Saber saw – Jigsaw for boat building

When talking tools for boat building one of the most common electrical saws are jigsaws or saber saws. They are widely available and you can get them from 20 $ to more than 500 $. You can get them both with and without cable but the cheap ones are of course with cable.

Jig saw picture

So what do you get and how much should you spend on such a saw? It really depends. In my opinion if you are only going to build a small boat and beside that you only occasionally use the saw for other DYI jobs at home, I would go for a saw in the cheaper end.

Sure it properly won’t last as long as the professional expensive ones, but the point is that at the time where the cheap saw is broken and ready to through out you will most likely want a new one anyhow. And it’s after all much easier to replace a cheap tool than an expensive one.

You got the new saw so the last thing I would talk about; what is it actually good for?

To be perfectly honest with you: Not much when it comes to boat building. The quality of the cut is often very poor if you don’t concentrate really hard and cut really slow. When cutting panels and large parts for boats slow cutting is not that convenient.

When you use a jig or saber saw you should count on using some time on fairing the panels after they are cut.

There are other saws that are more useful when building boats. I will post about them some other day.

The only thing the jig/saber saw is fine for is to cut out a hole inside a plywood plate, for instance when making a hatch in a seat. Here you can take advantages of the fine cut and normally if you are a little deft you can make the cut without drilling a hole first.

One thing you might be wondering about is that the jig/saber saw on the picture is upside down. That’s because this position is often the best to use if you need to make a fine cut. Holding the saw this way and cutting from the backside of the plywood makes it easier to follow the cut line.

Happy boat building,

Morten Olesen, Naval Architect

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