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How to select the correct orbital action setting for your jigsaw?

How to select the correct orbital action setting for your jigsaw

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Jigsaw orbital action dial Orbital action allows you to adapt the cutting motion of your jigsaw to suit the task at hand.

As well as ensuring a more efficient cut, orbital action also keeps the jigsaw’s blade cooler, minimising wear and extending its working life.

Orbital action of jigsaw blade The optimum orbital action setting for a particular application will depend on both the type of cut and the material you are working with.

Generally, softer materials such as wood benefit most from a higher orbital action setting.

Orbital action is less effective when cutting hard or delicate workpieces.

Wonkee Donkee says: 'Some manufacturers call orbital action ‘pendulum action’.'


Jigsaw making fast and aggressive cut through wooden worktop


Jigsaws with orbital action are most useful when cutting through softwoods.

The exact setting you select should depend on the finish you are looking to produce. Less orbital action will result in a smoother, cleaner cut and is best suited to thinner workpieces.

Corded jigsaw making fast, rough cut in thick timber On the other hand, a high degree of orbital action is particularly effective when making fast cuts along the grain of thick pieces of timber, although a rougher finish will be produced.
Cutting sheet metal with jigsaw


Because orbital action can cause the workpiece to vibrate and affect the control of the user, when cutting some metal workpieces, particularly sheet metal, it should not be employed.

However, a low orbital setting can be beneficial when cutting through sturdier metal workpieces.

Cutting aluminium with a jigsaw


As it is not as hard as other metals such as steel, orbital action can be used with aluminium, although a low setting should be selected.

Cutting plastic pipe with jigsaw


If you are cutting plastic with your jigsaw, a low to medium orbital setting is most suitable depending on the finish you require.

Wonkee Donkee says: 'If you find that the orbital setting you have selected is too aggressive, you can always change the degree of orbital action in the middle of a cut.'

Type of cut

Making straight cut in wood with jigsaw

Straight cuts

When a straight edge is used to direct the blade, orbital action will not affect the accuracy of a straight cut.

However, if you are making a straight cut by hand, less orbital action is beneficial as you will be able to more easily guide the blade along the cutting line.

Scroll cutting with jigsaw

Curved or scroll cuts

As they require greater control, curved or scroll cuts should be made with a low orbital setting selected.

Plunge cutting with jigsaw

Plunge cuts

Plunge cutting should always be done without orbital action.

This will allow the user to carefully insert the end of the blade through the workpiece at the beginning of the cut.

Wonkee Donkee Tools