How to Cut Plywood on a Table Saw: #1 Best Guide

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Planning to remodel a room on a budget? Wood can be an affordable, do-it-yourself material.

But before you buy that new piece of plywood for that great DIY project, learn the tips and tricks on How to Cut Plywood on a Table Saw with this guide!

How to Cut Plywood on a Table Saw Image

How to Cut Plywood on a Table Saw

Equipment Needed:

Materials Needed:

  • Plywood

Duration: 15-30 Minutes

Budget: $10-$30 (USD)

Steps:

Step 1: Set up the plywood on your surface.

Put down some painters’ tape or a straight edge to determine where exactly you’ll be cutting the wood. Then, clamp the board in place and mark your cut lines with a pencil.

Step 2: Check your blade height and table height.

To make sure your cuts are as accurate as possible it is imperative to set up the saw correctly before you start operating it. The blade height is most important for getting a straight cut, so let’s start there. Adjust the blade until it is 1 level above the surface of the wood (without touching it). Some tables have a scale on them to show you how high or low the blade is. You’ll want to make sure the wood is against the fence on the back side of your table saw so that it doesn’t move as you make your cut.

When checking your table height, you should be able to put down a straight edge and draw across it without having to adjust the surface. Always make sure that your table isn’t too high or too low, otherwise you could end up with an uneven cut.

Step 3: Adjust the fence.

Since there are different types of cuts, including crosscuts and rip cuts, you will need to adjust the fence accordingly. For these instructions, we will be using a crosscut fence. If you are unfamiliar with the fence, it is the long piece of wood in front of your table saw that helps hold the wood in place while you are making a cut. To work with this specific type of cut, make sure that your fence is parallel to your blade. Then adjust the fence so that there is just enough room for the wood to fit through without touching either side of it.

Step 4: Secure the wood to your saw’s surface.

Some people prefer clamping their materials down and others use tape or glue stick. Whichever you choose, make sure that the wood doesn’t move as you are making the cut.

Step 5: Place your blade on the top of the wood with the teeth facing up.

Line up your fence to the end of your board and turn on your saw (never start cutting without turning it on first). Adjust your blade height to match up with what you marked in step one. With the fence still lined up with the end of your board, slowly push it towards the blade while keeping an eye on where exactly it is going to cut. Your blade will start to “kick” forward and you should be able to move your fence right behind it. At this point, you may notice that the wood is starting to move off the table. Simply bring the blade back towards the air intake and let it run again until your wood is sitting flat against the fence.

Step 6: Adjust your blade height and table height for a straight cut.

While keeping your saw set up as described in steps one through five, adjust your blade height so that it is perfectly aligned with a straight line parallel to the fence on its side. This is where the scale on your table saw can come in handy. The same goes for the table height. Check to make sure that it is still even with a straight edge across it (as described in step two).

Step 7: Make one full push of your board through your saw.

Let’s start with how to cut a crosscut or “across the grain” cut (the easiest type of cut by far). Once you are ready, push the board towards the blade until you start to see some resistance from the blade. Then back up and adjust your fence so that it just touches both sides of the wood and your blade is on its straight-line setting. Once the blade has cut enough of the wood you can move the fence back so that it is no longer blocking the blade. Your board should now be sitting flat on your table and completely supported by the fence. If there is still resistance, back up and adjust your blade height again until it is perfectly aligned with a straight-line parallel to the fence.

Step 8: Proceed to making your cut at an angle for more accurate cuts.

You can make a rip cut or “cross grain, against the grain” inside corner cut in much the same way as you would with a crosscut (making sure to follow steps one through seven). Instead of lining up one side of your fence with the end of your board, align it with the inside edge. Then, when you are ready to make your cut, check to see that your blade is perfectly aligned with a straight-line parallel to the fence on its side. Your board should now be sitting flat on the table and completely supported by the fence. If there is still resistance, back up and adjust your blade height again until it is perfectly aligned with a straight-line parallel to the fence. Proceed to moving forward and make your cut.

Step 9: Make sure you are always prepared for kickback.

While this is more of a safety concern than something you need to know while making a cut, it is important. Kickback happens when the wood in your table saw’s blade trips as it is trying to cut into the wood. The wood that does not get cut in time kicks up behind your piece of work and usually at you. To prevent this, always make sure that your fence and blade are perfectly aligned with a straight-line parallel to them each other or perfectly horizontal/vertical to each other. Also, make sure that your table height is still even with a straight edge across it (as described in step two). If there are any inconsistencies here, they may cause kickback.

Step 10: Make sure you don’t lose your place when you stop.

If you’re doing something like cutting out a square or another shape that takes more than one cut, always make sure you know where to stop so that the last cut runs parallel to the first one. If this is not done, the cuts will not be as straight as they could be.

Step 11: Keep your blade straight.

One of the hardest things to do when making a cut is keeping your blade perfectly straight as you make the cut. Here are some tips to help you keep it that way:

Keep your table tilted so that it’s closer to horizontal (as opposed to being on an angle). This keeps the wood from shaking in and out from having too much force. Also, a table that is leaning at an angle makes cutting more difficult because it can cause your piece of work to lean over side ways at an angle (causing kickback). If your saw has a brake, set it on this step so that the blade will automatically stop after making one pass through the wood. If the blade is slightly off-center, use a piece of tape on the center point of your blade and make sure that it stays there while you cut. This can help keep your blade straight (and perpendicular to your piece of work). If you are using a blade that has feather boards, make sure they are nice and evenly pressed against the wood at all times.

Step 12: Make each cut slower than the last.

After each cut in your work piece, make sure to increase the amount of pressure that you put on the wood to keep from making any more marks in it after that one pass. This tip helps slow down kickback because if it happens your work won’t be as severely affected by it.

Step 13: When you’re finished cutting, if the blade is still on, wait another 5 seconds before using the saw again.

This gives any possible kickback energy time to dissipate so that your next cuts are not affected by a large amount of energy.

Congratulations! Now you know how to cut plywood on a table saw!

How to Cut Plywood on a Table Saw Video


How to Cut 4×8 Sheet of Plywood on
Table Saw

Now that you know how to cut plywood, let’s take a look at how to cut sheet goods like particle board, or 4×8 sheets of plywood.

Equipment Needed:

  • Table Saw
  • Dado Blade
  • Miter Gauge

Materials Needed:

  • Plywood (4×8 Sheet)

Duration: 15-30 Minutes

Budget: $10-$30 (USD)

Steps:

Step 1: Find the starting point – face your table saw blades toward the top of your workpiece. Make sure that the blade is not coming across your workpiece at all.

Step 2: Mark out the width of your cutting piece on your workpiece, and then use a pencil and straightedge to mark off its length as well. It should be one inch less than the width so that you can flip it over and use it as a pattern when you need to make another one on the same saw. (Just like in #1.

Step 3: Adjust the fence on your saw – this will depend on the width of your workpiece and what kind of cut you’re going to make. If you need to make a rip cut, then move your fence so that its ends are farther from the blade than the center is. If you want to make a crosscut or miter cut, then move where your fence meets the blade so that it’s more in line with it.

Step 4: Secure your work piece to your table saw – there are several ways of doing this but almost all of them have the same goal in mind, and that is making sure that you don’t lose control while making your cuts.

Here are a few options:

Clamps – make sure the clamp is tight and secure so that the surface of your workpiece doesn’t move in or out.

Tape – you will want to wrap several layers around your piece to help hold it steady. Use a tape with enough stretch to reach across its width, but not so much stretch that it starts to pull away from your workpiece.

Glue – use an industrial strength glue such as 3M Fast Tack or Loctite GO2 Glue and spread an even coat on the table and on your workpiece so that it can’t move around at all.

Step 5: Make your cut – repeat steps 3 through 4 as you cut into your work piece.

Step 6: When you finish cutting into the workpiece, flip it over and cut down the length of the piece across one of its edges (i.e., the “short side” of your cut will be facing down). Flip it back over and then go back into your work piece and repeat the process again, making your cuts at an angle.

Step 7: When you are finished cutting, secure the work piece to your table saw – repeat steps 1 through 3 as you secure your work piece to the table saw.

Congratulations! You know how to cut a sheet of plywood on a table saw!

How to Cut 4×8 Sheet of Plywood on Table Saw Video


How to Cut Plywood Without a Table Saw

What If I don’t have a table saw? What can I use? Here are a few alternatives that you can use if you don’t have a table saw (though we highly recommend that you get one, they are cheap and easy to build)

Equipment Needed:

  • Circular Saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Router
  • Sand Paper

Materials Needed:

  • Plywood

Duration: 15-30 Minutes

Budget: $10-$30 (USD)

Steps:

Step 1: Secure your workpiece to a bench or table, or to one of the boards that you’re using.. If you are not using a table saw, this is essentially what you are doing.

Step 2: Cut with a circular saw blade or jigsaw blade.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to make certain that you are cutting the piece of wood straight. If you don’t, then the piece of wood may be uneven after the saw cuts it and you will end up with a crooked cut which will mean that your next cuts will be crooked as well. Sometimes, it’s best to use a longer cut such as making your cut slowly with a circular saw blade or jigsaw blade so that your work piece is more even and is easier for you to handle.

Step 3: Cut the edges – The easiest way of cutting the edges on a board (or any thin material) is using a router. However, if you don’t have one, you can use a jigsaw or a circular saw blade to cut the edges. If you don’t have either of those, the next best thing is a table saw. Use the same technique for making your cuts. You can secure your work piece down to your table saw by using clamps and by making sure that it’s more on an angle than horizontal or vertical.

Step 4: Cut the back – If you are using a table saw…you can cut your plywood into the back of it with a circular or jig saw. You will have to secure your work piece down to your table saw by using clamps and by making sure that it’s more on an angle than horizontal or vertical.

Step 5: Cut the ends – You can make this step easier if you take one of your boards (let’s say, that board from earlier that you used as a guide) and use it as a template for how the ends should be cut. This will save you time in cutting them for all boards at once instead of having to do each one individually.

Step 6: Sand – You can use a sanding block to sand your piece of wood down. This is pretty easy to do and it’s a great way of really getting the piece of wood ready for finishing. If you don’t have one, you can use a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a stick or something similar.

Congratulations! You know how to cut thin plywood boards in various ways without using your table saw.

How to Cut Plywood Without a Table Saw


How to Cut Plywood on a table Saw
Final Thoughts

This ends our How To Guide of How to Cut Plywood on a Table Saw.

Now that you know how to cut plywood on a table saw you can start learning more about other methods in woodworking like cutting to make joints. Good examples are learning how to cut notches in wood with a table saw, and learning how to use a table saw as a jointer.

We hope the knowledge you gained here will help you in the future with your DIY or Professional Woodworking projects. We want you to be sure of that what you get from us are 100% facts, so please don’t hesitate to ask for advice or to advise us in return with accurate facts.

Love our How to Cut Plywood on a Table Saw How-To Guide? Leave a comment or drop us an email at dwellerpower@gmail.com, and we will get back to you as fast as possible


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