How to cut a piece of oak plywood correctly

Written by wade shaddy
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How to cut a piece of oak plywood correctly
Oak plywood is delicate so take care when cutting it with a table saw. (Image by Pete; Flickr.)

Oak plywood is premium-grade hardwood with three levels of quality. The cheapest is shop grade, the next is cabinet grade and the highest furniture grade is known as "A1." They are all relatively expensive as the outer veneer of solid oak remains the same on all three, although the plywood layers inside differ. Care must be taken when cutting oak plywood to preserve the veneer, because it tends to tear off and splinter when you are cutting it with a table saw. By using the right blade and taking your time, you can cut oak plywood correctly.

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Things you need

  • Table saw
  • Crosscut blade
  • Tape measure
  • Masking tape
  • Safety glasses

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  1. 1

    Turn off the power to your table saw. Install the crosscut blade on the saw.

  2. 2

    Raise the saw blade height to extend 6.5 mm (1/4 inch) higher than the plywood. For example, if your plywood is 1.85 cm (3/4 inch) thick, raise the blade to 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the point where the saw blade emerges from the table to the tip of the highest tooth. Use a tape measure to measure the vertical height of the blade as you crank the wheel on the front of the saw.

  3. 3

    Set the fence to the first desired measurement for cutting the plywood. Turn on the saw.

  4. 4

    Put the leading edge of the plywood on the edge of the saw behind the blade with the grain running perpendicular to the saw blade. Centre your body with the blade. Hold the plywood with both hands.

  5. 5

    Ease the plywood into the blade, pushing it from behind. As the plywood begins to cut, push steadily and slowly to prevent tearing the grain from the bottom. Don't stop, be fluid and smooth as you push the plywood over the blade, holding it flat against the fence and the table.

  6. 6

    Push the plywood all the way past the blade in one long smooth movement, one hand on either side of the blade. Turn off the saw. Reset the fence for your other rip dimension -- with the grain -- and repeat the motions to cut your plywood.

Tips and warnings

  • Always use slow, deliberate motions for clean cuts on oak plywood. For added protection using extreme care, run a piece of masking tape along the cut line on the bottom of the plywood where the saw blade cuts the plywood. This further prevents the veneer from splintering off. It is time-consuming but, if you absolutely have to have perfection, use the tape.

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