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Thread: Which hand saw with plywood?

  1. #1
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    Which hand saw with plywood?

    Would you be better with a crosscut or rip saw if you were cutting sheets of plywood down to make case goods?

    Let's say you had 3 panel saws:

    8ppi crosscut
    7ppi rip
    12ppi crosscut

    Or should you use a different saw alltogether?

    I just grabbed these specs from L-N's panel saw page.

    Jim
    One can never have too many planes and chisels... or so I'm learning!!

  2. #2
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    The LV Japanese Plywood saw is a great one, worked a lot better and faster than my crummy circular saw.

    Pam

  3. #3
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    You're basically crosscutting any way you slice it when it comes to ply grain, and regular saws not only cut slow, but you'll kill the teetch with all that adhesive and crud in the ply. The stanley fine tpi impulse hardened teeth saws are good, and when they start loosing teeth they make killer drywall saws. Or as Pam said, the japanese saws excel too. The big box stores sell Vaughn and Marples pull saws. My little vaughn "bear saw" is doing everything it can not to become a garden tool...I've gotten a ton of mileage out of it.
    Last edited by john brenton; 07-06-2011 at 1:14 AM.
    It's sufficiently stout..


  4. #4
    Jim, I redid my kitchen several years back and used plywood for drawer bottoms and some other pieces. I think you want a fine toothed saw with relaxed rake. I don't think cross cut or rip matter too much except that most x-cuts have a relaxed rake. You may do best (depending on the thickness of the plywood) with a 8-10 tooth saw with a good 5 to 10 degrees of rake. I prefered shorter saws for this too as indeed the glue clogs teh teeth, the saw catches and binds. Not a fun job with a hand saw but I got thru it. You will too. Good Luck!

    Adam

  5. #5
    I've made a few small shop projects out of cabinet-grade plywood. Between 6 ppi rip and 8 ppi crosscut saws, I got the best results using the crosscut. Splintering out the back-side ply was the main problem, just as with power tools. Good sharp saw will help reduce that, plus things like pre-scoring the back ply (then make sure you hit your line, or at least stay just to the waste side of it), or laying blue tape on it for support, all strategies helpful with power tools. I didn't try ryoba or finer toothed saw.

    A crosscut saw can rip, just less efficiently. A ripsaw can crosscut, but less efficiently and leaves a more ragged edge. Of the two choices, the first is at least a cleaner cut. Given that plywood has layers oriented both ways, you need the one saw that handles both crosscutting and ripping, so crosscut is the best choice. The orientation of the outer plies doesn't make much difference since they're so thin.

    Bench planes will also work fine on the cut edges, so if you cut just a little proud, you can shave it down to the line. Again, the thin plies mean that planing across the end grain is easy.
    Steve, mostly hand tools. Click on my name above and click on "Visit Homepage" to see my woodworking blog.

  6. #6
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    I think I would get or borrow a tracksaw if I were going to cut a lot of plywood, especially if the casework has you cutting a lot of 3/4" plywood.

    I wonder how many linear feet of ply any saw will cut - it can't be too many, and if you bought a festool tracksaw and sold it when you were done, you'd be out the same amount of money.

    That's the route I went when I dumped my TS....but I still haven't used the tracksaw yet (have avoided plywood since then). At the same time, a couple of times cutting plywood with a handsaw prior to that for small case backs cured me of wanting to do it much.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  7. #7
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    As others have mentioned, I've had the best luck with the impulse hardened pull saws. I've done a little bit here and there with traditional saws, and it just means sharpening more than I want too, and the deeper gullets of the pullsaw geometry seems to remove the gunky sawdust and glue combo from the kerf better. I've mostly been using the "sharksaw" brand, simply because that's the only brand I can find locally to me where I can purchase replacement blades when they finally go dull rather than needing to buy yet another handle. I recycle the old blade in the scrap metal bin next time I'm by the dump.

  8. #8
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    I can't remember the last time I hand-sawed plywood, which tells me it wasn't fun. I won't even use a decent TS blade for sheet goods if I can help it.

    As someone said earlier, use a track saw or just a circular saw with a shop-made guide. Or pay the BORG $0.25 per cut.

    If you must do it by hand, get the Shark saw Joshua mentioned. It's inexpensive. If you find cutting plywood by hand as objectionable as I do, you're not out much, and you'll stilll have a good toolbox saw. If you decide hand-cutting plywood is a worthwhile expenditure of calories, then upgrade to the LV plywood saw.

  9. #9
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    +1 on the Shark. A very aggressive cut that is fast and clean.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Carmichael View Post
    If you decide hand-cutting plywood is a worthwhile expenditure of calories, then upgrade to the LV plywood saw.
    LOL.. This has been a very valuable thread for me.. for on occasion I learn from the experience of others without beating my head against a rock. This sounds like one of those times!!

    After *this* series of posts there's no way... I've got a Uni, SCMS, Circ and other power saws... I'm just feeling the *draw* of hand tools. But not for cutting plywood, at least not after this thread!!
    One can never have too many planes and chisels... or so I'm learning!!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pam Niedermayer View Post
    The LV Japanese Plywood saw is a great one, worked a lot better and faster than my crummy circular saw.

    Pam
    +1. Just bought this last month and it sails through 3/4" ply. No idea how long it'll last, but if it's just a couple of cuts or smaller cuts, it's much easier than pulling out my TS55. OTOH, I wouldn't want to be making too many 4' (or longer) cuts in plywood with any handsaw.

    By the way, the local Lowes will no longer break down sheet goods- removed the track saw from their store. Is that just a local thing or a nation-wide decision?

  12. #12
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    Trussville, AL Lowe's still had the panel cutting setup and the huge RAS as of last weekend. I didn't see either in operation...

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Friedman View Post
    +1. Just bought this last month and it sails through 3/4" ply. No idea how long it'll last, but if it's just a couple of cuts or smaller cuts, it's much easier than pulling out my TS55. OTOH, I wouldn't want to be making too many 4' (or longer) cuts in plywood with any handsaw.

    By the way, the local Lowes will no longer break down sheet goods- removed the track saw from their store. Is that just a local thing or a nation-wide decision?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Neeley View Post
    I've got a Uni, SCMS, Circ and other power saws...
    Coming from someone who sold their TS because of a lack of love, those are what you want to use. I can't find a great reason to cut ply by hand unless it's a really small amount. Even then, if there is a TS around, it does a better job, faster and you don't have to get any doggish hardware store saws or any expensive saws that aren't optimized for solids.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Weaver View Post
    Coming from someone who sold their TS because of a lack of love, those are what you want to use. I can't find a great reason to cut ply by hand unless it's a really small amount. Even then, if there is a TS around, it does a better job, faster and you don't have to get any doggish hardware store saws or any expensive saws that aren't optimized for solids.
    Yes, I suppose a table saw would do a better job, if you've got proper support for those 4X8 sheets. I was cutting kitchen cabinets in the back yard and did not have such support; so I had to use saw horses. Honestly, it took 15-20 minutes to cut up a sheet by hand with the LV hand saw, including rearranging the saw horses and drawing the lines.

    Pam

  15. #15
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    You can always halve the sheet with a circular saw and tape over the line or backer to control tearout if you don't want an expensive saw.

    I also didn't get jollies, as you mention, from the first cut on a 4x8 sheet of 3/4 ply. That's too much like work handling sheets like that.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

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