Getting jiggy(saw) with it
Finally, I finished my drafting work and could get started on the first project of the class. Using five pieces of poplar, I must create a frame with an extra rail in the middle. This frame will have more joints on it than the Dude: dovetail, rabbet, dado, mortise-and-tenon, dowel and rabbet-and-dado. All are to be cut by hand. I started with the dovetail because I figured it would be the hardest. While my first dovetail ever wasn’t too bad, my second has already headed off the rails. (Off the pins and tails?) I’ve decided that this second dovetail is merely a practice joint. The “real” one is next…maybe.
Our short lesson for this week’s class was on the jigsaw. It’s not as fine an instrument as a stationary bandsaw, but it’s great for rough work. One advantage it has over the bandsaw is that you can begin a cut in the middle of a workpiece (after drilling a starter hole). You can cut tight curves with the saw, but, as with a car, the tighter the curve, the more you should slow down, which applies to both the speed of the blade and the force you place on it.
Most jigsaw blades are designed to cut on the up stroke. Why? The up cut directs the force on the workpiece toward the shoe of the tool, giving you more control and stability. But remember, the up-cutting motion will cause tearout on the surface. Make sure you have the underside of the workpiece facing up during the cut. If you don’t have the means or access to cut on the underside, you can use a down-cut blade. The saw will be a bit harder to control with the down-cut blade because it will try to push the tool off of the workpiece. As with all saw blades, the higher the teeth count, the finer the cut. However, if the workpiece is thick, a fine blade will have to work hard and probably won’t be able to clear the dust it creates. This situation can lead to burning. A good rule of thumb is to use a blade that will have four teeth in the wood at all times.
Do you have any tips for using a jigsaw? Any tricks for getting more out of this tool?
Jeff Dundas is our resident newbie woodworker. He’ll be sharing his insights and discoveries here on the Shop Hack blog as he learns to make sawdust.