Jigsaws are perfect for cutting numerous shapes, but it can be difficult to cut a straight line. If you don’t have a table saw and you want to cut a line, you can use a jigsaw by using certain techniques. You’ll need a few other supplies, but the method is more than worth it if you want to get the results you’re looking for.
To cut straight with a jigsaw, place the material on a workbench, clamp it with a vice, and push the base of the blade against the material. Place a straight piece of wood next to the jigsaw and draw a straight line. Follow the line with the jigsaw for a straight cut.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can cut perfectly straight lines with your jigsaw, why your jigsaw isn’t cutting straight, and how to make the cuts much smoother.
How Do You Cut Perfectly Straight With a Jigsaw?
To cut perfectly straight with a jigsaw, try this method:
- Use a workbench to stabilize the material. The Black + Decker Workmate Portable Workbench can hold up to 350 pounds. Use the levers to align the material and measure a straight line. You can also clamp materials between the two pieces of durable wood that make the workbench. The whole assembly folds up for easy storage.
- Clamp the material with a vice to prevent it from moving around. Use the strongest vices you can get your hands on. Vices hold the materials, preventing them from shifting while using the vibrating jigsaw; otherwise, you’ll end up pushing the material and making an uneven cut. Vices are crucial for almost all cuts.
- Put the jigsaw’s blade against the material, then trace a straight line with another piece of wood. It’s important to create a line with a carpenter’s pencil so you can erase it after the cut. You can also keep a straight piece of wood next to the jigsaw throughout the cut. Make sure you clamp this wood with a vice just like the main piece.
- Follow the line with the jigsaw until you’re finished with the cut. Jigsaws should be used at a slow pace to prevent the teeth from making a jagged line. Keep the material pressed against the base of the blade for the most even, smooth cut possible. Don’t remove the blade from the material until the jigsaw is off.
Cutting a straight line with a jigsaw can be quite difficult if you don’t follow these techniques. We always recommend using a piece of wood or a carpenter’s pencil to make sure the line is as straight as you can. Failure to do so could result in an uneven, jagged cut.
If you prefer a video tutorial, watch this helpful YouTube guide:
Why Is Your Jigsaw Not Cutting Straight?
Your jigsaw isn’t cutting straight because you might not have used the right blade. A jagged, narrow blade makes it significantly harder to cut a straight line. The material might also be splintered, wet, or unclamped. Always go as slow as possible to prevent the wood from moving or causing uneven lines.
Let’s take a deeper look into each of these issues below.
- The blade clamps are loose. Tools Owner suggests your jigsaw might not be cutting straight lines because the blade clamps are shifting every time you use the tool. These clamps hold the blade. If the blade isn’t stabilized, small movements will make a massive difference in the jigsaw’s trajectory.
- Your jigsaw needs a new base plate. The base plate holds the jigsaw against the cutting surface. For example, if you’re cutting a wooden board, the base plate should touch the wood. If the base plate is unbalanced or lopsided, you won’t be able to cut a straight line since the blade will move around.
- The tool might have an incorrect blade. To cut straight lines with a jigsaw, you need a wide-tooth, thick blade. These blades prevent unwanted turns that could be beneficial when cutting a curved surface. Make sure the blade sits all the way in the blade clamp, and tighten the clamp to keep it from moving.
- Your table clamps or vices aren’t strong enough. If the vice moves when you use the jigsaw, it’s time to get a new one. The clamp needs to hold the material without the slightest shift. Jigsaws have powerful vibrations that can move and loosen low-quality or old clamps, ruining the straight line.
- There’s not enough power going to the jigsaw. Whether your power outlet isn’t producing enough electricity or the jigsaw’s batteries are running low, it’s important to have enough energy in the tool. A lack of energy will make the jigsaw bounce around, creating a jagged, uneven line.
If you follow these suggestions and your blade still won’t cut straight, you might need a new jigsaw. Old jigsaws have bearing issues that can loosen the base plate, blade, and other components. These bearings are difficult to replace, and new ones typically don’t restore the jigsaw to its original condition.
However, straight cuts can be made better with smoothening techniques. Read on if you want to learn a handful of unique tips and tricks to improve your jigsaw’s straight cuts.
How Do You Get Smoother Cuts While Cutting Straight?
To get smoother cuts while cutting straight with a jigsaw, try some of these quick tips:
- Don’t use dull blades when cutting with a jigsaw. Dull blades skip around and ruin your jigsaw cuts. High-end blades use stronger materials, which means you won’t have to replace them as often. Once the blade isn’t sharp, it’s best to get a new set with wide teeth to make it easier to cut a straight line.
- Cover the base plate with masking tape. According to Family Handy Man, you can line the base plate with masking tape, preventing the jigsaw from scuffing the material you’re cutting. However, it also keeps older base plates from getting stuck. Make sure you add a new layer of masking tape every time you work on a new project.
- Make sure the blade is perpendicular to the base plate and blade clamp. Tightening the blade into the clamp the wrong way will wobble the clamp and cause all sorts of issues. It can also bend the blade, preventing you from getting the smooth, straight cuts you’re trying to achieve.
- Create starter holes with a drill bit if you’re starting in the middle of the material. You can use a small drill bit that’s a little bit wider than the saw blade. These holes give you a place to start rather than cutting from the edge of the material. It also means you don’t have to vertically cut into the material.
Ensuring the material you cut is smooth is just as important as making it straight. If you have a straight cut that’s covered in splinters and jagged pieces, it’ll weaken the finished product’s structural integrity. Being able to cut a straight line with a jigsaw helps you create any project you desire without getting new tools or messing up the cuts.
While jigsaws are often associated with curved cuts, there’s no doubt that you can use one to cut a straight line. Make sure you have the clamps, workbench, blade, and tracing tools for the job. Once you have everything ready to go, take it slow and steady to cut the wood with minimal mistakes.