Common Safety Mistakes when Using a Jigsaw

A jigsaw is a handy way to cut curves and patterns in thin materials, including wood, PVC, and metal.

A jigsaw is a handy way to cut curves and patterns in thin materials, including wood, PVC, and metal. The blade moves rapidly up and down, cutting the material as you push the tool through it. Because the tool is easy to use, operators can become too casual and make mistakes that lead to serious cuts, damaged tendons and nerves, and worse.

Before using a jigsaw, make sure the blade is sharp. A dull blade requires more force, which can lead to kickback and lack of control.

Don’t assume the blade already in the tool is the right one for the task.  The exposed portion should exceed the material’s thickness by only 1 inch. Install a blade of the appropriate length, then fine-tune the blade guard if needed. This will minimize the number of exposed teeth and make the operation safer.

Often, users operate the jigsaw with one hand while holding the workpiece in the other. It’s much safer, however, to clamp the material to a workbench or other solid surface to avoid accidentally cutting into the hand securing the workpiece. Consider wearing a mesh cutting glove on the free hand.

Use a thin blade when cutting tight curves, and take your time. Otherwise, the blade may snap, causing the tool to lunge out of control. Make sure, too, that the blade is appropriate for the type of material being cut.

It’s a huge mistake not to wear eye protection. The user typically leans over the jigsaw for a better view of the cutting path. This puts his or her eyes directly in the trajectory of flying chips, splinters and sawdust.

If you take the right precautions and avoid simple mistakes, the jigsaw can safely make you the master of the curved cut.


Mark Hagen is a former magazine publisher and is currently a senior manager at a construction company. He enjoys writing about construction, equipment/tools and woodworking.

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