Cutting out shape of blank

Do any shapers out there use jigsaws or reciprocating saws to cut out there blanks? Do hand saws work the best? What other methods/tools are used? Any thoughts?

Jim Philips uses a hand saw and a skill saw (handheld circular saw) in the Master Shaper video. So far I’ve just used the hand saw. I was going to use the skill saw but chickened out. Figured a mistake could do a lot of damage really quick. Also I have an old one with a VERY heavy casing.

A jigsaw should be OK if you can get long enough bits. Maybe I’ll use my sawsall next time; I think the bits are long enough.

I like Jigsaws on wood (but thats a different story) Don’t peoples use hotwires?


I use a hand saw, but a buddy of mine that shapes a lot more than I do uses a jigsaw with a custom made attachment that performs two functions. 1. it has a long arm that makes sure the saw is kept at a 90deg angle to the bottom 2. since the jigsaw blade is so long it has a tendancy to bend, so he has a bar that goes around the blank and has a groove that the blade slides in.

It seems to work pretty good. He still uses a sanding block and planer to true it up though.

I think a router is probably the best way to go, but takes some set up time.

I’ve used everything from every kind of hand saw you can think of to a router

with a speed control.If you keep the bottom flat the router has worked best

for me.Just remember,don’t cut on the line…!Stay off the line,& take the rest

of the foam off with the electric planer,followed up with a sanding block.Will

try a circular saw next.Hope that’s of some help.Reguards,Brian.

Used a hand saw for a while but started to use a jigsaw last year. Have to be carefull to not get off 90 with it. It took few boards to find myself a good cutting position with it but now I like the way it works for me.

I started out using a hand saw and then changed over to the jig saw as it works for me.

Always used a hand saw. If you’ve been taught how to properly use on, it will be more likely to stay perpendicular to the bottom. It handles curves so-so when the radius is sharp, but heck there’s always the planer.

Light pressure, low angle, let the teeth do the work.

A slightly different question back to you: do you cut the template before or after you skin the blank? If cut after skinning, and you could find a long blade, I’d consider a jigsaw.

Hot wire is mostly for cutting EPS, typically for foil more than for template.

I cut it before I skin the blank and have had no problems as of yet. I picked up a 4 inch blade for foam that seems to be the trick.

Whats up guys I use to methods

1-i use a jig saw with a 3.5’’ blade with a larger base plate to keep the saw at a 90 degree angle the smaller base plate can sometimes slope the the outter edge of the blank.

2-if i have a perfect templete then i use two clamps on each end of the templete then i use a router with a 3’’ guard to cut the shape out a perfect cutout every time no cleaning it up afterwards just make sure the templete you are using is flawless.

      I use them all,but handsaws,in the right hand can cut a clean fast line(provided you know what hand saw to use).I prefer a Swiss built 15" finishing saw in a 14pt.,ACE hardwares carries them,or a Japanese veneer saw16pt. if you can find the right one(s).HD carries a "shark" saw in like 26" in 10 or 12 pt. that's a crosscut and is good starter saw for 20 or 25 bucks.Also a good 12pt or finer keyhole saw is a handy thing to have for those tight turns(a nice long steak knive will do for this application as well).................. 

…remember to get a crosscut saw, this allows you to cut in both directions(up and down).

…Where as most saws cut in one direction ; up-cut / pullsaw is generally for fine cutting on delicate material or a down-cut saw / pushsaw ,cuts downward is generally for a rough cutting.

…Jigsaws are great for mass-work,and with the correct blade(s) you can get a great cut.It’s also easier to make boo-boos quickly,especially keeping the line vertical .

…UN-SKILL saws,better know as circular saws work great for mass-work,and again with the correct blade you can get a clean cut.This saw is not for the beginner and can cause alot of damage quickly.

…Routers,roto-zips…the juries still out on this one,they’re great for mass-work w/ fixed 1/2 or full body templates.They can be used with spins but it’s more difficult to operate than any of the others mentioned.As far as freehanding one of these for cutting outlines…all I have to say is you better be good.

…Power carving knives are great.I used one for years till I burned it out.I’ll have to get another one,

…Knives.Work great.A good sub-saw.

…HOTWIRES.Works well ,fast,and clean.but wear a respirator when cutting. The burning plastics is not good for you to breath in.

My very first saw was a hack saw blade with a length of thin sheet steel glued to it for stiffness…it worked.Herb

This is all very good, informative knowledge guys. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience.

The larger base plate is a great idea. The straighter the better in this case. Thank you.

I have always used a jigsaw witha 5inch lade. But recently I started to modify my technique with the jigsaw.

I used to cut whilst standing over the top of the blade. this works fine. However now what I do is stand in front of the jigsaw with my ches tturned towatd the blade so i am more or less looking directly at it. So instead of pushing the jigsaw I am now pulling it. i feel tht it allows for even greater accuracy when following a template line.



I have always used a jigsaw, just make sure you cut on the outside of the line, so you can later touch it up with a sanding block to get any little kinks out. I’ve only shaped around 20 boards so far, but I’ve never had a problem yet using a jigsaw. I was going to try a handsaw, but for some reason I haven’t yet.


My old shop teacher, “3 fingers Ollie” just rolled over in his grave.

Pulling power tools towards you. Don’t try this at home kiddies.

Or maybe I’m just misunderstanding your post…

I only cut my blanks with hand saw and clean the outline with electric planer… I’m just used to it and I don’t shape a lot of boards… - 4 to 5 monthly. Some day I will try using a power tool but so far I’m happy with my hand saw. -PURA VIDA