you may get frustrated with the safety switches, particularly those that you have to activate before you can pull the trigger of the tool. I know that they are well intentioned, but the fact is that I often feel less safe having to try and twist and cock my hand a certain way to be able to hold the safety switch and pull the trigger of the tool. I have several Ryobi cordless tools, and they use a similar safety switch among them which is thankfully easy to defeat without changing the switch operation of the tool at all aside from removing the (un)safety switch. You could simply remove it, but it helps keep out dust and grime from the tool, so I trimmed it and put it back in. It is not a terribly involved process, and as long as you understand that your tool, like all those before tools had safety switches, will come on when you pull the trigger (isn't that the way they were meant to work after all?) then this instructable is for you.

Step 1: Disassembling the Jigsaw

For this particular instructable, I am showing a Ryobi cordless jigsaw, but I defeated the safety switch on my cordless sawzall (reciprocating saw), too, and they are nearly identical procedurally, so this will cover both of those and maybe more.
First, you need to remove the front cover on the jigsaw by prying it off one side and unwrapping it. There is just a post on each side that goes into the body of the saw to hold it on. Hopefully it goes without saying that you need to remove the battery from the tool before proceeding any further- if this is a revelation, you may really want to reconsider this instructable. Then all you need to do is unscrew the two halves of the saw case with a Phillips head screwdriver. Carefully pull the halves apart and make sure to keep track of all the screws- I'm pretty sure all of mine stayed in the body when I lifted it out. On the jigsaw the door for the blade store will come out and has to be put back in when you put the saw body halves together again as it is only held in place by the two halves being mounted together.
You will see the safety switch resting above the tool trigger switch, and it will simply lift out of the tool. If you look at the back of the switch you will see that it has a ridge in the middle that is right in front of a ridge on the safety switch, and that to each side of that on the switch there are pockets. The pockets let you move the safety switch to either side, depress the trigger and the ridge on the safety switch will go into the pocket. Without the ridge on the safety switch in place, the trigger can be pulled at any time with no interference, and since the safety switch is very simply removed we will remove it, and then remove the ridge from it. Also note what part of the switch would need to be removed to gain clearance above the trigger.

Step 2: Modifying the Safety Switch

With the safety switch out of the tool, you can use a rotary tool like a Dremel (I like the Black and Decker MTX because it works with all of Dremels tools and has a lot of torque) or if you wanted to use a coping saw or other tool of your choice the sky is the limit- you just need something that will cut through the plastic switch. I used my Dremel copy with a grinding stone because it was handy. A sanding drum or other grinding type wheel should work just fine. in a perfect world I probably would have used a vice to hold the switch, but since were talking about removing a safety switch I dont feel badly telling you that I hand-held it while using my Dremel copy. You can see the shape that resulted- I took a tiny bit more off than absolutely necessary because I wanted to give it a pleasing curve, but that is just anal retentive, especially since that part of the switch will no longer be seen once the tool is reassembled.

Step 3: Reassembly

Once the material has been removed from the safety switch, it can go back in the tool. Just set it back in the tool body. You need to reinstall the jigsaw storage blade door also, which should be the only point of possible difficulty since it has to line up with both halves of the body. Otherwise, once the two halves of the body are lined up, tighten all of the screws back down and the tool is ready to try out. You can see in the picture that there is now clearance between the trigger switch and the safety switch. It maintains the original look of the saw, but the function, in my opinion anyway, is vastly improved and safer than it was with the (un)safety switch intact.



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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I just jammed toothpicks in with pliers, lite little tiny shims. Yes, they may work their way into the saw. If it becomes a problem, that will be when I open it up and work in the inside. For now, this works. And you can hardly see it.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    That works!

    I just wanted something permanent and it was simple enough (pretty sure it took more time to make the Instructable than it did to do the modification : )


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Putting a screw in would be simpler and quicker, but the total time was less than ten minutes and I try to keep my tools in a like-new condition. A screw sticking into my tool looks like, well, not like I want my tools to look. The Instructable took longer than did the modification by far : P


    I simply removed the "safety" bit from my string trimmer, recipro saw, chain saw, and hedge trimmer. In each case I observed that there really wasn't a path from the holes to any moving parts except the switch itself, and if necessary I can now return the "safety" bits to the tools, making them "like new" again.

    If I had wanted to go to the trouble, I would have put something in there to seal the holes.

    One thing I found handy on several of them was to tape the trigger pull in place in order to reassemble.

    And I agree, these devices in most cases make the tool harder to use and less safe.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Ironically, the one Ryobi cordless tool that I wish had a safety doesn't have one. I have the rotary tool, and I've had it come on just putting the battery in because the on/off switch slides rather easily and I'd say dangerously. Even if I put the battery in and the tool doesn't startlingly come on, it often comes on when I simply pick it up.

    Oh well.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I use a similar solution for my (cordless Ryobi) skil saw. A screw of just the right length (no more than 1") inserted at the right position (with the shield at its furthest point of retraction, slightly further than it normally goes when pushed by the material) and depth (deep enough to hold on tight but not so deep that it runs into the blade) allows you to retract the safety shield and keep it out of the way when working with thin or easily scratched materials like sheet metal (with a metal cutting blade installed, of course). And then you can easily lift the lever on the safety shield right over the screw to allow it to operate normally again. I need to remember to make an instructable of this...


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I have a circular saw with one of those stupid "safety" switches. I just jambed it with a wooden wedge myself.