Cutting Plywood for Accuracy

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Want to build cabinets? If so, you’ll probably be using plywood or some other man-made sheet stock for the carcasses. Cutting plywood can be tricky. Who wants to flop those big sheets onto a table saw? It’s much easier to take the tool to the work in this case, instead of the work to a tool. A track saw makes short work of cutting plywood to size. But there are tricks you should pay attention to, in order to get accurate cabinet parts.

Sequence

It’s very important to make sure that the cabinet parts are consistently dimensioned. The length of each piece has to be the same. The width of each piece has to be the same. Paying close attention to the cutting sequence will help you accomplish this.

Start by squaring the plywood. As you work, keep in mind that we want to remove all the factory edges from the parts. Once an end is square you can start cutting parts to length. Be sure to cut enough plywood to satisfy all the parts you need. With the parts cut to length it’s easiest if you switch from a track saw to an edge guide. This will keep the width of your pieces consistent.

More on cabinetmaking

When you get the hang of cabinet making the door opens for you to build shop or kitchen cabinets, vanities, book cases, and more. WoodWorkers Guild of America offers a great deal of instruction on cabinetmaking. Check it out.

More info

For more info on the Kreg Track Saw, and other Kreg products, visit www.kregtool.com, or call (800) 447-8638.

Discussion
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13 Responses to “Cutting Plywood for Accuracy”
  1. Daniel

    I have been a woodworker since High School. (30 + years) I was always taught to keep the factory edge. Why do you say “cut it off”?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Daniel. A factory edge is subject to dents and chips. For fine woodworking it’s best to cut it off and start with a fresh edge that is crisp and free of dings.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
  2. Roger

    I have always squared every plywood piece cut from a sheet of plywood. That still implies to me that mfgr. should shoot for square themselves out of the shute.

    Reply
  3. leninsebastopol

    As the factory edge is not square then taking a line from it with the rule is not true either, no? Or is it simply avoiding edge chips & dings? And, thanks, Paul.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello. Sometimes the factory edge is straight but not square with its adjacent edges. Cutting to a line that is square with that edge will establish a square sheet as a starting point to your project. Also it can give you a fresh edge that is not all chipped and dinged up.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
  4. Robert G VanValkenburg

    what direction does a table saw blade go teeth going down or up and what about a cir saw all ways get it wrong

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Robert. On a table saw the blade rotates toward the operator, and the teeth would face downward on the operator side, or front. On a circular saw the blade rotates counter clockwise as you look at it from the blade side. The teeth on a circular saw should be facing upward at the front of the saw.
      Thanks
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America

      Reply
  5. Anne

    I am a new woodworker, and probably have a stupid question. How did you avoid nicking the supporting frame when cutting the big plywood sheets?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Anne. You just have to be very careful that your cut path doesn’t have a supporting frame underneath it. Another good way to do this with a full sheet is to lay a sheet of 1.5 – 2″ foam insulation (XPS or similar) on the floor, and set the plywood on that. Then ensure that the blade depth is set such that the blade penetrates only a small distance into the insulation.
      Thanks
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America

      Reply
  6. Ed Eldridge

    Hi George, I have a question in reference to the “cutting plywood for accuracy” video. When using a track saw, you allowed for the width of the blade when making a cut with the motor of the saw on the waste side of the cut. if you turned around and cut from the opposite direction, with the motor on the keep side, you could place the track on the cut line and not have to allow for blade width. Is this a good practice or would I lose accuracy with measurements?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Ed. Yep, it’ll be easier to simply spin the track around and cut from the other side so you don’t have to do the kerf allowance.
      Thanks
      George-Woodworkers Guild of America

      Reply
  7. Rich

    Just curious, once you got the plywood to a “manageable size, why didn’t you use the table saw instead of the circular saw?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Rich. That would be a fine approach as well. This video was intended to show an approach using a track saw.
      Thanks
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America

      Reply

Tags: cabinetry tips, Free Videos, George Vondriska, how to cut plywood, plywood cabinets