How To Cut Plywood With A Jigsaw: A Simple Guide

Cutting plywood with a jigsaw is an accessible and straightforward woodworking method that can be mastered with a few simple steps. By following the right techniques and using the appropriate blade, you can achieve clean and precise cuts on plywood. In this guide, I will walk you through the key aspects of cutting plywood with a jigsaw, from choosing the right blade to preventing splintering and mastering different cutting techniques.

Key Takeaways:

  • Choosing the right blade is crucial for cutting plywood with a jigsaw. Look for a blade with fine, pointy teeth and little to no offset for optimal results.
  • Prevent splintering by using masking tape on both sides of the cutting line or placing a backer board underneath the plywood.
  • Cutting at a slower speed and applying minimal pressure will help maintain the quality of your cuts.
  • While a jigsaw is a versatile tool for cutting plywood, alternative tools like circular saws, table saws, or handsaws can also be used.
  • Ensure your safety by wearing protective gear and practicing proper handling when using power tools like the jigsaw.

Choosing the Right Blade

To achieve clean and precise cuts, selecting the appropriate blade for your jigsaw is crucial when working with plywood. The type of blade you choose will greatly impact the quality and accuracy of your cuts. When cutting plywood, it’s best to use a blade with fine, pointy teeth and little to no offset. This type of blade will minimize tear-out and splintering, resulting in smoother edges. One option to consider is a plywood-cutting blade, which is specifically designed to handle the unique characteristics of plywood. These blades typically have more teeth per inch (TPI) and a higher tooth count, allowing for finer cuts. Another suitable option is a scroll-cutting blade, which is known for its ability to cut tight curves and intricate patterns. Just be sure to choose a blade with a TPI that matches the thickness of your plywood for optimal performance. When it comes to blade selection, it’s important to remember that one size does not fit all. Different jigsaw models may require specific blade types or sizes, so consult your jigsaw’s manual or manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure compatibility. Taking the time to choose the right blade will ultimately save you time and frustration by producing cleaner, more professional-looking cuts in your plywood projects.
Blade Type Features Best For
Plywood-Cutting Blade Fine, pointy teeth Little to no offset Higher tooth count Plywood cutting tasks
Scroll-Cutting Blade Ability to cut tight curves Ideal for intricate patterns Plywood projects with intricate designs
Remember, investing in high-quality blades and regularly replacing worn-out ones will ensure optimal cutting performance. It’s also a good idea to have a few spare blades on hand for different types of cuts or materials. By choosing the right blade for your jigsaw and plywood, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any woodworking project with confidence and precision.

Preventing Splintering

Minimizing splintering during the cutting process is essential to achieve professional-looking results when using a jigsaw to cut plywood. Fortunately, there are several techniques you can employ to prevent splintering and ensure clean, smooth cuts. Firstly, consider using masking tape on both sides of the cutting line. This simple step helps to stabilize the plywood and reduce the likelihood of splintering. By applying the tape before cutting, you create a protective barrier that can help maintain the integrity of the wood. Another effective technique is to use a backer board underneath the plywood. This can be a scrap piece of plywood or any other sturdy material. Placing the board underneath the plywood provides support and prevents tear-out as the jigsaw blade exits the wood. Lastly, it is important to cut at a slower speed and with little pressure. Rushing the cutting process or applying excessive force can lead to splintering and jagged edges. By taking your time and allowing the blade to smoothly cut through the plywood, you can achieve cleaner cuts without compromising the integrity of the wood.
Techniques to Prevent Splintering when Cutting Plywood with a Jigsaw
Apply masking tape on both sides of the cutting line
Use a backer board underneath the plywood
Cut at a slower speed and with little pressure

Speed and Pressure

Adjusting the speed and pressure of your jigsaw is crucial for achieving clean and accurate cuts in plywood. When working with plywood, it is important to use a slower speed setting on your jigsaw to prevent splintering and ensure a smoother cut. Applying too much pressure can also lead to splintering, so it’s best to let the blade do the work. To achieve the best results, start by setting your jigsaw to a lower speed setting. This will allow the blade to cut through the plywood more smoothly without causing any damage. If you’re unsure about the appropriate speed, it’s always better to start on a slower setting and gradually increase it if needed. Remember, it is easier to make adjustments and increase the speed than to fix mistakes caused by cutting too quickly. In terms of pressure, it’s important to find the right balance. You want to apply enough pressure to ensure the blade cuts through the plywood, but not so much that it causes splintering. Let the weight of the jigsaw and the sharpness of the blade do the work for you. Avoid bending or forcing the blade, as this can also lead to splintering. By adjusting the speed and pressure of your jigsaw, you can achieve clean and accurate cuts in plywood. Remember to start with a slower speed setting and apply gentle pressure, allowing the blade to do the work. This will result in smoother cuts and minimize the risk of splintering.
Speed Setting Pressure Cut Quality
Low Light pressure Smooth and clean cut
Medium Moderate pressure Acceptable cut, but may have some splintering
High Excessive pressure Higher risk of splintering and rough cut

Alternative Cutting Tools

While a jigsaw is a versatile tool for cutting plywood, there are other tools that can also be used depending on the project and personal preference. One alternative is a circular saw, which offers more power and speed for cutting through thicker plywood. Circular saws are also ideal for making long, straight cuts. For precision cuts and intricate designs, a table saw can provide the necessary stability and accuracy. However, table saws require more space and can be more expensive than jigsaws. If you prefer a more traditional approach, a handsaw can be used to cut plywood. This method requires more physical effort and may not be as efficient as power tools, but it can still yield good results. Handsaws are also a suitable option for smaller plywood projects or when working in areas without electricity.

Plywood Cutting Tools

To summarize the alternative cutting tools for plywood:
  • A circular saw provides power and speed, making it suitable for thick plywood and long, straight cuts.
  • A table saw offers precision and stability, but requires more space and can be more expensive.
  • A handsaw is a traditional option that requires physical effort but can still be effective for smaller projects or areas without electricity.
Tool Pros Cons
Circular Saw Powerful, fast cutting, suitable for thick plywood and long, straight cuts May be more expensive, requires more skill to achieve precise cuts
Table Saw Precision, stability, ideal for large projects Requires more space, potential higher cost
Handsaw Portable, suitable for smaller projects, no electricity required Requires more physical effort, slower cutting

Safety Precautions

Safety should always be a top priority when operating a jigsaw to cut plywood or any other materials. Here are some important safety precautions to consider:
  1. Wear protective gear: It is crucial to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris and ear protection to minimize noise exposure. Additionally, wearing gloves can provide extra grip and protect your hands from accidental cuts.
  2. Secure the workpiece: Always make sure the plywood is securely clamped or held down to prevent it from moving while you are cutting. This will help maintain stability and accuracy throughout the cutting process.
  3. Use the right blade: Make sure to use a sharp blade that is designed for cutting plywood. Avoid using dull or incorrect blades, as they can increase the risk of kickback or cause rough cuts.
  4. Keep a firm grip: Hold the jigsaw firmly with both hands, one hand on the handle and the other on the body of the saw. This will provide better control and stability while cutting.
  5. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: Familiarize yourself with the specific safety guidelines and instructions provided by the jigsaw manufacturer. This will ensure you are using the tool correctly and safely.


When using a jigsaw to cut plywood, always prioritize safety by wearing protective gear, securing the workpiece, using the right blade, maintaining a firm grip, and following the manufacturer’s instructions. By taking these precautions, you can minimize the risk of accidents and injuries, ensuring a safe and successful cutting experience.
Safety Precautions for Using a Jigsaw to Cut Plywood
Wear protective gear
Secure the workpiece
Use the right blade
Keep a firm grip
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions

How to Cut Straight Lines

Achieving straight cuts with a jigsaw is possible by following proper techniques and using helpful cutting guides. When cutting plywood with a jigsaw, it’s important to start with the right blade. Choose a blade with fine, pointy teeth and little to no offset, as this will deliver cleaner and more precise cuts. To prevent splintering, place masking tape on both sides of the cutting line or use a backer board underneath the plywood. This helps provide support and stability during the cutting process, reducing the risk of splintering. When cutting, it’s recommended to maintain a slower speed and apply minimal pressure. This allows the blade to work smoothly through the plywood without causing damage or leaving rough edges. Remember, it’s better to go slower and get a clean cut, rather than rushing and risking mistakes. If you’re new to using a jigsaw or if you have particularly long or complex cuts to make, consider using a cutting guide. These guides can be clamped onto the plywood to serve as a straight edge, ensuring a precise and straight line. Alternatively, you can create your own cutting guide using a piece of scrap wood and clamps.
Tools and Materials Instructions
Jigsaw Ensure the jigsaw is equipped with a suitable blade for cutting plywood.
Masking tape or backer board Apply masking tape on both sides of the cutting line or place a backer board underneath the plywood to minimize splintering.
Cutting guide Use a commercially available cutting guide or create your own using a straight piece of scrap wood and clamps.
Protective gear Wear safety goggles, a dust mask, and ear protection to safeguard against potential hazards.
By following these techniques and utilizing the appropriate tools, you can achieve precise and clean straight cuts with a jigsaw. Remember to prioritize safety by wearing protective gear and always exercise caution when working with power tools.

Making Bevel and Angle Cuts

Adding beveled edges or making angled cuts in plywood can be easily accomplished using a jigsaw with the right adjustments. To achieve a beveled edge, you will need to tilt the jigsaw baseplate to the desired angle. Most jigsaws have an adjustable baseplate that can be angled up to 45 degrees. By tilting the baseplate, you can create beveled cuts that add a unique design element to your plywood projects. When making angle cuts, it is important to adjust the jigsaw’s bevel and the angle of the cut. Start by setting the desired bevel angle on the jigsaw baseplate. Then, use a protractor or a digital angle finder to measure the angle of the cut you want to make. Mark the cutting line on the plywood and align the jigsaw blade with the mark. Make sure to hold the jigsaw steady and follow the marked line as you cut to maintain accuracy. It is important to note that making bevel and angle cuts requires careful precision and practice. Start with scrap pieces of plywood to get a feel for the jigsaw’s movement and adjust the angles accordingly. Remember to always prioritize safety by wearing protective gear, such as safety glasses and gloves, and following the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific jigsaw model.

What Bevel Capacity Should I Look for in a Jigsaw for Cutting Plywood?

When considering a jigsaw for cutting plywood, understanding jigsaw bevel capacity is crucial. This term, jigsaw bevel capacity explained, refers to the maximum angle at which the jigsaw can cut through the material. Look for a jigsaw with a bevel capacity that matches your desired cutting angle to ensure precise and accurate cuts on plywood projects.

Tips for Advanced Techniques

For more advanced woodworking projects, a jigsaw can be used to create intricate shapes like circles, with the help of circle cutting guides and careful maneuvering. When cutting circles in wood with a jigsaw, it’s important to follow these steps for optimal results. First, secure the plywood firmly to a workbench or surface using clamps. This will ensure stability and prevent any movement during the cutting process. Next, attach a circle cutting guide to the base of the jigsaw. These guides are available in various sizes and allow you to create circles of different diameters. Adjust the guide to the desired diameter and tighten the screws to secure it in place. Once the guide is securely attached, start the jigsaw and position the blade just next to the edge of the plywood. Slowly guide the jigsaw along the circle cutting guide, following the desired path. It is important to maintain a steady pace and keep a firm grip on the jigsaw to ensure accuracy and smooth cuts. As you approach the end of the circle, be sure to maintain a consistent speed and apply even pressure to the jigsaw. This will prevent any jagged edges or uneven cuts. Once the circle is complete, carefully remove the jigsaw and admire your precise, circular cut in the plywood. Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to cutting intricate shapes with a jigsaw. Take your time and always prioritize safety by wearing appropriate protective gear. With the right techniques and tools, you can achieve professional-level results in your woodworking projects.
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