Jigsaws are considered the jack-of-all-trades in woodworking. It’s one of the widely used tools in carpentry since it can get multiple tasks done. It can be used for freehand cutting of scrolls and cutting small pieces of wood. But we can’t help but wonder: can a jigsaw cut a 2×4? You might be surprised, but yes, this tool for making delicate cuts can be used for this thick lumber. However, you have to keep in mind a few important things, which I discussed below.
What is a jigsaw, and how does it work?
Jigsaws are handheld tools used to cut scrolls or curved lines. It’s useful for irregular curves and stenciled designs like those used for decorative projects.
Moreover, this tool uses rapid up and down movements to cut through wood. You can also use different blade sizes to suit the design and material you’re working on.
Overall, jigsaws are the only handheld tool that can cut curves perfectly. Still, it requires practice to master this tool, especially if you’re planning to use it on large projects.
Due to their handheld design, jigsaw tools tend to have a steep learning curve. Nevertheless, it will be a powerhouse tool in the hands of a skilled woodworker.
Are you wondering why you need a jigsaw? Here are some of the handy uses of this tool:
- Creating bevel cuts. If you don’t have the money for an adjustable table saw, you can use a jigsaw tool to cut smooth bevels. Most jigsaws can be angled at 45 degrees, which is what most beveled cuts are designed for. You just have to release the lever located above the saw’s shoe to tilt it to place.
- Safe to use. Unlike other power tools, jigsaws are actually safer. It suits beginner woodworkers and kids who want to get involved in the project.
- Available in cordless versions. Are you tired of dealing with cable clutter? If so, you can get a cordless jigsaw tool. This is a convenient choice, especially if you’re working around a detailed project.
- Cutting curves. If your project needs curved cuts, you definitely should invest in a jigsaw. It gets the job done faster without the hefty price of table saws.
How to cut a 2×4 using a jigsaw tool
It’s possible to cut a 2×4 lumber with a jigsaw tool. However, you shouldn’t do so straight on without thinking about blade control. That will result in an off-the-line cut that’s way off your target.
- Invest in a durable jigsaw. If you’re planning to use a jigsaw for cutting 2x4s, you should get one that’s bigger and more durable.
- Choose the right blade. You should use stiffer blades that can put up with the lumber’s thickness. My rule of thumb is that the blade must be more than an inch longer than the workpiece. So for a 2×4, I recommend a 3-inch blade.
- Mind the tooth count. For this, you need a saw blade with a wider kerf and lower tooth count. However, this will result in rough cut quality, so you need to perform a little sanding to remove the burrs. This configuration is necessary to prevent the blade from flexing. Such a thing is crucial for 2×4 lumber as this wood often has prominent grain.
- Pick the blade material wisely. Aside from the blade size, you also need to consider the blade material. High carbon steel is the rule of thumb as well as high-speed steel, so it won’t snap as you work on 2×4 lumber. I also swear by bi-metal blades for this purpose.
- Get a high-RPM jigsaw. Lastly, make sure that the jigsaw is made with higher RPM. This means that it can handle thicker wood stocks without the risk of breaking them.
- Don’t force it. If you feel that the jigsaw has too much resistance, you shouldn’t force the blade into it too much. You may need to change the blade in this case or just rest for a few minutes.
- Don’t rush the cut. A 2×4 lumber is pretty thick for a typical jigsaw. This is why you shouldn’t rush the cut. Push the blade into the wood slowly, then stop if you’re picking up excessive resistance.
How thick can a jigsaw cut?
Jigsaws are often reserved for thin cuts of around 1.5-inch on softwood and ¾-inch on hardwood. The jigsaw blades will start to bend once you use them on hard materials. This is why you should always match the blade type and size to the material you’re working on.
If you used the wrong blade, the cuts would be beveled as the blade bends. So for 2×4 lumber, you need to get the biggest blade you can fit on your jigsaw tool.
Why won’t my jigsaw cut straight?
Do you always end up with beveled or crooked cuts on your jigsaw? If so, it might be due to weak blades or a very stiff wood piece.
You should also check the components of your jigsaw, like the bearings. If it’s outdated or loose, it will lead to poor cuts. Worse, it will speed up the wear and tear of your tool.
Why is my jigsaw jumping when cutting?
A jigsaw will jump from the wood if the blade isn’t properly installed or aligned. Dull blades can also buck and jump, especially if you’re working on thick wood like 2×4 lumber.
Another possible scenario here is that the blade you’re using has very big teeth or is too short for the material.
What is the difference between a jigsaw and an orbital saw?
Both jigsaw and orbital saws are useful for woodworking. In fact, an orbital saw is actually a type of jigsaw used to create curved cuts.
However, standard jigsaws only move up and down. It can cut through wood, but not thick ones. On the other hand, orbital saws offer a more aggressive cut since it slightly moves forward and backward. Orbital saws also have better speed.
What is the difference between a jigsaw and a scroll saw?
The biggest difference between a jigsaw and a scroll saw is its mobility. Jigsaws are handheld, while scroll saws are stationary. Scroll saws are also much bigger and cumbersome, not to mention their higher price.
For beginner woodworkers, it’s more practical to invest in jigsaws first. This tool is more versatile and can be used for cutting, especially 2x4s. While scroll saws can cut thick wood, it’s more prone to blade breakage than the other saw type.
Jigsaws can be used to cut 2×4 lumber. However, you have to use the right blade and setting to ensure a straight finish. Also, you should consider the RPM and capacity of the tool you have. A bigger jigsaw won’t have a problem cutting through thicker wood pieces.