How to Cut Plywood

Kevin Brown

How to Cut Plywood

To cut plywood efficiently, you need the right tools. Whether you’re a DIYer or a professional woodworker, understanding how to cut plywood with different tools is important. This guide provides valuable tips on the best way to cut plywood using handheld saws or large stationary saws.

With the right tools and knowledge, you can confidently tackle any plywood project.

How to Cut Plywood

The Benefits of Different Types of Saws for Cutting Plywood

Various saws are effective for cutting plywood, each with its own advantages and suitability for specific tasks.

  • Circular Saw – A powerful hand saw commonly used by woodworkers to cut various types of wood. It features a rotating blade that can make both straight and angled cuts. This saw offers the ability to cut plywood in different depths and sizes, providing greater cutting flexibility. Circular saws are available in corded and cordless variations.
  • Table Saw – Table saws are stationary saws with a circular blade that rises from a flat surface. They’re ideal for making large precision cuts on medium-sized pieces of plywood. Table saws have adjustable fences and blades that allow for varying the size of the cuts and repeating them accurately. However, accurate cuts on large plywood pieces can be more challenging with table saws.

  • Jigsaw – A jigsaw is a handheld power saw with a reciprocating blade and adjustable speed to cut different materials and thicknesses. It’s perfect for precision cutting, making intricate cuts, curved shapes, and irregular patterns. One significant advantage of using a jigsaw for plywood is cutting a shape within a larger piece.
  • Miter Saw – A saw that builders use to make angled cuts, with a blade mounted on a pivoting arm for precision. Valuable for trim work and framing. Hand Saw – A manual saw that works well when power tools are not available or for trimming large plywood sheets. Requires strength and coordination but provides flexibility. May take longer than power tools for certain tasks. Cutting Plywood With a Circular Saw

How to Cut Plywood

Cutting plywood with a circular saw requires precise technique and following the correct steps. Find a clean and spacious area to set up workbenches, sawhorses, or boards for cutting the plywood. Ensure there is enough space for the plywood to rest flat and be fully supported during the cut.

Measure and mark the cut accurately using a pencil and a straightedge. Double-check your measurements with a measuring tape and a square for precise markings. Setting up a guiding board is helpful for long, straight cuts.

Measure the distance from the guiding board to the cutting line based on the blade guard size.

Set the cutting depth of the saw.

When securing plywood, make sure it’s fastened securely to the support surface, such as workbenches, sawhorses, or floor boards. Use clamps or a non-slip mat to prevent wobbling during cutting. Hold the saw firmly with both hands, ensuring a stable grip.

Align the blade with the cutting line or blade guard with the guiding board, keeping the base plate against the plywood edge. Activate the safety mechanism and turn on the power switch. Gradually cut into the plywood, ensuring the blade is perpendicular to the surface.

Apply steady pressure, maintaining control throughout the cut. Support the plywood at the end of the cut.

One of the most critical times when cutting plywood is at the end of the cut. If the plywood is unsupported, it can fall and splinter. Use a backing board or have an assistant support the board at the end of the cut.

After completing the cut, release the saw trigger and allow the saw to come to a complete stop before setting it down. Check the accuracy and precision of the cut before storing your supplies.

To ensure a cleaner cut, use a sharp and appropriate blade. When cutting the plywood, align the longest cuts with the grain and the cross cuts against the grain.

Cutting Plywood with a Table Saw.

How to Cut Plywood

A table saw is ideal for accurate cuts on plywood. Cutting standard 4×8 sheets on a table saw can be difficult, so it’s best to trim them down first. The size that works on a particular table saw depends on its size.

To cut with a circular saw, follow Steps 1 and 2 from the instructions above.

1. Set the Rip Fence and Blade Depth

Set the rip fence distance by measuring the size you need to cut. Measure from the outside of the blade to the inside of the rip fence for accuracy. Align the cut mark on the plywood with the blade using the rip fence as a guide.

Set the blade depth so that the teeth rise slightly higher than the plywood.

Turn on the saw and let it reach full speed. Align the plywood edge to the rip fence and press it gently towards the fence and blade. Continue feeding the plywood slowly into the blade.

Ensure that the edge stays aligned with the rip fence while cutting. Gaps between them will lead to inaccurate cuts. Support the plywood as it comes off the table on the opposite side.

Use a helper or a support table at the same height as the table saw.

Tips for Cutting Plywood With a Jigsaw:

How to Cut Plywood

Jigsaws are useful for making curved and intricate cuts on plywood. The steps for using a jigsaw on plywood are similar to those of using a circular saw and table saw. Clear the work area, mark and secure the plywood.

However, some tips can make cutting plywood with a jigsaw easier.

Choosing the Best Blade – Choosing the right jigsaw blade is essential for obtaining optimal cuts. Ensure that the selected blade is sharp for precise cutting. Blades with downward-pointing teeth are ideal for plywood as they minimize splintering.

A high tooth count is also beneficial for plywood cuts. Choose a jigsaw blade with at least 20 teeth per inch (tpi). Don’t Force the Saw – Avoid applying excessive pressure on the jigsaw when cutting plywood as it will result in a rougher cut.

Instead, let the saw progress through the wood at its own pace for a cleaner and more precise cut. Keep the Base Flat – Ensure that the jigsaw’s base remains flat against the plywood. This helps maintain control during the cut and ensures safety. Allow the Saw to Cool – The jigsaw blade can heat up significantly while cutting plywood.

Allow it to cool before touching.

Tips for Cutting Plywood With a Miter Saw

Miter saws are ideal for making accurate angled cuts. Use the same measurement and wood securing techniques as you would with other saws. Here are some specific tips for using a miter saw:

Calibrate Your Miter Saw – Ensure proper alignment before cutting to ensure accuracy.

Do Not Force the Blade – If the blade does not go through the wood easily, it means you are using the wrong blade for the wood type.

Do Not Use for Large Plywood Sheets – Miter saws are best for small pieces of wood because supporting a large sheet on the saw surface is difficult. Most miter saws have a cutting range of 12 inches.

Tips for Cutting Plywood With a Hand Saw

Power saws are ideal for accurate and quick plywood cutting. However, if power tools are unavailable, a hand saw can be used instead. Ensure precise markings for the cut and secure the board as you would with other saws. Follow these tips for optimal hand saw cuts:

– Select the appropriate hand saw: The most precise cuts on plywood can be achieved with saws featuring fine teeth and a thin blade. While these saws require more time for cutting, they result in greater precision.

– Begin with a notch: It is recommended to create a notch or pilot cut at the edge of your intended cut before starting.

– Maintain the proper saw angle: When cutting, maintain a saw angle of 30-45 degrees. This helps prevent the saw from binding.

Secure the end of the cut to prevent splintering. Use your free hand, another person, or a table or standing boards of the same height as the cutting surface to secure the end.

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