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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 from the wall outlet!
Changing a Jigsaw Blade is Easier Than You Think!
1. Identify the basic components of the jigsaw
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. Good? Now flip the jigsaw upside down. 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 (same as an Allen key). 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 a broken 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. Do NOT take off what isn’t necessary
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. Release the old blade
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. T-shanks vs. U-shanks vs Universal blades
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. There are two main types of jigsaw blades called T-shanks and U-shanks. You may also find “universal shank” blades, which takes the guesswork entirely out of replacing your blade. I wound up doing the longer version of this by first guessing what type of shank I needed and then getting it wrong, thus having to return to the store and exchange the package for the right type of blade (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-shank blades are becoming more popular now because they are easier to change. Go fig.).
It is also important to note the blades themselves can be specialized for a wide variety of materials (wood, fast-cutting, metal, PVC pipe, and so on). Choose whatever blows your dress up; I chose a variety pack.
5. Insert the new blade and tighten.
When you know you have the proper blade type, slip the end into the grip and tighten the screws to hold the fresh blade in place. Should you go this route, you’ll need a screwdriver and I cannot emphasize this enough, patience. An optional step is to screw it in backwards (for most people and uses for this tool, the teeth of the blade should face OUT, toward the front of the saw) 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 five 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?).