The broad versatility of jigsaws means you’ll find them just about everywhere, from home tool kits to construction sites to engineering works. A large part of their popularity is because, with the right blade, the best jigsaws can cut just about any material the DIYer or professional user selects. There are jigsaw blades for wood, laminates, composites, various plastics (including plexiglass), metal, ceramics, and even leather and polystyrene.
Unlike many saw blades whose life can be extended by resharpening, jigsaw blades are invariably treated as consumables. Nevertheless, by choosing the best jigsaw blades for the task, you can maximize both economy and productivity. This guide will show you how, by highlighting the important factors to consider when shopping and then reviewing some of the top products on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: DEWALT Jigsaw Blades Set with Case, T-Shank, 14-Piece
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: WORKPRO 25-Piece T-Shank Jig Saw Blade Set
- BEST MULTIPURPOSE: Bosch Thermotechnology 21-Piece T-Shank Jig Saw Set
- BEST CONTRACTOR: MRCGTCE 50 Piece Contractor Jigsaw Blades Set
- BEST FOR PLASTICS: BOSCH T101A3 3-Piece 4 In. Plexiglas Jig Saw Blades
- BEST FOR CERAMIC: BOSCH T130RF1 1-Piece 3-1/4 In Carbide Jig Saw Blades
- BEST U-SHANK: BLACK+DECKER Jigsaw Blades Set
- BEST FIBER & PLASTER: BOSCH T341HM1 1-Piece 5-1/4 In. Jig Saw Blades
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Jigsaw Blades
Combination jigsaw blade sets offer versatility and good value, and not surprisingly, they are very popular. However, the immense range of choices can be confusing, along with the number of specialist blades that deliver more efficient sawing for specific materials. Read on to discover the key features that shoppers need to consider when choosing the best jigsaw blades for particular tasks.
There are four materials or material combinations in general use for the manufacture of jigsaw blades: high-carbon steel (HCS), high-speed steel (HSS), bi-metal (BiM), and tungsten carbide (often just called carbide).
- High-carbon steel is a low-cost material best used for wood-cutting blades. It isn’t hard enough for cutting metal, though manufacturers sometimes add cobalt for this purpose.
- High-speed steel is much harder than high-carbon steel and generally used for metal-cutting blades. However, it can be brittle. Some manufacturers produce high-quality HSS blades, but bi-metal is more common.
- Bi-metal is a combination of high-carbon steel and high-speed steel, with the result featuring the best of both materials. These blades resist overheating, stay sharp much longer than HCS, and cut most materials very effectively.
- Tungsten carbide is an extremely hard compound. When making jigsaw blades, it is typically used to strengthen teeth or as a grit bonded to a toothless blank. The latter usage—having no teeth—isn’t suitable for wood or metal but can cut tile and other ceramics, glass, and fiberglass.
Blade Length and Thickness
Whenever possible, a blade should be at least a half an inch longer than the thickness of the material it is cutting. If the blade is too short, there’s a risk that it will jump out of the cut as the jigsaw action goes up and down, often snapping the blade. Note that there can be a difference between actual blade length and effective or working length, depending on different fitting methods and tooth configurations. Manufacturers often clarify by providing a maximum depth of cut.
It’s also important that the blade is not too long. The longer the blade, the more chance there is of flexing, making it difficult to follow a cut line. Having a wide assortment of blades is not expensive, though, and it means the correct length is usually at hand.
While there is little variation in blade thickness, a thinner blade can cut tighter curves than a thicker version when a choice is available. Of course, the thinner blade is also more prone to breakage and will wear more quickly.
The final factor is the jigsaw itself. It’s essential to understand the specification requirements, as not all tools can accept the full range of available blade lengths.
Most of the best jigsaw blades have a T shank. In most cases, jigsaws that accept T-shank blades have mechanisms for tool-free replacement, so it’s a quick and easy process. This is far and away the most common type of blade in current use, and virtually all new jigsaws use them.
Older models might use a U shank, and blades of this type are still readily available. U-shank blades have a screw or Allen bolt holding them in place, so replacement takes a little more time. Remember to check which type you’ll need, because T-shank and U-shank blades are not interchangeable.
It may not be obvious which type of shank is required with older jigsaws. In this case, it’s possible to try a universal shank, although “universal” is a bit of a misnomer as they don’t fit all machines. Variety is also limited.
There’s also a chance that older jigsaws may have a proprietary blade fitting. Some Makita jigsaws, for example, had blades specific to the brand. It may be challenging to find these blades, so buying a new jigsaw might be the better long-term solution if the tool is old.
The number of teeth per inch (TPI) has a major impact on blade performance. Generally speaking, fewer teeth mean a faster, rougher cut, and more teeth mean a slower, smoother cut. Actual blade TPI can range anywhere from 6 to 32. However, there are additional factors to consider.
A higher TPI means there’s little space between the teeth for waste clearance. For example, using an 18 TPI blade in wood will result in clogging of the blade. Conversely, 6 TPI is too low to cut metal as the teeth would just bounce off the surface. While there are always exceptions, jigsaw blades for wood are usually between 6 and 12 TPI. Jigsaw blades for plastics and laminates are generally 8 to 14 TPI, and jigsaw blades for metals are mostly 14 to 24 TPI.
There are also variations in tooth shape and pattern. For instance, back-cutting jigsaw blades cut on the downstroke, not the upstroke. These reduce tear-out in wood and chipping in laminates, so they are popular for sawing kitchen countertops and flooring. Other blades are referred to as “skip-tooth blades,” in which areas of teeth are shorter or missing entirely. These gaps allow for clearance of difficult waste, such as that produced when cutting some plastics.
Some blades have no teeth at all—not only the carbide versions mentioned above, but also those with knife-like wavy edges designed to cut polystyrene, leather, and other fabrics. For anyone who frequently cuts one type of material, it’s worth looking for blades specifically designed for that material. They will cut faster and more accurately than general-purpose alternatives.
Our Top Picks
The information above is valuable in helping to determine the best jigsaw blades for different tasks. That said, there’s no substitute for practical examples. The following products represent some of the best jigsaw blades available today. While high-quality blades from Bosch dominate the market (they invented the T shank), there are multiple interesting and cost-effective alternatives.
DEWALT’s versatile set of jigsaw blades allows buyers to try a wide variety of blades without significant expense, offering valuable experience for buying more blades when these eventually wear out. The 14-piece T-shank set includes two each of seven different types of blades, including 4-inch HCS blades for wood cutting and 3-inch BiM blades for metal cutting. Teeth range from a rapid rate 6 TPI to an ultra-smooth 32 TPI. The set also features a back-cutting blade for laminates and a slender wood blade for tight curves.
These high-quality jigsaw blades are very competitively priced. The entire set is housed in a useful and sturdy clear plastic case.
Users should typically avoid buying inexpensive jigsaw blades because they tend to be extremely thin and bend easily, even when cutting wood. However, for a budget-friendly price, this set from WORKPRO strikes the right balance between cost and quality.
The 25-piece T-shank set offers seven blade types, ranging from a 3-inch metal-cutting blade with 21 TPI to an unusual 5-inch blade that features 5 TPI on one end and 10 TPI on the other. While it’s always best to use specific blades where practical, this option is a good all-arounder or demolition blade that can cut through wood, aluminum, and hard plastics.
This low-cost but comprehensive set of HCS, HSS, and BiM jigsaw blades is likely to last the DIY user many months. A durable storage case is included.
The Bosch contractor jigsaw blade set is an excellent choice for enthusiastic DIYers and a wide variety of tradespeople. These are high-quality blades incorporating HCS, HSS, and BiM, with unique features like progressive tooth pitch on some blades that provides outstanding multipurpose cutting.
The set contains 21 T-shank blades in six styles, ranging from 6 to 24 TPI and 3⅝ inches to 5¼ inches in length. In addition to the expected wood and metal blades, the set also includes all-purpose “Progressor” versions and two specialist blades for fiber and plaster.
Bosch refers to the supplied case as “Brute Tough,” which underlines its strength. While this jigsaw blade set is more expensive, the quality and performance make it a worthwhile investment for the keen amateur and the professional alike.
Contractors who use a jigsaw all day every day go through blades quickly. This set is designed to give them a cost-effective supply without sacrificing quality. It also makes great sense for the home user who seldom does more than cut wood or thin metal.
The set features 50 T-shank blades ranging from 6 to 21 TPI in 3-inch and 4-inch lengths. These provide for either fast or smooth cutting in wood, plywood, composites, and metal. There are also 10 back-cutting blades suitable for laminates like flooring and kitchen countertops.
Other sets may offer more versatility, but for general-purpose use, this variety of HCS and HSS blades delivers outstanding value. A hard-wearing storage case is included.
While plexiglass is not particularly difficult to cut, few blades of any kind do it very well. The result is often a poor finish with razor-sharp splinters or shards that can cause painful injuries. This three-pack of specialist blades from Bosch is designed to overcome those problems. These blades will also cut acrylic sheets, most plastics, and hard foam.
The pack contains three T-shank blades made of HSS. They have 14 TPI and are 4 inches in length, with a maximum cut of 2¾ inches. While this working length does somewhat restrict their use, the blades are very rigid for fast, clean cutting. The teeth are specially ground to a taper, so plastics don’t bind to the blades, one of the main causes of uneven cutting.
Users who have ever tried to cut awkward shapes out of tile will appreciate this specialist ceramic-cutting jigsaw blade from Bosch. In addition to rapid cutting of straight lines or curves in ceramic, it is equally effective at sawing through glass and fiberglass.
Small particles of tungsten carbide are bonded to the blade, which then receives a proprietary coating to improve durability. The 3¼-inch blade has a working length of 2⅝ inches.
While this is a comparatively expensive blade, it has few rivals for performance or long working life. However, those looking for a jigsaw blade for materials like cement board or plasterboard should consider a carbide-toothed blade rather than carbide grit, which is likely to clog.
While jigsaws that require U-shank fittings are no longer available as new, plenty of older models are still in use. This affordable Black & Decker blade set provides a versatile collection for owners of those tools.
The set provides 24 blades at 3 inches in length, all made from high-carbon steel. They range from 6 TPI for rapid wood cutting to 24 TPI for sawing through sheet metal. A slender 10 TPI scrolling blade is for cutting tight curves in wood. The metal cutting blades will handle aluminum, copper, and similar “soft” metals but are not recommended for steel.
While professionals might prefer longer blades, this set provides a good balance between quality and value for the DIY user.
While demolition blades do a good job tearing down fiber, plaster, and cement boards, they wear out comparatively quickly on abrasive building materials. They are also too coarse for precision work like cutting to size or making holes for service pipes.
This 5¼-inch T-shank blade from Bosch has 6 TPI. The teeth are carbide tipped to retain sharpness, and they also resist heat buildup, thus providing exceptional life. The blade capacity is from 1¼ to 3⅛ inches in cement board and from ¼ to 2⅜ inches in plasterboard and fiberglass. The thin kerf minimizes material loss, allowing for accurate dimensioning.
While carbide-tipped blades are also commonly used for sawing stainless steel and cast iron, that’s not the purpose of this blade. Users looking to cut those materials should consider a 3- or 4-inch blade between 18 and 24 TPI.
FAQs About Jigsaw Blades
The information above is intended to provide a thorough understanding of how to choose the best jigsaw blades for particular tasks. The inclusion of these top picks has supported that understanding with a comprehensive selection of real-world examples. Nevertheless, for those who still have questions that remain unanswered, the following section seeks to answer some common queries about jigsaw blades.
Q. What is the difference between T-shank and U-shank jigsaw blades?
The letter—T or U—describes the shape at the top of the blade where it clamps inside the jigsaw. Almost all manufacturers now use T-shank blades. U-shank blades may still be required for older tools.
Q. What is the difference between an orbital jigsaw and a regular jigsaw?
On a regular jigsaw, the blade moves straight up and down. On an orbital model, it also moves forward and back, following an elliptical path that makes for a more efficient cutting action.
Q. Is more teeth on a saw blade better?
Not necessarily. More teeth result in a smoother finish, but fewer teeth produce a faster cut. The material being sawed also factors in.
Q. Can I cut curves with a jigsaw?
Definitely. One of the benefits of a jigsaw is its versatility. A jigsaw can cut freehand curves, or accessories are available to cut accurate circles.
Q. Can I cut a straight line with a jigsaw?
Yes. For accurate lines, use a guide rail clamped to the workpiece. Check out this useful guide to using a jigsaw here.
Q. How do I change a jigsaw blade?
It’s advisable to wear a glove after recent usage of the tool because the old blade may be very hot. The blade is clamped either by an Allen screw or a tool-free mechanism that is part of the jigsaw, and a couple of turns loosens it. Though it may require turning 90 degrees, the blade is easy to pull out, depending on the mechanism. Then, insert the new blade into the slot and retighten the clamp.
Q. How do I clean a saw blade?
If a saw blade becomes gummed up with sap, resin, or glue, a quick wipe down with spirit or rubbing alcohol will often clean it off. Some people dip blades in a solution of laundry detergent; others use oven cleaner, and commercial saw-cleaning products are also available. That said, many users treat jigsaw blades as disposable items that they can simply replace rather than cleaning them.