How Can You Cut Thick Pieces of Wood with a Jigsaw?
Pretty much everyone who is into woodworking knows that a jigsaw is a high-powered useful tool. In fact, when you hear someone using one, then you know there is some serious woodworking going on. After all, it can literally cut through almost anything. That being said, the question still remains: how thick of wood can a jigsaw cut?
Before we delve into the question at hand, know that discussing jigsaws can be a bit difficult as it has a lot of features to cover. With that said, we are not going to cover its accessories, build, design, forms, etc. Instead, we are only going to focus on the blades and how their different types respond to the wood pressure.
How Thick of Wood Can a Jigsaw Cut?
Whether you already own a jigsaw or just about to invest in one, it would be best if you know how it can help you with your project. Among the many things that people ask when buying one is how thick of wood can a jigsaw cut. That being said, here are the default measures of some of the materials that a jigsaw can cut:
- Non-ferrous metals: 10 millimeters or 3/8 of an inch to 40 millimeters or 1.5 inches
- Mild steel: 5 millimeters or 1/4 of an inch to 15 millimeters or 5/8 of an inch
- Wood: 40 millimeters or 1.5 inches to 150 millimeters or 6 inches
As for cutting wood, it can be said that jigsaws with greater depth for cutting are more versatile because it can cut through different types of wood. Furthermore, a greater cutting depth also adds to adaptability.
On the other hand, a deeper cutting action can increase the chances of the blade to deflect, which is not only a safety hazard but also may affect accuracy.
Watch Chris Cut a 6 inch Thick Piece of Wood Using a Jigsaw with a 10 inch Blade!
Factors that Affect How Deep or Shallow a Jigsaw Cuts
At the same time, there are many factors that affect how deep or shallow a jigsaw cuts. These factors are the stroke rate and stroke length. This means that it will depend on the user’s skill. With that said, with the proper technique, the default measurements that we mentioned before can still be increased.
- Jigsaw Stroke Rate
This just refers to the speed that a jigsaw runs or the number of times that the blade moves up and down each minute. Usually, they run at 500 spm to 3500 spm. There are also some jigsaws that come with speeds that are either fixed or variable.
For a simple cutting task, a fixed speed jigsaw would be nice. But in terms of different angles and wood types, you should get a jigsaw that has two different stroke rates. The fact that different materials require different blades and different stroke rates is the reason why a lot of jigsaws have three or more speed settings.
- Jigsaw Stroke Length
This is the distance the blade travels up and down while cutting. Usually, the range is from 18 millimeters or 3/4 of an inch to 26 millimeters or 1 inch. The rule of thumb is the longer the length of a jigsaw stroke, the faster you will be able to cut the wood.
However, the opposite happens with a shorter length because the teeth of the blades are exposed greatly with every workpiece stroke. Obviously, jigsaws with a longer stroke can cut through thicker materials. There is also less stress on the blade, so you will be able to use it for a long time before you have to replace it.
Types of Blade Material
As what we have mentioned earlier, the material with which the blade is made of also plays a great role in the quality of cut it produces. That being said, here are some of the most common materials used in jigsaw blades:
- High-carbon steel. These are what they call disposable blades as they become dull easily. As a result, these blades cannot really cut deep.
- High-speed steel. These are more durable and harder than blades made from high-carbon steel. You can use this on metal, hardwood, and plastic that has been reinforced.
- Bi-metal. These are flexible and can withstand the regular wear-and-tear. Also, these can be used on metal and hardwood.
- Tungsten carbide. These can really resist heat and are very durable. It can cut through fiberglass, ceramics, and steel.
- Reverse tooth. These can only cut downstroke, so it is ideal to use for materials that are going to splinter.
- Plunge cut. These are specifically used for plasterboard and softwood.
- Scroll cutting. They have a narrow blade, which makes these best for cutting tight curves.
- Flush cutting. This can prevent you from making cut flushes.
Tips and Tricks in Cutting Thick Pieces of Wood
Even if you have the perfect accessories or tools, you still have to do your end of the job to cut through a thick piece of wood properly:
- For advanced users, double up the blade to prevent flexing
- Cut through it using a fluid firm but fluid motion
- Adjust the speed settings when necessary
- Use the right blade length
- Always put tension on the blade
- For straight cuts, do it in one go with the other hand assisting the direction
- Choose a jigsaw that has a power that you can manage
- Do not hold it too long in one spot
- For some types of wood, be sure to sand it down first
- If at first, it does not cut through, do not hold the blade against the uncut portion. Instead, start over.
- Always place the pieces of wood that you are going to cut on a stable surface, so gravity is on your side
And, there you have it! By default, a jigsaw can really cut through thick pieces of wood. However, this default measurement can be altered by different factors that either relies on the features of the jigsaw itself and/or the way you handle this powerful tool.
At the same time, you should also be mindful of the type of blade that you use as each blade serves a different purpose. Moreover, we cannot stress enough for you to exercise caution when cutting through thick pieces of wood. As we have mentioned before, there might be times when the blade can deflect, so practice mindfulness in every step of the way.
The same goes for wood splinters and other scattered material, so always have something that can protect your hands. Lastly, if you cannot get it the first time, just keep on practicing on doing simple cuts.