In this edition of our Training the Apprentice series, we’re looking at how to use a jigsaw. The jigsaw, or saber saw, might be one of the most versatile tools you’ll pick up. It can tackle straight cuts, patterns, curves, and plunge cuts, and it can cut through a variety of materials. The jigsaw is simple enough to use that a beginner can make quality cuts safely within minutes of using it. Because the jigsaw is so simple to use, it ought to be a breeze to explain how to use, right? We’ll see if that’s the case. Here’s how to use a jigsaw.

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To use a jigsaw, the first thing you’ll want to do is settle on an appropriate blade for the task at hand. Jigsaws can cut through wood, laminate, metal, and even ceramic tile, but they will need a specific blade designed for cutting through each of these materials. Stick with blades that have been designed for the specific material you plan to work with to get the best cut quality.

Regardless of what material you plan to cut, most blades will be made from either carbon steel or bimetal. They generally come 2″ to 3-1/2″ long, and either 1/4″ wide for tight cutting into or around corners or 3/8″ wide for general purpose cutting. Blades with fewer teeth will cut quicker, while blades with more teeth will make smoother cuts. It varies for different materials as well. Wood cutting blades will have fewer teeth than metal cutting blades, for example.

Pro Tip: Nearly every jigsaw shoe has a no-mar pad covering the metal base plate. You don’t have to worry about messing up that expensive oak you’re making a lazy Susan out of. If your jigsaw’s pad is messed up or missing, give the base a layer of masking tape to keep from scratching or marking up surfaces.

Wood represents one of the more common materials you’ll use a jigsaw to cut. While you could probably learn by doing, going into a project with a few tips might speed up the learning process.

This might seem obvious, but remember to press the shoe (base) against the wood as you cut. It’s what helps you keep the saw stable. You can cut straight lines, or you can cut curves, but keep the shoe on the workpiece.



Cutting metal requires a blade with a greater number of smaller teeth; you’re looking for 21 to 24 teeth per inch. With this blade, you can use your jigsaw to cut up to 10 gauge sheet metal, iron-free pipe (non-ferrous), mild steel, and wood with embedded nails.

Metal cutting chews through blades pretty quickly so keep extras on hand if you have a lot of cuts on your plate. You can extend the life of your blades by using cutting oil to lube up the blade.

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Your jigsaw can cut tile, and for tiles under 1/4″ thick, they might even be the ideal choice for when you need to make curved cuts. You’ll need a special carbide-grit abrasive blade designed for the task.

If you’ve got any helpful tips on how to use a jigsaw, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

You'll find Chris behind the scenes of almost everything Pro Tool Reviews produces. When he doesn't have his hands on tools himself, he's often the man behind the camera lens making the rest of the team look good. In his free time, you might find Chris with his nose jammed in a book, or tearing out his remaining hair while watching Liverpool FC. He enjoys his faith, family, friends, and the Oxford comma.

Thanks for this helpful information. I’ve attached up to a 12″ T-Handle reciprocating blade to my jigsaw for added functionality / convenience when cutting thicker pieces; and no larger device available to make the cut.

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