It’s time for another Power Tool Challenge project! This month’s theme is “favorite tool”. Although I love doing repurposed furniture projects that use a multitude of saws and tools, this month’s jigsaw project does NOT involve any furniture. In all honesty, the jigsaw isn’t my favorite tool, but I think if you’re just beginning, it might be the FIRST saw you should buy. I suppose my favorite tools would of course be a drill, and a compound miter saw, but they’re a little boring to talk about.
Jigsaw Blade Comparison on thin Plywood
Way back in the day when I first started woodworking in my late 20’s a jigsaw was my VERY first tool that belonged to me. I believe it was a birthday gift. Fast forward 30 years and I still love getting tools as gifts! Would you like to see the first project I ever cut out with a jigsaw?
Shop My Amazon Storefront to See my Favorite Tools and Products
My point being, if you are on a limited budget, or not sure if you want to buy a lot of tools, a jigsaw is a great place to start.
Buy Jigsaw Blades on Amazon
I ordered some new jigsaw blades on Amazon to test out on my projects. I’ll let you decide which you think did the better job. I traced a pattern on a scrap board using my DIY cutting board iPad Stand .
The Starrett Dual Cut jigsaw blade did a nice job on the 1x stock (¾” thick)
Jigsaw Blade Comparison
Here’s the left side of the cutting board I used the Bosch clean wood blade on.
The back has a very clean cut with the Bosch blade as well.
Although I stayed right on the lines, the shoulders of the cutting board don’t really match, so I traced the left shoulder on a piece of paper and transferred it to the right side to make them match better.
I used the Bosch clean wood blade and it trimmed up the small amount of wood really well.
The finishing touches really DO matter. You can see that I have sanded the entire right side of the diy cutting board, but not the left at all. The same technique can be achieved with a router, but I prefer using my orbital sander with 150 grit sandpaper.
Another angle helps you see that sanding makes a huge difference!
Preventing Tear Out From a Drill Bit
After sanding the left side and the back of the diy cutting board, it’s time to drill a hole in the small handle. DID YOU KNOW? Placing a scrap piece of wood underneath your project will prevent tear out from the drill bit. This is the original back side of the cutting board, which will now be the front because of the small knot visible on the other side.
I was so ambitious that I ended up drilling THROUGH the scrap wood, and THROUGH my plastic banquet table (work table). oops!
Add Mineral Oil
Apply a generous amount of food safe mineral oil to all surfaces of your DIY cutting board.
Leather Belt for DIY Cutting Board
Because your new cutting board needs a way to hang, a leather strap is in order! I didn’t have one so I cut a slither off of an old thrift store belt—perfect! Have you ever seen these Quirky scissors? They are my favorite because they open up so you can safely cut open an Amazon Prime box (which I get a few times a week) They were featured on Shark Tank.
Here it is on my diy kitchen island.
It’s a little on the petite size because I just used a scrap piece of wood from my stash. But that’s the great thing about this DIY thing—you can make it as large as you want, as long as your board is big enough.
Jigsaw Blade Comparison on Thin Plywood
To test the jigsaw blades on thin plywood, I grabbed a scrap piece for a future project and cut it in half. I cut half of the line with one blade, stopped, changed blades and continued cutting to make a comparison. (notice the batter is removed while I change blades)
I started with the Bosch Clean Wood blade, and finished off with the Starret Dual Cut blade. The reverse side looked about the same. Excuse the crooked line, but pay close attention to the tear of the thin plywood. The Bosch blade is the clear winner in this race!
The blades I tested are in the images above. I purchased mine on Amazon.
Suggested Jigsaw Videos
There are a couple of great videos I’d love for you to watch—they’re from my friend Mark Clement from My Fix it up Life. The videos are over at This Old House. The first one is How to use Orbital Action Setting. I could explain it, but mark does a much better job in the video. The second video I recommend is How to Cut Shapes.
I first met Mark at a Krylon event several years ago, and then I was invited to do another event with he and his wife Theresa. That one was Make it Stick. Be sure to check out their site. My Fix It Up Life.
Jigsaw Pros and Cons
- Using the proper blade you can cut a variety of items with a jigsaw, including wood, metal, pvc and more.
- Using the proper blade, you can make a pretty tight turn.
- Many times a jigsaw will fit into a tight space that a circular saw won’t.
- A jigsaw is relatively easy to operate—even for a beginner.
- The plate will adjust allowing the user to make a beveled cut.
- If you read your manual or watch the handy videos I shared, you can really make this saw work for you!
With all the new and improved features of new jigsaws, I really don’t have any cons.
I’m by no means an expert, but after using a jigsaw for some 30 odd years, I have a few tips below:
Tips for using a jigsaw
- Read your owner’s manual so you understand your settings, and use those settings to get your best cut.
- Be safe! Wear safety gear including safety glasses, and ear plugs and a mask for certain materials. Forgo the gloves because any saw blade can snag a glove and cause harm.
- Unplug or remove the battery whenever you are making adjustments or changing blades.
- Always check to make sure your blade is “square” before starting your project.
- Do not use a damaged blade.
- If using a corded jigsaw, always be aware of where your cord is.
- Clamp your piece to your work surface as close as possible, making sure you won’t be cutting into your work table. If your project is too far away from your work table, there will be vibration of thinner materials.
- Blade speed is optional depending on the project, but the force in which you move the saw forward should be minimal. Let the blade do the work.
- Start the blade BEFORE you approach your material.
- When making a tight curve, move the saw forward, back slightly, then forward again as you manipulate the turn.
- Don’t keep a “death grip” on the saw. (speaking from the voice of experience)
- Never operate the saw (engage the blade) without the shoe firmly resting on the material. The saw will jump around and cause injury.
- Keep both sides of the shoe firmly on the material as you saw and move forward.
- Store your jigsaw blades safely, not inserted into the saw.
Jigsaw as Your First Saw
A jigsaw is a very versatile tool. I’ve used it off and on for so many years, it’s my go-to little helper for sure! Click the text below to visit these projects. PIN IT!
Hello Sign | How to Cut a Circle | Notching a Corner | Cutting a Picket Fence Coat Rack DIY Speech Bubbles
Be sure to visit my friends and learn all about their favorite power tools and why they chose them. Look at these awesome projects . . .
H2OBungalow DIY Horizontal Wood Slat Address Plaque | My Love 2 Create Triangle Hexagon Tray | My Repurposed Life DIY Cutting Board | The Kim Six Fix Scroll Saw Book Letters | Create and Babble Cut Wood Slices | The DIY Bungalow DIY Faux Fur Foot Stool | The Interior Frugalista Small Portable Rolling Multi Purpose Table | Designed Decor Ornate Oval Wood Frame Update
Do you own a jigsaw? What’s your favorite power tool? Do you remember what your first power tool was?
Related Content: 20 Easy DIY Cutting Board Tutorials
Have been looking to buy a jig saw! So glad I saw this info. Love the cutting board idea as well. I will be buying at Amazon through your site for both my saw and the blades!
Thank you so much for following the Amazon links! I love Amazon--I placed two orders today. 🙂
Thanks for being a friend of MRL!
I have wanted to make my own cutting board and yours turned out great! I love the leather cord idea from the old belt! These will make perfect gifts too!
Thanks DeDe! I thought the belt thing was pretty genius (idea from a friend who does NO diy whatsoever!!) You're right, these would make great gifts.
Welcome back! 😉
I have two jigsaws. One is a two speed low and high and the other is a variable speed slider switch that goes from really really slow to lightening speed. I think they are both over 20 years old. I just keep them clean and the moving parts oiled every so often and they keep on running. I've been using the two speed one this week with some new Bosch blades in it. Nice cuts. Do you use masking tape on the back side of the wood to prevent splintering? I've used it on plywood and it seems to work pretty good. Never used it on solid wood.
I have used tape to cut thinner luan on a camo dresser I cut up. But not for a long, long time.
that is a great project. i do not have a jigsaw yet. i know i need to get one, but just not sure which one is best for me. favorite tool would be a drill/driver!
I don't count my drill as a tool to buy, because I just assume they almost everyone has one if they live out on their own. 🙂 But true, I couldn't do any of my projects without it.
Mary-the boondocks blog
Gail, it looks great! I had to laugh when you said: "I'm no expert". In my book, 30 years use definitely qualifies you as an expert!
🙂 Thanks Mary.... I guess 30 years (off & on) may make me somewhat of an expert.
I love all the tips you included in your post! I love the Care Bear story!!! Your daughter must have loved playing with that even after the party! I love the cutting board you created and the way you used the thrift store belt! Great job!
Thanks Kim! Where have the last 30 years gone... My cutting board was a piece of cake compared to those awesome puzzle pieces you did last week. 🙂
I am the worst at using a jig saw. Maybe your tips (and getting new blades) will help me! I blame my jig saw incompetence on being left-handed ; ) Pinning your awesome cutting board!
Hey Jeanie! I hope my tips do help, sometimes I think we just need more practice. Thanks for pinning!
Gail this is such a great post! So many awesome tips, and your blade comparison is awesome! It is amazing the difference a blade can make! I love using my jigsaw and I agree it is a great tool for beginners. I remember your care bear photo from another post, you are so amazing! Love it! Pinned, and thanks for the tip about having a board behind to avoid tear out when you drill, I always forget to do that...must remember!
We all know little tidbits (like using the wood to prevent tear out) but sometimes we just get in a hurry and forget to do them. I can't believe that picture is over 30 years old. Jamie will be 35 this year!
Thank you for pinning, I truly appreciate it.
I love my Ryobi jig saw..in fact I love my Ryobi Nail Gun, Circular Saw, Sander and Sawsall. Use them all the time. Might just have to try to make a cutting board (you can never have too many cutting boards)!
Yay Nancy, happy you might make your own cutting board. 🙂
I love having all the tools that match with the same batteries.
I am so glad you posted this! I am going to be adding planks to my office wall next week and I will be doing it by myself. I need to use the jigsaw to go around the windows and outlets and I am a bit nervous, since this is the saw I have never used! Pinning this for next week's adventure! 🙂
As long as you follow some of my tips, you should be great! (and use a new blade) Wishing you lots of luck on your project, and thanks so much for pinning!
Marie from The Interior Frugalista
Wow, Gail, this is chalked full of helpful tips for using a jigsaw. The first thing I need to do before ordering jigsaw blades is replacing my relic jigsaw that no matter what blades I use, gives a terrible cut. Pinning your cutting board tutorial too. Adorable beanbag (chocolate chip bag) toss cut out. Wish I would've picked up power tools when my kids were young because they would have loved having one of these.
I did some woodworking way back 30 years ago, but then took a bunch of years off. So happy to be back at it now Marie. Ohhh, yes--you should definitely put a new jigsaw on your wish list. This month's power tool challenge has me adding new tools to my wish list as well.
Thanks for pinning!
Karen @ The DIY Bungalow
I LOVE the CareBear cut out! That is too cute! Great tips on using a jigsaw - what a comprehensive look at a fun tool to use!! Pinned and shared!
Thank you for pinning and sharing Karen! I love this power tool challenge, it makes me to new and fun projects.
Your tips for using a jigsaw are good ones! I love the cutting board that you created but you stole my heart with your Care Bear cutout that you made for your daughter's birthday party. It's so cute! I can only imagine the fun that your pre-k students had with the Cookie Monster that you made for your classroom. I'll bet that if you ran across a former student or two, that they would remember playing with it.
You read my post! You know... so many people just skim the highlights these days. I sure wish I knew where this care bear was. I can still (in my mind) see those kids (mostly boys) throwing those bean bags with all their might... poor poor cookie monster!
thanks for stopping by, take care my friend!
Lovely work! I have a Bosch jigsaw and I'm going to pick up some of those blades as well and try my hand at doing this project. Thanks for the tips and inspiration! xo
I am always looking for cutting boards at the thrift store, now I'll just make my own! 🙂
As usual you rocked the team challenge! Pinned your project and your tips are perfect for a new learner and I pinned those too:) Super to see the blade comparison since I just saw the Starrett blades in Orlando and was getting ready to order some. I ordered the Bosch from here instead:)
Thanks for pinning Wendi, and ordering from my Amazon Link! I appreciate all the hard work you put into this series each month!
This is a really good post, Gail. Not to criticize, because you share great information but I think you forgot one important tip >>Buy a good quality jigsaw. It makes a world of difference. I started with a very basic cheap jigsaw years ago and it didn't matter what blade I put in it, the cut was terrible. When I got a new one it made a world of difference, like cutting butter with a knife!
Oh I forgot to say, I LOVE that carebear beanbag toss game. That gives me ideas!!!!!
Great tip Julie about a quality saw! I thought about you as I was writing this post wondering "what would Julie say".
Those bean bag toss games were a lot of fun. The care bear hung on Jamie's wall for a long, long time--just wish I knew where it went.... Thanks for stopping by!