advice on proper tool

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Forum topic by dawgsfan posted 10-06-2014 02:46 PM 1083 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 1578 days

10-06-2014 02:46 PM

I am currently cutting letters and shapes with a jig saw for a lady. the sizes range from 12 to 24 inches tall and 12 to 20 inches wide. she has been really busy so the work for me has picked up as well, but i find that i am spending to much time on them for the money that i am making.
my question is what tool would be more efficient and cut my time down?
i thought about making a jig where i can mount my jig saw from the bottom where only the blade is exposed and using it that way but that seems a little dangerous.
she does not like the router because it doesn’t leave the edges smooth enough, oh yea it is 1/4” mdf material

thanks in advance

16 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3072 posts in 2414 days

#1 posted 10-06-2014 03:02 PM

bandsaw. Router is going to leave much smother edges than a saw.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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1048 posts in 2526 days

#2 posted 10-06-2014 03:04 PM

Drew Short just did a YouTube video about mounting a jigsaw upside down to cut curves. Look him up under Rockin H Woodshop.

I also agree that a router would leave much smoother edges.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View dawgsfan's profile


32 posts in 1578 days

#3 posted 10-06-2014 09:13 PM

thanks for the responses,the guy before me did the work with a router and it didnt leave the edges smooth enough,atleast thats what she told me. i would still need to use a jig saw for the corners and tight spots the router wont get to.I dont have a band saw yet so its jig saw or router for now. think im going to look up the jig mounted upside down. thanks again

View HerbC's profile


1793 posts in 3101 days

#4 posted 10-06-2014 09:42 PM

+1 Get a bandsaw.

Make a stack of the material (plywood???), mark pattern on top piece and cut multiples at one go.

I used to use a 1/4” bandsaw blade to cut six pieces from 1/4” plywood at a time. Used the process to cut thousands of pieces…

Work smarter, not harder.


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View dawgsfan's profile


32 posts in 1578 days

#5 posted 10-07-2014 01:32 AM

thanks Herb, the material I am cutting is mdf, I assume it is even softer that plywood.Not having a band saw and being really new to woodworking,I have a few questions,1) how would you stack the material and the get it apart cleanly? 2) the size is a concern wouldnt the material hit the base/neck of the saw if it is larger material, most of it is 24” tall letters or shapes and 18” wide

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2917 days

#6 posted 10-07-2014 01:38 AM

Are you feeding the stock through the router the wrong way? That leaves a rough edge.

View dawgsfan's profile


32 posts in 1578 days

#7 posted 10-07-2014 02:01 AM

no i used a jig saw but wanted to know if there is something more efficient

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1578 days

#8 posted 10-07-2014 02:23 AM

For stacking I’ve had success with two sided tape. Thin tape although in a pinch I’ve used carpet tape. Tom

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View realcowtown_eric's profile


617 posts in 2179 days

#9 posted 10-07-2014 03:05 AM

Sub it to a cnc shop, either router or waterjet. If a router ain’t smooth enuf, No bandsaw or jig saw is gonna be any better.

Good luck with meeting expectations.


-- Real_cowtown_eric

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1793 posts in 3101 days

#10 posted 10-07-2014 04:35 AM

The items I cut stacked I used small (4 d) finishing nails to hold the stacks. The nails can be driving into waste areas and cut those areas last…


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3890 days

#11 posted 10-07-2014 05:37 AM


View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3890 days

#12 posted 10-07-2014 05:40 AM

I can’t see how a saw makes a cleaner edge
than a router.

A router may leave fuzz on the edge. This can be
taken off easily by wisking with sandpaper.

A spiral router bit will make a better cut. There’s
a machine for doing this sort of work, a pin
router. I use one all the time in making
furniture. Up until CNC evolved all sorts of production
parts were cut out with pin routers.

View runswithscissors's profile


2928 posts in 2267 days

#13 posted 10-07-2014 06:15 AM

Rockwell makes a saw that’s essentially an upside down jigsaw. It does have an over arm that might get in your way, but perhaps that’s removable. There have been reviews on this tool—mixed, as usual. Amazon has it. It’s called the Bladerunner.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Jerry's profile


2927 posts in 1890 days

#14 posted 10-07-2014 06:21 AM

I kind of see a little more going on here than just the tool issue. There are some very good articles on this site concerning shop time. I would search for those and read them. You should probably be charging a minimum of $35 HR for shop time. You have overhead such as tool wear, electricity, etc.

You may be new to this, but if you are doing professional quality work, then you should be paid like a professional.

Before you agree to a price or make an estimate, take the time to do a few trial runs…good estimates make good client relationships, bad estimates will quickly make you feel hopelessly depressed, do bad, hurry up work, and lose clients. This type of business is built on happy customers and word of mouth. If you DO make a bad estimate, stand by it, suck it up, learn from it and do better next time, but don’t make the client pay for your lack of experience. Repeat business and word of mouth business is the best there is, and it can make you.

The second thing is I agree with Loren, a properly sharpened router bit should theoretically do a better job than a saw blade, but MDF dulls router bits pretty quickly. A high quality saw blade might be good enough and last longer before it needs to be replaced or sharpened. If you go the band saw route, which I think you should, simply for production efficiency, just consider it an investment in your future business. You can get some real deals at garage sales and on Craigslist. Don’t be afraid of an old band saw, you just need enough size and HP to get the job done right. The stacking idea is the most efficient suggestion I’ve seen here for getting a lot done quickly. There are a lot of ways to secure a stack, you can use double sided tape, carpet tape is very good for this, you can use turner’s tape, or you can use masking tape and tape the stack on the outside in areas where it will not be cut through.

Lastly, GIVE to this community, no matter how simple or small it may be. They will be there to support you whenever you need it, so no matter how humble your offering, SOMEbody will appreciate it.

Good luck!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View dawgsfan's profile


32 posts in 1578 days

#15 posted 10-07-2014 08:56 PM

WOW, Thanks for all the suggestions and support.I have been on the lookout for a band saw the last few weeks anyway,I have also seen the Bladerunner and gave it some thought as well.I do agree with you Jerry about sucking it up and learning.This is not something I advertised she found me and ask if I could do it.The potential is really good to make some money on the side to put toward more tools that I need/want.
Thanks again everyone

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