Fix-It Chick: Jigsaws versatile, easy to use with right knowledge

Jigsaws are affordable, versatile power tools that can cut circles and squares around and through wood, plastic, metal and tile. Using a jigsaw is easy with the right blade and a little know-how.

Step 1: Choose a jigsaw with the right options for the job. Variable-speed jigsaws allow fast, rough cuts through thick materials and smooth, slow cuts through harder or thinner materials. A pivoting baseplate can be used for beveled cuts. An orbital option increases the saw’s ability to cut quickly through thicker, harder materials.

Step 2: Choose the right blade for the job. The more teeth per inch on the blade, the smoother the cut will be. Reverse-tooth blades keep laminates from chipping, and carbide blades can cut tile. Choose a wide blade for straight cuts and a thin blade for curved cuts.

Step 3: Wear protective eyewear and a respirator when cutting with any power tool. Keep electrical cords away from the cutting surface and unplug the tool or remove the battery before installing or removing the blade.

Step 4: Secure the surface to be cut. If possible, lay the material flat on a pair of sawhorses and clamp the material in multiple spots to ensure it will not move while it is being cut.

Step 5: Draw a path for the blade to follow on the surface of the material. Placing blue tape along the cutting path and drawing the line on the tape will reduce damage to the cutting surface. Cut laminate and tile from the underside to prevent damage to the finished surface.

Step 6: Place the baseplate of the jigsaw on the surface to be cut. Position the front of the blade in line with the cutting path but slightly back from the edge of the material.

Step 7: Turn on the jigsaw and allow the motor to reach full speed before moving it forward into the material. Keep the baseplate on the surface at all times. Move the tool forward slowly. Pushing forward too fast can cause kickback and damage the tool and the material being cut.

Step 8: To cut shapes or patterns that are not adjacent to an edge, pre-drill the corners of the shape with a half-inch drill bit. Position the jigsaw on the cutting surface with the blade in the center of the hole before turning on the tool to begin cutting.

— Have a home improvement question for Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at