Plywood is often thin, which means that it can be reasonably easy to cut, but many people choose to use power tools because of their speed and convenience. However, if you don’t have access to the right things or you would rather not use a power tool, here are 5 ways to cut plywood without power tools!
Plywood can be cut by hand by using a variety of different hand saws or a knife that are available to all woodworkers. The use of some masking tape will help stop splintering.
Japanese Saw \sCoping Saw \sCrosscut saw \sHacksaw \sUtility Knife
I am going to explore each and how well they work, and then compare the different tools you might want to use.
Not everyone has access to power tools or space or capacity to handle them. They are loud and can be dangerous, and they are also often expensive. If you can’t whip out the power tools for your next project, here are several options to consider.
How Do You Cut Plywood By Hand?
If you don’t have access to power tools, a simple hand saw is your best bet. Plywood can be cut rather simply by hand using a saw, and of course, people have been using hand saws to cut wood for thousands of years.
While most saws will work for cutting plywood, you’ll likely find the best results and smoothest finish using a crosscut saw. Careful selection is essential because many users report that hand saws rip plywood rather than providing a clean, pleasant cut.
In case you were curious, the best power instrument for cutting plywood is the table saw. A jigsaw or circle saw, perhaps? Look at my detailed description of the advantages of each option.
Remember that the high adhesive content of plywood makes precise hand cutting difficult. If you apply too much force, you may find that it splinters or cracks. Make sure your bench is set up in a way that will put the least amount of stress on the wood, and work slowly and carefully to avoid splitting.
There are a few different saws that might be useful to you, and I’ll go over them fast. Working through plywood with a hand saw will take longer than with a powered saw, but if you don’t have access to power tools or simply prefer working by hand, you have a number of options to choose from.
1. Japanese Saw
In the first place, a Japanese saw is often used for slicing through plywood. It makes clean cuts when pulled, and you can conveniently find saws with two blades so you can switch between cutting on the left and right sides for sawing patterns. One side is typically used to rip the material, while the other is used to crosscut it.
You should definitely practise with some scrap plywood to get the hang of the saw. A Japanese hand saw isn’t the best tool for making precise cuts, but it can handle curves and sits flush to the board for a lovely edge.
The best saw I’ve ever used was a Japanese one I got from Amazon.
2. Coping Saw
Two, you can also use a coping saw to cut plywood. While this is a cheaper alternative to the Japanese saw, it is not as well suited for cutting huge amounts of ply in straight lines, and it will take a long time to do so.
With a coping saw, you can easily twist the blade to make precise cuts in the wood, making it similar to working with a hand-powered jigsaw. If the saw has a high number of teeth, it will be able to cut through plywood with more thickness, but anything thicker than a quarter inch will be difficult even for a powerful saw.
The coping saw I use can be found on Amazon and looks like this.
3. Crosscut Saw or Tenon Saw
Saws that cut in a crosswise direction come in at number three. These are ideal for cutting plywood due to their tightly spaced teeth. However, you need to take your time and be cautious so as to avoid splintering the ply as you cut.
When making cuts with a crosscut saw, it’s preferable to do it at an angle of about 30 degrees and to take your time. It can take a while to get through lengths of plywood with these, thus they may be better used for smaller pieces.
You can purchase a high-quality cross-cut saw from Amazon.
Don’t make fun of me, please. The blade is excessively fine, and the teeth are barely set, making this saw nearly useless for woodworking. These aren’t the best if you have a tonne of plywood to cut, but they’ll do the trick if you need to make a lot of intricate cuts.
When working with wood or adhesives, the hacksaw’s blades quickly become clogged with debris.
This is a last resort that might help with extremely minor cuts, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
In addition, I compiled this post that details 7 manual techniques for making a hole in wood.
How To Cut Plywood With A Handsaw
Clamp the plywood securely to keep the wood steady as you draw a cutting line with a sharp pencil before using a saw.
Get your saw ready and hold it roughly perpendicular to the wood. Plywood will be damaged if it is sawn vertically. Saw in the groove, making sure to maintain the teeth on the line you drew, by gently easing the teeth back and forth on the line.
The teeth of the blade should accomplish most of the work, so you shouldn’t have to apply much force. In order to see your line properly, brush off the sawdust occasionally. To prevent the wood from breaking at the conclusion of the cut, you should slow down.
Watching the video down below will serve as a tutorial.
5. Can I Cut Plywood With A Utility Knife?
You can use a utility knife to cut plywood, but only if the plywood is very thin and you take your time making numerous passes along a straight edge. It is not advised to use plywood with a thickness of more than 5mm.
In the same vein as before, this isn’t something I’d normally employ, but it could save your bacon if you’re in a jam.
How To Cut Plywood With A Utility Knife
Preparation steps like measuring, marking, and clamping your plywood are more crucial than ever.
If the plywood is not firmly clamped to a level surface, you run the risk of cutting yourself on the blade of your utility knife as you press down on it. Guarantee its stability by clamping it in place and keeping the bench behind it from moving.
If you want a clean, straight cut, it’s best to use a steel rule alongside your guideline to give your knife something to press against. Place the steel rule along the line you’re using as a guide, then lean the utility knife against its edge.
To make the initial cut in the wood, score along the rule at a slow and steady pace, holding the rule steady with your knife. Use the steel rule as a guide again, then press down firmly on the blade to make a second, deeper cut into the board.
If you don’t feel like you have a deep enough furrow to guide your knife, you can make a third cut with the steel rule in place.
If you want to make five or six slices in the wood, keep scoring it. Then, flip the ply over so the thinner side is now facing you. Mark the thin end of the ply on both sides with your pencil, and then connect the marks with your steel rule on the underside of the board.
This will guarantee that the cut is always made in the same spot on the timber’s reverse side. After you’ve drawn your guide, you may use the steel rule to keep your knife in position while you make two passes along the blade’s edge.
Put down the steel rule and pick up the knife again to make clean, precise cuts. If you want a clean cut without tearing or splintering the wood, be sure your blade is still sharp, especially as you near the end.
When working with thick plywood, you may need to flip the board over and score the opposite side before moving on. Be cautious to hold the wood in place while you turn it so that the weight of the piece doesn’t cause the cut to split.
Please be patient; sawing through this much plywood will take time. Cutting through sheets of plywood with a utility knife is not an efficient method.
Comparing The Tools
Cutlery Saw, Japanese Hand Tenon Saw or Crosscut Utility Knife Hacksaw Blade Ratio Fast enough for lengthy curves or plywood, and reasonably priced. Quick if the number of teeth is high, but not ideal for major tasks. Assuming a normal size and number of teeth, fairly quickly Very time-consuming because you’ll need to frequently pause to wipe down the blade. Slow \sAccuracy Positioned flush with the wood, it facilitates precise cutting. Accurate if you don’t try to do too much and instead let the blade cut. Tolerable if the blade is razor-sharp. It May have trouble maintaining accuracy over extended cuts unless the blade is kept very clean and sharp. Providing a steel rule is used, this measure is as precise as it gets. It is next to impossible to make a clean cut otherwise.
Should hold up well against deep slashes
Should hold up well against deep slashes
Will hold up well against deep slashes
Possibly requires frequent blade sharpening and may have trouble with longer cuts.
You’ll need to clean, sharpen, or replace the blade after repeated use.
Not ideal for precise work.
Appropriate for precise cutting tasks
Not great for precise work.
Able to create complex cuts with reasonable ease
Amazing for cutting precise angles and edges in paper-thin ply
How To Cut Plywood At Home
The best results can be achieved when cutting plywood at home if a few things are done first.
First, be sure to use a trusted measuring device, a straight-edged tool, a set square if necessary, etc., to make precise marks on your wood. Before beginning to cut, confirm that your pencil is sharp and that all of your measurements are correct. Taking these precautions will ensure that your manuals are reliable and free of mistakes.
Second, keep in mind that even with power tools, plywood splinters easily. Therefore, when cutting plywood at home, it is crucial to make sure the plywood is well-supported and to go gently.
Plywood can either be clamped down or laid flat on a bench, depending on the tool you’re using. When you get close to the end of your cut, the wood will splinter and possibly break if any pressure is applied to it. Plywood may be secured with ease by using dog holes.
If the ply needs to be supported, you can use another piece of wood, but keep in mind that it will likely be marked as a result. The ply’s elasticity will be decreased, and it won’t split as easily.
You must also secure the wood so it does not shift as you work on it. This will ensure a clean, precise slice every time. When cutting wood, any movement or flexing can cause your line to be crooked, requiring you to spend more time sanding.
Thirdly, always use caution when working on a home improvement project; even if you’re not using power equipment, you can still injure yourself with a hand saw or utility knife.
It’s important to protect your hands with cut-resistant gloves and your lungs from sawdust by donning a dust mask. It’s also a good idea to put on some protective eyewear.
In the fourth place, depending on how much you cut, you may need to sharpen the saw blade if you’re working with thick plywood. Using a saw with a dull blade is a terrible idea because plywood glue quickly dulls a blade.
Finally, before you use a tool to cut a piece of wood, make sure you test it out and see if you like the results. Before starting the actual project, make a test version to see if the tool can perform the necessary tasks.
What if the plywood you have is damp? Do you think it could be trimmed down?
In case you need alternatives to power equipment for cutting plywood, here are five possibilities. Considering the high cost of power equipment, this was a major consideration for me when I first opened my workshop.
When cutting plywood, it is imperative to wear protective gear such as gloves, a mask, and safety glasses to avoid getting sawdust in your eyes and lungs. Even while hand tools are often thought to be safer than power tools, you should still take precautions when working with them.