What are the different types of jigsaw blades?
There are a number of different types of jigsaw blades which adapt the tool for a range of different cutting applications.
The blade you use will affect the material that can be cut, the cutting speed of the machine and the finish it will produce.
Whether you are a contractor looking to stay on schedule and avoid construction adjudication or a homeowner looking to make some renovations, we will walk you through the various jigsaws, their blades and most importantly, their usage and advantages.
Before we look at the blades, take a look at some of the best jigsaws on the market today.
There are a couple of ways in which jigsaw blades can be classified: by the type of shank they have, the number of teeth they have (their TPI, or teeth per inch), by the type of metal they are made of and by the materials they can be used to cut.
Types of Shank
The shank is the part of the blade that locks into the blade clamp of a jigsaw. It’s important because the shank is the main way different blades are categorized, primarily being either a T-shank or a U-shank.
T-shank blades are the most widely used type and are compatible with the majority of modern jigsaws.
They have become so popular because they are easy to use and make it so much easier to change blades in and out or between different jigsaws.
They have a tang at the top of their shank which fits into the tool-less blade clamp of the tool.
Universal Shank Blades
U shank blades are characterised by the U-shaped cut out at the top of their shank.
Note – some older jigsaw machines require a hole in the shank just below the U-shaped cutout.
They were the main type of blade available for a jigsaw but since the majority of jigsaws are produced with a tool-less blade changing system to accommodate T shank blades, U shank blades are not used as much as they once were.
It’s always a good idea to double check the type of jigsaw blade your saw compatible with before you go ordering some new blade.
I don’t imagine the material used in your jigsaw blade is keeping you awake at night, but at the same time, it’s worth pausing for a second to give it a thought. The material out of which a jigsaw blade is made will affect both its durability and the materials it can be used to cut.
Jigsaw blades are commonly made out of one of four types of metal: high-speed steel, high carbon steel, bi-metal or tungsten carbide.
High Carbon Steel (HCS)
High carbon steel blades are flexible, which can lead to them wandering off-course, and they tend to become dull more quickly than other types of blade.
However, they are relatively inexpensive so can be bought in bulk for general purpose cutting of wood
High Speed Steel (HSS)
Blades made out of high-speed steel are harder and more durable but are not as flexible as high carbon steel blades. They are also more likely to become damaged by heat.
High-speed steel blades can be used to cut hardwoods, metal or reinforced plastic.
Bi-metal blades have bodies made out of carbon steel and high-speed steel teeth. Because they are made out of two types of steel, they have the advantageous properties of both flexibility and wear-resistance.
They are usually used for heavy-duty cutting in hardwoods and metal.
Tungsten carbide jigsaw blade, carbide blade, jigsaw blade for ceramics.
Tungsten carbide blades have the greatest heat resistance and are more durable than the other types of blade. This is mainly because, instead of having teeth, their cutting edge is coated in a tungsten carbide grit.
They are designed to be used for speciality applications such as cutting through ceramics, steel or fibreglass.
Teeth Per Inch (TPI)
The number of teeth a blade has will affect both the speed and quality of the cut it can produce.
Blades with fewer teeth will produce a faster, rougher cut, while those with more teeth cut more slowly but create a smoother finish.
Jigsaw blades with a TPI of between 6 and 20 are most suitable for cutting soft materials like wood.
Hard materials, including metal, are most effectively cut with a blade with a greater TPI of between 14 and 36.
If you tend to make a range of different cuts in different materials you may need to change your jigsaw blade to a specialist blade. Below we have outlined the different types of specialist blade available as well as their benefits and drawbacks.
Reverse Tooth Blades
In contrast to most jigsaw blades, the teeth of reverse tooth blades point downwards rather than upwards so that they cut on the downstroke, not the upstroke.
This means that they can effectively cut through materials that are prone to splintering, such as laminate worktops, without damaging their surface.
Plunge Cut Blades
Some jigsaw blades have a sharp tip on their end which allows them to pierce a workpiece at the beginning of plunge cutting.
These blades are designed to be used with soft materials such as softwood and plasterboard.
Blades designed for scroll cutting are narrower than standard blades. This allows them to cut tight curves without binding or breaking. These blades are perfect for delicate cutting for making good, clean and controlled cuts.
Flush Cutting Blades
Because the shoe of a jigsaw usually extends past the blade, it can sometimes prevent you from making a cut flush to a surface.
A flush cutting blade solves this problem as its wider body extends its reach so that the jigsaw is able to cut up to a vertical surface.
However, it is important to note that some jigsaws, those that have shoes that are closed at the front, cannot be used with this type of blade. If you are planning on flush cutting with a specialist blade, make sure that your jigsaw can accommodate a flush cutting blade.
We find this is often of interest to the construction industry because it offers a better finish which is important when higher spec contract. Experienced has found that making small changes, like using flush cutting blades, keeps the client satisfied and helps to avoid those expensive and time-consuming construction disputes.
If you’re not a contractor, and you don’t have the headache of a needy client, and you don’t need to worry about hiring construction dispute resolution lawyers, at least you know you have the blade that delivers the best finish.