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Person using a green, jigsaw power tool to cut through a plank of wood
Discover how much easier woodworking and D.I.Y. can be with this versatile cutting companion.

Powerful and versatile

The jigsaw is an essential power tool for your workshop. This powerful yet versatile tool is highly manoeuvrable, with a narrow blade that extends down through the base plate and moves in a vertical action at high speed. It is great for straight lines and for easily cutting curves and intricate shapes in timber, metal, plastic and more. There’s almost nothing to set up or adjust – aim along the cut line and away you go. Battery or cord?

Cordless jigsaws are convenient and portable, making them handy power tools for woodworking projects such as outdoor planter boxes. However, if you’re planning to do a lot of jigsawing – especially in an indoor workshop or garage, where plug access is not a problem – a corded jigsaw will provide more power and higher performance.

Mains-powered jigsaws are available in a range of power options, from around 350W to more than 800W. The more powerful models will cut through thicker timber and other materials more easily; however, a lot depends on the quality of the saw and the blade. Tools aimed at D.I.Y.ers are a great entry point but – for a truly professional finish – high-end tools are worth the investment.

How a jigsaw works

The baseplate of a jigsaw is like a ‘skid’ that runs along the material you’re cutting. It can be tilted to either side – typically by loosening a retaining bolt using a hex key – allowing you to make bevel (angled) cuts.

Baseplates are not meant to be interchangeable. Some brands include a plastic shoe attached to the underside of the baseplate, intended to prevent scuff marks that can be caused by the steel of the baseplate.

Many jigsaws are sold with a rip fence that allows you to make cuts parallel to the edge of a workpiece – for example, to cut decking boards to a non-standard width.

Person using a red, jigsaw power tool to cut through a plank of wood

Cutting moves

Use the pendulum feature of a jigsaw to angle the blade slightly forward for a swinging, circular/oscillating action, rather than just straight up and down, explains Scott Tinsley of Ryobi.

“This provides a faster, more aggressive cut, but can leave you with a rougher finish and more splintering along the edges,” he says. “The pendulum action is perfect for thicker applications like cutting into laminate countertops for installation of sinks or basins.”

Safety first

All jigsaws have a metal guard in front of the blade mount, shielding fingers and random bits of timber from the blade or mount. Variable speed is another standard feature of this popular power tool. While jigsaw cutting is mostly done at full speed, there are times when it’s wise to slow the stroke rate, says Paul Nosko of Bosch. “When cutting plastic-type materials, a fast stroke rate can create too much heat, potentially melting the plastic,” he warns.

Before changing the blade of a cordless jigsaw, remove the battery from the unit. “For a corded model, ensure the AC outlet powering it has been turned off,” says Scott. “Wear gloves to avoid cuts and scratches when handling blades and ensure the blade is seated securely.”

Blade options

Most jigsaws are sold with general-purpose blades, but it’s worth buying specialised blades if you’re planning to cut materials such as laminate or acrylic. “As a rule of thumb, less teeth means a more aggressive, faster cut, as the gullets between the teeth are deeper,” Paul says. “On blades with a higher tooth count, teeth will be smaller, giving a cleaner finish.”

Specialty blades (either sold separately or as kits) will let you cut materials ranging from metal to ceramics effectively and neatly. “Materials that are quite dense should be sawed at a lower speed to reduce friction/heat as much as possible, with the pendulum action off,” he says.

Tool tips

To extend your jigsaw skills, try these ideas:

  • Make a bevel cut. Use the included hex key to loosen the retaining bolt that locks the baseplate into its default perpendicular position, then push the baseplate backwards to disengage the locking teeth and tilt it to the angle you require. Once you have set the angle, return the baseplate to its forward (locking) position and re-tighten the bolt. On some jigsaws, the baseplate is unlocked using a quick-release lever instead of a hex key.
  • Cut an enclosed opening. The narrow blade on a jigsaw means you can create openings in timber or sheet materials without cutting in from the edge of your workpiece. Drill a 10mm starter hole inside the shape you want to cut out, position the blade inside it, and saw to the cut line from inside the waste area.
  • Make a plunge cut. You can also ‘dive in’ to a cut without drilling a starter hole by resting the front edge of the baseplate against the surface of your workpiece. With the pendulum action disengaged, switch the saw on at maximum speed and gently swing the baseplate down onto the timber or other material you’re cutting, so the blade starts sawing into the surface. Once the blade has penetrated all the way through the workpiece, you can continue sawing as usual.

Keep in mind…

  • Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, gloves, ear muffs and a mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment.
  • Before starting any D.I.Y. activity with power tools, make sure you have the appropriate skills for the task at hand and use the correct tools for the job.
  • Some products are not available at all Bunnings stores but may be ordered.

To find the right tool for the job...

Check out our range of power tools.

Photo Credit: Ozito, Ryobi

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.