The Parker Foot Treadle Jigsaw

Learn how to make a foot-powered treadle jigsaw. Move between sewing and sawing with ease.

| March/April 1976

As handy as the things are, electric jigsaws — at least cheap ones — can be pretty obnoxious to use. They're awfully noisy, and because they tend to vibrate a good bit they lack the intimate "feel" of a quality tool.

Here, to remedy the situation, is my set of plans for a wooden jigsaw that you can power with your foot while you work to the rhythmic snik-snik-snik of a sewing machine treadle.

Treadle Machines for Cheap

Treadle sewing machines have to be one of the finest bargains around. I paid a junk dealer just $15.00 for an old Domestic in perfect condition. The frame and treadle are lovely, ornate castings with a beautiful finish and the hefty flywheel makes for flawlessly smooth operation. Best of all, in most cases a treadle can be used "as is", so that you can actually switch back and forth between sawing and sewing.

(For an even greater bargain in treadle sewing machines, try the local dumps. While / was still located up north, a couple of my staff members found not one, not two, but three perfectly good foot-powered machines — among many other goodies! — on a single half-hour forage through the Madison, Ohio municipal dumping grounds. — MOTHER.)  

Mechanics of a Treadle Jigsaw

The jigsaw blade moves up and down by means of a cam/ tie-rod/pulley combination that converts the rotary motion of the flywheel to a reciprocating motion.

The upper pulley shaft rotates in a snug little bushing which has been pressed through a hole in the cross frame. On the end of the shaft opposite the pulley is the small cam disc (Click on the "Image Gallery" to view the in-depth drive-cam assembly illustration.) that translates the rotational motion of the pulley to an up-and-down motion of the saw. About the most difficult procedure in the jigsaw's entire construction is getting this tiny disc brazed to the end of the horizontal shaft, and after that, brazing a small pin to the disc. If you don't weld, hunt up a friend who does or explain your needs to a local welding shop.

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