What’s the best method for profile cutting veneered plywood without getting tearout? We asked, and you answered, in the first Shop Smart challenge presented by Woodworking Network.
Woodworking experts put their know-how to the test, providing 130 answers to the question. In a randomly selected drawing, Ben Aviram, VPDesign & Installation at Smart Closet Solutions, Brooklyn, NY, wins a $100 Visa gift card for supplying this winning answer:
Clamp on Scrap Pieces
“Assuming you need to cut a perfect contour with virtually no tearout, the best method is to clamp on scrap pieces to either side of the part you’re working on. This allows you to use a rip blade on your jigsaw for long, straight cuts. For more detailed work, use a scroll blade long enough to pass through the three layers you’ll be cutting through and set you jigsaw on high speed with zero pendulum.”
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Other notable responses:
Saw First in the Opposite Direction
“Make the first pass of your profile in the opposite direction with light pressure, then proceed in a forward direction, cutting to the full depth of the profile.” – Mike Flanagan, Full Circle Millwork
Use a Router Bit
“Using a double-helix router bit on profile pattern work will protect the top and bottom veneer from tearout. A shear twist bit works great for really only one side. Set up the station doing only half way through, and flipping over for the other side will do well.” – Gary Robinson, Robinson Woodworking
“Use a CNC or a router with a downward spiral router bit for such an application.” – David Silva, Absolute Renovations
Use a Double Chip Tooth Finish Blade
“Double cut it. Use a double chip tooth finish blade. Make the first pass on the off side of the sheet about 1/8 inch deep, flip the sheet and make a second pass of the same depth on the “A” side, then raise the blade and make the through cut.” – William Volker, Cinnabar FL Inc.
Make a Scoring Cut First
“I never have tearouts due to making a scoring cut first by setting the blade so that it cuts only 1mm into the material, and running the stock over the blade backwards (secured with a sled of course.)” – Andy Alberson, Epperman Inc.
“Score the cut line with a smaller blade before you pass the material through the bandsaw. There are table saws available with a smaller wheel to draw the line before the wood passes through the full cut.” –Nathan Lance, Heavin Woodworks
“If you’re cutting profile pieces that are straight and/or have angled or square corners, the work can be done on a saw with scoring capability. I have also been able to successfully cut veneer ply with a melamine blade.” Martin Foltz, Martin Foltz Cabinet & Millwork
Masking Tape & Other Cutting Tricks
“Put masking tape along the edge that the profile shape is to be cut on, then lead in from the opposite end of the cut just about an inch, then go back to the starting end and feed the part in the cutter in a forward direction. That’ll prevent blowout/tearout.” – Jared Spring, McCreary Modern Inc.
“The best method for profile cutting veneer plywood without getting tearout is to use spiral cutting tooling, especially a compression grind which gives a clean cut on the top and bottom.” – Alan Blough, RCF Corp.
“Route the end grain first, then the long grain. This will allow you to remove any end-grain tearout when you route the long grain.” – Jason Beres, Ohio CAT
“Set the blade depth to 1/16-inch and score before cutting all the way through.” – Scott Sullivan, Bella Systems – Custom Closets
“For end cuts, first cutting with a razor knife prevents one side from splintering. Mid-line cut tearout is minimized by using 2-inch masking tape pressed tightlight to the cut line.” – Walter Shelton, Shelton Engineering
“Score your profile on the veneer with a sheet rock knife, cut to line and sand.” – Chris Costea, Big C Construction
“I have always used a saber saw with a downward facing fine-toothed blade. I also applied masking tape to the underside of the cutting area, and with a slow steady feed, never had a tearout.” – Gene Trumble, Designer Cabinetry
“The best way to create a profile on veneer plywood is to climb cut with your router. This is taking little amounts off at a time instead of all at once.” – Alicia Yager, Yager Country Woodworking
“In the field I use masking tape on the lower side of the material being used and lower the blade to form a less blade angle. When I worked in production shops we used a sliding table saw with a scoring blade.” – Benny Mills, Top Quality Remodeling
“1. Use a scoring blade. 2. Use masking table. 3. Cut slowly. 4. Use a zero clearance insert. 5. Use a sharp plywood cutting blade.” – Brian Elliot, Elliot Wood
“I would use a CNC with a downcut bit and a sacrificial sheet underneath. If I had to use a handheld router, I would use an up/down compression spiral router bit. If there were fine details to cut, I would use thin painters tape on bot upper and lower surfaces, and make cuts on a variable speed scross saw with an up/down double-reverse blade with opposing teeth.” – Jean-marie Rondeau, Amik
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