Cutting with a jigsaw allows for a greater degree of flexibility with cuts and means that getting curved finishes is an extremely easy process when you understand how to do it. A little preparation and practice can give you expert-level finishes in no time.
Unlike a circular saw, the jigsaw’s narrow blade means that turning for curves is very simple. Make sure that you know how to get the most out of your jigsaw before starting a job so that you understand what different blades can bring to your woodworking arsenal.
So, how to use a jigsaw to cut curves? That’s what we will be teaching you today. Make sure to follow the 6 steps we listed down below, and you will learn how to cut curves in wood with a jigsaw.
How to Use a Jigsaw to Cut Curves?
Taking time to understand how to get the best out of your jigsaw can lead you to make some artistic and highly technical finishes.
For this article, however, we will just focus on looking at the basic curve cut. As your expertise grows with the jigsaw, so will your ability to create new and interesting cuts!
Collecting the equipment
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, so make sure you know exactly what you need when using a jigsaw and you will cut down on headaches and lost revenue later. Simple mistakes can ruin entire jobs, so take the appropriate time to prepare both equipment and your workspace.
Depending on the material that you are using, you may have to use a different blade. For cutting wood, you will need a blade with many fine blades (preferably over 80), but for metal, you will need fewer with larger cutting surfaces.
Most jigsaws come with instruction manuals and blades which are marked for specific materials. If you are not sure which blade to use, double-check the blade itself and the manual that came with your saw.
Take your time to experiment with the different blades you have and what they are designed for. Understanding which blades are best for which job is key to successful jig-sawing.
- The blade that is appropriate for the material you want to cut
- Material to be cut (in this case wood)
- Sawhorse or workbench
- Pen / pencil
- Appropriate safety gear such as goggles and a dust mask
When you have all of your equipment and materials gathered, you can begin to prepare for making your cut.
Before making a cut with a jigsaw, you need to be aware of how far your blade will stick out beneath the board that you are trying to cut. Good body position and blade awareness will make the risk of injury from a descending blade practically nil, but if you’ve never used a jigsaw before you should make you understand how to use it safely before attempting any job.
More general safety requirements are using a set of goggles and a dust mask to protect your eyes and lungs, at the very least. Ideally, you also want to use ear protection as jigsaws can make a great deal of noise, especially when cutting metal.
Cheap goggles, dust masks, and ear defenders are available in all good hardware and DIY outlets, so there’s no excuse for not getting a pair.
Your eyes, hands, and ears are important in your line of work. Failing to protect them throughout your career can lead to long term issues or a career in woodwork being cut short due to a careless mistake that costs a finger. Proper safety equipment and due care are just as important as actually using the saw.
You can wear other protective gear such as protective gloves, but make sure that you do not wear loose or baggy clothing on your arms.
Although it is less of a risk with a jigsaw than a circular saw, getting clothes tangled in the mechanism can lead to serious risk and potentially serious injury.
Preparing your board
We will use wood for our example, but there is little difference between setting up a wooden board for a jigsaw cut and setting up different material.
If you do have to cut metal or something else with your jigsaw, make sure you check the blade you are using. Additionally, metal chips are more likely to do long term damage than wood chips.
Miniature pieces of metal can get embedded into your arms when you are cutting it, so think about wearing appropriate forearm protection.
Make a mark on the wood with a pen or pencil – ideally, this should be on the non-decorative side (that’s to say the side that people won’t see when using your product) so that the finished job is not spoiled by a thick marker stain.
This isn’t a major problem in most settings, but if you are cutting a piece of wood with a specific finish on it already (which it shouldn’t have at this stage), doing everything we can to avoid damage to the product is important.
Take your board to the sawhorse or workbench where you will be working. If your piece has a decorative side, this should be facing downwards. Damage is most likely to occur on the side that we are working on, so flipping the piece over can protect the more important side
Hang the section of the board that you need to cut over the edge of the workspace and leave plenty of space for the curved cut. You don’t need the board to extend far off your workspace, but it should be far enough off that now part of the marked line meets the edge of your sawhorse or work table.
Attach clamps to the board. As you will not be able to use a hand to steady the board, you will need to use at very least 2 clamps to make sure that your work does not move.
Before making any cut, check and double-check that your clamps are tight and that the wood cannot move at all. One slip with a jigsaw can cost a lot of money in wasted materials or even worse.
Now that you have secured the board to the table and everything is set up correctly, you can begin to make the cut. Check that your workspace is clear and that there will be no interruptions due to stray cables or misplaced boxes when begin to saw the wood.
Beginning the cut
Starting to make the cut with a jigsaw is no more difficult than using any other power tool. You need to be accurate, make sure you follow your cutting line, and clear your workspace of anything that could cause difficulties or hazards during the cut.
Line up the jigsaw blade so that it sits tight to the outside of your marked line (on the side of the wood that you want to remove). If you take too much wood off with a cut that is too small, you’ve wasted that piece of wood and lost money. Undercut and then treat the wood afterward.
Start the jigsaw cutting before the blade makes contact with the wood. If it starts to cut before you are square on with the material you want to cut, the slow speed of the jigsaw will hack away at the product and chip it instead of cutting cleanly.
Effectively, the blade will be moving too slowly to actually cut into the word and will drag and against it. A similar kind of thing happens with a blunt handsaw, leading to an uneven finish and a poor product.
Let the shoe of the jigsaw line up with the wood and use this for extra control over the blade. When you are comfortable that you can guide your jigsaw and the blade is in motion, push the jigsaw steadily towards the wood.
Getting a curve
Unlike a circular saw, getting a curve with a jigsaw is easy and is really one of its primary uses. You simply have to guide the saw through the wood and follow the outside of your cutting line and you shouldn’t face any difficulty. Only a limited amount of pressure needs to be used, especially considering that our wood is securely clamped into place.
This is where your pre-cut checks come in handy. If you have any cables or materials in the way when you are trying to make your cut, you will have to stop the job and move them (if you are lucky enough to notice before your trip).
This can lead to poor quality finishes from stopping and starting. It’s possible that you can get the exact finish you want from a secondary cut, but more cuts mean more chances for mistakes.
Feeding the saw steadily and consistently is key to getting a good cut with a jigsaw, but it is not as difficult as with a circular saw.
Thanks to the jigsaw’s ability to cut curves into the wood, it is possible to go back over any mistakes from a restarted job and fix the error. Still, you want to complete jobs with as little effort as possible, so try to keep your cut to just one round.
When you need to start your curve, turn the jigsaw to follow the cutting line on the board. As long as this turn is gentle and gradual, this process should not cause much resistance or difficulty for the user. Then simply follow it through until the end of the curve and allow the offcut to fall freely to the ground.
Be sure not to place the jigsaw down with the blade supporting the weight of the saw. They are flimsy and will suffer from being under the pressure.
Remove or turn off the power source and then place the saw on its side. This reduces the chance of hazards and injury to basically zero – remember, safety first!
Cleaning up the finish
Now you have your finished piece! Almost, anyway.
Jigsaws can cause uneven cuts on the exposed side (inside) of the wood or a small amount of chipping. You may need to take sandpaper or a power sander to the edge to clean up the finish.
Remember that your marker line should have a little bit of leeway, so using a power sander to even up the edges should not cause any significant problems for the size of the finished product.
If you don’t mind any splinters on the edge of your wood and are happy with the finish, then you can skip the sanding process altogether. I would suggest giving a quick kiss to the wood with a power sander, however, just to ensure that you have a clean, professional finish.
When you have finished the job, you are now ready to pass it onto the buyer or integrate it with a larger product for sale.
Setting up a board for a safe cut with a jigsaw takes more time than actually making the cut, but proper preparation leads to better finishes! Safety is the most important part of setting up a proper cut, so take your time when using a jigsaw.
As you will not be able to use a free hand to steady the board as you cut, a proper clamp application needs to be one of the first things you address.
You need both hands on the saw to control the gradient and speed of the cut, so make sure you plan how you can safely make any hand movements before starting (ideally, body position should mean that you don’t need to move your hands at all!)
Using a power sander afterward can tidy up the small inconsistencies and splinters that a jigsaw can cause during the cutting process, so investing in one is always a good idea.
If you do not have access to one, the sandpaper of the appropriate coarseness will serve the same purpose.
Getting the best finish with your jigsaw may take a little aftercare, but it is worth it to get those clean, professional finishes that will have your customers coming back to you in the future.
Now that you learned how to use a jigsaw to cut a circle, do you have any questions? If yes, then make sure to comment down below or send us an email.