Plywood Cutting Tools

Plywood is a term commonly used to describe a plethora of sheet goods, including combinations of lumber core, particle board, fiberboard and laminated veneer core. It can be a raw material, exposed veneer or coated with various plastic coatings. You can cut plywood by moving a cutting tool across the wood or by moving the wood across a cutting tool. Either method requires special cutting tools.

Table Saw

Cutting plywood cleanly takes power tools.

A table saw equipped with appropriate sharp blade cuts plywood adequately. However, the unwieldy 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet of ¾-inch plywood weighing 70-100 lbs. requires stands and extension tables surrounding the saw to support the sheet as it is fed onto the table of the saw. Dadoing, or cutting a rectangular groove into a board so a piece just like it can be fitted into it, can be done in plywood by using a table saw and a special plywood dado blade.

Circular Saw

A hand-held circular saw with a plywood cutting blade can also cut plywood. Usually the sheet of plywood is placed on two parallel sawhorses, and the saw guide follows the line previously drawn on the board

Vertical Panel Saw

Another saw, the vertical panel saw, has a frame that holds the wood as the attached guided circular saw passes across it. The vertical panel saw takes less room and needs little space to make a full cut. Still, it only makes rough cuts and tends to have a great deal of blowout. Some vertical panel saws have different interchangeable cutting tools such as a floating router, rolling sheer insert, floating saw insert and a razor knife.


A router with a straight bit, a pilot bit and straight edge ensure a clean cut. Bit sizes coincide with standard plywood thicknesses and plywood dado bits can also be used.

Panel Router

The panel router has the same frame and setup as does the panel saw. However, it features a permanently attached router.

Dremel Tool

Dremel makes multisaw attachments for many of its rotary tools which cut through plywood up to 3/8 inch thick. Just as most other saws, these blades leave a rough edge. Sky King, a manufacturer of model airplanes and accessories offers multipurpose carbide bits for the Dremel Rotary Tool that, along with cutting guides, work on plywood, and the newer carbide bits actually leave a smooth edge.