How to Use a Jigsaw to Cut a Straight Line

jigsaw closeup

If you want to learn how to use a jigsaw to cut a straight line, my guide will walk you through the steps and discuss what type of techniques work the best, the importance of a sharp blade, and an accurate cutting line, as well as proper jigsaw safety tips. While jigsaws are typically tools that are mainly utilized for their ability to cut curved lines, if you know what you’re doing, you can also rely on this saw to cut straight lines as well.

How to use a jigsaw to cut a straight line is possible, if you follow these guidelines:

  1. Check that the blade is in proper alignment
  2. The blade must be sharp with no chips
  3. Use the right blade based on material type and thickness
  4. Use a guide
  5. Use a pencil and tape measure to mark the cutting line

While using a jigsaw to cut a straight line may be more difficult considering this type of saw is better at angled cuts, with the right tools and technique, you can easily make do.

Read my guide to learn how to cut the cleanest, straightest line possible using your new saw and find out what extra tools and accessories you’ll need to get the job done.

 Is Cutting a Straight Line Even Possible?

Because jigsaws are often the tool of choice for cutting curved lines, many people wonder if cutting a straight line using a jigsaw is possible, but I assure you it is. There are many other power tools out there that can easily handle making straight cuts, but if the jigsaw is all you have to work with, then I’ll walk you through the process using some safe techniques that will ensure you achieve straight clean cuts.

Jigsaws can actually cut straight lines in a wide variety of materials including:

  • Ceramic
  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Laminate
  • Wood

The right way to use the best jigsaw to cut a straight line can differ based on the type of material you’re working with. These saws can make bevel cuts, miter cuts, cross cuts, and rip cuts in a variety of materials. It can also make a straight line cut even in the middle of a piece of material if you need to make plunge cuts.

How to Start

How to Start

The first step is marking out an accurate, straight line. To do this, use a pencil and measuring tape. Next, you’ll need to use a set of plastic blades. If you’re planning on slicing through wood, then make sure you pick up thicker blades since they have less flex.

To ensure you make a clean, straight line, use a set of guides. If you don’t have guides, you can try a straight edge and a set of clamps. This should work out well as long as the fence is straight and allows the saw’s shoe to rest against as it powers through the material.

Blade Options

  • When you’re using a jigsaw to cut a straight line, flex can be a concern. A blade that flexes can wander from the cutting line, which is why the less the blade flexes, the better. A more rigid, thicker blade will work well and can make the process a faster one, especially when you’re cutting through laminate or wood.
  • If your goal is a beautiful finish and a cleaner line, then reverse teeth blades are a great choice. This type of blade tends to cut on the downstroke, which will reduce tear outs. However, it’s important to note that this style of blade will not work well with orbital action.
  • Keep rigidity in mind if you’re working with materials other than wood.

Short Cuts and Cross Cuts

If you want to do a short cut with this saw, begin by laying down the cutting line, fire up the saw and follow it to the end of the material. For a cross cut, you’re just cutting across the grain of the wood. Both lumber and wooden boards often have grain that goes lengthwise, which is why you’ll do the majority of miter and cross cuts using short straight cuts.

To do, grab a pencil and measuring tape to mark the measurement for the cut. Be sure to note the waste side of the cut. Use a framing square or a speed square to trace the line.

Before you even make the cut, check the blade to ensure it’s correctly aligned and straight. You can use a T-square to make sure it’s perpendicular with the shoe. If the blade is out of alignment or bent it can snap during use.

Making the Cut

With the shoe resting on the wood, position the saw near the cut and turn it on. Allow it to run up to speed, then bring it into the wood to begin the cut. Some people have found that resting the blade on the wood in the beginning can allow it to grab the material easily, which will prevent it from bouncing when you begin a cut. The wood should be clamped down or held tightly as you make the cut.

Long Cuts and Rip Cuts

Long Cuts and Rip Cuts

The rip cut is done parallel to the grain of the wood. Most of the time, when you’re doing a rip cut you’re also doing a long straight cut. With long straight cuts, regardless of the material, using a fence is essential. To make a fence, try clamping a straightedge to the cutting line. The saw’s shoe will rest on the fence as you slowly make the cut. Because of this, you’ll need to clamp the straightedge at a determined distance from the line. The distance of the cutting line is offset between the side of the blade and the edge of the shoe.

Again, it’s crucial that you ensure you have the correct type of blade, based on the material. If you want to rip wood efficiently, you’ll use an orbital setting, however, if you’re using reverse teeth blades then you’ll want to avoid using an orbital setting. Once you’re ready, switch the tool on and bring the blade into the material when it’s up to speed.

As you periodically check that the blade is following the cutting line, focus on resting the shoe against the fence. The saw’s blade will handle all the work without needing you to apply much pressure against the material, so you can focus more on the shoes against the fence.

For A Cleaner Cut

You will need to adjust the speed based on the thickness of the material, the material type, and the kind of blade you’re using. Doing so will ensure you get the cleanest cut possible.

Depending on the blade you use, the type of material you are working with, and the thickness of the work piece, you will need to adjust the speed of the jigsaw to compensate for the cleanest cut possible.

Related Questions

What’s the Best Saw to Use to Cut Through Thick Plastic?

If you’re cutting through plastic, you’ll want a model that has a more powerful motor. I recommend the Bosch Power Tools Jig Saws – JS470E Corded Top-Handle Jigsaw, which comes with a seven amp motor, variable speed, and an impressive cutting capacity.

How Do You Make a Plunge Cut with a Jigsaw?

When you’re cutting round corners, always use a compass in order to mark the radius. You can make impressively tight curves by using straight tangential cuts. If you need to make an intricate curved shape, first trace the layout of the cut, then you can determine the sequence and direction of each individual cut before you start. Be sure that you have all the marked cutting areas extended beyond the edge of your work surface.

What Do I Do if My Saw Overheats?

Running your saw at a low speed or cutting thick material can put too much stress on the motor, causing it to overheat. When the saw is running without load, its fan can keep the motor cool, but when it comes into contact with the work material, it starts to struggle, which can cause it to overheat. If you start to notice a dip in performance or notice a burning smell, withdraw the saw for one to two minutes, but allow the saw to continue running. Doing so will cool down the motor by enabling air to circulate. To prevent your saw from overheating make sure you’re running it at the optimum speed based on the material you’re working with and blade type.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to use a jigsaw to cut a straight line, you can get started practicing cross cuts and rips using the right type of blade based on material type and thickness. Remember, to get the cleanest cut possible, make sure you check the blade to ensure s sharp and in proper alignment. Additionally, blade type is also essential if you want to minimize kickback and vibration.