So, you’ve just picked up some beautiful, fresh sheets of plywood from Plyco and it’s time get cracking on your latest DIY project. You arrive home and set out to start whipping up something incredible, but first, you’ve got to cut your sheets into the perfect lengths for whatever masterpiece you’re building. You’re so close to getting your plywood project up and running and you definitely don’t want to mess up something as seemingly simple as cutting. In reality, cutting can actually be a deceptively tricky part of any job involving plywood. Knowing the best techniques and tips can save you a world of pain, so this week we want to open you into the Plyco warehouse and share some of the brilliant tips our experts have developed over the years – it could end up saving your plywood from imminent disaster!
Elevation of the Plywood
A good beginner’s tip for getting a great cut with your plywood is to give it a little bit of elevation. Rather than laying it completely flat, sawhorses are perfect for this, but items like other pieces of wood are the perfect substitution to raise the plywood up. This is a great way to ensure that you get a clean cut, while also preventing any damage to the saw you’re using.
Adjust Blade Height/Depth
Sticking to a similar theme to our first tip, blade height and depth of your circular saw is rather important when looking for that perfect plywood cut. For maximum safety you usually have your blade set lower, but with plywood this can actually cut away and damage some of the deeper sheets of ply first, leaving the face unsupported as the blade runs through. Raising the blade height actually alters the direction the teeth will come in contact with the wood, giving you a more perpendicular cut. A general rule is to adjust your blade so it is just slightly deeper than the plywood you’re cutting, so the actual measurements here can vary from project to project depend on your sheet’s thickness!
Use the Right Blade
A carbide tip saw blade. Perfect for cutting plywood!
The most obvious tips are usually the most overlooked. A regular, stock-standard blade that comes with your circular saw is most times not going to be the perfect one for working with plywood. Carbide tip blades work brilliantly with plywood sheets. These blades have a much higher teeth count and that helps give you a smoother cut, which is highly sought after in this situation. Teeth are smaller on these carbide tip blades too, which take little bites from the wood and reduce your chances of having a chipped our rough looking sheet.
Have a Zero Clearance Insert Handy!
You probably have a regular old insert plate for your circular saw, but if you’ve noticed a theme here, your default cutting utensils aren’t always going to cut it when it comes to plywood. Basically, a zero clearance insert closes the gap around the blade in the throat plate, which dramatically reduces chipping on the back face of your plywood sheet. Zero clearance inserts are available to purchase in many places, but if you’re feeling extra handy and up to there are actually a number of DIY home remedies that you can implement to get the same results.
Zero clearance inserts always come in handy
Finish the Job
If you start a cut with a plywood sheet you better be committed to seeing it all the way through. Stopping midway through, or making a “stagger cut”, is a sure-fire and foolproof way to have your board get ruined. By using a stop-start method of cutting you’ll soon run into splinters, as well as uneven and wonky lines. Once you put the pedal to the metal here you’ve got to go all the way!
A Little Bit of Plywood Guidance
Many of us don’t the insanely steady hands of a bomb-defusing robot, and as a result, cutting perfectly straight lines can be a bit of a challenge. Instead of trying to nail these tough cuts, use a guide to assist you in your efforts. This is a tip where there are almost limitless options available at your disposal. If you want to get really professional and proper there are numerous products you can buy to assist your straight line cutting, however more often than not just another piece of plywood clamped to the sheet you are cutting is a perfect guide (just make sure the plywood you’re using is actually straight)! If you don’t have any extra piece of plywood around you can pretty much use anything as long as it’s straight and sturdy.
Protect Your Plywood's Best Face
Finally, this might seem obvious but it still needs to be said in a lot of cases; make sure your good face is either facing upwards or downwards, depending on the saw you are using! Most plywood generally has one higher quality “front” face with a slightly downgraded “back” face. Whenever you’re cutting plywood with a circular saw you need to make sure your front face is pointing downwards, as circular saws cut on the upstroke meaning the blade enters the wood from below and exits out the top. If using a table saw you need to reverse this and have the front face facing upwards, as it cuts the opposite way. Double checking what saw you’re using and which way your plywood sheet is facing before you start can save you from a lot of drama later on.
Now that you know the top tips for getting the perfect cut on your plywood, why not head over to Plyco’s online store and try out these tips for yourself? With our online store, most of our products can be ordered from the comfort of your own home! However, you’re always welcome to come see us in-person. Our Fairfield showroom is open Monday to Saturday, which allows you to see the full extent of our rage with your very own eyes.