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Make cleaner jigsaw cuts

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The road from Splinterville starts at the blade

The road from Splinterville starts at the blade

Choose the right tooth count for the cuts you make. Blades with aggressive 6-tooth-per-inch (tpi) designs work great for sawing construction lumber, but cut too coarsely for woodworking project parts. Instead, select a 10- to 12-tpi blade for larger, gradual curves, or a 20-tpi blade for tight curves (1" radius or less) in solid wood and all cuts in plywood or melamine-coated particleboard.

Beyond tooth count, also consider the blade design. For decades, jigsaw-blade teeth were "set," alternately leaning left and right, as shown in chart left. This makes them cut coolly and quickly, but at the expense of cut quality.

To remedy this, several manufacturers now make blades with ground, inline teeth, as shown chart, far right, that slice the wood like a surgical scalpel rather than bluntly tear at it. This produces much cleaner cuts. For this reason, in the WOOD® magazine shop we use Bosch Clean-For-Wood and Xtra-Clean-For-Wood blades. Just be aware that these blades can burn your wood if you set the jigsaw's speed too fast or feed the saw through the wood too slowly. Our best advice: Practice on scrap of the same species to find the best combination of speed and feed rate.

Finally, remember that jigsaw blades cost a fraction of the material you're cutting. So know when to call it quits on a blade. If a blade begins to burn the wood or tear out surface fibers where it didn't used to, or if it requires greater effort to push through a cut, chuck it and get a new one.


Continued on page 2:  U-shank blades

 

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