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Old 12-10-2009, 09:58 AM   #1
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


What is the correct and safest method for cutting large plywood panels with a circular saw. (Too large for my tiny bench type table saw)

I have been placing them on temporary table made of a scrap piece of 3/4" plywood sitting on saw horses. I clamp a 5 foot rip guide to the panel and the table top. As I am right handed, I stand to the left of the guide and place the left side of the foot of the saw along the right side of the guide. I am careful not to strectch to far and keep my balance. This works great, except for the last few inches of the cut.

As I cannot see the front of the saw that well and I am stretching a bit, the saw too easily strays just a bit away from the guide resulthing in a slightly less than square corner.

Should I stand beyond the end of the cutting table and pust he saw with my left hand while guiding it with the right as I walk parallel to the cut line. Alternatively, I can place my table top, the scrap plywood, on the floor and kneel on it to the left of the cut line. My blade depth is set to just skim the top of the table top.

The last alternative is to cut right handed, while standing past the end of the table, in which case I would have to burn 4" of plywood, the distance between the widest part of the foot and the blade. Unless I but a 6" support strip of plywood up against the end being cut and clamp it at the very edge so it doesn't interfere with the pass of the saw.

I think all would be safe but thought I should ask since I want a good product iand I don't want to work on my knees.


Last edited by Klawman; 12-10-2009 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 12-10-2009, 03:00 PM   #2
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


You could make yourself a rip jig from some MDF. Here is link 1 and link 2 to show you how to make those. Very simple setup and works really well. I find it easier to rip my panels on the floor on top of a 3/4" 4x8' pink insulation board, or some spare 2x4's. I set my blade to go just slightly pass the thickness of the material I'm cutting. You can get pretty accurate cuts this way.

Hope this helps.

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Old 12-10-2009, 03:29 PM   #3
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


there are some portable panel saw kits around, although from a brief google search they seem to get pretty expensive pretty quickly and probably arent worth the investment.
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Old 12-10-2009, 04:39 PM   #4
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


When I am doing cabinet work with plywood and need a good, straight, chip free cut, I rip or crosscut to approximate size (1/4 inch oversize) with the circular saw and a guide, then finish the cut using a router with a 1/2 inch carbide bit. This produces a very fine edge, and minimizes the chip out. Course, this is extra work, but worth it to me for precision work.

For rough work, I use the guide as you do, then finish the last few inches without the guide, using a helper to hold up the panel to make sure it does not bind the blade.
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Old 12-10-2009, 04:53 PM   #5
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


I generally cut them on the floor, raised up on flat 2x's
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Old 12-10-2009, 06:09 PM   #6
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


Thanks all. I tried something that helped a little. When a panel was cut to one dimension and I was cutting the other, I place what had been cut off on the table so it supported my saw's foot after I cut beyond its edge. Still, I tend to twist just a tiny bit as I lean over the table. If I want really good cuts, I think I need to get down on the floor.

Also, I did a google on saw safety. The writer said that a problem is caused by placement of motors on circular saws. When you reach the end of the cut, support falls off and the weight of the motor causes the saw to twist. The writer suggests that right handed people buy saws with motors on their right side and leftty's should have motors on the left. All the saws I have ever seen have them on the right. This also blocks the view of the cut.

Here is a link to the article. http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It...ty.aspx?page=3

Last edited by Klawman; 12-10-2009 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 12-10-2009, 06:29 PM   #7
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


I have both types of saws, motor on the left and motor on the right. I tend to use the motor left models mostly. I'm guessing its a familiarity thing.
But I also am able to reach across a full sheet of plywood while its sitting on saw horses.
I think you have the right idea, move the sheet lower or onto the floor. Unless you have a lot of cutting to do a manufactured saw guide is not money well spent and will not make your arms longer either...lol
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:05 AM   #8
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


I use the technique that TOBAD describes, that is, lay the board to be cut on a 4' x 8' sheet of 1" rigid foam board on the floor. Set your blade to just below the depth of the board. With the whole board supported by the foam, it's easy to clamp an edge guide to make a straight cut and then kneel on the board above your saw all the way across the cut. The rigid foam under the board supports your weight and crawling along as you cut gives you good visibility the whole way.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:57 AM   #9
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


I made four of the guides like TOBAD linked to. They work great. I cut two to 5' in length, leaving a 3' long piece too.

I keep one set in the truck, and one set in the shop.
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:12 PM   #10
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


I also use pieces of 2x4 laid on the floor, with my saw blade set to just cut through the material and cut from the side I don't want to see. Less saw chips that way. I like the idea of using foam board idea, I'll have to try that one for sure. Another trick I have used when cutting many plywood panels is to make a frame so the plywood is standing up on a slight angle, with the 8 ft. side at the top. I can stand flat on the surface and see the entire cut this way. Works for me--Thanks, David
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:01 PM   #11
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


I am convinced. If I want a even cut across a large panel, do it on the floor. For me, it also helps to cut a couple of inches extra, even from the same panel or across a scrap piece clamped up against it, to keep the blade from dipping or rocking at the very end. I really appreciate all the tips, as this is a basic skill that I have to get down. That and how to try and true up the lousy fence on my craftsman bench saw. It is so bad I would amost be better off clamping a piece of mdf to the table and using an edge for a fence.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:40 PM   #12
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cutting plywood panels w circular saw


Quote:
Originally Posted by Thurman View Post
Another trick I have used when cutting many plywood panels is to make a frame so the plywood is standing up on a slight angle, with the 8 ft. side at the top. I can stand flat on the surface and see the entire cut this way. Works for me--Thanks, David
I was recently wondering if something like that would work. Glad to hear it does for you, and I think I'll try it. Thanks.

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