Types of Jigsaw blades explained

Which are the best blades to use for your Jigsaw, the material & job at hand?

How to choose the best Jigsaw blade for your project

I've got heaps of different types of Jigsaw Blades that I keep ready in my Jigsaw box and I'll go through my favourite blades to use for a few of the most common jobs & materials I come up against when using my Jigsaw at home and on site too.

I use my jigsaw for all sorts of jobs like cutting/scribing skirting boards, kitchen fitting (including cutting kitchen worktops, sink/hob holes etc), scribing timber to irregular surfaces, cutting round pipes, for roofing and more. 

The jigsaw is an incredibly versatile tool, there are some jobs I wouldn't use anything else for and sometimes it just comes in handy & gets you out of the $hit when no other tool would really work that well!

Choosing the right cutting blade for the job is essential not only to get the best cut but also because you can prolong the life of your power tool & blades.  

Finally you don't have to spend big bucks to get decent blades they are actually some of the cheapest power tool blades you'll buy and they can wear out quickly if not used correctly.

Your power tools are only as good as the blades you have in them!

Some of the things you need to think about before choosing the right jigsaw blade

The best type of Jigsaw blade to choose / use will depend on these factors:

  1. The type of Shank your power tool jaws will take
  2. The type of cut you need to make with your Jigsaw - fast/rough or fine/accurate & detailed
  3. The type and thickness of material you are cutting (some blades are longer than others)
  4. Whether you are cutting from the face or not as some blades cut on the up stroke, others can cut downwards 

1. Which type of shank does your Jigsaw take?

The first thing to identify is the type of shank your jigsaw blades need to have in order to fit your Jigsaw properly. 

The shank is the top section of the blade that slots into and is gripped by the jaws of the Jigsaws clamping mechanism.

There are two types of Jigsaw shank; T-Shank blades (Tang shank) & U-Shank (Universal) blades.

If you are buying a new Jigsaw, aim for one that uses T-Shank blades if possible, it is the newest and best performing type and quick release Jigsaws use T-shank blades. 

2. Depending on the type of cut, choose the right number of teeth

The number of teeth a jigsaw blade has makes a big difference to the speed & type of cut it will make.

  • For wood, the more teeth the blade has, the slower the cut. Less teeth = faster cutting.
  • More teeth also gives a cleaner cut. The less the teeth there are, the rougher the cut will be.
  • For metal more smaller, finer teeth are required than for cutting wood because metal is obviously much harder to cut through 
  • Apart from for very thin materials, at least two-three teeth will almost always be cutting the material when the Jigsaw is in use. Use fine toothed blades for thin materials, and rough cutting blades for thicker/structural materials
  • For curved cuts, a thinner blade can be better and a slower speed set before cutting
  • Always start cutting with a slow speed and increase this if the blade is not overheating or becoming difficult to control

There are different teeth designs for different Jigsaw cuts as well

  • Side set teeth - are great for rough cutting work
  • Wavy set teeth - Best for fine, clean cuts
  • Conically ground straight blade (not off-set teeth) that are sharpened diagonally - Gives a more precise clean cut
  • Side set teeth diagonally sharpened - for fast rough cutting.

3. Different materials need to be cut with different types of Jigsaw blade

  • My favourite Metal Cutting Jigsaw blades - HSS (High Speed Steel):

When cutting sheet metal or pipes with a Jigsaw, I have found Bosch HSS Jigsaw blades to be the best combination of value and performance. I also clamp the metal down whenever possible to stop it rattling up and down and use a medium speed at first, but speed up as much as possible provided the tool is cutting well and the blade isn't trying to wander at all. 

It doesn't hurt to clamp a straight edge on to guide the Jigsaw if you need a straight cut for longer than a couple of inches - takes a little longer to set-up but makes cutting a neat line much faster.

These are also great Jigsaw blades for cutting things like door handle spindles to length as well (clamped in a vice)

  • The best Jigsaw blades for cutting Laminate floors & Laminated kitchen worktops - BIM (Bi-Metal) 

You've probably heard me say a dozen times through this site, man made & laminated materials can absolutely annihilate the cutting edges of blades and therefore you must use blades specifically designed to cut laminated boards or completely ruin pretty much any other type.

For things like laminate floor boards, 44mm thick Laminated kitchen counter-tops or even laminated formica such as kitchen cabinets or bedroom furniture, I really like Dewalt Downward cutting Jigsaw blades

No matter what blades you use on these materials they will wear out quickly. These are good value so you can change them as soon as they get dull and because they cut on the downward stroke you get a really clean cut from the face side (you don't need to mark out the cuts on the back of the boards).

  • The best Jigsaw blades for cutting Wood - HCS (High Carbon Steel blades)

I really like Dewalt XPC Jigsaw blades with Plunge cutting tips for almost all cuts I make with my Jigsaw in soft woods and even some soft plastics too.

It is handy not having to drill a hole before you can plunge the Jigsaw blade (slowly) into a material especially when cutting a square or round hole in the middle of a sheet of ply for example.

I use these blades for Plywood, Hardwood, Softwood, Cutting letterbox holes in doors, cutting skirting boards and sometimes even for cutting roof rafters during roofing work as well.

They come in a great little box that keeps them safe from getting knocked around and damaged and they last ages provided you don't go too fast they heat up too much (the same is true for all blades not just these).

4. The Direction of cut can make a difference

The Jigsaw has been designed for the blade to cut on the upward stroke - because this means the cutting force is then being used to pull the material and the Jigsaws flat bed closer to one another so only the blade is moving.

For this reason most Jigsaw blades teeth are pointing slightly upwards and therefore cut on the upward stroke.

The downside to this is the material can tear out as the teeth come up through the surface. For rough timber that wont be seen this doesn't matter. For fine work that will be left exposed, it isn't ideal.

To prevent this, you can either turn the material upside down and cut from the back or even better buy Jigsaw blades that cut on the downward stroke instead. 

These downward cutting Jigsaw blades are much better for getting a perfect cut as you can cut the material face side up and see exactly the line you are cutting to and they wont tear out or cause splintering at all.

Click here for tips on how to use a jigsaw for cutting perfect curved lines.

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Use the comments section below to add your own tips about the best Jigsaw blades to use!