What is the best way to cut plywood? Here’s what you need to know for cutting plywood and chipboard
Plywood is a convenient material for many cases. In the construction industry it is used for making formwork, rough flooring, filing ceilings, constructing partitions, and roofing. But rough construction work is not the only application of plywood. Plywood is used for furniture. It’s not just used to make the backs of cabinets or interior drawers.
Plywood is an excellent material for making stylish furniture and interior details. But, if you can saw plywood for the formwork with any cutting tool, then it is necessary to make furniture parts with a certain accuracy and without splintering. On how to properly saw plywood, and what tool is better to use. an electric jigsaw, or a circular cutting machine. read in this article.
What to cut and what tools to use
Depending on the cutting purpose, the most efficient way of cutting plywood is selected. Among the tools used for work are the following:
Let’s consider the peculiarities of using different tools for cutting plywood and in which cases it is more appropriate to use one or another device.
Physical effort is needed to cut plywood with a hand saw because of the great density of the material. This tool is used when it is necessary to cut a sheet of plywood into equal fragments.
Manual jigsaw. the best assistant in the processing of plywood sheets
A manual jigsaw is considered the best tool and allows you to decide in advance what to saw plywood without chipping, saving yourself from having to buy electric tools. It can be used to make a small number of complex-shaped elements. With some skill in the jigsaw, a precise cut can be made, but this method is not optimal due to its high labor input and low productivity.
Hand saw for plywood
If you have no electric tools or a simple jigsaw on hand, you should resort to using a simple hand saw. To cut a sheet comfortably and avoid splintering, the blade should have plenty of fine and well-sharpened teeth. The angle of the saw to the plywood sheet must be sharp. It is recommended to avoid jerking movements and to apply firm pressure evenly.
Tip: The cut of a regular saw is rough, therefore it is recommended to machine the end parts with emery cloth after sawing.
It is possible to create various shapes from plywood sheets using a circular or circular saw, but the main purpose of these tools is to create rectangular cuts. It is very difficult to get a clean cut when cutting material because the speed of the discs is very high. Therefore, preference should be given to discs with fine teeth for wood. When cutting plywood it is best to use discs designed for particleboard.
A disc with fine teeth prevents the formation of large chips
Tip: When cutting plywood, make sure that there is very little pressure on the sheet and low disk speed.
When making or repairing furniture it is often necessary to choose how to saw laminated plywood. To get a clean cut, choose discs or blades that have frequent and fine teeth. Their sharpening angle and shape are important. It is desirable to choose discs with a positive angle of sharpening and different tooth shapes (alternation of trapezoidal and straight teeth is observed). If the disc has a negative sharpening angle the rotational speed must be reduced, otherwise the wood will burn.
Important: the larger the diameter of the blade, the wider the kerf will be, thus increasing the number of splinters. It is impossible to avoid the formation of chips completely, but it is possible to reduce their number and size to such an extent that the subsequent processing can completely eliminate all the roughness.
A correlation has been established between splinter size and saw tooth size: small saw teeth leave less damage than large ones. Tooth pitch influences the cleanliness of the plywood cut. Best results are obtained with minimal set. This can be checked with a standard ruler. Do not use a thin-toothed blade to cut thick plywood, as the increased friction can lead to burning and jamming of the blade.
The best way to cut any plywood is with an electric jigsaw. When working with this tool, you should use fine saws, cut the blade by pressing the jigsaw and avoid jerky movements. Once the process is complete, the ends of the material are machined with sandpaper.
An electric jigsaw will make sawing easier and make a quality cut of the sheet
Tip: when selecting saws for an electric jigsaw, you should give preference to those models that are labeled “clean cut”. Most manufacturers of cutting tools offer saws for this purpose, for example, the Bosch company has a range of products called CleanWood. The teeth are characterized by their regular triangular shape and the ability to cut in opposite directions.
You should not buy low-quality tools, because after a cut of 5 m you will notice a sharp blunting of the cutting edge, which causes chipping. The absence of a set and the opposite sharpening of the teeth, located next to each other, and the small width allow for complex shape cutting. But these properties of fine-cutting saws make the blades fragile.
Plywood saws. the key to successful sawing
Fine cutting of plywood can be performed with blades for working with metal parts. The tooth size of such saws is minimal, which greatly slows down the sawing speed, but allows the highest quality. Because the width of metal saws is large, a curved cut is only possible with a large bending radius (0.6 to 0.8 m).
The “zero clearance” technique
Masters of carpentry often use the principle of refinement of the sole of their cutting tools, which is to reduce the gap between the clamping pad and the foot. This action is guaranteed to eliminate the “cracking” effect of the crust in the upper layers of the material.
Zero clearance is achieved by clamping the overlay plate to the tool’s support leg. The pads have only one narrow hole (slit) that fits snugly to the cutter. Because of this, even a small amount of feed force on the teeth can ensure that a fine chip is cut, rather than turning out the chips in the top layer.
When using the pads, it is very important that they do not scratch the surface of the workpiece. That’s why they are often made of an inferior material in terms of hardness to the material to be cut. Of course, such a pad is not long enough, it has to be replaced every 4-5 meters of cutting.
The most durable linings are made of plastic sheet (fluoroplastic, PVC), metal or fiberglass. If the pads are made of metal (soft aluminum or duraly), they must be carefully polished to avoid vibration.
How to saw plywood properly
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If you are going to do any construction or carpentry work, at some point you may need to cut something out of plywood. Plywood sheets are usually quite large and difficult to cut, especially if you don’t have special tools. But if you remember a few basic rules, you can easily cut plywood with a simple hand or circular saw, also called a circular saw. The main thing is to keep your saw blade sharp and the plywood sheet itself stable.
- You can even find special saw blades in the store “for plywood”, check the number of teeth on them nevertheless.  X Source of information
- Circular saw blades come in different sizes, so make sure the one you choose will fit your saw.  X Source of information
- If you decide to saw plywood “with the native” With your circular saw blade, you will most likely end up with a jagged, jagged edge of plywood.  X Source of information
- When sawing, make sure the saw blade protrudes 5 mm deeper than the underside of the plywood. If you are sawing a 2 cm thick sheet of plywood, the depth of cut on the saw should be 2.5 cm.  X Source of information
- Put some 5×10 cm wood under the plywood sheet to support it while you saw. Use 5×10 cm wood for this purpose only, because the circular saw will cut into the top edge of the wood when you saw the plywood.  X Source of information
- If there are no wooden bars at hand, you can take a sheet of foam insulation instead. Lay it on the floor and place the plywood sheet on top. Make sure that the plywood does not slip on the surface of the foam sheet.  X Ref
- If you choose to use foam insulation, you can safely move over the surface of the plywood sheet while cutting, and you don’t have to worry about the plywood sheet breaking off at the end point of the cut.  X
Saw plywood face down. To saw plywood with a hand-held circular saw, the plywood must be placed face down. The saw tines will then run into the base of the plywood from the front and come out from the back. When the saw teeth come out of the thickness of the plywood, they may tear the edge of the cut a bit. Therefore, laying the plywood face down will ensure that the cutting line on the face of the sheet is neat.  X
Jigsaw pendulum stroke
Pendulum stroke or otherwise called “pumping” is needed to increase the speed of wood sawing, to work with soft materials and for production of complex cuts. The pendulum motion of the jigsaw is based on the swinging motion. It significantly impairs the quality of the cut and causes splinters on the surface.
We recommend to switch the pendulum motion off to reduce chipping. On a Makita jigsaw, for example, we showed you where the jigsaw shuts off. Find out if your jigsaw has this feature and how it is disabled. When this feature is turned off, the jigsaw makes standard movements that result in an even cut and a better quality of cut.
Make cuts without stopping
Under normal conditions the saw blade should run smoothly and gently. If it is tight, either the blade is blunt or you are driving too fast.
If the jigsaw is run too fast, the cut will show traces of teeth. If you drive too slowly the saw blade can overheat, the plywood can begin to smolder and you can smell it.
In order to get an even and beautiful cut while sawing do not make stops. Make sure in advance that the power cord can not get caught on the corners of plywood sheets or the screw clamp. If the sheet is big, it makes sense to climb on it.
Choose the right disc
The cleaner you want to cut, the more teeth you need on the blade. As long as the saw blade is new and sharp, any of the four saw blades shown in the photo on the right will do.
The most handy, but also the most expensive saw blade with 56 teeth or the so-called laminate blade. Well, and for domestic works and for all occasions, such as cottage crafts, is quite suitable disc that has 40 teeth.
Adjust the guide to the size of the part you are sawing off
It is not a problem to set the guide on which you want the saw to run. To do so, measure the reference dimension. the length from the edge of the circular saw blade to the edge of the steel circular saw sole and write it down somewhere, on the wall of the workshop for example. that will come in handy! Next, you need to make a marking on a sheet of plywood: the width of the piece to be sawed, the thickness of the saw blade itself and plus the base size.
You can use a special steel ruler from a DIY store as a guide. But it is much easier and cheaper to use a sawn-off piece of plywood, where one side is factory-made, t.е. It is flat and will do the job just fine.
According to the drawn dimension set the guide and fix it together with a piece of plywood with clamps.
To prevent the surface of the plywood sheet from being damaged by the legs of the clamps, put pieces of old plywood, for example, under them.