Most novice do-it-yourselfers feel perfectly comfortable using an electric drill or jigsaw, but nearly all of them are hesitant to pick up a portable circular saw. Also note that a circular saw cuts on the upstroke, which often splinters the top edge (veneer) slightly. The downside of hand cutting plywood is that you will invariably end up with a fairly rough edge. A hand plane may be a better choice but plywood is also a challenging material to hand plane and it is easy to get edge splintering when planing plywood in this manner. The Dewalt saw might be a bit of overkill and you might be putting some fingers in jeopardy cutting small parts.
Since splintering occurs mainly on the side where the teeth of the saw exit as the cutting stroke is completed, the simplest way to minimize the problem in most cases is to cut from the side that will cause splinters to occur on the back, or least objectionable, side (the side that will not be seen when the project is finished). I tend to forget about the kerf because the guide block I cut automatically accounts for it – provided I measure from the left, which I almost always do.
We now have a dedicated Router machine shed and production is up which is good news for turnaround times for our customers. In this case a rip cut would be cutting lengthwise and a crosscut would be cutting across. The biggest problem woodworkers have with cutting plywood, especially when cross-cutting, is that the veneer often splinters out along the cut line. Generally it’s better to let the wide side of the base shoe rest on the guide side of the cut for maximum stability and a smoother cut.
Your saw may just one of the periodic tune-ups” you should be giving it. There’s help on the best tools and procedures for keeping your table saw in perfect condition in Rockler’s article Tool Maintenance Made Easy ”. For a more in-depth treatment of the subject – along with tips on getting most out of your saw – consider adding a Table Saw Book to your woodworking library.
If Lowes price is cheaper, I will print out their current price…and take it to Home Depot…Home Depot will match their price and take an additional 10% off…for example, one day I found that Lowes was cheaper on a piece of plywood…I printed it out and showed it to the cashier…they in turn, gave me the price match + 10%…on one piece of plywood, I saved over seven dollars!
In terms of the squares you want to cut, I’d just apply a few pieces of double-sided tape to the bed of my crosscut sled, stick the squares down to them with the diagonal corners of the plywood (along the cutting line) aligned with the blade opening on the sled, and make the cuts. By getting pre-primed plywood I will save a couple of days of waiting for the primer coat to dry. With a little practice you’ll get nice smooth curves, very small kerf, be able to see your cut and split a mechanical pencil line, and it really won’t take you any longer than cutting with a power jigsaw and finishing with a block plane.
Clamping a scrap piece of wood along the line of cut and then cutting through both pieces at once will insure a clean cut without splinters – again, because any splintering that does take place will be on the back side of the scrap wood. Back to woodwork, simply filling a sloppy cut with excess glue when the span of the fill varies does not evenly distribute the stress, ergo consistency is the name of the game. So, armed with my cart, my 2 x4, my tape measure, pencil, cut sheet, and my printouts…I went directly to the plywood aisle. You can aid cooling by blasting the cut point with compressed air, which also clears debris.
It’s difficult, especially in a 1-person shop, to cut down full 4×8 sheets of plywood. The second is that some will require very little working space to perform a full cut. The simpliest guide is just clamping a long, straight edge to the sheet of plywood, positioned so the foot of your ciruclar saw follows the straight edge. Put together end-to-end, you have a support for a full 8-foot-long sheet of plywood. Perhaps the easiest way to avoid splintering is to use a blade that’s made just for cutting plywood.
For one thing, the factory edge is usually perfectly straight (sight along the edge to make sure). For cross cutting large sheets of plywood, more times than not, I will use a circular saw. Due to the design of many of these tools however, they are still only rough cut machines. These blades cut more aggressively than continuous-rim blades but don’t leave as clean a finish. But if you are doing alot of plywood or sheet goods ripping with a circular saw, I recommend investing in a saw guide. Place four long 2 x 4s underneath the sheet you’re cutting, spacing one 2 x 4 close to each side of the cut line.
This is, after all, what Home Depot wants…they don’t make money on the plywood or the labor involved in cutting it: they make their profit on the accessories and add-ons”. Secure the straightedge with some heavy-duty spring clamps; then make a guided cut. Framing blades have 24 teeth and are effective for work — such as rough carpentry — where speed is more important than a clean cut. Rift-Cut: A straight grain appearance achieved through the process of cutting at a slight angle to the radial on the half-round stay log or through the use of veneer cut in any fashion that produces a straight grain with minimal ray fleck.
Cut is radial to the pith to the extent that ray fleck is produced, and the amount of fleck is not limited. I have cut up thousands of sheets of plywood on many different table saws, and it has never led to surgery. Transfer this measurement to the other end of the line, and clamp your straight edge along these two marks. Expansion slots cut into the rim help prevent the blade from warping as it expands and contracts during use.
Use climb cut instead of conventional and if you still have tearout double check your speeds and feeds to make sure you’re in the sweetspot. Instead of free-hand cutting to a line with a circular saw, a guide can be used to control the saw during the cut. The real beauty of this arrangement is that the entire sheet is supported by the foam – even after you make the cut. Attach a sacrificial fence to the miter gauge to help keep the board even during the cut.
In my experience, the kind gentlemen at Lowes will cut anything you want that’s within their capabilities for free if you go when it’s not too crowded and are nice. When you first hold plywood cut in such a way it completely surprises you, you are not sure what exactly is in your hand, you cannot believe that it’s wood, because the lack of rigidity gives you a totally different feeling. It’s usually located on the back of the saw under the handle, even though some models have it on the front. Michael’s suggestions are good, but you really need to be using a circular saw for plywood unless you are cutting tight curves.