Beauty and the Beast {Cutting Plywood Part 2}

Look at my Beauty.  She’s so pretty and clean and she doesn’t bite.

My Beauty

And here’s the Beast that I need to tame:

The Beast

Like all fairy tales, this too has a happy ending.  I made two of the straight edge cutting jigs for the circular saw yesterday like these here.

I used 1/2″ plywood and S4S 1x4s (so I could get a nice, smooth, straight edge).  I had the store cut the plywood at 12″ down the 8′ side for the longer jig.  Then cut it again on the 3′ side at 12″ for a shorter jig.  That means you need an 8′ 1×4 and at least a 3′ 1×4 .  I decided to use 2x4s for the support surface and I bought 5 of these.

The plywood in my "truck".

Make sure you have a good blade to use too.  This is what I used for the jigs and it worked great for the cuts with the grain (ripping).  The more teeth that the blade has, the smoother the cut.  But you also have to keep going at a decent rate or the blade heats up and burns the wood.  I have to say that there was some burn smell in the garage when I was done, even with the 40T, so it was a good decision for me to not go any higher on number of teeth.

I plan to use tape on crosscuts (perpendicular to the grain) because they tend to rip the veneer like this crosscut that the store made.  I hope the tape works with the 40T.

Veneer rip-out from a crosscut.

You’ll need wood glue and about 15  1″ screws.

Mark a line down the longer edges of both plywood pieces 1.5″ from the edge.  Cut your shorter 1×4 down to the exact length of your shorter plywood piece (long edge).  Apply glue to the 1x4s.

Clamp the 1×4 to the plywood with the plywood lined up exactly on your scribed line.

Screw the two together–I used a countersink bit, but that probably isn’t necessary.  You might want to predrill though.  The article said that you would screw from the plywood side into the 1×4, because you want to screw through the thinner piece into the thicker.  I didn’t do that and won’t know if I’ll regret that until I’ve used it.  My thought was that I used glue with the screws, so it should hold.

I used about 10 screws on the 8' jig and around 5 on the 3' jig.

When making a cut, you want your saw blade to just clear the material by no more than half of a blade tip (at least that’s what I hear).  Make sure the saw is unplugged!

Now you run the circular saw down the wider side of the jig.  Make sure you have the saw snug against the 1×4 edge for the entire length of the cut.  This will be the edge you use on future cuts.  You are creating an edge that you will line up with your cut line.  This jig is specific for your particular saw, eliminating the math you need to do by just clamping a 1×4 to your plywood and then figuring out how far back you need it to be to account for the distance from the saw blade to the edge of your saw’s plate.

The finished jigs!

Now I haven’t gotten to actually use them, but even making them has gotten me comfortable using the circular saw.  WELL, as comfortable as you can be with something that can cut off digits.  I did make some practice cuts on smaller pieces of wood clamped to my workbench before tackling the jigs.

I will be using these jigs later this week to cut the pieces for the cabinet and shelving unit I’ll be building for the laundry room.  Can’t wait to get started on it!  Hopefully it will be a Happily Ever After relationship between My Beauty and The Beast.

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About Pink Toes and Power Tools

I'm a DIY girl with a blog. Trying to complete one project before I jump into the next one!

6 responses to “Beauty and the Beast {Cutting Plywood Part 2}”

  1. akroezen says :

    I know this post is super old…but just wondering how familiar you were with the skilsaw before you made these jigs? I’m in the beginning process of building a bed, table, and dresser….so I’ve got ALOT of sawing ahead of me…but I’ve never used my brand new skilsaw…and quite frankly, I’m terrified! Your blog has given me some good info though. I’m concerned about his “kickback” i keep hearing…could you explain that a little?

    • Pink Toes and Power Tools says :

      I had zero experience with the circular saw (and hardly any experience with ANY saw at that point, actually!) when I made the jigs. If you search for “circular saw” in the search bar here, you’ll get the posts where I talk about the journey toward learning how to use the saw–and my fear of it :) It it took me a good 2 weeks to get up the nerve to cut something after I decided I was going to learn, so you are not alone with that! Good for you that you aren’t letting it stop you, BUT make sure that you research circular saw safety thoroughly before plugging it in.

      Kickback is when you are trying to make a cut and the saw encounters something that makes it come back at you rather than going forward. Since the blade is spinning fast, it comes back at you very fast also. Obviously that is dangerous and not something you want to happen! I think that generally it is because the wood is pinching in some way, causing the blade to bind and not be able to spin and go forward. I’ve never had it happen yet (knock on wood) with the set up that I use. If you want to see how I do it, you can watch a video I put together http://pinktoesandpowertools.com/2012/01/07/how-to-cut-plywood-with-a-circular-saw-video/ But I’m not claiming it will prevent all problems–just that it has worked for me so far!!

      Good luck!

      • Glenn says :

        Hi I am going to be making a jig today and I have all the material and this morning I realized, how is 1″ screws going to work when you have a 1″ and 1/2″ board. don’t they need to be a little longer?

      • Pink Toes and Power Tools says :

        Hi Glenn! You could probably go longer with the screws, but I used a countersink bit, which puts the screws in a little deeper than the 1″. You don’t want the screw to exit through the bottom board though, since that will be what rests on your plywood that you are cutting. What the screws actually do is hold the board where you want it until the glue dries and give it a little extra grip together for endurance. But the glue is doing a lot of the work, so make sure you use plenty of the glue. My jig has lasted with no problems so far.

        Are you using 1/2″ ply for the bottom or 3/4″? I used 1/2″ ply so I also didn’t want anything longer than an inch screw since the total depth of my jig is 1 1/4″ and I was countersinking it. If you’re using 3/4″ for the bottom and not countersinking, you could probably go with a 1 1/4″ screw, but check the bottom to make sure it doesn’t go through and if it does just pull it back out a little and sand. It will still work fine and you’ll have a stronger grip with the longer screw.

        Hope that helps!

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