I was wondering about the feasibility of using a jigsaw to cut half lap joints. Is it even possible? How would one go about it?

I thought that maybe one could set up a small jig to elevate the jigsaw above the wood and simulate the capability of adjusting the height of a circular saw blade. Is this safe? Will the jigsaw even cut if it doesn't clear the wood?

I understand that it can be difficult to get properly square cuts with the jigsaw and it might require extra "hand tool cleanup", but I'm kind of curious if this could be any faster/easier than simply using handsaws.


I'm not sure this would be worth the time, even if you found a way to do it.

A reciprocating blade doesn't like doing partial cuts. You will break blades like crazy even if you could find a way to get the cut started. Jigsaws aren't as eager to mangle the meat of unwary operators as other power tools, but you will still be hanging on for dear life for unexpected changes in direction.

For through-cuts you will never, in my opinion, get a square enough cut for joinery. The cut would then require a lot of clean-up with hand tools anyway. The blade just isn't wide enough. (I suppose with a fence you could approximate a square face or edge, but that's not what we are talking about here.)

Jigsaws are best for doing long curves, similar to a band saw with a thinner blade. My suggestion is to use the appropriate tool for the the job.

Just use hand tools, or get a circular saw if you need a powered way to make joinery cuts like this.

  • I suspected the answer would be something like this, thanks!
    – Dondor
    May 26 '20 at 13:17
  • To be fair, with great care, you can get a reasonable approximation of square cuts with a jigsaw. I used a long and wide blade in my jigsaw to notch out the top of replacement posts for my front porch. Two of them were simple saddle joints, but the one at the corner involved some fairly complex cutting. Most of it was done with the jigsaw. (Don't recall now what I did to clean out the inside corners on the corner post - must have involved a chisel.)
    – FreeMan
    May 27 '20 at 16:02
  • @FreeMan, for sure for that kind of carpentry it'll work fine, absolutely. Fine carpentry maybe not so much. At leat, it would not be my first choice!
    – jdv
    May 27 '20 at 16:19

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