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Splintering plywood with a circular saw

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Astrodan02/12/2009 14:47:15
1 forum posts
Hi everyone,
For a relative beginner, what's the best way to avoid splintering the exit side of plywood when cutting it with a 184mm hand-held circular saw? I've tried using masking tape along the cut line, but the blade lifts it off too easily.
Is there an optimum blade depth to use, changing the angle the teeth hit the board at? If so, is there a way to set this, or is it just a matter of trial and error on some scrap?
I want to use a nice new CMT 42-tooth thin kerf (1.3mm) finishing blade, witha a home-made s/steel matching thin riving knife, and would appreciate any suggestions before I start making sawdust.

Delete02/12/2009 15:47:22
575 forum posts
A fin sharp blade may help. I always cut through masking tape. In part to reduce splintering but the mainreason is for marking out. It is easy to redo a line if I mark it in the wrong place. I usually cut with sme waste to allow for a little splintering.
The edge can then be trimmed up on the table saw or using a router against a straight edge.
John Jane02/12/2009 16:17:46
13 forum posts
I find that if you score your cutting line with a marking knife I find I can cut up to the line.
If you are uneasy cutting to the line,score anyway then cut with a bit of waste then trim.
I'm a bit 'old school' and use a marking knife when making cuts even for handsaws, with a pencil if required to show up more.
Malc04/12/2009 18:42:42
411 forum posts
63 photos
I always set the blade so that its just higher than the thickness I'm cutting. You wont solve the problem until you fit a nice sharp blade. I suggest you go ahead with your new blade and I think your problem will go away. I do not have a fancy saw but I do use good blades and do not have any problems.
Good luck,
Malc04/12/2009 18:50:56
411 forum posts
63 photos
Just reread the post and I realise your using a hand held where I am talking table saw. I'm sure the rules are the same though.
I'm glad you said about marking on masking tape I do the same but was shot down in flames when I mentioned it here. I will keep doing it until someone comes up with a better idea than using a pencil eraser or glass paper.
Oddjob04/12/2009 20:17:39
1635 forum posts
79 photos
Like Malc I believe you should set the depth of cut to only very slightly over the thickness of the plywood.  It is also vital that you use a good sharp blade.
However you well your saw cuts, it makes sense to allow a small margin so that you can plane the edge to a smooth finish.
Sparky04/12/2009 20:31:53
7631 forum posts
22 photos
Hi Astrodan and welcome to this site's forum
Like the others have mentioned and, you can try another little trick, come in from the other end a few inches and then set up for the main cut from the other end (if you get my drift), this way you finish in a already cut hole.
Good luck and hope to see whatever your building in your album very soon
Ralph Harvey05/12/2009 00:57:36
3274 forum posts
315 photos
2 articles
I think the main point to consider is the blade !
Yes set it to the corect depth and score the line if you can but most saws you buy today have far too corse a blade for cutting ply and other similar materials, or even cross cutting pine etc, The first thing to do is change the blade for a finer one !
Olly Parry-Jones05/12/2009 09:39:58
2776 forum posts
636 photos
I'm not sure whether this has already been mentioned but, some people have success in cutting a 'scoring' the cut first (with the saw, not a knife!), which creates a very shallow groove or channel in the show face. The blade's almost cutting 'horizontally' at this point, where as, these saws usually cut on the upstroke, up through the face of the ply. Underneath, the cut should be clean, unless you're making a plunge cut away from the end of a board, perhaps.
I also agree that all results should improve with a finer-toothed blade. Most saws these days come with a pretty standard 40t blade. Which often performs well, it's just, it isn't always the best choice... The trouble with these smaller 190mm saws is that the blades don't go much finer than 40t...
Actually, forget that last bit - I've just remembered thataws:AWCSB"> Workshop Heaven have some 60t blades made by Atkinson Walker in Sheffield. These are from their 'Pro Trade' range (they also offer an 'Industrial' range), where prices are very competitive against Freud and others.

Daniel05/12/2009 15:10:28
20 forum posts
A few other ideas:
1, use a sacraficial material, (6mm mdf is ideal) on top of the ply, clamp the two together, or use double sided tape to hold them together along the join, and then cut through both at the same time
2, Not sure what the safety polic will think of this one... Set the depth of cut to just scrape the surface of the ply,  and run the saw backwards on the ply (i.e. start with the saw at the end of the cut, and pull it towards you) This will cut the surface of the board neatly and then alter the blade height and cut as usual.
3, Cut to near the line, and then use a router to cut to the line.. ideally using a straight edge and a bearing guided cutter.
Delete05/12/2009 22:01:53
575 forum posts
I personally dont give a **** for people shooting me down in flames. I am now retired. I do make errors when marking out hence double checking. The veneer on ply these days is so thin to remove a pencil line can reduce the thickness significantly. I was working on a Boat for The Woodworker a couple of years or so ago and if the project had not been killed it would have shown masking tape marking out.
Do what you are happy with and if it works for you then it is the right way (for you).
Come to think of it perhaps that why it was killed. May bee Mr Roberts didnt like my methods WHo knows, Who cares.

Edited By Roger B on 05/12/2009 22:04:34

Malc07/12/2009 19:07:37
411 forum posts
63 photos
Well said Roger.
I'm with you. If I mark fine lines direct onto my work I cant see them. I also am retired and of a great age and most of my faculties are failing. Half deaf, half blind, arthritic thumbs, cold hands, I could go on. We have to make the best of what we have and as you say it works for me and I'm sticking with it.
Oddjob07/12/2009 19:21:15
1635 forum posts
79 photos
I'm fom the school of  "if it works for you, then don't fix it."
However, as an occasional user of the masking tape method, I have had occasions when the tape has pulled fibres out of the face of the ply!  I know - cheap ply you may say but some jobs only need cheap ply.

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