Essential Power Tools – The Jig Saw
If a scroll saw – or maybe a bandsaw – hooked up with a circular saw the resultant offspring would likely resemble a jig saw. This tool has some of the attraction of both tools – and some of the disadvantages of each.
Like the circular saw the jig saw as a handheld tool is able to go to the material rather than then other way around – this makes it infinitely easier to cut segments out of large sheets of plywood, or store the tool away in a small space if you don’t have a proper shop space.
Like a scroll saw or bandsaw it can handle free form cutting. Got a curve to cut – it can do the job. Of course as with any tool intended to cut curves you’ll have to select a blade of shallow enough depth to allow it to turn within the curf you are cutting. At the same time you don’t want to select one too shallow since blade longevity and cutting speed is generally better with a deeper more solid blade.
You can also make acceptable cuts in light metals – either sheet metals or thicker light alloy materials such as aluminum. It’s not the optimum tool to do much of this work – an angle grinder is faster at making straight cuts in ferrous metals and sheet material is better handled with a hand held powered shear – but the point is sometimes is more one of what is available – or what tools that are already paid for – that can be pressed into service to complete the task rather than which tools with complete it most efficient – and here the jigsaw is a can do piece of kit.
Showing just how much you can do with relatively little kit is part of what we’re interested in demonstrating here, which is one reason why instead of pulling out the metal shear to cut the stainless sheet for the wood fired pizza oven we stuck a metal blade in the jigsaw and forged right ahead after having used it to cut out our curved plywood patterns.
This isn’t a fast tool – which can be a downside – if you are cutting straight lines using the circular saw will be much faster. BUT, as I said in the previous piece on the scroll saw being a slower cutting tool can be a big advantage when you hand a tool over to less experience folks of any age. Like the scroll saw the jig saw is on the friendly side of the power tool spectrum both in appearance and reality.
As we’ve proceeded through this list we started with some very reasonably priced [and sized] tools – ones anyone should be able to afford and store – but they we got into some more expensive and unwieldy pieces of kit. Tools like the mill-drill, lathe and even the table saw add a lot of capacity to your shop – but they may exceed your monetary and space constraints. The jigsaw fits firmly into the former category – low cost and small – making it an everyone tool. So if you don’t have one in your shop consider adding one today.