A jigsaw is one of the most fundamental tools of every workshop.  Yes. I meant to use the word workshop, rather than wood shop.  A jigsaw belongs in every shop.  Whether you work with wood, metals, plastics, or even papers and cardboard stock you should have a jigsaw in your shop.  A jigsaw is very versatile.  In addition to cutting all of these different materials, what actually makes it so perfect for every workshop is its ability to cut very intricate designs and patterns.  From circles to S-shapes.  Just about any shape really.  It’s like the handheld bandsaw!

Yet so many workshops are missing this very important tool.  And I think its because of one very important reason.  Many people equate jigsaws to poor results.  Cuts that aren’t straight, that run at a 45 degree angle instead of a 90.  There’s this thought “If I use the jigsaw for this cut I am going to spend a lot of extra time sanding out and removing the imperfections.  Not worth it.”  What if I said we could solve all of that easily.

Your Jigsaw Sucks

Cheap Crappy JigsawDid I just say that?  Yes.  Because it does.  I can’t tell you how many workshops I’ve been in where the artisan is still using a 1970’s or 1980’s Black and Decker or Craftsman jigsaw.  This was literally the stone ages for jigsaws.  They’re missing all of the modern features.  And all of the important things that make a jigsaw cut straight (I wrote an article on buying the best jigsaw here.). If you’re still using one of these, I want you to walk over to it and toss it into the garbage bin immediately.  Then I want you to get in your vehicle and go to the local home improvement store and buy a new one (right after you finish this read).   How can you tell if you have one?  It probably has a screw that you tighten to hold in the blade, and it lacks a guide bearing.

To Cut Straight your Jigsaw Needs a Guide Bearing

It wasn’t until the 1990’s that some manufacturers started adding guide bearings to their consumer lines of jigsaws.  But without this simple device, its basically impossible for your jigsaw to cut straight or for your jigsaw to cut square!  The guide bearing adds a second support point on the blade.  This almost completely eliminates and side to side movement of the blade (it can still happen if you turn too sharp, or the blade gets stuck in warped or poorly supported material).

Why your jigsaw doesn't cut straight 0002

Can you imagine holding your gold club with only one hand? Without the guide bearing there is nothing but the rigidity of the blade to keep it straight.  Don’t buy one without this bearing, and don’t buy one that the bearing is flat and without a center groove that the blade fits in (see picture above for what to buy). The jigsaw in this article is a DeWalt DW317K (get it here).

Your Jigsaw Will Only Cut as Straight as the Blade You Choose

Why your jigsaw doesn't cut straight 0003The next most important thing to consider is the quality of the blades you are buying.  If you’re buying those cheap jigsaw blades from Wal-Mart, you’ve already failed!  Look for the better quality blades at your local wood store, home improvement centers, or from Amazon.com.

Higher quality blades aren’t just thicker, but also made out of more rigid alloys and will stay shaper much longer.  You almost always loose when you buy the cheap stuff in life, and this just another example.  The good blades will save you time and money in the end. So don’t be fooled.

With the combination of a good quality jigsaw with a quality guide bearing and quality blade, you’ll be well on your way to the perfect jigsaw cut every time.  If you want to see what a quality jigsaw cut looks like, watch my How to Make an Arcade Cabinet video (Part 1).  The entire face of the cabinet was cut with a jigsaw, by hand.

The Best Jigsaws

If you’re looking to learn more about jigsaws or interested in buying one, check out my article on the Top 3 Jigsaws money can buy! You might be surprised to find out that they aren’t as expensive as you might think.