How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering (5 Powerful Tips)

Jigsaw splintering can completely destroy your workpiece. Fortunately, there are a few techniques, which you will discover in detail in this article, that can help you to make cleaner jigsaw cuts.

In short, the techniques to use a jigsaw without splintering are the use of a splinter guard, masking tape, or backer board. Jigsaw tearout can also be prevented by making a score or cutting at the back.

All five of these methods can help prevent jigsaw splintering. I used them successfully on several occasions for my own projects. But just adding these techniques is not the only thing to do to make cleaner jigsaw cuts. Please read this blog completely to ensure that you begin with the correct settings. Otherwise, these techniques will most likely fail and you will never have splinter free jigsaw cuts.

Pro Tip

Learn more about the jigsaw in my main article, What is a Jigsaw and How Does It Work? A Complete Overview. A recommended article so you can understand the jigsaw better and to get the most out of this tool for your workshop.

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Why Does Wood Splinter When Cutting It with a Jigsaw?

Wood is made up of fibers that run the length of it. Consider it a bundle of toothpicks.
When you saw wood crosswise (that is, across the grain rather than along it), the saw tries to cut those fibers in half. However, when stressed, the fiber is flexible and prone to separation. So, if you cut and allow the fiber to deflect, it will pull away from the wood surface, resulting in splinters.

This does not have to be the case all the time. The basic rule is that when those fibers are supported, they have nowhere to go and therefore remain in place. If there is nothing behind the fibers, they will pull away from the wood surface, resulting in splinters.

Now that you know this, the only question is how you can support those fibers, and more specifically, how do you do this at the jigsaw so that you can avoid jigsaw splintering? Well, you’ll find out below , but make sure to read the entire article because there’s more to it than just these five techniques to make cleaner jigsaw cuts.

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How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering?

In this section, I show you the 5 best techniques to avoid jigsaw splintering . But keep in mind that these are the only techniques that will work if all other factors are properly adjusted. You can read about these factors later in this article at the Most Made Mistakes When Cutting with a Jigsaw. So don’t forget to read on and apply these tips together with the technique of your choice. Success guaranteed!

Tip #1: Using a Splinter Guard

A splinter guard is simply a piece of an added sole that connects to the jigsaw blade. As a result, the wood is supported against the blade and the fibers cannot rise .

There are some brands (such as Festool) that offer a zero-clearance splinter guard that simply slides into the sole of the jigsaw.

If your jigsaw does not have space for this, you can also make it yourself. Take a thin piece of plywood, or even better, a piece of plexiglass, and make a cut in it with your jigsaw. Stop at the moment when the material fits perfectly under the sole. Now you can attach the plywood or plexiglass to the bottom of the sole with double-sided tape. There you go, now you have a homemade splinter guard to prevent jigsaw splintering. You can thank me for this later, LOL.

How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering (5 Powerful Tips) - Using a Splinter Guard
How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering (5 Powerful Tips) – Using a Splinter Guard

Tip #2: Using Masking Tape

Masking tape is a widely used alternative to the splinter guard, but of course, you create some waste, and you always have to invest in masking tape again and again.

Now, if this is the right solution for you, just first apply the masking tape to the place where you want to cut, and only then make your marks on top of the masking tape.
The tape will ensure that the wood fibers are held in place and cannot rise, so you will have splinter free jigsaw cuts.

After you have made the cut, it is best to remove the tape as soon as possible. That way, the glue from the tape cannot remain on the wood and possibly cause stains, or cause problems if you want to paint the part later .

How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering (5 Powerful Tips) - Using Masking Tape
How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering (5 Powerful Tips) – Using Masking Tape

Tip #3: Score the Cut Beforehand

If you are environmentally conscious and using masking tape is not for you, then this sustainable tip may be something for you .

Mark the line you want to cut with your pencil. Then take a cutter knife and cut this line well. You may need to repeat this cut a few times to get through all the fibers.

After making this cut, you can cut carefree with the jigsaw without having to worry about jigsaw tearout.

How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering (5 Powerful Tips) - Score the Cut Beforehand
How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering (5 Powerful Tips) – Score the Cut Beforehand

Tip #4: Use a Backer Board

Another tip, which I hardly ever use myself, but which can be useful for some situations, is to use an extra board. You place it on the side where you can expect a jigsaw tearout (the top of the cut) and cut all the way through .

The disadvantage is that a lot of wood is wasted. You can, however, use this in another way. If you have to cut two boards, you can use them as backer boards for each other by stacking them on top of each other. The only thing you need to remember at that point, is to turn the board on which the jigsaw’s sole runs so that the back is facing upwards. This is where the jigsaw tearout will begin. Later, you can hide it by flipping the board.

How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering (5 Powerful Tips) - Use a Backer Board
How to Avoid Jigsaw Splintering (5 Powerful Tips) – Use a Backer Board

Tip #5: Cut on the Backside

If you know that jigsaw splintering always occurs at the top, then just flip the board! Simple, isn’t it ?

Well, yes and no, because then the splinters are just at the back. But in some cases, the back will never be visible once the part is mounted, so in that case, splinters won’t hurt at all.

Pro Tip

A jigsaw may look like a harmless tool, but it can seriously injure you if you handle it carelessly. So read the useful safety tips in my article Jigsaw Safety Tips: How to Use Your Jigsaw Without Injury

Most Made Mistakes When Cutting with a Jigsaw.

To avoid jigsaw splintering, the above jigsaw techniques will only work if all conditions are right. To remind you of those conditions, I will briefly go over them so that you can cut without jigsaw tearout.

Use the Right Jigsaw Blade

Using the right jigsaw blade is one of the most important things you can do to avoid jigsaw splintering. Jigsaws can take a variety of blades, but each blade serves a specific purpose. If you want splinter free jigsaw cuts, you must carefully select the right saw blade.

For cutting without splinters, keep in mind that your jigsaw blade should have a lot of teeth. Anything over 20 teeth per inch is acceptable, and the higher the number of teeth per inch, the better .

You can always choose to use a knife with reversed teeth . Then you don’t have to turn the board if only one side needs to be splinter-free. Keep in mind, however, that this type of blade can still cause minimal splintering. To know more about jigsaw blades and have a guide to choosing the right blade , I recommend you check out my article, Choosing the perfect jigsaw blades in 3 simple steps | FREE DOWNLOAD.

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Ensure That Your Blade Is Sharp

The type of blade and the number of teeth per inch is a good start, but it doesn’t stop there. If you use a blade that is dull or worn in any way, you will still experience jigsaw tearout despite the right blade.

The blunt teeth are more likely to tear rather than cut the wood, creating splinters no matter what technique you use. When trying to cut with a jigsaw with the aim of getting little or no tearout, it is better to use a brand new blade.

Keep the Cutting Speed Moderate

When using a jigsaw, it is common to believe that maximum speed of the balde produces the best results. It’s a reasonable assumption because saws often need to move at breakneck speeds to make fine and clean cuts, but it’s not correct in this case.
You don’t want your jigsaw blade to move too slowly, on the other hand. It is best to use a medium speed, somewhere between high and low.

Too little speed causes the wood to shred because the teeth become stuck in the wood and tear it apart instead of cutting it . However, if you go too fast, the wood’s shock effect can cause splintering.

Turn Off the Orbital Motion

Today, almost all jigsaws have orbital motion. This ensures that the blade makes elliptical movements so that you can cut faster. however, this function can cause the wood to splinter, so in some cases it is better to turn this function off to have splinter free jigsaw cuts.

Because there is much more to tell about this, I want to encourage you to read my article, What Is An Orbital Jigsaw And When To Use It (A Clear Answer).

Don’t Apply Too Much Forward Pressure

Putting a lot of pressure on the jigsaw while cutting really doesn’t make sense. You will not be able to work faster and the chance of tea out is smaller and larger. The blade will be driven too deep into the wood by the pressure, causing it to tear rather than cut.

By the way, tearing out is not the downside. Putting a lot of pressure on the jigsaw can also lead to the framing and breaking of the blade . By the way, this was one of the reasons I discussed in my article 10 Jigsaw Blade Bending Reasons You Should Know (Solved).

What to Do If You Still Have Splinters?

Now that you’ve tried and applied everything in this article, but you’re still experiencing jigsaw splintering, what should you do? That is not unusual. Jigsaw plinters can still occur depending on the type of wood. These, however, will be minimal with the techniques described above.

There are a few things you can do if you get splinters. You can already start sanding away the splinters. For this, use 220-grain fine sandpaper. In many cases, the splinters will be gone, and the damage has become invisible.

You can also try some jigsaw alternatives. These tools might give a better finish than you can achieve with a regular jigsaw. Give it a try and who knows it will work for the project or wood you are working on.

However, if none of the above techniques work , you can repair the damage with wood putty or wood filler. Check out this article, where you will learn how to find the one you need.

How To Avoid Jigsaw Splintering – Conclusion

You can avoid jigsaw splintering and achieve clean, precise cuts with your jigsaw by following the tips in this article. If you want to improve your jigsaw skills, be sure to read our article on how to cut straight with a jigsaw. This guide will give you even more pointers and techniques for making precise cuts every time.

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