Last updated on May 21, 2021
There are different types of saw blades for different materials. It’s important to know which blades work best with what materials in order to maximize efficiency and reduce the risk of damaging either the blade or the workpiece.
Blade variety often impacts how clean, accurate, and fast cuts are made.
Things to consider when picking a jigsaw blade
Materials you will cut
Choose saw blades depending on the type of material you’ll be working with and the kind of cuts you want to achieve. Some blades work better on wood, while others work better for cutting metal.
Pick a blade that’s more suited to your cutting style. For example, if you’d like to make patterns, cut from the middle or cut some circles.
Basically a manufacturer specification, the blade shank is what makes it easier to switch the blades. Most jigsaws now come with T shank jigsaw blades, but there are still those available with the U shank jigsaw blades.
- High Carbon Steel (HCS) – Ideal for softer materials (wood, fibreboard, etc)
- High-Speed Steel (HSS) – Ideal for harder materials such as metals
- Bi-metal (BIM) – Hybrid of HCS and HSS metal cutting jigsaw blades.
Carbide – Ideal for extremely hard but brittle materials such as those involved in masonry.
Teeth per inch
It’s important to take note of the correct blade length to use as partial cuts can end up damaging either the blade or the saw. If your blade has a cutting edge of 75mm, then the workpiece should at most be 75mm or less.
Standard orientation of the teeth usually point towards the shank and cut on the upstroke. However, there are also blades that are down-cut jigsaw blades for some special purpose cuts in certain situations.
What are the materials that a jigsaw can cut?
What are the jigsaw blade shank types?
Jigsaw blade shanks have 2 main classifications, the T-shank and the U-shank. Blade shanks make it possible to fit different blades into the jigsaw clamp. More often than not, the type of blade shank dictates as to which blades the jigsaw is compatible with, either increasing or limiting the tool’s versatility.
T-shank (tang shank)
Modern blade shanks favored by manufacturers make it easier to switch blades between different machines. Most jigsaws that feature tool-less blade change make use of T-shanks.
Named after the tang located on top of the shank that allows blades to fit in the clamp.
U-shank (universal shank)
Identifiable by the U-shape cut in the blade’s head. Being the older of the two, these are u shank jigsaw metal blades with holes directly beneath the U-shape and fasten blades using a screw set with some extra tools.
Jigsaw blade type by material
Jigsaw blade type by TPI
Materials Coarseness Cutting time 6 TPI: Construction lumber, hardwood Very Rough Fastest 8 TPI: Softwood, manufactured wood Rough Faster 10 TPI: Wood & plastics Fine Fast 10/14 TPI: MDF, laminate, tiles Fine (to above average fineness) Balanced 14 TPI: Metals & thick materials (wood beams, etc) Very fine Average 18 TPI: Hardened steel, PVC Smooth Slow 24 TPI: Thin materials (wood - metal) Smooth (above average) Slower 32 TPI: Very thin material (mainly metal sheets) Very smooth Slowest
Jigsaw blade type by teeth set
Milled teeth are better for faster, more aggressive cutting. While their less finely-sharpened teeth result in rougher cuts, they also tend to last longer when used on denser material.
Common geometry includes:
- Milled side teeth – faster cuts but rougher finish.
- Milled wavy set – finer and straighter cuts.
Common geometry includes:
- Ground taper & ground teeth – used for fine, clean cuts.
- Ground side teeth – fast cuts on wood.
- Ground reverse set – blades that cut in the opposite direction best for maintaining cut-surface smoothness.
Special jigsaw blade types
Reverse tooth blade
Special blades with sharp tips that enable plunge cutting – cutting from the middle of a workpiece without needing a pilot hole. Despite having specific blades, plunge cuts are often better done on softer material as harder ones usually require having a starter hole.
Plunge cut blade
Narrower blades designed for fine-finished scroll cutting. These blades offer added control, making them good options for cutting curves and intricate patterns without fear of breaking.
Flush cutting blade
These blades allow a jigsaw to cut flush on a vertical surface. Not all jigsaws are compatible with a flush cutting blade and those that are often don’t have shoes closed at the front. Typically used when needing to cut according to exact specifications.
Very durable jigsaw blades for ceramic tiles, stone, concrete, and even asphalt! Diamond blades are even harder versions of carbide ones and can go as far as to cut actual diamonds in geodetic applications.
Are all jigsaw blades compatible with all jigsaw tools?
No. While most modern jigsaws can accommodate most blade types, features like the blade shank and shoe placement can prevent total universal blade compatibility. Simply put, depending on your jigsaw’s make and manufacture, it may or may not be able to equip all of the blades. So you should stick to the most popular brands recommended.
How to choose the correct jigsaw blade for wood?
Use a blade that has between 6-14TPI depending on how fine and how fast you want and need to cut. If you need a refresher, remember the more teeth produce finer cuts but have a slower cutting speed. Use HCS or BIM blades preferably with milled teeth.
Softwood is less tenacious and can, at times, be thinner. It’s better to cut workpieces like these with fine blades, for smooth finishes. Use a blade that has between 10 – 24TPI and with ground teeth if possible. You can stick to HCS blades, but reverse and scrolling blades also work well, especially if you want to do detailed work.
How to choose the correct jigsaw blade type for metal?
Thin metal sheets
Thin metal sheets are best tackled with HSS blades that have between 18 – 32TPI. It’s best to cut these, and any metal, without leaving rough edges to avoid the risk of injuries. Wavy milled teeth or tapered ground teeth are recommended. You can also use plunge cut blades.
Thick metal sheets
HSS and BIM blades with 14 – 18TPI work best on thick metal sheets. Avoid reverse blades to reduce the chances of material flying. While there are no specific teeth set needed, basic ground teeth are preferred.
The material composition of aluminum makes it trickier to cut than most other standard metals. It’s not really harder, so an HSS blade with a TPI no lower than 14 will do. No teeth specification or special blade is needed in jigsaw blades for aluminum. The key is to simply go slow as this reduces heat, making aluminum less likely to ‘gum up’. But if you find it hard to work with, a circular saw can do the trick.
HSS blades with at least 14TPI should be used to effectively cut steel. Follow the TPI guide if you need to cut thicker steel material.
Stainless steel jigsaw blades are a bit tougher than both regular steel and aluminum. Go with tungsten carbide and even diamond jigsaw blades with higher than 16TPI for effective and efficient cutting. It’ll also be easier to control the blade and avoid breakage this way.
How to choose the right jigsaw blade type for other materials?
Never mind TPI, you’d want blades with hardened bodies and toothless cutting edges such as carbide and diamond ones since they excel at cutting material with hard, resistant surfaces. The special properties of carbide and diamond blades allow them to cut through ceramic where regular ones would end up cracking or shattering it.
Similar to ceramic and porcelain, glass, while hard, is very brittle and anything outside of a toothless cutting edge can end up damaging it. Tungsten carbide blades work best for cutting glass since, like when cutting metal, smoother cutting edges make smoother cuts in hard or brittle materials.
Similar to ceramic, you’ll need toothless carbide and special abrasive blades to cut tiles without breaking them. Carbide blades also allow you to cut slanted and make notches in tiles.
You’ll need very finely-toothed blades to be able to cut acrylic with little risk of chipping and/or cracking them. You can use any blade type, but stick to HCS and HSS ones for better cost-efficiency. Go for jigsaw blades for acrylic with at least 24TPI for best results.
Since this is a type of ‘glass’, it’d be best to use a carbide blade. You might encounter added resistance since fiberglass has a denser and more reinforced microstructure. Alternatively, you can also use fine-toothed HCS and HSS blades no lower than 32TPI along with covering the workpiece in thick masking tape.
HCS blades that are at least 10TPI are usually enough to handle PVC. You can also use a carbide blade for cleaner cuts, otherwise, pair your jigsaw with a sander or manually sand edges since the lower tooth count is bound to leave a rough finish.
HCS blades that are at least 10TPI work relatively well for most plastics and are an inexpensive option to maintain even for large-scale cutting. While you can use HSS as jigsaw blades for plastics, you won’t be maximizing their potential output and the slower cutting speed might impact overall work time.
At the heart of a jigsaw is not the motor, but the blade. More than anything, it’s the blade that does the cutting, and keeping in mind that different blades exist for different tasks, such as cutting square holes, that can help protect against unforeseen stalls and damage.
But if you’re wondering how to cut things without power tools, check this out.
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