How to Cut Birch Plywood

What You'll Need
Carpenters tape measure
Carpenters T square
Safety glasses
Gloves
Table, skill or jig saw
Plywood blade (an 80 TPI blade is recommended)
Steel edge guide
Marking knife
Dust mask or respirator

Knowing how to cut birch plywood correctly provides more usable edges and cuts down on wasted material. This, in turn, will ensure saving money and good material with which to work. Neatly-cut edges also make for tighter fitting joints and less sanding. Although a table saw is recommended for cutting birch plywood cleanly, a skill or jigsaw will work equally well if the wood is carefully cut using a metal guide to assist with the cutting. A finish or 80 teeth per inch saw blade will also aid in clean, neat cuts.

Step 1 - Plan and Mark Cuts

Lay out the birch plywood on a workbench keeping in mind that these sheets come in 5x5 foot dimensions, instead of the conventional 4x8 sheets of regular plywood and take up less space. Using a carpenter’s tape measure and marking knife, carefully mark out the cuts required. The sharp edge of the marking guide will provide a cleaner cut when placed against the saw blade and will ensure a more accurate cut.

Step 2 - Understand Safety Considerations

Regardless of the cutting tools, cutting plywood produces an abundance of fine dust particles. For this reason, it is necessary to wear eye protection and a dust mask. Cut plywood also produces splinters and, therefore, it is highly recommended that gloves be worn when cutting it. Gloves will also help to securely hold materials being cut.

Step 3 - Understand Cutting Techniques

Attach either a finish or fine-toothed blade (usually 80 teeth per inch) to a table saw or skill saw. If using a jigsaw, select a fine-cut blade for this work. Ensure that the good side receives the input cutting edge of the saw and that it exits from the secondary side. This will prevent the good face from splintering. Usually a good saw blade will prevent this, but this technique is an added precaution.

When cutting birch plywood on a table saw the procedure is fairly straight forward. If cutting plywood sheets on sawhorses using a skill saw, place the saw blade precisely along the knife-marked line and cut within the line. Allow the waste to drop off the sawhorse edge onto a table or workbench placed slightly below it to catch the waste piece. Do not allow the pieces to collapse inward as this will pinch the saw blade and can cause injury if the cut piece jerks backward.

The use of a metal guide and skill saw will ensure that cuts are perfectly made as long as the cuts are slowly and carefully executed. Simply hold the skill saw securely, placing the saw blade within the markings made by the marking knife. Place and clamp the metal straight edge along the line and rest the skill saw along its edge. Begin the cut, making sure it is exactly along the marked line, and proceed at a steady pace and follow through to the end of the sheet of plywood.