Just as important as using a good jigsaw is the quality of the jigsaw blades, but with so many available how do you choose the right one? Here we guide you through how to select the right jigsaw blade for the task in hand and prevent common problems such as wandering blades, excessive tear out. Soon you’ll be following a straight line to clean, accurate cuts.
Jigsaw Blades- Know your blades
First and foremost, if you need to know which jigsaw to buy first? Read our Jigsaw Buying Guide.
Most manufacturers are now using T-shank blades as standard, which makes it easier to switch blades between different machines. U-shank blades are still available but the T-shank has become more popular as most jigsaws are now fitted with a tool-less blade change to make swapping blades faster and easier. Bosch also classify their blades with a T to signify a T-shank blade, for example the T144D.
Match the blade to the material
Depending on the material you’re going to be cutting, it’s important to use the right blade. Jigsaw blades come in four main categories and choosing the right one ensures you create a cleaner cut, there’s less wandering and the blade will last for longer. The four main categories include:
High Carbon Steel is best suited for softer materials such as softwood, soft plastics and wood fibreboards.
High-Speed Steel blades should be applied when working with harder material such as metal, copper, aluminium, perspex and other non-ferrous metals. The qualities of HSS means that they are generally harder and have a higher abrasive resistance so they will cut faster and have greater longevity.
Bi-metal blades are the ones to reach for if the material is especially hard and, although they’re more expensive, they do last much longer. The lifetime is approximately twice that of HSS blades and ten times greater than HCS blades. In the long run, it’s worth testing to see if they work better for you.
Carbide blades will get to work cutting through plasterboard, cement-bonded fibreboards, glass fibre reinforced plastic and stainless steel. Blades coated with carbide grit can also make cleaner cuts through fragile material such as tiles and glass fibre reinforced plastic.
The shape and arrangement of the blade's teeth play a significant part in how the blade cuts. The teeth will either be milled or ground and there are advantages for each type. Looking at the geometry of the teeth will show the type of cut you can expect from the blade.
Jigsaw blades with milled teeth are less finely sharpened which makes them more aggressive and results in a faster but rougher cut. Significantly, milled blades will also last longer so they are best used when working with denser material. Typical blade geometry includes:
Milled side set teeth
These make a faster cut but the finished cut will be rougher. Great if you need to make cuts quickly and aren’t too concerned about the finish of the cutline.
Milled wavy set teeth
As the name suggests the teeth are formed to a wave design, which produces a fine, straight cut.
Jigsaw blades with ground teeth have been filed to create a sharp edge, so use these in softer material when a smooth line is needed.
Ground taper & ground teeth
The alignment of the teeth is straight, which can make for fine clean cuts.
Ground side set teeth
For fast cuts in wood.
The precision version is a thicker blade that won’t flex and, with less movement at the end of the blade, there’s greater accuracy. For the best results use these with a pendulum action if your jigsaw has it; this pulls the fibres away so there’s less distortion in the blade.
Bosch’s GST 160 CE has a specific design feature with its double roller blade guide system which ensures minimum oscillations and bending of the saw blade for a very true and precise cut.
Bosch GST 160 CE Jigsaw Body Grip
Bosch GST 160 BCE Jigsaw Bow Handle
Ground reverse set
Reverse set blades cut in the opposite direction. These are ideal in situations when you want to keep the cutline as smooth as possible on the top surface. With the jigsaw positioned above the surface, the blade cuts on the downstroke. The wood fibres pull up as the blade moves upwards. A clever solution for this comes from Bosch with their Extra-Clean blades for wood and the reverse cutting blades.
Bosch T308B Clean Wood Cutting Jigsaw Blades
Bosch T101BR Reverse Cutting For Wood Jigsaw Blades - R - for reverse cuts on downstroke
Bosch are the market leader in jigsaw blades and as they state “No other company makes as many blades for as many applications.” That’s also due to the fact that they invented the jigsaw in the 1940s so they’ve used this experience to continually improve blade design.
The top of the packs suggest the best material to use the jigsaw blades with. It also details whether it's best for straight or curved lines. This is especially helpful if you are purchasing in store.
Festool blades also come highly recommended and although more expensive, those who use them justify the price:
"The results are astounding ...very straight cuts in thick wood."
- Frank Owen, Axminster Customer
Another cost-effective way is to buy blades in multi-packs to cover a range of cutting needs.
Want to see our complete range of jigsaw blades? Click here.
The jigsaw is a useful power tool to acquire as it has a number of unique applications that other machines don’t posses, in particular its ability to cut curves and deal with a wide variety of different materials. Want to know more about jigsaws? Take a look at our guide. Furthermore, read our Workshop Power Tools for an insight into some of the power tools currently in use in Rob Stoakley's workshop.