When it comes to cutting, a lot depends on choosing the right blade.
The kind of blade you are using greatly impacts how quickly and smoothly your work will be done, how much labor it will take, and not to mention the final outcome of the work.
Suppose you’ve been following this blog and its previous articles. In that case, you already know that we’ve already covered different types of circular saw blades, what factors determine those differences, and why those differences exist in the first place.
Now we will talk specifically about which type of circular saw blade should be used for cutting plywood.
- What Factors Make a Saw Blade Fit For The Task?
- Preparation Phase Before We Begin
- Cutting Plywood with A Circular Saw
- Tips And Tricks of Operating a Circular Saw on Plywood
- The Final Finish
What Factors Make a Saw Blade Fit For The Task?
Some determining factors of a perfect circular saw blade designed specifically for a given task are; teeth, the thickness of the material in question, the type of cut you’ll be making, and so on. Let’s break it down, piece by piece.
We can’t stress enough how important is the tooth count on a circular saw blade when deciding its capacity.
Generally, the math goes like this: the thinner the material you’re cutting, the smoother you will want to make. Hence, more teeth on the saw blade are required. Usually, a 4-1/2-Inch 120-teeth blade works fine for any plywood.
Kind Of Cut
The kind of cut you’re going to make also needs to be considered when choosing a circular saw. This includes how deep the cut will be and whether it is straight or curved.
While most blades make straight cuts, some are designed for curves and other complex cuts. Decide the cut you will make, then choose your blade accordingly.
Kind Of Plywood
What type of plywood you’ll cut with the blade also influences the choice. Plywood is often bent or curved, making it difficult to cut with a circular saw. Elevating it a bit will make the task easier. We’ll explain the process of doing that later in this article.
Preparation Phase Before We Begin
There are basically 3 methods of cutting plywood using a circular saw. Before we get to them, first let us learn about the preparations and precautions that need to be taken beforehand.
Choose The Right Blade
Select a good saw blade fit for shaping up your plywood. When it comes to plywood, a carbide-tipped blade works perfectly. They have a higher tooth count, and the teeth are smaller, too, ensuring a cleaner and finer cut.
Adjust The Height/Depth of The Blade
While it is recommended to set the blade lower for maximum safety, this setting comes with some drawbacks. When cutting plywood, setting the blade lower can cut away deeper than you require and damage the deeper sheets of the ply.
This can also leave the face of the ply unsupported as the blade runs through it. This can be prevented by raising the blade higher. This way, the direction of the teeth of the blade that will come in direct contact with the wood is altered.
Doing so will give you a perpendicular cut. The general rule for setting up the blade is to adjust it slightly deeper than the piece of ply that you’re working on.
Elevate The Plywood
We’ve already discussed the importance of elevating the plywood before cutting it. Now let’s get into how to do that. Instead of laying the ply completely flat, you can use a sawhorse.
Or, to make it efficient, other pieces of woodwork are fine for the task. It will ensure you get a clean cut and any damage to the saw that might have been caused by the ply.
Keep A Zero Clearance Insert Close At Hand
Use an old regular insert plate for inserting your blade into your circular saw. But there is a problem with that. It leaves a gap between the blade and the throat plate.
Using a zero clearance insert, you can reduce that gap to zero, reducing chipping on the back face of your plywood sheet.
Cutting Plywood with A Circular Saw
Now for the fun part. Earlier, I mentioned 3 methods of cutting plywood with a circular saw. Here they are:
Method 1: The first method involves a straight edge.
You can use any straight piece of wood as a straight edge. To make the cut, place the straight edge between the plywood and the surface that it is resting on (we recommend using a sheet of foam as the surface, as it prevents the blade from damage). Then make the cut using your circular saw.
Method 2: You can also use a straightening tool to make a straight cut. It works kinda like a ruler works on a piece of paper where you’re attempting to draw a straight line with a pencil.
You need to mark the line on the piece of ply with a pencil before, then set up the tool on the edge of the marked line. Then you need to place the circular slaw on the sledge that comes with the tool and make the cut.
Method 3: This method requires a clamp. It usually comes in handy when making cuts that are not straight. The plywood sheet needs to be held in place so that your hand holding the circular saw can move freely and make the cut.
Take a flat surface like another flat sheet of wood, and clamp your piece of plywood firmly and securely onto it so it does not slip away when working on it with your circular saw.
Cut through the ply using your circular saw once the ply is clamped securely into place. Clamping the sheet will help you get better precision, resulting in a cleaner cut.
Tips And Tricks of Operating a Circular Saw on Plywood
Some final tips and tricks to make the task easier for you:
Finish The Job
Once you begin cutting a piece of plywood, stay committed to the task until you cut it through. Stopping midway might result in a ‘stagger cut’ or an uneven, not straight, messy cut. So, the trick here is to go from start to finish in one go.
Protect The Face
You do not want your finished piece of plywood to look like it has just been in and out of hell or a cutting process.
Almost every kind of plywood has a ‘good’ face and a bad one, sometimes referred to as the ‘front’ and the ‘back’ of the wood. While cutting the plywood with a circular saw, make sure that the front face of the sheet is facing downwards.
Circular saw blades tend to cut on the upstroke. Meaning it enters the blade from below and exits it through the top. Making the sheet face downwards will prevent the good face of the ply from getting all scratchy and messy from all the cutting.
The Final Finish
While other kinds of saws can also cut through plywood, a circular saw is the best tool for this task. These saws have blades less prone to creating tears on the plywood’s edges, delivering you with a cleaner cut.
Hope this article helps you to get the best out o your circular saw when cutting plywood with it.