A jigsaw is an essential woodworking tool. Whether you make furniture, boxes, or wall framing, you should have a jigsaw in your arsenal. It can cut through wood, lumbar, metal, plastic, and non-standard variable patterns. This is why a jigsaw is the most convenient power tool a woodworker has. It often leads to the question: how thick can a jigsaw cut?
Since a jigsaw is a widely used tool for cutting delicate shapes and curves, you must know how to increase its capability and productivity. Below we have discussed how thick a jigsaw can cut and what to do to get the best cuts possible.
Recommended Depth of the Blade
Theoretically, you can cut wood (or any other material) as deep as the blade’s length. However, a jigsaw blade is four inches long, from which only three inches are workable. Thus, you cannot cut thicker wood with it. In the case of cutting thicker wood, you can get longer blades.
A rule of thumb is to subtract an inch from the blade length to determine the thickness that you can cut. Furthermore, a jigsaw uses a reciprocating blade. It means that the saw blade moves up and down to draw a cut. Thus you need enough space for the saw blade to move freely and safely. The recommended depth for cutting softwood is one and a half inches. When in fact, it is three-quarters an inch for the hardwood through a jigsaw.
A Step-By-Step Tutorial for Cutting Thick Wood With a Jigsaw
Here is how to cut through thicker wood pieces with a jigsaw, with some helpful hints and suggestions along the way.
Step one: Prepare wood
Before you even touch your jigsaw, you need to prepare the thicker pieces of wood that you will be cutting. Ensuring that they are dry and dust-free is extremely important. You do not want to get any sawdust or other debris in your jigsaw blade when it is running, especially if it is a brand new blade.
Step two: Secure wood down
For your jigsaw blade to have enough power behind it to cut through the wood, you need to secure your wood down. This applies to making a small wooden sign or cutting out an entire bookcase with multiple thick, solid wood pieces. If it’s a one-time project that needs to be precise and fast, using a clamp may not be practical. In that case, use masking tape instead.
Step three: Replace blade
You have just cut through all of your thin pieces of wood for this project – so easy! However, your jigsaw blade has started to wear thin on its teeth from cutting through the plywood and thin sheets of MDF. It will eventually snap if you keep trying to force the blade through thicker pieces of wood without replacing it first.
Step four: Adjust speed
There are two speeds that you will need to adjust your jigsaw to cut smoothly through thicker pieces of wood. Slow the upper speed down by about 30% and slow the bottom blade-rotating pace down 50%. Your jigsaw likely has a switch somewhere on its body that allows you to do this.
Turning both speeds down will give your blade more torque when it comes into contact with the thicker pieces of wood. It will not snap or tear at the edges quite as much if both speeds are slowed down.
Once you have lowered both speeds, check if your blade still turns when you press it up against the wood. If the blade can rotate when in contact with wood but doesn’t do so freely, then slowly bring the speed back up until it does turn.
Step five: Start cutting!
With all of your previous adjustments in place, start to cut through your thick pieces of wood. Use both your hands to use the jigsaw. It will help prevent injury for apparent reasons and let you cut more precisely since no vibrations come from having only one hand on the jigsaw body.
There you have it. That is how to cut thick wood with a jigsaw in five simple steps. However, be careful and steady instead of rushing through the entire project. All of the additional preparation and slowed-down speeds will be useless if you aren’t willing to take your time during the actual cutting process.
Factors That You Should Consider While Choosing a Jigsaw
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to woodcutting with a jigsaw. It is always better to get a blade length that serves your needs. While choosing a blade for your woodwork, consider the following factors:
Type of cuts
Curved cuts require a wider blade, while straight ones can be completed using thinner and more flexible ones. This is important because it helps create detailed shapes like round balls or perfect ovals without having difficulty seeing their own hand in front of them when they’re forming an “L.”
If your work requires cutting circular pieces instead, choose one designed specifically to create these types of patterns. Using a wider blade for fine cuts and tight turns can be dangerous. Your saw blade can deflect, bounce, or even break, posing a safety threat.
Type of wood
A jigsaw can cut all types of materials, of which the most notable is wood. Furthermore, a jigsaw can cut both types of wood: hardwood and softwood. However, it is the best tool for cutting softwood, such as cedar. You can cut much thicker wood with a jigsaw if it is soft.
A jigsaw is not an ideal tool for cutting hardwood. Hardwood causes more difficulty in cutting wood due to more friction. If you still need to cut hardwood, be sure to do that at low speed. You can considerably cut hardwood if you do it slowly, with a gentle hand. Don’t rush your saw or exert much force, as it will break your blade.
For materials other than wood, for example, metal or tile, get a suitable blade. Each jigsaw blade performs best for its respective material and size.
Another critical thing to notice when buying a jigsaw is the motor power. There are many variations of motor power with different brands and models. A motor with less power will give you trouble cutting certain wood types.
If you take out your jigsaw once in a blue moon, a motor with average power will work for you. On the contrary, it is better to get a jigsaw with a powerful motor if you have regular usage.
Tips to Cut Thick Wood With a Jigsaw
If you want to cut thick wood with a jigsaw, consider the following tips.
- Choose a jigsaw according to the type and width of the wood.
- The blade must run square to the shoe/base of the jigsaw.
- Do not use your energy. Use a gentle hand and use only the force needed for the saw to go forward.
- Do not rush through the cut, and take your time. Going slow works best while making deep cuts.
- Take safety precautions. Use eye protection, hearing protection, and gloves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I cut a 2×4 with a jigsaw?
The ideal depth for a jigsaw cut is 1.4 inches, but you can cut 2×4 as well. If you want a clean and consistent cut, you can minimize the drift and flexing.
Opt for a powerful jigsaw and stiffer blades that go through the thick wood. For cutting 2×4, a saw blade with ten TPI works best. Moreover, you would need to do it slowly and patiently.
Can I cut 4×4 with a jigsaw?
The maximum depth of a jigsaw blade is one and a half inches, which is way below 4×4. Thus it is advised not to use a jigsaw to cut 4×4. However, there are few specialty jigsaws available that can cut this deep.
Can a jigsaw cut straight?
Yes, a jigsaw can make straight cuts, curves, and circles. You can use a jigsaw for straight cuts on various materials, including wood, metal, and ceramic.
Why does my jigsaw wander?
If your jigsaw is wandering mid-cutting, you might be at fault. Forcing the jigsaw too hard can cause it to wander or even bend. Let the machine do its work and do not exert much pressure. Only use a gentle force to keep it moving forward.
Summing it up, the jigsaw is excellent for making intricate curves and sharp cuts. Blades of various lengths and depths are available. Hence, there is no hard-and-fast limitation to how thick wood you can cut with a jigsaw. However, remember to get wood with one inch less than the blade length. Use the best possible blade, take it slow, and you are good to work with thick wood.