If you plan on doing any kind of construction or demolition work, you’ll need to cut plywood at some point. One of the most efficient ways to cut plywood sheets is to use a table saw.
Don’t know how to use one?
We’ll give you step-by-step instructions that will make the process quick and easy. That’s not all, in the end, you’ll also learn how using a table saw is better than using other types of power tools.
Without wasting any time, let’s see how you can cut plywood with a table saw.
Table of Contents
How to Use a Table Saw to Cut Plywood
Step 1: Choose the Right Blade
When using a table saw, people often make the mistake of picking a cheap blade. It may cut through plywood but the result will be a splintered mess. A simple solution here is to invest in a good, high-quality blade with a tooth count of 80 TPI.
Most blades with a TPI lower than that work well for rough cuts but are not recommended when you need a clean edge. Because you’re cutting plywood you’ll need a blade that offers smooth cuts. A roughly cut piece of wood can compromise the appearance of the entire object. The blade that comes with your table saw will not give you the quality of the cuts you desire. To get a more professional finish, it is mandatory to get a good blade.
Step 2: Raise the Blade
Did you get the right blade?
Good, now you only have to position it correctly on the table. A dangerous problem when using power tools like a table saw is a kickback. What’s that?
A kickback is the sudden or unintended movement of the blade or the object you’re slicing through. It can physically harm you out anyone in proximity to your work area.
A great technique to avoid kickbacks while using a table saw is to set the blade to come off the wood at the gullets. Before you get confused, the gullet is nothing but the valleys between the blade’s teeth. Raising the blade like that changes the direction with which the blade cuts the sheet. It shifts to an almost vertical cutting angle rather than the typical angled cut.
Step 3: Use a Zero-Clearance Insert
To get clean cuts, you have no option but to use the zero-clearance feature. Zero-clearance inserts close the gap around the shoe. Purchasing a sellout insert is recommended for table saws.
Alternatively, you can create your zero-clearance throat plate. Here’s how:
- Set a piece of wood or plywood onto the saw. Be careful while performing this step, the wood should not sleep or pull away from your grip.
- Once it is all the way through, clamp the insert down.
You will be cutting the plywood on top of the insert. This prevents the bottom layer from chipping downward because of the space between the blade and the insert. If you’re using inserts, be more cautious of what you’re doing. We recommend you skip this step if it’s your first DIY project.
Step 4: Stabilize the Plywood Sheet
Cutting large pieces of plywood is difficult as they are heavy. Make sure you’ve laid it down before you start cutting.
However, the standard dimensions of a plywood sheet are 4 inches by 8 inches. Laying it flat on the table is next to impossible expectant while holding it tight against the fence. Naturally, you’ll need help from a friend or family to make a clean, straight cut safely.
If no one is available, use a roller stand out a sawhorse. Using them will let you focus on getting a cleaner cut without worrying about how heavy the piece is. All you’ll have to do is push the wood whilst cutting it.
Step 5: Mark and Tape
To make the process easier, use a pencil or marker to make a straight line where you wish to cut. If you’re cutting curves, you can use any tool that you feel comfortable working with. But we don’t recommend using a table saw to cut curves and complex shapes.
Your aim when cutting plywood is to achieve great results. To do so, you’ll need masking tape. You can use any low-adhesion tape too.
Apply it on the line you made. This holds the fibers together while you cut. Make sure you apply it tightly and when done peel it off lightly to avoid splintering the wood. Use the tape on both faces of the wood.
Step 6: Cut with Good Face Up
Before you start cutting, place the plywood with the good side up. The teeth of the saw will enter the wood from the top to the bottom of the sheet. This limits any splintering to the bottom of the wood. So, whichever side you want to look sleek, make sure it’s facing upwards.
Caution: If you don’t have any protective gear on, put some on right now. Always remember that safety comes first, especially when you’re using power tools. When using a table saw, ensure you’re wearing safety glasses, face shields, or goggles at all times. You must avoid wearing gloves, jewelry, ties, loose clothes, or anything with long sleeves. If you reckon things can get messy, put on a dust mask.
Step 7: Start Cutting the Plywood
Hold the sheet steady and keep it tightly pressed against the fence. Use your hand gently to guide the sheet through the blade.
Remember, use the hand closer to the blade to push the sheet forward lightly. Using the other hand, press the sheet towards the cutline. If you move the hand near the blade too much the consequences can be ghastly. Carefully push the sheet across the blade to avoid any injuries. Keep your hands as far away from the blade as possible when using a table saw.
Once you’re done, don’t forget to turn the saw off. Disconnect it from the power outlet to avoid any accidents.
Additional tips from experts
- If both the faces of plywood will be visible, minimize splinters on either side. You can do this by making a scoring pass before actually cutting the plywood. With the blade raised about 1/16” to 1/8”, pass the sheet through the table saw. After that, go back to the setting suggested above.
- If your saw causes tear-out, try using a hardboard. Cut around ¼” hardboard to match the size of the shoe. Make sure the saw is turned off. Remove the blade, get the guard out of the way, and attach the hardboard using double-sided tape. Turn the saw on and slowly lower it to create a zero-clearance throat opening.
Why Should You Use A Table Saw For Plywood?
We’ll tell you four benefits of using a table saw. These advantages speak for themselves, we won’t need to explain any further why using a table saw is much better than using any other power tool.
1. Table saws are quick
When working on big projects, you’ll need speed and safety. Using a table saw ensures you get just that. They are fast and much safer than a different type of handheld saws.
2. You’ll get accurate cuts
Using a handsaw, jigsaw, circular saw, or reciprocating saw comes with drawbacks. The cuts are messy, they’re difficult to handle, and you can’t cut a straight line easily. Table saws solve this problem when you’re cutting wood.
3. Table saws are easy to use
As mentioned, other types of saws aren’t easy to use for beginners. You want to complete more projects in lesser time. Using a table saw cuts time because you’re not struggling to run it over the surface you need to cut.
4. They are versatile power tools
Granted table saws are heavier and larger than most jigsaws or circular saws, they are versatile nonetheless. Using table saws you can perform a large variety of functions easily by switching the blade at your convenience.