Cutting Across the Grain and Getting a Smooth Cut

“How can I cut across grain on OAK plywood and get a smooth cut? I used a brand new Freud Diablo 40-tooth circular saw blade and it chipped out on the cut. Please help.”

Submitted by: lpribyl

WWGOA Editor Response:

There are a handful of tricks you can try for cutting across the grain. First, make sure the depth of cut on your circular saw is set so the blade only projects about 1/4″ more than the thickness of the plywood. With that setting the blade exits the top of the cut more horizontally than vertically.

You can also try laying a strip of masking tape down on the face of the plywood, then cutting through the tape.

You’ll get more chips from a free hand cut than from one you’ve used a straight edge on. A steel stud works great as a guide for your circular saw.

Finally, some woodworkers take the time to score the cut line with a utility knife before making the cut, which also helps a lot.

Remember that, as a rule, circular saw arbors have a lot more run out (wobble) than table saw arbors. Even with a great blade, depending on your saw, you may not be able to get as crisp a cut as a table saw can produce.

Thank you for your question.

George Vondriska

Managing Editor

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2 Responses to “Cutting Across the Grain and Getting a Smooth Cut”
    • Customer Service

      Hi Ken. Your approach will depend on the size of the wooden rod, but one way that you could do this would be to cut a recess into the piece of wood, say a 2×3, that is just the right size for the rod to slip in snugly. Then, use hot glue to secure the rod in place in the recess. Then put the 2×4 against the fence on a bandsaw and rip the flat side.