Cutting plywood sheets can be dangerous. Remember to wear safety goggles and be very careful with the blade. Kickback is a risk, especially when using a table saw, so it's essential to pay attention and be careful.
It's also a good idea to keep your work area clean and tidy. Pay attention to where the power cord is at all times.
Types of cuts
When cutting plywood, you'll probably be making two types of cuts. Rip cuts go with the grain, while cross cuts go across the grain. Crosscuts can easily lead to tearing out, the problem where the wood fibres stick out and ruin your clean straight edge. We'll take a look at some ways to avoid this below.
What sort of blade should I use?
Using the correct blade is essential to avoid tear outs. You'll need a saw blade with a high number of fine teeth per inch. Blades with a higher bevel angle are also helpful for cutting through the wood accurately.
Which side of the plywood should I cut on?
The side of the plywood you have facing up depends on the type of saw you are using. You want the blade to enter the wood on the flawless face (A side)and leave it on the bad face (B side).
Circular saw: the good side facing down
Table saw: the good side facing up
Hand saw: depends on the saw type and how you are cutting.
Tip #1: Score the cut and use painter's tape
For a great, clean cut, it helps to score the cut line before you start using your saw. This means using a utility knife to make an indent along the line before cutting it properly.
Blue painter's tape can be used when cutting plywood with a circular saw or table saw to hold the fibres of the wood together and reduce the risk of splintering. Place the masking tape over the cut mark on both sides of the plywood. Remember to peel off the masking tape slowly to avoid splinters.
Tip #2: Measure twice, cut once
This is the classic woodworking rule: always measure twice and cut once. Double-checking your measurements reduces the risk of making an incorrect cut and being able to fix it by buying new materials.