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Current lead time for cut & edge orders is 9 - 11 working days

Cworkshop's How To

Cut plywood

How to cut plywood

Plywood is one of the best and most versatile materials for professional woodworking and DIY projects. Cheap, durable, and attractive, plywood is available in various grades to find the best sheets for your project.

However, once you've sourced and purchased your materials, you need to cut them to size. This is no small task, especially if you're new to DIY or need to know what tools to use. With plywood, there's a high risk of tearing out, making your edges look terrible. Cutting plywood at home without proper technique and suitable blades can have disappointing results. 

That's why we've put together this guide to tell you everything you need to know about plywood cutting. From the type of saw and saw blades to how to avoid splinters best, here are the best tips for cutting plywood sheets. 

Want to learn more about which plywood to buy and how to use it? Check out our ultimate plywood buying guide, or look at our plywood DIY project ideas for inspiration. 

Everything you need to know before cutting plywood


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. 

Cutting plywood with a circular saw

A handheld circular saw with a plywood cutting blade is one of the easiest ways to cut plywood, especially if you're working with big, hard-to-manoeuvre sheets. You'll need a blade with a high tooth count, reducing the splintering risk. Carbide-tipped blades are ideal for this purpose. 

To cut your plywood, you'll need to set it up on a workbench, sawhorse, or even on the ground on top of some scrap blocks. The important thing is that the plywood is stable, and there is space underneath for the circular saw to cut through the plywood without damaging anything important. It would be best if you also ensured that the sheet of plywood is supported on both sides of the cut.

Make sure that the good side of your plywood is on the bottom and that the waste side is facing up. With a circular saw, most tear-out will happen on the top of the cut, so you'll want this to be on the B side of your sheet. You may clamp the plywood onto your sawhorses or workbench to keep it still while cutting. 

The next step is to mark your cutting line using a pencil. It's helpful to score the line using a utility knife to create a smoother cut. Some people also like to use blue painter's tape on top of the cut line to reduce splintering. 
Making a straight cut with a circular saw can be tricky without a guide. If you are using a cutting sled or saw manual, attach it to the circular saw using the set screws, making sure it is attached securely and straight to the saw base. 

For rip cuts, use a rip-cut guide. This ensures that your rip cuts are accurate by running parallel to the straight edge of the plywood. All you need to do is adjust the sled and rip cut guide to the desired width and clamp them in place. 
Set the blade depth to slightly more than the actual depth of the plywood sheet, preferably around 6mm extra. This ensures that you will cut through the plywood without dragging too much blade. Now, you're ready to start cutting. 

Cutting plywood with a table saw

Table saws are another option for cutting smaller plywood sections, although this can be more difficult than using a circular saw. While cutting large sheets of plywood using a table saw is possible, getting somebody to help you for safety reasons is essential. The other person can catch the board on the other side of the table saw as you feed it through. However, they should not try to guide or put pressure on the sheet because this ruin the excellent straight cut. 

To achieve the cleanest cut possible and reduce splintering, you'll need a blade with a high tooth count, such as a plywood blade. This is because the stock blades cannot provide clean cuts. Alternatively, if you're cursing lots of plywood sheets, you may use a sacrificial insert clamped to the plywood. This means that the plywood cannot chip when cut, ensuring a splinter-free clean line. Setting the blade height as high as possible while being safe and positioning the plywood with the good side facing up is helpful. 

Before cutting, ensure the whole piece of plywood is stable and supported on sawhorses. This makes it easier to feed the heavy sheet through the saw at a steady rate. It's also important to cut with the good side facing up because this will improve the cleanness of the cut. 

Now, you're ready to cut. Use both hands to slowly and firmly guide the sheet of plywood through the blade. 

Cutting plywood with a hand saw

You can use a hand saw on your plywood if you only need to make a few cuts. For rough cuts, a hand saw blade with fewer teeth is the faster option, but if you want the cut lines to come out clean, you'll need to choose a saw with an excellent tooth blade. Mitre hand saws are ideal for smaller cuts because they have a stiff blade, making straight cuts easier. 

To keep your cuts straight, use a hand saw, use a board as a guide, and cut only on the push motion, not the pull. This can be a slow process but increases the accuracy of the cut. If you choose to cut on the push motion, it's a good idea to position your plywood with the good side facing up. 

Before you start sawing, make a notch on the wood's edge. This will guide you in the cut. Then, begin sawing the plywood with the blade at 30-45 degrees from the surface. Remember to brace the cutoff end with your spare hand to prevent tear-offs when you get to the edge. 

...Or leave it to the professionals

Of course, purchasing your plywood cut to size is always easier. Here at Cworkshop, we're happy to do the work for you to ensure high-quality and accurate cuts. Using cutting optimisation software and industrial-grade cutting machines, we can cut your sheets accurately and quickly every time.

To use our professional cutting services, fill out our form with the measurements you need, and we'll handle the cutting, edging, and even spray paint for you. Or, get in touch, and we'll be happy to discuss your project requirements with you.