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Over the weekend, I found myself in need of my jigsaw. Problem though was that the blade had seen better days.
It was time to change out the blade, but I’d never done it before. Would it be difficult? Are there actually different blade types? Or worse yet – would I figure it out before I cut my hand open?
As it turns out, changing out the blade of a jigsaw is actually very simple. For this tutorial, I’m basically assuming that all jigsaws are assembled exactly like mine. While that may not be the case, I’m not really great at writing hypothetical tutorials for tools I don’t own. So this is what I’ve got. And just in case it needs to be said, please always use proper safety precautions when doing things like this. Unplug it!
1. Take it off. Depending on the one you have (see above), your jigsaw will probably have some basic components. If one of them is not a blade, I suggest you put down the hairdryer and go get your jigsaw. In addition to the blade, you’ll probably have some sort of guide on the bottom and a small thingie (technical term) that holds the blade in place. These components should be attached to the tool either by regular screws or using an Allen wrench. It is likely that if your jigsaw was made in the last thousand years, you’ll also have some type of cover screwed in place to protect wayward fingers/eyeballs from the blade/flying splinters. The point is: you’ll have to find some way to get to the blade, so all of the items that cover it will have to be removed.
2. Take off even more (optional). I found that the screws holding the blade in place (the “thingie” mentioned above) were stuck on pretty tightly, so to get more leverage with my Allen wrench, I took off the guide on the bottom. I wasn’t prepared for it to be constructed of three pieces, so I also wound up having to crawl across the garage floor searching for a missing component. This entire step (including almost losing pieces) is entirely optional.
3. Loosen up. The component that attaches the old blade was held by two screws, so instead of removing it altogether, I merely loosened it up to slip the old blade out.
Clearly, the blade was due for replacing.
4. Three steps forward and two steps back. Now that you have the old blade exposed, you can take it with you to the hardware store to find a blade that looks just like it. As it turns out, there are two main types of blades that may fit your jigsaw, called T-shanks and U-shanks. I wound up doing the longer version of this by first guessing what type of shanks I needed and then getting it wrong, thus having to return to the store and exchange the package for the right blade type (based on there being simply more U-shank blade options than T-shanks, I guessed – incorrectly – that my cheap jigsaw is probably of the more common variety. When I later researched the difference between the two blades, I learned that T-shanks are becoming more popular now because they are easier to change. Go fig.).
It is also important to note that while T or U-shank shapes are basically it for attaching the blade to the rest of the tool, the blades themselves can be specialized for wood, fast-cutting, metal, PVC pipe, and so on. Choose whatever blows your dress up; I chose a variety pack.
5. Humpty Dumpty is for suckers. When you know you have the right blade type, slip the end into the thingie and tighten the screws to hold the blade in place. An optional step is to screw it in backwards (with the blade facing inward) and then unscrew, turn, and screw it back in again. This is entirely up to you and how much time you feel like wasting. Then, just as you unscrewed everything, put everything back together again.
Okay, so this tutorial was more about how not to change out a jigsaw blade than a proper tutorial. But if you skip step 2, part of 4, and assume that things need to be put back where they were originally, this entire process should take you no more than ten minutes. Then you can move on to the reason you needed the jigsaw in the first place. More on that coming in tomorrow’s post (anyone want to guess that it’s for the same reason I used it last time?).