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Cutting Metal With A Variable Speed Jigsaw

Updated on March 22, 2018

Introduction

I purchased this wonderful tool back in February 2014 but did not really get to use it much until April of that year due to the harsh winter here. In my metal working adventures, the angle grinder has been my go to cutting tool. That is because I can lop off a peice of metal surprisingly fast and change the wheel to either grind or polish. That might be good and fine for most metal projects, but occasionally, I need a tool that will leave a cleaner cut. Or I might want to cut some sweeping curves without the expense of a plasma cutter.

So, without further delay, I will get into the breakdown of this article just so you may scroll down to see something specific.

  • BOSCH JS470E is powerful and versatile
  • Pros and Cons to a Variable Speed Jigsaw
  • Inside the Case
  • BOSCH JS470E Video Review
  • Easy Blade Installation
  • Straight Edge Jig Video
  • Straight Edge Jig Video
  • Cutting Curves in Steel
  • Metal Shapes From Using a Jigsaw


Bosch JS470E

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Jigsaw in case

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BOSCH JS470E is Powerful and Versatile

The BOSCH JS470E jigsaw is a professional quality tool that is made in Switzerland. It features a powerful 7 amp motor, orbital cutting action for fast cuts in wood, and the ability to cut at different angles. There are dozens of blades on the market that can be used to cut just about any material from metals, wood, plexigalss, to ceramics tiles and stone.

Pros and Cons to a Variable Speed Jigsaw

As mentioned above this is not a toy but I serious piece of equipment. The price of $150 surely reflects that. But the benefits to owning this variable speed jigsaw or any other comparable far outweigh the initial investment. I personally use this mainly for metal work. It is capable of making precise and clean cuts in all the common types of metal including stainless. It is all in the choice of blade. There are blades even capable of curved cuts as illustrated below. Enough about metal already. The capabilities in wood are even greater. Bosch even supplies 7 and 10 inch blades for cutting decking timber. When building things from wood, a jigsaw is very handy when you need better control and handling than you could get with a circular saw. There are certain situations where you can even plunge into the middle of a wood board and make a cutout!

As the benefits are many there are a few particular quirks to the jigsaw. One being the up and down motion of the blade. This particular model offers just a one inch stroke for metal and heavy duty use. None the less, thinner sheets of material not properly supported can cause excess vibration not allowing for an effective cut. Thin sheet metal should be sandwiched between two sheets of plywood for support. Possibly another drawback would be the limitation on material thickness. This is especially true of metals. Better leave the job of cutting 3/4" steel round bars and 1/4 inch thick angle iron to a reciprocating saw or metal cutting saw.

Inside the Case

The BOSCH JS470E is a professional grade saw and it comes with a sturdy and handy carrying case. When opening the case, one finds the tool laying sideways in its specially molded depression in the case with the power cord wrapped and twisty tied. On the inside of the upper lid there is a black plastic door which acts as storage for extra blades. There is also a place to store the owners manual.

What's Inside?

Inside the case
Inside the case | Source

Various Jigsaw Blades

BOSCH JS470E Video Review

Loading Blades

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Easy Blade Installation

This Jigsaw features a tool-less blade changing system for fast and easy of T-shanked jigsaw blades. There is a plastic blade change lever that needs to be moved over so the slots on the blade clamp ring line up with the slot in the center of the clamp. Next, insert the saw blade with teeth facing outward in cutting position. Make sure the "T" part of the blade is completely inserted in the blade clamp. If properly inserted, the back of the blade will rest in the groove of the guide roller.

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Straight Edge JIg

My Straight Edge Cutting Jig
My Straight Edge Cutting Jig | Source

Straight line Jig

One of the benefits of a jigsaw is that the cuts in metal are much cleaner than an angle grinder, plasma torch, or oxy- acetylene torch. Unfortunately, jigsaws can be really difficult to make longer straight cuts. A hand made jig from shop scraps can be a real asset. The jig featured in the photo below was constructed from left over lumber, 1 inch scrap angle iron, and toggle clamps purchased on amazon for $17. For more complete explanation of the construction of the jig, read my blog entry about my jig I built. My jig was directly inspired by the very talented George Goehl featured in the video below. Check out his other videos on metal art and tool making.

Straight Edge Cutting Fixture

Toggle Clamps

POWERTEC 20301 Horizontal Quick-Release Toggle Clamp, 500 lbs Capacity, 225D
POWERTEC 20301 Horizontal Quick-Release Toggle Clamp, 500 lbs Capacity, 225D

I have used these very toggle clamps to make my own straight cutting jig. These clamps would be useful in making all types of workshop jigs.

 
Speed for Metal Blades
Speed for Metal Blades | Source

Fast Straight Cuts In Metal

Bosch produces a series of blades called " Speed For Metal" which as far as I know have no comparable competition. Most bimetallic jigsaw blades need the variable speed set at 3 which is medium speed. Speed for metal on the other hand can be operated like wood blades a speed 5! This allows for faster cuts. And if the correct blade is used for the right thickness of metal, a clean relatively bur free cut is made. This puts the jigsaw above and beyond any abrasive cutoff tool. For me, it is even superior to the plasma cutter so long straight cuts are being made.

Jigsaw Blades for Curved Cuts in Metal

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Cutting Curved in Steel Sheet

The variable speed Bosch offers a lot of power and bang for the buck. Many might not know it but jigsaws are quite useful for metal work. There are even blades for cutting curves in metals up to 1/8" thick! The blades shown in the photo are new old stock I got cheap off ebay. They are T shanked T227 blades. The Bosch website has That number for the aluminum cutting blades now.

I oiled up one of these real good then installed into my jigsaw. I was surprised at the tightness of curve I am able to achieve in 1/8" steel sheet. Just check out the photos below.

Curve cut in 1/8" Steel

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Underside of curved cut

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Retro 80's

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Metal Shapes From Using Jigsaw

As mentioned above, there are a surprising number of different blades for metal working. Most are for straight cuts but there are ones specially made for curves cuts as well. The shapes you can cut in metal sheet are only limited to your imagination and abilities. And as far as skill goes, operating a jigsaw is not difficult to learn.

The retro abstract composition featured in the photo above was made almost entirely from pieces of steel cut with jigsaw. Only the round rods and the red dome not cut with jigsaw. This sculpture is featured in my other hub featuring my metal artwork.

The process is a slow and fairly noisy. The video posted below shows the process. Plasma cutting requires metal that is clean enough to conduct electricity. For the oxygen acetylene torch, heavy rust must be removed so the steel may heat properly to be cut. The jigsaw can cut clean and dirty metal. This beneficial if smaller pieces are cut from a larger sheet of dirty metal. The smaller pieces will no doubt be easier to clean than a large sheet.

Cutting metal shapes

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    • jbosh1972 profile image
      Author

      Jason 11 months ago from Indianapolis, IN. USA

      Yes, the real shocker for me was cutting 1/4" steel plate! What's more, no need for a file! Clean edges!

    • profile image

      Metal3dart 11 months ago

      I personally find this very useful. I was not sure if I could use a jigsaw for metal. Now I know it's more of a matter of having the right tool. I do feel steel is somewhat of a challenge but softer metals like aluminum should have more allowance for more intricate cuts.

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