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Cutting oak ply with circ

remodeler's picture

Question from a Breaktimer:

I am putting some cabinets together, not my usual task but am having a difficulty.  I need to cut my oak plywood out with a circular saw due to space constraints in my shop.  I was hoping to make my finish cuts with the pc circ saw w/carbide plywood blade.  But the upcut splinters the heck out of the ply edge.  My table saw doesn't have enough clearance to cut the long sheets (I need 84" pieces) w/o the garage door open, and it's deep winter. 

How can I make that cut decently?  I thought about a board on top to stop the splintering, but then I'm afraid my cuts won't be accurately measured off.  I'm using one of those sliding aluminum 4'-8" clampable fences.


SCFrankland's picture

(post #96770, reply #1 of 21)

Go to this link and you will have your answer.

Scott C. Frankland

Scott's WOODWORKING Website

"He who has the most tools may not win the race of life but he will sure make his wife look like a good catch when she goes to move on."

Scott C. Frankland

Scott's WOODWORKING Website

"He who has the most tools may not win the race of life but he will sure make his wife look like a good catch when she goes to move on."

ukdave's picture

(post #96770, reply #2 of 21)

Try making a zero clearance insert for your circular saw.  Attach a piece of hardboard to the bottom of the saw's plate and then plunge the blade through it.

Also, make sure the "good" side of the plywood is facing down - less splinters on the good side this way.

I put a sheet of foam insulation on the ground and then lay the plywood face down on it.  I find the plywood much easier to work with that way.


Edit - the above post "shows" how to do this.  We must have been putting our posts together at the same time - I did not mean to duplicate.

Edited 2/16/2004 11:06:34 AM ET by ukdave

Sancho's picture

(post #96770, reply #3 of 21)

What kind of saw or set up you have? They make a ply blade for your circ saw.

 But you could get the ply cut at the yard to mangable size. I usually get mine ripped in half 24' down the center to make it more managable. They charge a nominal fee something like 50 cents-to a buck a cut. But since I got a good repore with them they usually dont charge me anything for the cuts.



Gancho agarrador izquierdo americano pasado que la bandera antes de usted sale

remodeler's picture

(post #96770, reply #4 of 21)

I'm using a carbide ply blade, and I started to wonder if it's dull.  but the zero insert makes sense to me.  I don't trust my yard to make a straight cut.  Their panel saw (which I will eventually purchase one, had one years ago) looks rickety to me.


proje's picture

(post #96770, reply #5 of 21)

Get the Tru-Grip clamp from Griset, available in several lengths up to 8'. It is an extruded aluminum straight edge/clamp that spans the length of your cut and clamps against the outside edges of the board. It has T-slots along the edges, and you can buy a UHMW plate for your circular saw that fits neatly into these slots. After mounting your circ saw to the plate, you drop the blade through for a zero-tolerance slot, then set the clamp up on your board, and you can get a perfect cut with your eyes closed (not that I recommend this). They also make mounting plates for routers and other equipment. You can find it at Amazon, Woodcraft, etc.

HONewbie's picture

(post #96770, reply #6 of 21)

I have a homemade straightedge that I put together from aluminum angle and scrap plywood that gets clamped along the cutline.  The saw rides on top of the plywood.  Doing it that way, the top layer of veneer on the keep side of the cut is held down and prevented from lifting.  I don't know if I'm explaining that very well.

In any event, if I want to eliminate chipout completely I make the cut in two passes.  For the first, the saw is set just about 1/16" deep.  That scores the veneer so that when you come back and make the full-thickness cut you won't have tear out.


WayneL5's picture

(post #96770, reply #7 of 21)

If it were me I'd open the garage door for a few minutes.  It will invigorate you.

JMartinsky's picture

(post #96770, reply #8 of 21)

I've had to do that a million, or at least a couple of times. I still have to crosscut larger sheets like that in my shop. It's all in the blade. Oak can be a bit of a pain, so here are my suggestions:

1. Check your saw for blade wobble (runout):

A. Flip the saw over, retract the guard and just "touch" the trigger to get a few

Rpms. Watch blade as it stops. Does it wobble? Yes? Get a NEW blade and try it

again. Still wobble? If yes, get a new saw.

B. Blade choice, is this order:

1. Matsuticha finish, not the cheap one, the $40.00 one in the box.

2. Frued finish blade with the Red teflon.

3. Frued combination blade, with the red teflon.

2. Technique:

Use a straightedge as suggested, and use the scoring technique as posted. If you

were using Birch ply, you could put Blue or green painters tape on the cut and

then cut through the tape, but for Oak, you need to score. Cut 1/16" and then go

back through the sheet at approximately 1/4" deeper than the ply. If you are

cutting 3/4" material, set the saw for 1".

3. Saw:

If you do need a saw, I use the DeWalt with the knob on the front. It has a depth

guage that's actually useful and the edge of the shoe is 5 1/2" from the inside

edge of the blade. Not 5 5/32 or some bizzarre number.....5 1/2"

4. Note:

Just don't buy the saw from Home Depot. (My opinion)

Good Luck!


Edited 2/16/2004 9:47:03 PM ET by JMartinsky

smorris's picture

(post #96770, reply #9 of 21)

ditto on other replies, get a really good staight edge, trucut or leevalley,

and cut in two passes, first just throught the top veneer and then second one all the way through and use a top quality blade, i use a freud melamine/laminate blade

also make sure that your bevel is accurately set to zero

i cut a lot of prefinished veneer panels in my kitchen cabinet business with perfect results

ps the leevalley cutting guide can be used at any angle of cut not just 90 degrees to an edge

caulking is not a piece of trim

caulking is not a piece of trim

Scrit's picture

(post #96770, reply #10 of 21)

I'd go with the zero-clearance plate to start with, together with a good quality plywood blade. Also consider scribing the top surface of the plywood with a knife to sever the fibres in the surface layer.

If this becomes a regular thing, though, I'd give serious consideration to a plunge saw with a straight edge guide system. Festool, Maffell and Bosch all make them (the Maffell is expensive in the USA, but their system rolls-up into a tube - Bosch semm to only distribute theirs in the EU at present). The saw rides on the guide rail and can be plunged into the work piece as required - the guide rail itself has a rubber edge strip which helps reduce/eliminate tearout. These systems are also good for plywood flooring where the mill hasn't quite cut the sheets square and/or the underfloor is a bit crooked.



bodier's picture

(post #96770, reply #11 of 21)

I had the same problem you do with splintering when crosscutting oak plywood with my circ. saw.  Someone suggested using painter's tape to place on the cut line.  I use this method and have very little tear-out and the tape is easy to remove.  HTH


Scrit's picture

(post #96770, reply #12 of 21)

There was one other point which came up in a discussion with someone in the pub this evening. It's so automatic of me to work out the "sweet spot" for a plywood blade on the panel saw that I'd overlooked it in my previous post. This is the point at which the blade will cut with minimal break out on both sides of the material. Any ATB plywood blade will have one. It is neither maximum protrusion nor minimum but seems to be between 1/2 to 2-1/2 tooth heights through the material for most of my ply blades and at that point the minimum amount of spelching (break-out) occurs. On a panel saw you can't have a zero clearance insert so you just make a couple of trial cuts at the start of a job and forget about it...


ChasStanford's picture

(post #96770, reply #13 of 21)

Cover the cut line with blue masking tape before making the cut.

tonyd's picture

(post #96770, reply #14 of 21)

mike4244's picture

(post #96770, reply #15 of 21)

Put a sharp combination blade in the saw, at least 40 teeth. Do not use a steel plywood blade on plywood thicker than 1/4". These blades heat up and wobble with light use on 3/4" plywood. Straight edge, then score by setting saw base for 1/8" or so cut. Pull the saw backwards while riding along fence. Next set base for full cut and push saw like usual. No tape or knife scoring neccessary. Use this method for any cuts that are prone to splintering. I cut doors, plastic laminate, veneered panels etc this way. It takes a couple of cuts until you get used to pulling saw backwards.


remodeler's picture

(post #96770, reply #16 of 21)

Thank you much for all of the input.  I made a 1/4" masonite zero clearance for the porter-cable saw, drilling into the saw fence to attach it.  The results were adequte, a little 150-grit knocked down the tiny splinters.  If I did it for a living or high-end I would probably go for some of the other suggestions (expensive blade, scoring) but its not very  noticeable.

I will try the sweet spot post today.

Thanks, Remodeler

AlanWS's picture

(post #96770, reply #18 of 21)

I vote for Steve's answer: make a very shallow cut first, and then a second pass through the whole thing. I just used a PC circular saw to cut oak ply that way with no detectable chipout on the edge, except where I forgot to take the first shallow pass.

smorris's picture

(post #96770, reply #19 of 21)

i agree alan, i do this every day, and the technique works for perfect chip free cuts even in melamine panels, usually the worst stuff to work with

and i work with the most expensive panel material, including prefinished cherry veneer particle board and get perfect cuts every time

three key things: a really sharp top quality blade in a good saw, a good staight edge( i use the veritas from ) and the blade must be 90 degrees to the sole

caulking is not a piece of trim

caulking is not a piece of trim

Parrothead2's picture

(post #96770, reply #17 of 21)

I don't know if you got your answer yet b/c I didn't read down through all the posts.

But Freud as a 40 tooth CS blade that is perfect for cutting ply. Leaves little to no tearout. Also you can put a peice of masking tape on the wood to help a little also.

GJMID2's picture

(post #96770, reply #20 of 21)

Although it's not recommended---reverse cut. Use your aluminum guide & let the saw feed itself through the plywood. Practice on an edge, to be sure you are comfortable before a mid-panel cut. You should only have to do this on the cross cuts. If you are using a good blade, rip cuts should be OK

bill_1010's picture

(post #96770, reply #21 of 21)

steel studs make great fences.  Find one with hemmed edges and its suprisingly accurate.  They are rigid and allow for clamps to your material.