How To Cut Straight With a Jigsaw (2024 Guide)

Achieve precise straight cuts with a jigsaw using the right blade, steady hands, and proper guides. Learn how to cut straight with a jigsaw with this step by step guide.

A jigsaw is a versatile tool mainly used for curved and intricate cuts, making cut-outs, and cutting shapes. It can also be used to cut straight lines, though this might pose a challenge due to its primary design. It is actually not that simple to end up with a perfectly straight and clean cut with a jigsaw.

A jigsaw is capable of making various types of cuts like rip cuts, cross cuts, bevel cuts, and miter cuts, making it an excellent tool for different tasks. It is a powerful tool used by both DIY enthusiasts and professional woodworkers for its flexibility and is typically one of the first tools to get for the workshop.

Although cutting a straight line with a jigsaw might be challenging (choosing a circular saw or table saw could offer better outcomes), there are techniques and tools that can help. In this article, I will explain why your jigsaw isn’t cutting straight, what are the main causes, and share practical tips and methods on how to cut straight with a jigsaw.


Table of Contents

  1. Top Considerations to Cut Straight With a Jigsaw
    1. Square Jigsaw
    2. Jigsaw Type
    3. Jigsaw Blade
    4. Jigsaw Guide
  2. How to Cut a Straight Line with a Jigsaw – Tips
  3. How to Cut Straight With a Jigsaw
    1. Making Straight Rip Cuts (Long Cuts) with a Jigsaw
    2. Making Straight Crosscuts (Short Cuts) with a Jigsaw
  4. How to Make Straight Cut With a Jigsaw – Conclusion
  5. FAQ

Top Considerations to Cut Straight With a Jigsaw

If you want to cut a straight line using a jigsaw, there are basic considerations you should keep in mind. These insights, once applied, can significantly enhance the quality and accuracy of your jig saw cuts.

1. Square Jigsaw

Before you start cutting, it’s wise to ensure your jigsaw blade is perfectly straight and aligned. Use a square to quickly verify that the blade is perpendicular to the shoe. This fundamental step might sound simple, but it’s the foundation for accuracy. To achieve straight perpendicular cuts, it’s crucial to have the saw blade mounted squarely in the jigsaw. A bent or misaligned blade can lead to flawed cuts, so always double-check its alignment using a square before making any cuts.

How to Square a Jigsaw

Before starting, examine the jigsaw blade for any damage or bending and make sure the jigsaw is unplugged to prevent any accidents.

  1. Loosen the Blade Holder: Loosen the blade holder screw to easily insert the blade.
  2. Insert the Blade: Carefully slide the blade into the blade holder until it’s fully seated.
  3. Adjust the Shoe: Loosen the shoe adjustment screw, allowing you to move the shoe as needed.
  4. Square the Blade: Place a square against the blade teeth, adjusting the shoe until the blade is perfectly perpendicular to the shoe.
  5. Secure the Blade and Shoe: Tighten both the blade holder and shoe adjustment screws securely.

Confirm the blade’s alignment by placing the square against the blade once more to ensure it’s perpendicular to the shoe.

RELATED: How to change a jigsaw blade

how to use a jigsaw to cut a straight line
Square Jigsaw

2. Jigsaw Type

The type and quality of your jigsaw play a crucial role in determining the quality of your cuts. There is a notable difference between inexpensive and high-quality jigsaws. When aiming for precise straight cuts, a jigsaw equipped with guide bearings and rollers supporting the blade is essential. These components provide support throughout the cut. If your guides are worn, consider replacement, and if your jigsaw lacks roller blades, investing in one will greatly enhance your cutting accuracy.

Guide bearings and rollers offer several benefits, including:

  1. Enhanced Stability: Guide bearings and rollers keep the blade on track, reducing wobbling and ensuring a smoother, more accurate cut.
  2. Reduced Tear-Out: These components minimize material tear-out, leaving cleaner edges on your workpiece.
how to cut straight line with jigsaw
Jigsaw Rollers

3. Jigsaw Blade

The type of blade you use is crucial. What is the best jigsaw blade for straight cuts?

Opt for a robust, wide-toothed, and thicker jigsaw blade, as it can effectively counter blade flex and prevent unwelcome turns. These blades maintain cut direction and minimize wandering. It’s important to avoid thin blades primarily designed for intricate cuts. When aiming for precise straight cuts, the thickest blade available is your best bet. Thicker blades offer superior resistance to bending and warping during cutting tasks.

  • Different materials necessitate specific blade types. Selecting the right blade for the material you’re working with is key to achieving optimal results.
  • Keep your blades sharp. Premium blades are constructed from stronger materials, ensuring prolonged sharpness and reducing the frequency of replacements. When a blade shows signs of wear, replace it with a new one to maintain the best performance.
  • Take into account the blade’s teeth per inch (TPI) count. Opt for a jigsaw blade with a higher TPI, as lower TPI blades can lead to splintering and rough edges during your cuts.
Jigsaw blades for straight cuts

4. Jigsaw Guide

Using a jigsaw guide can greatly enhance the accuracy of your cuts. You have several options for guides, ranging from simple straight edge guides like a piece of wood or a level to more specialized shop-made parallel guides or DIY guides built for various cut lengths.

A jigsaw guide provides a designated path for the blade. When using a guide, the jigsaw is guided along the edge, ensuring greater precision and minimizing the risk of wandering off course.

However, using a straight edge guide is not that straightforward. While the guide aids in maintaining a straight line, it’s important to handle the jigsaw steadily. The tendency for the jigsaw to press against the guide’s fence can result in skewed cuts if excessive lateral pressure is applied. Maintaining consistent and even pressure on the jigsaw, allowing it to glide at its natural pace, is key to achieving accurate cuts.

RELATED: Jig Saw Guides for Straight Cuts and Crosscuts

DIY Jigsaw Guide Rail finished
Jigsaw Straight Edge Guide

How to Cut a Straight Line with a Jigsaw - Tips

The following tips and techniques can further enhance the accuracy, precision, and straightness of cuts.

  • Sawing technique: Begin your cut slowly, ensuring your hands firmly grip the jigsaw and maintain a steady, even pressure throughout. Avoid forcing the tool or rushing the process – instead, let the jigsaw smoothly progress at its own pace.
  • Oscillator Switch Settings: Find the right position on the oscillator switch. Lower settings might be more suitable for cleaner cuts keeping the blade straight.
  • Continuous Cutting: Maintaining a continuous motion during cutting. Stopping midway can lead to unintended notches and inconsistencies in the cut.
  • Starter Holes: Use starter holes for mid-material cuts. Drill holes slightly wider than the blade’s width before engaging the jigsaw. This offers the blade a clear entry point, making it easier to cut through the material.
  • Saw Blade Selection: Select the blade appropriate to the cut you need. Thicker, wider blades suit straight cuts, while thinner, narrower ones are ideal for cutting curves. Also, keep in mind that diverse materials demand specific blades. Picking the right blade for your material is essential
how to make straight cuts with a jigsaw
Oscillator Switch

How to Cut Straight With a Jigsaw

When using a jigsaw to cut a straight line, you will tackle either long rip cuts or shorter crosscuts. While the basics and the cutting technique remain the same, the tools and jigs you use might vary to assist in achieving these cuts. 

Making Straight Rip Cuts (Long Cuts) with a Jigsaw

When it comes to creating long, straight cuts with a jigsaw, using a ripping guide or a straight edge guide is your best approach. These guides come in different forms and suit various situations.

  1. Ripping Guide: If you’re cutting close to the material’s edge, a parallel guide is the best choice. Attach the guide to the jigsaw’s front shoe with screws. Adjust it in position, setting the gap between your workpiece’s edge and the saw’s cut line. Once set, start the cut. The guide keeps this distance steady throughout, resulting in a clean and parallel cut.

The ripping guide has a drawback, though. It has limits on the width it can handle. Typically, it’s employed when breaking down larger boards into narrower parallel strips.

Jigsaw Rip Guide, Jigsaw Circular Guide
  1. Straight Edge Guide: For making any type of cut you need (parallel or angle), a straight edge will help. This could be a simple piece of scrap wood or a level.
  • Mark where you want the cut.
  • Place the guide on your material. The distance between the line and the guide’s edge should match the distance between the jigsaw blade and the shoe’s edge.
  • Check that the guide is parallel to the cutting line.
  • Secure the guide in place with clamps, and you’re ready to start your cut.

However, there is a downside to this technique. It requires frequent checks to ensure that the guide remains perfectly parallel to the intended cut line.

To overcome this, another option is to use a jigsaw guide track. This track features a noticeable cut slot at its center. Align the slot with the cut line, secure the track onto the workpiece with clamps, and start your cut. This approach ensures that your cut will stay precisely on the intended line.

An adjustable DIY jigsaw guide for straight cuts and crosscuts with a fine 90 degree adjustment.
Cutting with a jigsaw guide track

Making Straight Crosscuts (Short Cuts) with a Jigsaw

For quick and precise short crosscuts with a Jigsaw, opt for a square or a jigsaw crosscut jig. Both tools function similarly. A crosscut jig holds an advantage due to its easy setup and support from the bottom, resulting in cleaner cuts. These tools are particularly useful for crosscutting lumber or narrower wood pieces.

Here’s how to achieve this:

  • Mark the intended cutting point and draw a straight line on the workpiece.
  • Align the guide’s fence against the material, ensuring the base’s edge matches the marked point.
  • Secure the guide and the workpiece in place with clamps.
  • Position the jigsaw onto the guide.
  • Initiate the cut away from the workpiece, then gradually guide the blade into the material.
Jigsaw Guide and Crosscut Jig | AllFlavor Workshop
Cutting with a Jigsaw crosscut guide

How to Make Straight Cut With a Jigsaw - Conclusion

When you’re aiming for those neat straight jigsaw cuts, keep these points in mind. Begin by ensuring your jigsaw is squared up. Opt for a good-quality jigsaw and select the proper blade. Then concentrate on the technique – start slow, follow the jigsaw’s lead, and avoid hurrying.

For different cuts, choose the fitting guide. If it’s a straight cut, use a parallel guide or jigsaw straight cut guide. If crosscuts, use a square or a crosscut jig.

KEEP READING: How to cut a Perfect Circle with a Jigsaw

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Jigsaw replace a Circular Saw?

A jigsaw is a versatile tool that’s great for a wide range of cutting jobs, including curved and irregular cuts. However, when it comes to making long, precise straight cuts, it’s not as effective as a circular saw. Circular saws have bigger blades and more power, making them perfect for tasks like cutting large sheets of wood or plywood. On the flip side, a jigsaw shines when you need to make intricate or curved cuts, or when you want to plunge into materials. So, while a jigsaw is a valuable tool to have, it doesn’t entirely replace the role of a circular saw, especially for those long and precise straight cuts.

What is the benefit of using a Jigsaw upside down?

Using a jigsaw upside down allows for better visibility of the cut line, reducing splintering, and providing greater control over the cut. This technique is particularly useful when working with laminates or other delicate materials.

Why won't my Jig saw cut straight?

Your jigsaw may not cut straight due to several factors: incorrect blade selection, a dull blade, inadequate guide or fence, or inconsistent pressure. Ensure you use the correct blade and maintain steady control.

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About the author, Lukas
About the author, Lukas

Meet the creator of AllFlavor Workshop! As a passionate DIYer and woodworking enthusiast, Lukas is always looking for ways to make things himself rather than buying them off the shelf. With a keen eye for design and a knack for working with wood, Lukas enjoys sharing his craft with others and helping them discover the joy of building. Whether you're an experienced woodworker or a novice looking to try your hand at a new hobby, you're sure to find plenty of inspiration and tips on AllFlavor Workshop.