How to Cut Plywood

When it comes to how to cut plywood, having the right tools can make all the difference in the precision and ease of your cut. It doesn’t matter if you are a DIYer or a professional woodworker, understanding the correct way to cut plywood with different tools is valuable. From handheld saws to large stationary saws, this guide will present valuable tips on the best way to cut plywood. With the right tools and knowledge, you can conquer any plywood project with confidence.

Cut Plywood

How to Cut Plywood: Benefits of Types Saws

Several saws work well for cutting plywood. Each has its benefits and suitability according to the specific task you want to accomplish.

  • Circular Saw – A circular saw is a powerful hand saw that woodworkers use to cut many types of wood. This saw has a rotating blade that makes both straight and angled cuts. You can cut plywood in varying depths and sizes, which offers more cutting flexibility. Circular saws are available in cordless or in cordless varieties.
  • Table Saw – Table saws are stationary saws that have a circular blade that rises from a flat table surface. This saw is ideal for making large precision cuts on medium-sized pieces of plywood. Table saws have adjustable fences and blades that allow you to vary the size of the cuts and allow you to accurately repeat the same cuts. Accurate cuts on large pieces of plywood are more difficult on table saws.
  • Jigsaw – A jigsaw is a handheld power saw with a reciprocating blade. This blade has an adjustable speed to cut different materials and thicknesses. A jigsaw is ideal for precision cutting. With a jigsaw, you can make intricate cuts, curved shapes, and irregular patterns. One main benefit of using a jigsaw for plywood is that you can cut a shape within a larger piece of plywood.
  • Miter Saw – A miter saw, also called a chop saw, is a saw that builders use to make angled cuts. Miter saws have a blade mounted on a pivoting arm. This allows for precision-angled cuts. Miter saws are valuable for trim work and framing.
  • Hand Saw – A handsaw is a manual saw that works well if power tools are not available or if the size of the plywood sheet is too large for a particular saw and needs to be trimmed. Hand saws do require some strength and coordination, but they can provide flexibility in your options. Hand saws work well but may require more time to accomplish particular tasks than power tools.

Cutting Plywood With a Circular Saw

Cutting Plywood With a Circular Saw

Cutting plywood with a circular saw requires special attention to technique and precision in following the proper steps.

  1. Prepare Your Work Area

Find a clean and spacious area to set up workbenches, sawhorses, or boards for cutting the plywood on the floor. Make sure that there is ample space for your plywood to rest flat and be fully supported during the cut.

  1. Measure and Mark the Cut

Take an accurate measure of the plywood and mark the cut using a pencil and a straightedge. Double-check your measurements with a measuring tape and a square to ensure precise markings. Setting up a guiding board is especially helpful for long, straight cuts. Make sure to measure the distance from the guiding board to the cutting line according to the size of the blade guard.

  1. Set the Saw’s Cutting Depth

Adjust the saw’s depth to slightly deeper than the thickness of the plywood. This will help prevent the blade from binding and causing splintering during the cut. Some experts recommend setting the level so that half of a carbide tool on the saw blade falls just below the plywood.

  1. Secure the Plywood

Make sure that the plywood is fastened securely to the surface of the support, be it workbenches, sawhorses, or boards on the floor. Use clamps and/or a non-slip mat to secure the plywood to the surface to ensure that it doesn’t wobble while you are cutting it.

  1. Position the Saw

Hold the saw securely with both hands and make sure that you have a stable and comfortable grip. Align the saw blade with the cutting line or the blade guard with the guiding board, keeping the edge of the base plate against the plywood.

  1. Make the Cut

Activate the saw’s safety mechanism and then turn on the power switch. Ease the blade into the plywood and begin making the cut, making sure that the blade is perpendicular to the surface of the plywood. Apply steady pressure and proceed through the cut, maintaining control throughout the cut.

  1. Support the Plywood at the End of the Cut

One of the most critical times when you are cutting plywood happens at the end of the cut. If your plywood is not supported, the plywood can fall and splinter. Consider a backing board that is cut alongside the plywood or use an assistant to support the board at the end of the cut.

  1. Complete the Cut

Once you have finished the cut, release the trigger on the saw. Allow the saw to come to a complete stop before setting the saw down. Check the accuracy and precision of your cut before you put away your supplies.


Make sure that the blade that you use is sharp and the correct type. This will ensure a cleaner cut on the plywood. When orienting your plywood, cut the longest cuts with the grain or the wood and cross cuts against the grain.

Cutting Plywood with a Table Saw

Cutting Plywood with a Table Saw

A table saw is ideal for long accurate cuts on plywood. Standard 4×8 sheets may be difficult to cut, so it is best to trim these down before cutting them on a table saw. The size that works on a particular table saw depends on the size of the table saw.

  1. 1.-2.

Complete Steps 1 and 2 of the above instruction for cutting with a circular saw.

  1. Set the Rip Fence and Blade Depth

Set the distance of the rip fence to the blade by determining the size you need to cut. Measure from the outside of the blade to the inside of the rip fence for an accurate measurement. You will align the cut mark on the plywood to the blade using the rip fence as a guide. Set the blade depth so that the teeth of the blade rise just ⅛” to ⅜” higher than the plywood.

  1. Begin the Cut

Turn on the saw and allow it to come up to full speed. Align the appropriate edge of the plywood with the rip fence and press it gently toward the fence and the blade. Keep feeding the plywood slowly toward and into the blade.

  1. Completing the Cut

Make sure that as you cut, the edge stays aligned with the rip fence. Any space between them will result in an inaccurate cut. Support the plywood as it comes off the table on the other side. Do this with a helper or a support table that aligns with the height of the table saw.

Tips for Cutting Plywood With a Jigsaw

Cutting Plywood With a Jigsaw

Jigsaws are helpful for making curved and small, intricate cuts on plywood. The steps for using a jigsaw on plywood are similar to those of using a circular saw and table saw. Clear the area for working, mark the plywood and secure it to a stable surface. Yet some specific tips make cutting plywood with a jigsaw easier.

  • Choosing the Best Blade – Choosing the best jigsaw blade is vital in getting an optimal cut. Make sure that any blade you choose is sharp as this will cut the most precisely. Jigsaw blades with the teeth pointing down are best for plywood as this results in less splintering on the plywood face. A high “tooth” count is also best for plywood cuts. Choose a jigsaw blade with at least 20 tpi (teeth per inch).
  • Don’t Force the Saw – Putting too much pressure on the jigsaw to cut through the plywood will result in a rougher cut. Instead, allow the saw to proceed through the wood at its own pace. This will ensure the cleanest and most precise cut.
  • Keep the Base Flat – Ensure the base of the jigsaw stays flat against the plywood. This helps to control the jigsaw while it is cutting and maintain safety.
  • Allow the Saw to Cool – The jigsaw blade can get extremely hot as it is cutting the plywood. Allow it to cool before you touch it.

Tips for Cutting Plywood With a Miter Saw

Miter saws are best for making accurate angled cuts. Follow the same general guidelines that you would use for other saws in terms of measurement and securing the wood. These are some helpful tips that are specific to the miter saw.

  • Use the Best Blade – Standard miter saw blades can cut both thick and thin plywood. Blades with fewer teeth are better for thinner boards and make very accurate cuts. Blades with more teeth are necessary for thick plywood surfaces.
  • Calibrate Your Miter Saw – Make sure that your saw is properly aligned before beginning your cuts to ensure their accuracy.
  • Do Not Force the Blade – Don’t force the blade through the wood if it does not go through easily. This means that the blade that you are using is not appropriate for the wood type.
  • Do Not Use For Large Plywood Sheets – Miter saws work best on smaller pieces of wood because the blade width is fixed and it is difficult to support a large sheet on the miter saw surface. Most miter saws have a cutting range of 12 inches.

Tips for Cutting Plywood With a Hand Saw

Power saws are best for cutting plywood accurately and quickly, but if you don’t have access to power tools, a hand saw will work. Make sure to make accurate markings for the cut and secure the board as with other saws. Follow these specific tips to get the best cut with hand saws.

  • Choose the Right Hand Saw – The hand saw that creates the most accurate cuts on plywood are those with fine teeth and a thin blade. These will require more time to make a cut, but the result will be more precise.
  • Start with a Notch – It is best to create a notch or a pilot cut at the edge of your cut before you begin.
  • Saw at the Right Angle – Once you begin the cut, maintain a saw angle between 30-45 degrees. This helps prevent the saw from binding.
  • Secure the End – As you near the end of the cut, secure the end so that it doesn’t fall. This helps to prevent splintering. Secure the end with your free hand, another person, or on a table or standing boards the height of the cutting surface.

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Written by Murat

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