Whether you're building a step stool or a table, you can start your woodworking career by building with a jigsaw. Jigsaws can cut straight as an arrow or on curves of your choosing, and anyone can handle this tool regardless of experience.
Photos courtesy of Built by Kids
Jigsaws are used by hobby and experienced woodworkers alike, and are a great introduction to power tools. A jigsaw cuts much faster than a hacksaw or hand saw, saving you a lot of time and energy.
Jigsaws are ideal for small workspaces, as they fit nicely in a hard carrying case that can be stored on a shelf or in a closet. Despite their small size, jigsaws can perform similar tasks that a larger band saw< would be used for, such as cutting plywood or pine boards. But the jigsaw has a major advantage: It can start cutting in the middle of a board (just drill a starting hole and then drop the blade in).
Start cutting with a jigsaw by loading the blade with the teeth facing forward. There is a lever at the front of the jigsaw that must be turned to allow the base of the blade to fully seat and then lock in place as the lever is released. Check the condition of the blade for each use and look for broken or dull teeth and replace the blade as needed.
A variable speed trigger controls the speed of the blade which operates in an up and down motion. Start the blade before touching the wood, or you risk splitting the edges.
Added features to expect from premium jigsaws include bevel adjustments, which allow you to cut at various angles, and orbital blade action, which moves the blade in a "D" pattern which is a more aggressive cutting action and useful on hardwoods. Jigsaws are available as corded or cordless tools.
Always wear eye protection when using a jigsaw and enjoy this underrated woodworking power tool on your next project.
Lifehacker's Workshop column covers DIY tips, techniques and projects.