What are the different types of jigsaw blade?
There are a number of different types of jigsaw blade 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.
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.
Type of shank
The main way in which jigsaw blades are categorised is according to the type of shank they have: U shank (universal shank) or T shank (tang shank).
The shank is the part of the blade that locks into the blade clamp of a jigsaw.
T shank blades
T shank blades are the most widely used type and are compatible with the majority of modern jigsaws.
They have a tang at the top of their shank which fits into the tool-less blade clamp of the tool.
Universal blades (U shank)
U shank blades are characterised by the U-shaped cut out at the top of their shank.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 specialist blade, make sure that your jigsaw can accommodate a flush cutting blade.