Jigsaws are useful power tools to have in a woodworking workshop. Due to its thin blade, you can cut in different shapes and curves with this tool. When it comes to cutting thin material, we consider a jigsaw as the most suitable choice.
Can a jigsaw cut a 2×4? It is an often-asked question. Although jigsaws are considered to be not very accurate, on the contrary, there is much you can do with jigsaws. A jigsaw blade is extremely thin but with a bit of care, you can cut thick wood sections with reasonable accuracy.
Jigsaws have thin blades and we use them to cut thin material into intricate designs. We are all familiar with the term “jigsaw puzzle.” This age-old recreational toy is made with a jigsaw, which gives the puzzle its name.
You can cut in curved lines and complex shapes with a jigsaw. You make short crosscuts on boards and make corner cuts. It could be challenging to make long, straight cuts. For bigger, thicker, and heavier cutting tasks, you would probably be better off using a circular saw.
Considerations for Jigsaw Blades to Cut Thicker Lumber
If you consider cutting thicker lumber, some factors come into play that has a bearing on the performance of a jigsaw as follows:
Typically, jigsaw blades are particularly thin. But when you plan to cut thicker wood, you need to consider using a thicker blade. The stiffness of the blade increases with a corresponding increase in its thickness.
A thicker blade will be naturally more rigid. Also, the wider the blade the stiffer it will be which again adds to the blade’s rigidity. It leaves a wider kerf in the wood, and the blade will tend to cut in a straight direction.
Number of Teeth
The number of teeth per inch (TPI) on a jigsaw blade meant for cutting thicker wood will be less. The lower the TPI, the faster and stronger the cut will be. However, blades with lower TPI values will also cut rougher and you will get a wider kerf.
Thicker material to cut will naturally call for a harder blade material. Therefore, when you are to cut thicker wood, the suitable blade will be made from harder material. There is more stress on the blade increasing the need for a harder blade. You will need to use high-speed or bimetal blades.
Your jigsaw blade should have sufficient length to penetrate the depth of the material. The depth of penetration also depends on your jigsaw’s stroke length. So, you need to check the stroke before you start the actual cutting on the workpiece.
Thickness Capacity of a Jigsaw
You might wonder if you can cut thick sections of wood like a 2×4 with a jigsaw. Or maybe not. It might not strike you that it is even possible. However, if you have the right setup, with a little patience, you can slowly perform this seemingly impossible task.
Although you can cut thick sections of wood with a jigsaw such as 2x4s, 4x4s are beyond the capacity of this handy power tool. For anything thicker than 2x4s, you would probably need to use a miter saw, using perhaps a 3.5-inch-deep blade of 10 inches in diameter.
So, while we would be stretching a jigsaw to its limits by cutting a 2×4, it is worthwhile to know how to do it.
Ripping a 2×4 With a Jigsaw
While you might find it easier to crosscut a 2×4, ripping one might seem quite a challenge using a jigsaw. While crosscutting refers to cutting wood across the grain, ripping is cutting it in the direction of the grain along the length of the wood section.
You can rip wood with a variety of hand tools and power tools. But ripping a 2×4 using a jigsaw? It’s a challenge that you might like to try!
Here are the basic steps that will help you get there:
Step 1: Choosing a Suitable Blade
You need a good quality high-speed blade for this type of job. Select a wide blade. It should have medium-sized teeth. The blade should be preferably new and comparatively sharp.
Step 2: Set the Oscillation
Every jigsaw has a knob that allows you to vary the oscillation. For ripping thicker wood like 2x4s you need to set the oscillation to the maximum. By doing this, you will create an easier and quicker cut.
Step 3: Ripping the Wood
Once you have marked the line of cut, you need to place the blade on the line and start ripping. If your jigsaw has a fence, you can attach it to the base, and your ripping will be easier to do. However, the downside of these attachments is that they can restrict your movement while cutting.
Step 4: Erase the Marks
On finishing ripping the 2×4, all you need to do is remove all the markings. This you can do by lightly sanding down the marked areas. By doing this, you also smoothen the area around the kerf, reducing the possibility of getting splinters in your hands while handling the wood.
Selecting Your Saw Blade for Cutting a 2×4
A curious anomaly in woodworking is the system of classification of wood dimensions. A newcomer to woodworking would automatically assume that a 2×4 would mean a section of wood with dimensions of 2 inches deep and 4 inches wide.
The actual dimensions of wood for 2x4s are 1½ inches deep and 3½ inches wide. Given these ideal dimensions, to cut such a section of wood you would need a miter circular saw blade of 8 inches for getting perfect cuts.
So, what size of saw would you need to cut wood into the above dimensions? It all depends on the angle required while ripping the 2×4 with your jigsaw.
Setting the Cut
For example, a saw of 5 3/8 inches would need to make two passes for wood of an inch and a half thick if you wanted to cut it at 45°. If you use the same saw, you can achieve a 90° cut and manage to cut the wood in one go.
With longer blades, like say, six inches, then you can comfortably pass along the length of a 2×4 inclining the saw blade at an angle of 45°.
However, for all practical considerations, a jigsaw has limitations to the thickness of wood that it can cut, typically only as thick as a 2×4.
You can use a jigsaw to cut 2×4 lumber. The trick here is to use the right blade and have a steady hand. You need a whole load of patience and a bit of spare time on your hands because the cutting process is infinitely slower than if you were to use other machines and their blades.
If you follow the tips we have provided here you can use your jigsaw to rip 2x4s when other machines are not available and your project won’t come to a standstill.