How to Choose and Use a Jig Saw

Watch the full episode:

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows the best uses for a jigsaw and how to choose the right one for the job

Click here to SUBSCRIBE to the official This Old House YouTube channel:

Time: none

Cost: $30-$400360

Skill Level: Moderate

Tools List for Choosing and Using Jig Saws:
Lineman’s Pliers

Shopping List:

1. Choose which type of grip suits you best. There is the barrel-handle jigsaw or the top-handle jigsaw. This is largely a comfort choice, so try out both.
2. This saw is great for curved cuts, circle cuts and scribed cuts on walls.
3. The orbital setting is important when choosing a jigsaw. Jigsaws cut in an upstroke and the orbital setting controls how much the blade moves back and forth. At zero, the blade moves straight up and down like a sewing needle.
4. For fine cuts, keep the orbital setting low. A higher setting is more powerful, but less precise.
5. Also, check the speed setting. The speed of the blade of the blade can impact the power of the blade. The thicker the wood, the more speed you may want. Use slower speeds to cut metals and plastic.
6. Look at the bevel setting. Lay the bevel flat for a zero-angle cut. Move the bevel for a more angled cut like a 45-degree.
7. Choose a blade depending on what type of cut you want to make. If you want to cut something fine, like a veneer, use a blade with the teeth facing down, so the blade cuts down and not up.
8. For a more aggressive cut, use a blade with the teeth facing upward, so the blade cuts on the upswing.
9. There are blades with teeth both up and down for a moderate cut.
10. Be sure to look at how the blade connects to the saw. Some jigsaws accept “T” type shank while others accept a straight shank, so choose the one that matches your saw.
11. When making a cut, make sure the shoe is level on the cutting surface. If it isn’t, it’s possible the blade could jump.
12. Keep a firm grip on the saw to prevent the blade from jumping.
13. Let the saw do the work. Do not push or pull the saw. This could drastically affect the cut.

Tom demonstrated best jigsaw practices by showing several examples, including the 561593, Festool Carvex Ps 420 EBQ Jigsaw, manufactured by Festool ( and the JS470E Top-Handle Jigsaw, manufactured by Bosch Power Tools (

Jigsaw blades can be purchased from home centers and hardware stores.

Follow This Old House and Ask This Old House:

  • Views:54,418 views
  • Rating:
  •  Click on the stars above to rate this page
  • Categories:[ jigsaw review ]
  • Tags:


bigscreen bird says:

Of course you like the festool

jonatas araujo says:

muito bom sou do brazil



Tech giant says:

That yellow one was a ryobi saul

Pete Brown says:

I have a festool one. That strobe light on the front is FAR more helpful than it looks. Much simpler to control vs the Bosch I had (which is also good).

iShootBandits says:

Three dollar jigsaw. I do not want to be using that.

Paul Barron says:

After 3:37 is gold!! I have an orbital jig saw and couldn’t figure out how to see the cutting action.

Oswaldo Rabanal says:

I just purchased a black and decker jig and it was 25$ to cut my laminate counter top. Did the job perfectly and it has the vacuum attachment. That was nice for a chap saw

Barry Manilowa says:

Also, never start the cut with the teeth engaged in the material.

Jose salcedo says:

Wish I had known bought the blades that cut up and down when I was cutting some laminated

Marcus Christensen says:

what if the jig saw blade is able to move side to side and twist in the saw mount is that normal.

Blog das Madeiras says:

Hi there from Portugal,
Nice info 😀

Spencer Davis says:

What the hell is a sawr?

Dave Grohl says:

if you’re using a jig saw, don’t you want it to veer left or right?

Abajh Alghamdi says:

thank you for all those information .
God bless

that_G_EvanP says:

Can anyone tell me what the things hanging on the wall behind them are? Specifically the really long ones to the left.

 Write a comment


Do you like our videos?
Do you want to see more like that?

Please click below to support us on Facebook!