Cutting plywood can be a tricky job, especially when talking about cutting down large sheets. However, you can split plywood with the right tools quite easily, even cutting down large boards accurately and with relative ease. Here we will guide you through some of the best tools for cutting plywood.
The best tool for cutting plywood
There are many different types of tools for cutting plywood, and both your budget and experience will determine which type of tool is best for you. I will break down each category below and also show you my favourite tool from each category.
Plunge Saw / Track Saw
If you are ripping up big plywood sheets and want accurate cuts every time, you want a plunge saw, also known as a track saw. As you could probably guess from the name, this saw sits and cuts along a track, allowing for precise, straight cuts every time.
As anyone who has read our blog before will already know, we love Makita tools here, so it is no surprise to see us recommending their plunge saw. We like Makita because they offer a great balance between quality and affordability and this plunge saw is no different.
This kit comes complete with a 4m guide rail allowing for large cuts, perfect if you are planning on ripping down large plywood sheets.
There’s no getting around the fact that this is an expensive bit of kit, so if you are not cutting sheets of plywood often then you may want to look at some of the more affordable options listed below.
If you want much of the same functionality of the plunge saw without the price, then this circular saw from evolution with an included track is a great choice. Evolution is known for affordable, but decent power tools and this circular saw fits that bill brilliantly, coming in at brilliant price while still being a convenient bit of kit.
The track that comes with this saw is only 1m long, but you can buy longer tracks at a reasonable price. When using a circular saw, you don’t even need a track to make accurate straight cuts. Using another piece of wood or other straight edge clamped to your wood as a guide works really well.
This saw can also cut bevels which allows for more advanced finishes moving beyond simple plywood cuts. A nice bevelled edge can really transform furniture like coffee tables adding a really modern, stand out feature.
The evolution features adjustable depth settings from 0 to 64mm and has a dust port that you can hook up to a shop vacuum.
If you are wanting to cut more than just straight lines then you may want a jigsaw. This common tool is a great way of cutting intricate shapes into all sorts of wood including plywood.
This brushless model from Makita is one of the best jigsaws available on the market today. The brushless motor means this version can run cooler and for longer than models which feature a carbon brush.
Another great feature of this jigsaw is the variable speed control. This comes in the form of a dial, meaning you can change the speed on the fly. Ideal for when you are cutting different materials.
As with lots of the newer jigsaws, this model features tool-less blade changing, so you can swap blades in a matter of seconds.
Mini Circular Saw
If you are only cutting thin plywood sheets, you may not need a regular circular saw’s full power. This is where mini circular saws come in. These lightweight saws are perfect for occasional cuts. They normally come with a range of blades suitable for cutting wood, tile, plastics and even metals. So they can be quite a versatile tool, but as with most multi-use tools, they don’t really excel in any one area.
Hand tools for cutting plywood
If you don’t fancy using power tools for cutting plywood, then you still have lots of options when it comes to hand tools. We will run through some of the best options below.
You can’t go wrong with a good old fashioned hand saw, this one from Irwin will cut through most thicknesses of Plywood with ease.
The blade is PTFE coated which should reduce the friction on the blade when sawing, this, in turn, leads to less sticking and smoother cuts. The soft-grip handle feels great in hand and can be held at both 45 and 90-degree angles.
With the right saw cutting by wood can be a real breeze, this saw will glide through most wood with ease.
If you are wanting to cut intricate shapes and patterns in some plywood but want to use a handtool rather than a jigsaw then you need a coping saw. We already have an article on the best coping saws so check that out for more info.
Below is our favourite coping saw from when we tried and tested a few different models.
How to cut plywood with a circular saw
To use a circular saw well and achieve straight cuts over a long period you need to be using a guide. A guide can be any form of straight edge clamped to your piece. Set up the straight edge so you can run your circular saw along it, this way you will get a perfectly straight cut every time.
If you are noticing that your circular saw is causing quite a bit of “tear-out” then it may be time to change the blade. A blunt blade will start to tear the wood rather than cut it leading to “tear out”.
How to cut plywood with a jigsaw
The main thing to remember when cutting plywood with a jigsaw is that blade. A good, sharp, wood cutting blade will make a difference here. Also don’t try and push the jigsaw through too fast, if you do try this you may find you stray from your mark and end up cutting in a wavy pattern.
Like with a circular saw you can use a straight edge clamped to your piece to ensure perfectly straight cuts every time.