Can You Use a Hand Saw to Cut Plywood?

Can You Use a Hand Saw to Cut Plywood

Are you new to woodworking and finding ways to cut plywood like a pro? A handsaw or a panel saw is one of the most fundamental tools in woodworking used to cut various woods, including plywood.

A hand saw can cut a plywood clean and neat if done correctly. To build your woodcraft, make sure that you have a sharp hand saw with the ideal Teeth-per-inch. (TPI) For a neat and tidy cut, the ideal value should be at 4 to 7 TPI. Most of all, choose the right type of hand saw for your woodworking needs.

If you’d like to know more about cutting Plywood using a hand saw, feel free to read this guide. At the end of it, you’ll be equipped with the right knowledge about cutting Plywood with a hand saw.

How to Cut Plywood Using a Hand Saw for Woodworking?

There are proper ways of cutting plywood using a hand saw without breaking the back of it – which is a common problem for most woodworkers who just started woodworking. To make sure that you are cutting the plywood right, check out these three simple guidelines:


In cutting plywood straight, start by measuring the exact size that you want to cut and mark it. Then, use a cramp to clip the plywood on a table or chair, so that it becomes stable. When you have wavering plywood, the edges most likely won’t cut equally, or worse– it will splinter.


Plywoods have a thin built, so to get a clean job of cutting – it is all about finding the right angle. Never use a handsaw vertically because it would smash the back of the plywood. The secret is to go low or almost horizontal and cut along gently.


Put the blades of the handsaw over where you want to cut the plywood, then gently pull back and forth with no pressure. Until the hand saw has made a small cut into the plywood, slowly apply pressure in cutting through. As you go deeper in the middle, it gets a bit tighter; so you need that pressure to get through.

Maintain the smooth and accurate sawing motion. Always be aware if you’re cutting in the right direction at the right angle. Once the plywood is ready to break off, slow down to avoid cracking. Then, hold the piece that’s about to cut off to prevent the plywood from splitting off in fragments.


Sawdusts can cover the mark of your line, so it makes it tougher to cut through the plywood. When this happens, stop and remove the dust covering your guideline. Hold the handle of the saw firm, but relaxed. Holding it too tight or too loose may result in difficulty in moving the hand saw.

How to Cut Plywood Without Splintering or Tearout?

Can You Use a Hand Saw to Cut Plywood

Splintering or Tearout is the rough ragged edges that are the result of an improper way of cutting plywood. It is frustrating and looks terrible. Plus, it ruins the quality of your plywood.

So, how do you cut plywood without splintering? If you want to eliminate splintering and tear-outs, consider these simple things when using a hand saw:

  • Choose the Right Blade. Usually, blades with more teeth-per-inch (TPI) is what you need. Get a high-quality saw with at least a forty-tooth blade.
  • Cut at the Right Angle. As mentioned, don’t cut the plywood vertically. You should go as low as possible, and maintain the same angle all the time. 
  • Set the Blade with the Right Depth. Place your saw about 1 inch below the sheet if you’re about to cut plywood of about .75 inches thick.
  • Always Give Support the Whole Plywood. It is necessary to provide support on each side of the cut. It is to keep the Plywood steady and avoid snapping it at the end of the cut.
  • Place the Plywood with the Good Face Down. The teeth of the blade will enter the sheet from underneath the plywood and exit at the top. Doing this method ensures a smooth cutting surface.
  • Measure the Cutting Line Accurately. Measuring correctly will give you a better guide resulting in a smoother cut. As most woodworkers say; “Measure twice, cut once.”

How to Pick the Right Hand Saw?

Whether you are a professional tradesman, DIY enthusiasts, or a woodworker – you need a sharp and sturdy hand saw. It is a versatile tool that you can use for any indoor or outdoor projects. Choose the side saw with the following qualities.

  • The Right Teeth-Per-Inch. 

There are various types of hand saws that vary in teeth-per-inch or TPI. For a neat and tidy cut, choose a TPI that ranges from  4 to 7 teeth per inch. A lower TPI will give you faster work, but a rougher cut. So, if you want more excellent cuts, always choose a hand saw with more teeth or higher TPI.

  • Choose the Right Size. 

The size of a hand saw depends on the breadth of the blade. Usually, a short panel hand saw is 12 to 20 inches in length, which is the perfect size for better control in most woodworking tasks. Hand saws that are 24 to 30 inches long are generally for cabinet-making projects.

  • Pick the best type of hand saw for you. 

Choosing the right model depends on your woodworking project, and the type of cuts will you be making. You can see in the table below the different kinds of Hand Saws.

Rip Saw It’s a 26-inch long hand saw with teeth angled to the left, and they are not beveled. The rip saw cuts quickly so that it may leave a rough edge.
Crosscut Saw A slightly shorter saw than a Rip Saw with an approximate of 24-inches long. It has a broader blade with teeth angled straight up and has a beveled edge like a knife. It may cut slower, but it will give you a softer cut.
Back Saw It is perfect to use in both hard and soft plywoods. Also ideal for fine woodworking which gives precise cuts with a neat finish.
Coping Saw It has a thin blade with a u-shaped body that commonly for fine woodworking, or cutting joints.

Safety Tips for Using a Hand Saw

Wear goggles whenever you use a hand saw to prevent dust and chips from entering your eyes. Use a pair of protective gloves with thick, abrasion-resistant material on the palms and fingers. Always keep your fingers, hands, legs, or any part your boy away from the blade. A hand saw is not a toy, so always take precautions in using sharp tools.

What Is the Best Saw to Cut Plywood?

Best Saw to Cut Plywood

Hand Saws and Circular saws are the most common saws used to cut plywood. The first one is the best tool to split a hand saw if you’re only doing it for woodworking as a hobby – at least, based on my experience. 

It depends on your purpose. If you’re cutting multiple sheets of plywood for construction, using a hand saw is doable, but it will take more time.

In this case, you might want to shift to more advanced saws. If you’re working on a small woodworking project, then a hand saw is suitable for precise shapes and cutting.

Circular saws use electricity to function and more often used to cut large pieces of wood. They move quickly, so it’s perfect if you have to cut multiple sheets of plywood. A hand saw, on the other hand, will give you more control in reducing the plywood.


What are the other tools to Cut Plywood?

Aside from hand saw, you can use a table saw in cutting thin plywood. For thicker plywood, an angle grinder is your second best option next to circular saws. 

How will I Know Which Kind of Saw to Use?

As a rule of thumb, you should start with determining the thickness of the plywood. A circular saw or an angle grinder is more convenient to use for plywood that is over 4 inches thick. Use a table saw, or a hand saw for 4″ and below. Between a table saw and a hand saw, it depends on your preference. If you want better control, go to the latter one. If you want faster and efficiency, a table saw is a great choice. 

Can I Use a Jigsaw to Cut Plywood?

A jigsaw can also be an excellent tool in cutting plywood. It’s also efficient for straight or curved cuts. Additionally, a Jigsaw is also suitable for both thin or thick plywood.

Click here to learn how to cut plywood with a jigsaw.

Final Words

Using a hand saw to cut plywood is an excellent choice. It will give you more control and accuracy in cutting the wood. It prevents splintering for as long as you do the process right. Always pick the right type of hand saw, depending on the kind of work you’ll be doing.

The qualities of hand saw like the teeth-per-inch (TPI), the size, and durability are also crucial in getting the desired result in cutting the plywood. In the end, what you want to get is neat and clean-cut with a smooth edge.

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