And They Lived Happily Ever After {cutting plywood part 3}

By Pinktoesandpowertools | Woodworking Tutorials

That’s how all fairy tales end, right?  I can now add The Beast to tools that I love because I CUT 2 SHEETS OF PLYWOOD WITH ONE YESTERDAY!!  (That is me shouting, but my voice is all croaky with this cold I’ve got, so it might not have come off that way.)  It was cold in the garage, I was stressed about the possibility of ruining two sheets of plywood, but it is all “happily ever after” today.

I used 5  2×4 supports to get the plywood up off the ground and support it to prevent kickback in the saw, and my straight cutting jigs that I made here.  Those worked great and the advantage of 2x4s rather than the foam insulation sheets (info on that here) is that they store in a smaller spot.  Advantage of the foam board: you have a flat surface to crawl along once your plywood is in smaller pieces, rather than stepping over 2x4s as you make the cut.  I would still choose the 2x4s due to space shortage, but you might want to consider that in your decision.

I first made sure all the corner of the plywood were square (with a carpenters square) and checked the ends for damage, voids in the interior, etc.  I found 3 square corners and one mushed end.  I made sure the mushed part would end up in the scrap area of my cut list.  If you’re dimensions are tight and you don’t have much scrap to play around with, make sure you come home with a great piece right from the store.  I did this, but I think the damage happened in the van where it sat overnight in a wet area of the carpet…oops.

Good side of the plywood faces down for all cuts.  My first cut was a crosscut (cut will go across the grain) so I taped both sides of the cut with blue painter’s tape.  I made about 4 small marks down the plywood and made sure the tape was over those marks.  Then I marked the cut line on top of the tape on both ends to line up the cutting jig.

Lined the edge of the jig up with the cut mark:

And then double checked that my dimensions were the same down the entire left side of the jig (in this picture).  All that matters is that the dimension is the same from one end to the other, not what dimension it is.  I had to make micro adjustments doing this, it added a LOT of time, but my cuts came out really accurate which should make the rest of the build much easier.

I used a combination square and a tape measure when checking the dimensions.

There was barely any rip out–even on crosscuts!  Remember this picture of the crosscut the store made for me?

Look at how pretty my crosscut turned out!  Make sure you remove the tape by pulling it perpendicular to how you put it on (the tape came off really easy for me, but if you use regular tape it might pull the veneer off if you just pull it up in the direction it is applied).

No rip out! The other side looked just as good.

Sorry it’s blurry.  I thought these were good in the poor light of the garage!

I wish I could show you some pictures of mistakes that you might want to look out for, but since I didn’t make any mistakes…

Well lookie here.  I guess I was fibbing!

Always keep the saw moving along the guide all the way through until the saw is clear of plywood.  If you stop early, you cut off the corner and maybe burn a little of the edge…If you run out of cutting jig, follow the imaginary edge of the jig until you are entirely clear.  I cut the edge for the first two cuts, then I got it figured out:

I figured it out on this one!

And apparently the straight jig does not guarantee a straight cut every time–you’ve got to do some of the work…

Definitely not a straight cut…

So, there you have it!  Now, if I can do it you certainly can!  My last words of advice are to do some research on safety with a circular saw and to READ your OWNER  MANUAL.  I have not covered any safety advice here.  Two of the top (beyond doing what you can to prevent kickback) is to always have a firm, two hand grip on the saw and to keep the saw to the right or left of your body instead of standing directly behind it (which you end of doing with the set-up I used anyway).  If it does kickback, then the wood and the saw are not hitting you.

But PLEASE make sure you do safety research!

And then do everything you can to be safe, grab your saw, plug it in, and make the cuts.  Because we all know that if you want it done right you gotta do it yourself!