Many modern jigsaws are equipped with an orbital mode that allows you to adjust the cutting intensity. But why do you need multiple settings for orbital actions? After all, even some of the finest reciprocating saws are satisfied with just an on/off switch. Of course, jigsaws are not intended for demolition work. However, understanding how and when to utilize orbital actions on your puzzles can greatly enhance their performance and efficiency.
Table of Contents
- What is a track puzzle?
- What does the track puzzle action accomplish?
- How to effectively employ the track puzzle action
- Optimal settings for different materials
- Other materials
- Final thoughts
What is a track puzzle?
A track puzzle is a type of jigsaw that features at least one track set, with some models offering up to three. These jigsaws, whether corded or cordless, are designed to rapidly cut through wood.
What does the track puzzle action accomplish?
The orbital motion of a jigsaw blade adds an elliptical component to its straight sawing motion. This results in a faster and more aggressive cut, similar to what you would achieve with a reciprocating saw.
The elliptical motion of the blade allows for easier removal of sawdust and material splinters, resulting in faster cutting. However, this comes at the cost of increased tear, higher vibration, and reduced control during the cutting process. Effectively managing these tradeoffs is key to determining when and at what level to use orbital actions.
Using orbital actions on puzzles is a simple process. Most jigsaws have a dial on the side labeled 0-3 (or 0-2 for models with fewer settings). Simply adjust the dial to your desired setting and activate the trigger.
When to Use Track Puzzle Settings
Determining when to utilize the track puzzle settings is crucial to achieving optimal results. Depending on the material being cut and the type of cut you need to make, there are some guidelines to follow.
In general, the track puzzle modes work best when cutting wood, while metal cutting is typically performed with the orbital action turned off. However, there are exceptions and a wide range of variables to consider.
When cutting metal, it is recommended to keep the orbital action off and pay attention to your cutting speed. Slower blade speeds generally result in faster cuts in metal. However, feel free to experiment on scrap pieces to find what works best for your specific needs. Some professionals even prefer thicker metals and lighter railings over aluminum.
When working with wood, it is advisable to turn off the orbital motion when you require a clean finish or when making intricate curved cuts. The orbital action can hinder control, especially when attempting tight curves. However, if you are aiming for rough straight cuts, feel free to crank up the orbital action to its most aggressive setting.
When making wide, soft, curved cuts on wood, it is best to use one of the medium settings to strike a balance between speed and control.
Pro tip: For beginners, cutting at high speeds can quickly lead to a loss of control. Prioritize quality results over speed, especially if it means avoiding material wastage. If you find it difficult to follow the cut line accurately, slow down and turn off the orbital mode.
The only exception to using orbital action on wood is when making plunge cuts. In such cases, it is necessary for the blade tip to remain in contact with the material as you push down, making orbital action challenging.
When it comes to materials like plastic and fiberglass, orbital action is typically unnecessary. A jigsaw’s straight cutting action is fast enough for quick cuts in these materials. However, opinions may vary, and some professionals may use light or medium orbital settings for plastic.
Laminates, such as countertops, can handle medium or high orbital settings, depending on the specific requirements.
Drywall can be cut using the most aggressive orbital motions. The majority of the cutting involves the hanging drywall, making it easier to start with a plunge cut when removing a combination box.
Today’s track puzzle options include models suitable for DIY enthusiasts on a budget. The orbital action feature is incredibly useful, allowing for faster cutting in the right materials and cutting techniques. We highly recommend investing in a jigsaw with orbital action and spending time practicing on scrap materials to grasp its optimal usage.
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