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Laminate flooring is easy and inexpensive to DIY install, and as with any flooring there’s going to be times when you need to cut it to size.
Whether you need to go around your toilet or it’s the last piece before the wall, this guide will show you how to use a jigsaw to cut laminate flooring.
- The Advantages of Using a Jigsaw
- Choosing the Right Blade for the Job
- How to Use a Jigsaw to Cut Laminate Flooring
- How to Make Curved Cuts in Laminate Flooring
The Advantages of Using a Jigsaw
Jigsaws are extremely versatile and useful tools. With an arsenal of power tools available, however, why reach for a jigsaw? Here are some of the key advantages that set them apart from other saws:
- For the same quality of machine, they’re cheaper than mini circular saws – and they’re certainly cheaper than table saws
- They’re one of few tools for making curved cuts cleanly
- If you use a guide or a fence, you can get highly-accurate straight cuts
- You can get blades for them that are specifically made for cutting laminate
- They’re one of the safest saws to work with
The only drawbacks to using a cordless jigsaw are that they are less accurate for long, straight cuts and there is more potential to chip the finished surface of the laminate. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize both of these risks.
Choosing the Right Blade for the Job
The key to how to use a jigsaw to cut laminate flooring is all in the blade. As mentioned, laminate has a plastic finish on top that is prone to chipping – and choosing the right blade will go a long way towards preventing it.
Jigsaw blades come in two different alignments: set teeth vs ground teeth. With set teeth, each tooth alternates direction as you move down the blade. The result is a faster and cooler cut, but one that tears at the material more harshly.
Ground teeth, on the other hand, are completely in line with each other. This makes the blade run hotter and slower, but with a cleaner, smoother cut.
As for the direction of the teeth, many blades designed for cutting laminate come with a “reverse cut” orientation.
This means that instead of cutting up through the piece, the teeth slice down into it – and any splintering or chipping should happen on the bottom side. You also want to get one with plenty of teeth for a finer cut.
While the blade’s composition is less important than its teeth, you still want to make sure you get either a carbide-tipped blade or a bi-metal blade.
Carbide-tipped ones are a bit more expensive and will potentially give you a smoother cut. Bi-metal blades are also good for laminate, and you’re likely to get a smooth cut with either.
How to Use a Jigsaw to Cut Laminate Flooring
Straight cuts are the simplest cuts you’ll make, but before you get to cutting you’ll want to gather the following supplies:
- Pencil/grease pen
- Measuring tape
- Masking tape
- Jigsaw guide (optional)
- Safety equipment: eye protection, gloves, face mask, ear plugs
Once you have everything, follow these steps to make your straight cuts – and you can watch the process as well.
Step 1: Measure and Draw your Cut Line
Accurate cuts start with accurate measurements, and it doesn’t matter how straight your cut is if the line you’re following isn’t. Draw out your cut line on the laminate with a pencil or your grease pen following a straight edge.
Pro tip: if your blade isn’t reverse cut, flip your laminate piece over and make your cut line on the bottom. The upward slice of the teeth will spare the finish better than if you cut it normally.
Step 2: Place your Tape and Draw the Line Again
Even if you do have a blade that’s reverse cut, you may want to take an extra step to prevent chipping.
Once you have your cut line, carefully place the masking tape on top – centering the tape on your line. You want a small margin of overlap on each side, and once your tape is set you can draw your cut line back on top.
Step 3: Attach the Guide and Put on your Safety Gear
For extra accuracy on your straight cuts you should consider using a guide. There are several that are designed for jigsaws that you can buy, or you can also make one.
You’ll also want to put on your protective equipment and make sure your flooring project doesn’t end with a trip to the ER.
Step 4: Clamp the Board and Start the Saw
Start the saw after you make sure your board is securely clamped in place with enough clearance for the blade.
Support the laminate on both sides, and you also want to want to let the saw come all the way up to speed before starting the cut.
Step 5: Complete the Cut
Don’t force the saw through, cut at a steady and controlled pace. Also try to complete the cut in one pass if you can as this will give you a cleaner finish.
How to Make Curved Cuts in Laminate Flooring
If you have to install laminate around a toilet or any other rounded object, a jigsaw is the perfect tool to have.
The steps are almost the same as cutting straight, with two main differences: you can’t use a guide, but you can make a paper template.
To use the paper, place it against the object you’re trying to cut around and make a crease where you want the edge of the laminate to go. Cut along the crease, then use the paper as a guide to make your cut line. Another option is to use a contour tool to get the right shape.
One important thing to note – if you plan to make a non-symmetrical cut and are thinking of turning the piece over to do it, make sure you invert your measurements for your cut lines. That way when you turn it back it will actually fit on the right side.
Guides and jigs are designed to make saws cut straight, so this is one time when you definitely don’t need one. You’ll still want to put tape over top of your cut line, clamp the board down, set your saw to the orbital setting, and then take extra care to follow your guideline as you cut.
In conclusion, you now know how to use a jigsaw to cut laminate flooring – with the right blade, equipment, and know-how.