Jigsaw Safety Precautions for On the Job at At Home

Woodworker cutting piece of wood

If you’re new to jigsaw use, you’re interested in tackling a woodworking project, or your new job requires you to operate a jigsaw on a regular basis, then learning the basics of jigsaw safety will be crucial. The jigsaw is powerful and equipped with a motorized reciprocating blade. It’s mainly used in the manufacturing and construction industry, but it’s also a tool that woodworkers regularly rely on. This tool is commonly used to cut through tough materials such as wood and plastic. While the best jigsaw comes equipped with basic safety features that are designed to reduce the chances of an injury, you should still follow certain safety precautions when you use this tool.

Jigsaw safety is important, whether you need to learn how to properly use it on the job or for projects in your woodworking shop. Before you first use your new jigsaw, reading the user’s manual from cover to cover is a must. Additionally, you need to ensure you’re equipped with the proper safety gear including gloves, eyewear, and steel-toed boots. Next, check the saw’s blade prior to use, each and every time. The blade should be sharp and it should be tough enough to handle the type of material you’ll be cutting through. You can’t use the same blade you would use to slice through thick cedar that you would for tough plastic material. Proper and regular maintenance is another important step. Make sure the blade and the surrounding components remain well-lubricated and always double check that the blade is sharp enough. Doing so will help to minimize kickback during use.

Keep on reading for more important safety tips to follow that will ensure a more reliable performance and precise, clean cuts from your jigsaw.

Electrocution Risks

The jigsaw should not be used in a wet environment. This is an electric power tool which means the operator is at risk of electrocution when using the jigsaw in an environment that exposes it to airborne moisture or water. Because of this, it’s critical that the user only operate the tool in a covered, dry environment.

Fire Protection

In addition to electrocution, the operator is also at risk of fire. Most models are designed for use with an RCB circuit breaker. This setup allows the circuit breaker to shut off the power automatically should there be a power surge. If the jigsaw has been plugged into a non-RCB circuit, the power surge can shock the user or spark a fire.

Cuts

Cuts

Cuts are among the most common injuries that are associated with jigsaw use. This typically occurs when the user places their hand too close to the blade, allowing it to slice their skin. In order to reduce your chances of lacerations, you should only use the saw if its blade is sharp since a dull blade can make the saw more prone to kickbacks. Additionally, you can also wear gloves that are lined with Kevlar for extra protection against minor and severe cuts.

Top Safety Tips

  • Before you use your saw for the first time, make sure you read the user’s manual from cover to cover.
  • Always wear the right type of protective equipment. This can include eyewear that’s impact resistance, a dust mask, and steel-toed boots. If you’re using a jigsaw on the job, your employer should be responsible for supplying all safety gear including boots and protective eyewear.
  • Never try to force the saw through stubborn, hard material. If the blade is refusing to cut, then try reversing it, then attempt to cut again.
  • Use an extraction bag when operating the saw. The extraction bag is designed to collect dust and debris which will keep your work area clean and highly visible.
  • Check the saw’s blade on a regular basis. If you notice cracks or chips then the blade must be replaced. If the blade is dull, it can be sharpened in order to improve its cutting quality and to minimize kickback.
  • Compared to other types of saws, the jigsaw has a weak blade. Since these saws have weak blades their performance does not seem to be as consistent as other types of saws. Because of this, learning how to maintain control of the saw during operation is a must in order to reduce the risk of injury.

Blade Safety

The jigsaw is the perfect tool to use to cut patterns and curves into thin materials including metal, PVC, and wood. The blade moves up and down quickly, slicing through material as the user pushes the saw’s blade through. Since this saw is so easy to operate it can be too easy to make sloppy, casual mistakes that can lead to serious injury. Before you begin a new job, make sure you check the blade carefully. Don’t just assume that the blade that’s in the saw is the best one for the job. The exposed portion of the blade should be thicker than that of the material you’ll be cutting. If it’s not, you can easily install a new blade with the right length and thickness. Then, all you have to do is adjust the blade guard based on the blade size. This can reduce the number of teeth that are exposed, which will make operation much safer. If you need to swap out the blade, but don’t know how, click here to read my article on how to change jigsaw blade.

Clamp Down Your Workpiece

Many experienced jigsaw users will operate the saw using just one hand, as they use their other hand to hold the workpiece steady. However, it’s much safer to clamp down the workpiece to a workbench or another type of solid surface and use both hands in order to avoid accidentally cutting yourself.

Cutting Curves

When you’re cutting tight curves make sure you use a thinner blade and take your time. If you speed through the cutting process you can end up snapping the blade which can cause you to lose control of the saw. Make sure the blade you use is the right match based on the type of material you’re using.

Eye Protection

Many guys on the job will skip wearing protective eyewear at work because these glasses can be uncomfortable. But failing to use the proper eye protection can be a big mistake. The operator must lean over the saw in order to clearly view the cutting path. This will put their eyes at risk for any flying debris.

Related Questions

How Do You Choose the Right Orbital Setting for a Jigsaw?

The jigsaw’s orbital action feature will allow you to adapt the saw’s cutting motion based on the cutting task. It also ensures a more efficient cut and will keep the blade cooler in order to extend the life of the blade. The right orbital action setting will depend on the type of material you’re working with as well as the type of cut. A softer material such as wood will require a higher orbital setting. Unfortunately, orbital action tends to be less effective when it comes to cutting delicate or hard materials. The exact setting you choose will depend on the type of finish you want to produce. A lower setting results in a cleaner, smoother cut and is ideal for thinner workpieces. When you use orbital action it can cause the workpiece to vibrate, which can hinder your control over the saw. Because of this, never use orbital action to cut thin sheets of metal. However, the setting can be used when you’re working with sturdier metal materials. Orbital action can be used with aluminum since it isn’t as hard as steel, however, you should use the lowest setting possible. If you’re planning on cutting through plastic with the orbital setting, switch it to low or medium-low.

What Type of Jigsaw Do You Recommend for Beginners?

The Hitachi CJ18DGLP4 18V Cordless Lithium-Ion Jigsaw is a very beginner-friendly model that’s not quite as powerful as a jigsaw that’s designed for pro use. It features intuitive controls and a cordless design. The lack of a cord will give you more freedom to move around and allows for some serious overhead work. It’s a great buy for the price and while it’s considered an entry-level model, it’s a good choice for small to medium-sized jobs around the home or in the workshop.

Final Thoughts

Following proper Jigsaw safety precautions will protect you against flying debris and a sharp blade that can cause mild to severe injuries if you’re not careful. Remember, before you use the saw for the first time, read the user’s manual. Check the blade’s sharpness prior to use and ensure you’re using the right type of blade based on the kind of material you’re cutting. Always wear appropriate clothing, footwear, protective gloves, and protective eyewear to reduce your risks of severe injuries. By following these safety tips you can remain safe on the job or at home as you use your jigsaw on your latest woodworking project.