Jigsaws are great power tools to have around a woodworking workshop. However, they also tend to malfunction in various ways. Whenever we cut material of a particular thickness, we like to get a square cut. But with a jigsaw, it does not always happen.
Why is my jigsaw cutting at an angle? This question frequently occurs on woodworkers’ forums and blogs. The jigsaw is a versatile power tool, but it can be frustrating if you can’t get a cut with 90° edges. It commonly occurs when you are cutting in curves. The reasons why this should happen can be many.
The jigsaw is one of the neatest inventions in the world of woodworking. We use this handy power tool for a variety of purposes on wood and other materials as well. But it can be a cranky performer at times, and one of the commonest issues is not cutting with a uniform 90° cut.
A jigsaw may not cut squarely for multiple reasons due to the blade, the machine, or your technique. It could be due to one of these reasons or a combination of all three.
Possible Causes That Make a Jigsaw Cut at An Angle
Let’s take a closer look at why a jigsaw may not perform as it should. And more specifically, why should it cut at an angle. As we mentioned before, there could be multiple reasons, and here are some of the commonest ones:
Incorrect Holding Technique
Let’s first look at the possibilities of human error. If you hold the jigsaw at an awkward position, it may cut at an angle. A lot of how a jigsaw performs depends on how the operator handles it.
You need to maintain a steady hand. Moreover, even the way you stand can affect the way your jigsaw works. Stand with your legs apart and firmly planted on the floor. Keep your body still with only your arms free. Frequent moving around can also affect the accuracy of the cut.
Cutting Sharp Curves
While cutting sharp curves, we tend to slant the machine slightly as we weave the blade across the workpiece. The problem gets worse when you push the blade harder than you should in a bid to cut the workpiece faster.
The combination of slanting the jigsaw and pushing the blade harder than required can result in the blade bending slightly. If this occurs, you may never get a square cut.
Cheap, Low-quality Blades
Out of all the items that you spend on while using a jigsaw, the blade is probably the cheapest component. We tend to neglect that aspect and buy the first blade that we see in the store or on a website.
Cheap blades tend to be made of poor-quality material. The blades will bend easily and the teeth may not be uniform. A combination of these two factors could lead to your jigsaw cutting at an angle.
Old and Worn Machine
Everything has a lifespan, even jigsaws. With prolonged use over several years, the parts of your jigsaw will show signs of wear and tear. Bearings are the primary culprits.
Other parts like the blade guide and various bushes, nuts, and bolts can develop play which will cause your jigsaw blade to wander. It can result in your blade cutting at an angle. Look for these signs and if you detect them, it’s time to replace your jigsaw.
Getting the Most from Your Jigsaw
You can use your jigsaw for multiple tasks in your woodworking workshop. But much can go wrong if you don’t use it correctly. Here are some best practices:
Add Protection to Your Work Surface
A jigsaw is a tool prone to high vibrations. If you are cutting a soft surface, the juddering and chattering of the machine could damage the surface of the workpiece. A good idea is to apply some masking tape to the base of the jigsaw. You can remove the masking tape after completing your cutting task.
Consider Cutting Other Materials and Items
Jigsaws are one of the most versatile power tools that you can find. As woodworkers, we tend to consider only the woodcutting capabilities of a jigsaw. As things stand, you can use your jigsaw to cut much more than thin wood.
With a suitable blade, you can use a jigsaw to cut a wide range of materials. You can cut not only metals but you can also plastics and even harder materials like ceramic tiles and cement.
Select a Suitable Machine
Do a bit of research on the type of jigsaw you need to suit the tasks that you need to perform. Buying the cheapest machine on the market is probably not a good idea. The more you pay for a jigsaw, the more features you get.
We aren’t saying that you should buy the most expensive on the market. The issue here is that you should be aware of the features that each machine has to offer. A larger machine with a powerful motor will give you effortless and cleaner cuts.
Spending $100.00 or more on a jigsaw improves your chances of getting a machine that is not only efficient but also has multiple features. You may not use all the features immediately but in time, you will laud your wisdom in spending a bit more for a better product.
For example, you can get extra features like an in-built blower, LED light, a speed control dial, and ergonomic handles. You may need to spend a bit more to buy a heavier and more powerful machine if you need to cut thick material.
Square Your Blade
Avoid diving into your cutting operation as soon as you fit the blade. Getting a square-edge cut is a usual objective for cutting with a jigsaw. If your blade isn’t perpendicular to the workpiece, you can never achieve it.
Before cutting, use a square to check the blade for perpendicularity. If the blade isn’t square due to bending, replace it with a straighter blade. You may have to make some adjustments to your jigsaw settings to adjust the angle of your blade to 90°.
Check the Teeth Direction
Jigsaw blades usually cut on the upstroke. Due to this reason, burrs, splinters, and chips will form on the top surface of the workpiece. For a cleaner cut on the top of the surface, you can either position your blade to cut on the downstroke or buy a blade that does.
Another good idea is to cut your material with the good side facing downwards. That way, the chips, and burrs will form on the reverse side of your workpiece.
Take Care of the Oscillation
Many of us may not be aware that other than the up and down motion, a jigsaw blade also moves slightly forward with each stroke. Most jigsaws offer three settings to reduce or increase this “oscillation.” You can also turn off the oscillation.
At the highest setting, the jigsaw blade will cut the fastest. But with this setting, you will also get a rougher cut. If you want a smooth cut while cutting delicate material like say, wood veneer, you can reduce the oscillation or switch it off. Always check the cut on a test piece before starting to work on the actual job.
Make Relief Cuts for Sharp Curves
You cannot expect your jigsaw to perform miracles. If you have to cut extremely sharp curves, it’s a good practice to make relief cuts. Relief cuts are cuts you make to separate the scrap material as you cut. It reduces the load on the blade and machine.
Use the Correct Type of Blade
The wide range of jigsaw blades you can get on the market can be extremely confusing. The type of teeth, the material, the width of the blades – all these variables determine the thickness and type of material you can cut with a particular blade.
When you are restricted to woodworking, it limits your choices, making a selection of the right blade a bit easier. It is useful to have a few jigsaw blades for cutting other materials like metal or fiberglass, for instance.
Otherwise, ensure that you use a blade that is suitable for cutting wood. You may have to change blades when you cut wood of different thicknesses.
Use a Fence
While using a jigsaw on your workbench, you want to protect it from getting damaged. For this, always elevate your workpieces on a couple of long wooden slats. This will prevent the blade from hitting the surface of your workbench and it will also prevent the blade from snapping on impact.
Your jigsaw can be your best friend or worst enemy in your woodworking shop. It all depends on how you use it and the approach you take. Hopefully, our information will help you understand better how to avoid your jigsaw cutting at an angle.
With this information, you can also adopt some best practices to ensure that your jigsaw performs as expected. If you get your jigsaw to work efficiently, there is a huge scope of the things you can do with it during your woodworking projects.