When you don’t have an extra set of hands, it can be quite a challenge to cut full sheets of plywood. If you are a veteran table saw user, this guide will help you find some useful tips if you want to learn how to cut plywood with a table saw.
I will also identify the areas where you can fine-tune your skills so that you can easily cut plywood sheets without losing any of your fingers. If you are a new woodworker, this article will give you a big head start.
Let’s wrap it up by discussing how to get better cuts in plywood and sheet goods. This is something a lot of folks struggle with because when your sheets get bigger, there is more room for all sorts of errors.
Plywood has grain direction, and it is true that the grain inside the sheet crisscrosses because each layer lays in the opposite direction as the one below it, but the outer layers do have a distinct grain.
And those fibers will splinter and tear if you cut across them with a blade with a low tooth count. You may not care so much about utility-grade plywood, but this is where many woodworkers make their first mistake.
Cutting Plywood On Table Saw
Let me show you how to rip plywood with a table saw in a proper way.
Selecting The Proper Saw Blade
Most table saws will come with a general-purpose or a combination blade that has 40 or 50 teeth and is designed to cut with both with the grain and across the grain.
As long as it’s kept clean and sharp and it is of good quality, it will work perfectly fine for 90 percent of your cuts in solid wood. But not for plywood. At least not in the nice, veneered plywood used in woodworking projects. And especially not when cutting across the grain.
Good plywood for cabinetry is best cut with an 80-tooth crosscut. Believe me, the quality of the cut is well worth the extra cost for a good quality blade. It can also be used for more than just plywood.
Size & Weight Of The Plywood Sheet
A full sheet of three-quarter inch MDF weighs near a hundred pounds, and the 4-foot width makes it awkward to carry it. You can easily injure yourself trying to maneuver a full sheet from your vehicle through your shop door and onto your table saw.
Just for this step, get some help if you can when ripping plywood on table saw. Help doesn’t always come in the form of another person, though. Several companies make carrying handles. Get yourself some of those.
Making The Cut
If you have to work with large panels at the table saw, you’ll find that getting accurate cuts can be far more difficult than you may be used to with smaller workpieces.
Your primary concern should be keeping the edge of the panel against the fence. With a large sheet, you may even have to stand on the side at first. This is vitally important f that edge drifts away from the fence.
Now, feed slowly, watching the fence and not the blade. Late in the cut, move to behind the saw and continue feeding the sheet while maintaining firm pressure against the fence.
Finish by pushing the sheet all the way past the blade. Without outfeed support on the other side, it would be impossible to do this without the whole thing tipping up on you.
Don’t put the safety of yourself and the quality of the cut at considerable risk. Use supports on both ends to lift and carry the additional weight of the sheet. And that concludes our guide on how to cut plywood with a table saw.