A jigsaw is one of the most accessible tools in cutting straight, angled, or beveled parts in many types of wood including plywood.
Cutting plywood with a Jigsaw is easy. You should start by identifying the right kind of blade, and what type of cut you want to create. Once you’ve distinguished these, begin with drafting the cut line on your plywood by a wood pencil. Then, adjust the speed of your Jigsaw properly. Bring the blade onto the cut line, and start the initial incision. Maintain the momentum as you go along until you cut your plywood.
In this guide, you will have a better understanding of how to cut plywood using a Jigsaw. Moreover, you’ll also know the uses, components, types, and techniques for better cutting.
What is Jigsaw?
A Jigsaw is an all-around cutting tool because it is suitable for various materials like wood, aluminum, plastics, synthetic foam, MDF boards, and plywood. However, there’s a limitation when it comes to thickness. Usually, Jigsaws can cut woods of no more than 1-inch thick.
With a Jigsaw, you can do straight, curved, and angled cuts. Most Jigsaws have a cord and powered by electricity. However, with today’s technology, we now have cordless Jigsaws that runs on lithium-ion (Li-ion) or nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries.
How to Cut Plywood with a Jigsaw?
Generally, regardless of the type of your Jigsaw and your project, there are simple guidelines that most woodworkers follow in cutting plywood with a Jigsaw. These are the procedure to follow in using Jigsaw to get smooth edges regardless of the size of your plywood.
- Understand How the Teeth of The Blade Functions
First of all, there are different blade types. You don’t have to know each of them, but those blades have either upwards or downwards tooth orientation. It’s where the smoothness on the edges of your plywood depends on. Upward tooth orientation gives a smoother upper side of the plywood, and the opposite will happen when the teeth are facing down.
Identifying which tooth orientation to use matters because you want the visible side to be smooth. Also, consider the blade’s teeth-per-inch (TPI) rating. The standard TPI rating for Jigsaws is from ten to twenty TPI. Higher TPI means smoother edges, but the speed of cutting is slower – and vice versa.
- Draw Your Cut Line
Whether it’s a straight, curved, or angled cut – always draw your cut line. It is easy to do it on a piece of plywood over your workbench. All you need is a wood pencil or a wood marker and a ruler. Your cut line is your guide in cutting the plywood accurately.
- Adjust the Speed of Your Jigsaw
Most Jigsaws nowadays have an Orbital feature, where it allows you to adjust the wobble of the blade while sawing without turning off the tool. When cutting plywood, avoid aggressive or fast orbital settings. It causes a lot of vibrations, which may lead to splintering.
As a rule of thumb, go for a slow pace when cutting plywood. Slower speed reduces tear-outs that the blade can do on the edges. Also, don’t forget to adjust the pendulum motion degree of your Jigsaw, which we’ll discuss later on this article, it improves the cutting speed and the evacuation of sawdust.
- Connect the Suction Tube
Most modern Jigsaws have a suction tube. It is a dust extraction system, which looks like a mini vacuum cleaner. Basically, it suctions all wood dust to give you a clearer vision of your cutting line. Suction tubes also eliminate heating of the blade.
- Make the First Cut
Initiate the first cut by placing the blade over the cutting line before powering up the Jigsaw. It eradicates the chance of sliding the blade or missing the cut. Remember to hold the saw firmly, either with one or both hands whichever you are comfortable. Then, start cutting.
What is Jigsaw Pendulum Motion?
It is a new built-in technology in modern Jigsaws that gives the ability to move the blade in a circular motion. With a Pendulum Motion, you can move the edge backward and forwards. There’s a switch of three or four positions in choosing the pendulum motion degree according to the material being cut.
Take note that the surface gets rougher as the degree goes higher. So, reduce the pendulum motion for hard or thick woods, lumber sheets, and non-ferrous metals. Remove the pendulum for thin cuts in wood, steel or fragile materials like polystyrene and tiles.
What are the Main Types of a Jigsaw?
You will see many different kinds of Jigsaws, but they only have two MAIN classifications – the Top Handle Jigsaws and Barrel Grip Jigsaws. Each type has a specific use and design.
- Top Handle Jigsaws
The power and speed control buttons are on the top of the motor, which makes it more convenient to use for straight cuts. The only downside of Top Handle Jigsaws is its curves and angles. It’s harder to look at the cutting line or the blade while cutting; which makes it difficult to create precise bevel and curve cuts without consistent practice.
- Barrel Grip Jigsaws
This type doesn’t have a separate handle, and you have the motor casing as the main handle. It gives you precise straight and curved cuts, which makes it perfect in furniture making. However, the circumference of the handle may be a bit bigger than the user’s hands. If so, it would be harder to use and control the Barrel Grip Jigsaws.
What are the Main Components of a Jigsaw?
Most Jigsaws today have standard components, which include Jigsaw shoe, on and off button, blade, guide roller, and the pendulum motion switch.
- Jigsaw Shoe Adjustment. The shoe is the metal base of the tool that tilts the blade from 0 ° to 45 ° to create beveled cuts. The Jigsaw Shoe rests on the wood, and it helps in fixing the angle of the blade.
- On and Off button. The On and Off button of Top-Handle Jigsaws are underneath the handle, while Barrel Grip Jigsaws has it on the side. When adjusting the blade, always make sure that the tool is off. It’s better to unplug it from the socket.
- Blade clamp. It has at least two screws that hold the blade in position. However, most Jigsaws today have a keyless blade changing system for faster changing of the blade. Instead of loosening the screws, there’s a spring-loaded lever that you can either engage or disengage to hold or release the blade.
- Blade Roller Guide. Usually, it is on the top of Jigsaw Shoe, which supports the blade while cutting. The Blade Roller Guide ensures that the blade is in square and prevents from bending.
Tips in Creating Different Cuts Using a Jigsaw
Jigsaws are very versatile that it allows you to do various cuts. So, you can do almost everything with a Jigsaw for materials no more than 1 inch. Find out how to efficiently do different cuts using a Jigsaw.
- Creating Bevel Cuts with Jigsaw
You can use a built-in protractor to change the angle, or manually set it up by adjusting the angle of the Jigsaw shoe. Just remember that the inclination of the blade also affects the cutting ability. Bevel Cuts are useful in combining two blocks of wood at 45 degrees to form a miter joint and creating a decorative finish at the edges of your workpiece.
- Creating Straight Cuts with Jigsaw
Creating straight cuts is easy as 1-2-3. In fact, it’s the most basic kind of cut that you will do in woodworking. Just make sure that you draw a precise line, and follow it. Follow the general steps above, and you will have a perfectly straight cut. It’s a fundamental guideline that will help you create a straight form.
- Creating Parallel Cuts with Jigsaw
Parallel cuts are like straight cuts, except that there are two of them. You can use a Jigsaw parallel guide to be more accurate and get the desired results. Take note that the cutting width of a parallel guide depends on the length of its sliding rod.
- Creating Circle Cuts with Jigsaw
Just like a parallel guide, you can use a jigsaw circle cutting guide to do it. Install the cutting guide on the Jigsaw shoe, place the tip of the guide on the center of the circle, and turn around it. Take your time cutting, and don’t rush anything. Improper angle and handling of the Jigsaw may cause splinters and uneven cuts.
Frequently Asked Questions
How To Cut Plywood With A Jigsaw Without Splintering?
Make sure to choose the appropriate blade. It should be new and clean. Also, don’t rush the saw through the cutting process by applying too much pressure.
Why My Jigsaw is Not Cutting Straight?
There are many possible reasons why your Jigsaw is not cutting straight. It can be because you didn’t do the cut line guide, wood dust covers the line, or your Jigsaw is too old that it lacks some advanced features. Or, it can be that your blade is inaccurate.
Which Type is Better to Use?
It depends on your preference. However, most woodworkers choose Top Handle Jigsaws for convenience and better control. It’s also safer since they have separate handles.
Jigsaws are great tools in cutting plywood – whether it’s angled, straight or curved. For best results, always use correct blades, settings, and speeds. Also, Jigsaws are for small projects, and not for heavy-duty works. It’s not for cutting through super thick woods.
Generally, Jigsaws can’t go through materials that measure over 1 inch. Don’t forget to equip your Jigsaw with a high TPI rate. So, cutting plywoods is a lot easier with Jigsaw for both amateur and professional woodworkers.
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