Tool Tips: How to Cut Plywood with a Jigsaw Without Splintering

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If you haven’t read my previous post about cutting curves and how to cut a straight line with a jigsaw, go and check them out.

As you all know, my fellow woodworkers and DIY-ers, a jigsaw is one marvel of mechanics that makes cutting almost every material quick and easy. It is a wonderful machine that is not only easy to make but also delivers precise results.

However, in the case of plywood, you need to take a little more care than while cutting any other object. Splintering is a common problem that not only novice jigsaw users experience while cutting plywood.

It is completely fine if you make a few mistakes on your first try. But as you progress, you don’t want to waste more plywood than necessary.

It might look complicated but is quite simple if you know the right trick. In this article you will learn some quick tips for preventing splinters while cutting plywood, picking the right blades, and also some safety measures to keep in mind whenever you are using a jigsaw.

Why does the plywood splinter

While cutting plywood, splinters are a common nuisance. But if you know the reasons behind them, you can probably make a cleaner cut. There are three main reasons that you end up splintering the plywood.

  1. You haven’t chosen an appropriate blade for cutting plywood
  2. The blade might be right but old and covered with sawdust or pitch that makes it blunt
  3. You rush the saw through the cut using orbital action and too much pressure

While the first and second reasons can be avoided by choosing the right blades for cutting plywood and make sure they are clean and sharp, for the third reason, you must understand the importance of the plywood cutting technique.

If you already know how to use a jigsaw, you just need to learn a few tricks (if not, you can read about how to use a jigsaw here). These tricks will make sure that you cut the plywood without any splinters.

#1. Picking the right blade

Picking the right blade to cut plywood without splintering is the most important because even the best jigsaw with the wrong blade won’t do the job. You want to use a  blade for clean cutting with a lot of fine, pointy teeth(TPI above 20) and little/no offset.

You can check these Bosch blades on Amazon for clean STRAIGHT cuts or these for CURVED cuts.

#2. Trick one

When you have marked the cutting line, put masking tape over it on top and bottom of the workpiece. Use transparent masking tape for ease of use and mark your cutting line on the tape. Now cut along the line normally. The masking tape ensures that the veneers remain intact with the wood and thus there is no splintering.

#3. Trick two

You can also use a backer board to avoid any splintering. This board is placed below the plywood while cutting it and offers support by pushing the veneers. As you progress in your cutting, the plywood (supported by the backer board) comes out with a clean cut.

#4. Trick tree

You can score your cutting line with a utility knife on the top ply and then make a cut with a jigsaw. However, this only might be working for straight cuts. Just test it out for curved cuts.

#5. Trick four

Use a splinter guide like this one from Festool, or if you don’t own Festool jigsaw, you can make one yourself.

#6. Speed

Don’t go too aggressive with your cutting speed and little/no orbital action. A ⅓ third of maximum speed and little pressure should do the trick. It depends mostly on the thickness of the plywood. The thinner it is the slower you go.

Safety tips

I have been very particular about maintaining safety while using a jigsaw. When cutting plywood, you need to follow the same safety guidelines. Also, as plywood is usually thick and there are more chances of flying particles, so maintain proper eye protection.

I hope this tip was useful for you or if you have any questions or tips yourself, please share by leaving a comment in the box below.

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  1. I’m cutting a desk out of plywood, would you recommend having what will be the top side, up or down?

    1. Hi Cathy! I don’t quite understand what you mean. Would you mind explaining in more detail? Are you asking which side of the plywood you should tape?

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