So you’ve got a stack of plywood sitting there, and now you’re wondering, “What hand saw should I use to cut plywood?” Well, you’re in luck! In this article, I’ll walk you through the best hand saw options for tackling that plywood project of yours.

Cutting plywood can be a breeze if you have the right tool in hand. And that’s exactly what we’re going to help you find. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just trying your hand at some home improvement, we’ve got you covered.

Get ready to unlock the secrets of plywood cutting as I reveal the top hand saws that will make your cutting experience smooth and efficient. So let’s dive in and find the perfect hand saw for the job!

what hand saw to cut plywood?

Choosing the Right Hand Saw for Cutting Plywood: A Comprehensive Guide

Cutting plywood requires precision and the right tools. While there are several types of hand saws available, not all of them are suitable for this specific task. In this article, we will explore the different hand saws and their features to help you determine which one is best suited for cutting plywood. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional woodworker, this guide will provide you with valuable insights to make an informed decision.

Key Factors to Consider

Before diving into the different types of hand saws, it’s important to consider a few key factors that will influence your decision. The type and thickness of the plywood, your cutting requirements, and your experience level all play a role in choosing the right hand saw. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors to help you make an informed choice.

Type of Plywood

The type of plywood you are working with will determine the type of hand saw you need. Plywood comes in various grades, including construction-grade, marine-grade, and hardwood plywood. Each type has different thicknesses and densities, which may require a specific type of blade and saw. It’s important to match the saw to the specific plywood you’re cutting to ensure clean and accurate cuts.

For thinner plywood, such as ¼-inch or ⅜-inch, a handsaw with fine teeth and a narrow blade will work well. However, for thicker and denser plywood, such as ¾-inch or 1-inch, a saw with larger teeth and a wider blade may be needed to cut through the material effectively.

Cutting Requirements

The nature of your cutting requirements will also influence the choice of hand saw. If you need to make straight cuts or crosscuts, a traditional hand saw with a rip or crosscut tooth configuration will suffice. However, if you need to make intricate or curved cuts, a coping saw or a keyhole saw with a narrow blade and fine teeth will be more suitable.

Consider the complexity of the cuts you need to make and choose a saw that provides the necessary flexibility and maneuverability. This will ensure that you can achieve the desired results without compromising on accuracy or quality.

Experience Level

Your experience level is another crucial factor to consider when selecting a hand saw. If you are a beginner or have limited experience in woodworking, opting for a saw that is easy to handle and control is advisable. A saw with a comfortable grip, lightweight design, and a blade that is easy to replace or sharpen would be ideal for beginners.

On the other hand, if you are an experienced woodworker or professional, you may prefer a saw that offers advanced features, such as adjustable blade angles or quick-release mechanisms. These features can enhance your cutting efficiency and provide greater precision for more complex projects.

The Different Types of Hand Saws for Cutting Plywood

Now that we’ve considered the key factors, let’s explore the different types of hand saws commonly used for cutting plywood. Each saw has its own unique features, blade configuration, and cutting capabilities. Understanding these differences will help you determine which type of hand saw is best suited to your specific needs.

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1. Crosscut Saw

The crosscut saw is designed specifically for cutting across the grain of the wood. It features finely spaced teeth that are angled to create a shearing action, resulting in clean and precise cuts. Crosscut saws are ideal for making smooth and accurate cuts on plywood without causing splintering.

These saws typically have 10 to 12 teeth per inch (TPI), making them suitable for cutting through plywood of varying thicknesses. They come in different lengths, with longer saws providing greater cutting efficiency and shorter saws offering more control when making intricate cuts.

One popular type of crosscut saw is the Japanese pull saw, which has a thin, flexible blade with impulse-hardened teeth. The pull stroke action of this saw allows for greater control and produces minimal tear-out on the plywood’s surface.

2. Rip Saw

The rip saw is designed for cutting along the grain of the wood, making it suitable for splitting and shaping plywood. It features larger teeth, with fewer teeth per inch (TPI) compared to crosscut saws, allowing for efficient removal of material.

Rip saws typically have 4 to 7 TPI, making them ideal for cutting through thicker plywood. The aggressive tooth configuration and the forward rake angle of rip saws enable them to efficiently cut through the fibers without binding or causing excessive tear-out.

While rip saws can be used for cutting plywood, they may not provide the smoothest finish. If you need a cleaner cut or plan to work on fine woodworking projects, using a crosscut saw would be more appropriate.

3. Coping Saw

The coping saw is a versatile handsaw that is commonly used for making intricate or curved cuts in plywood. It features a narrow, thin blade stretched across a U-shaped frame, allowing for easy maneuverability and tight-turn cutting.

Coping saws usually have fine teeth, ranging from 12 to 20 TPI. The fine teeth, combined with the narrow blade, ensure precise cutting and minimal wastage of material. These saws are particularly useful in woodworking projects that involve making intricate patterns or detailed cuts.

4. Keyhole Saw

The keyhole saw, also known as a drywall saw or jab saw, is designed for cutting small, rough openings in plywood. It features a narrow, pointed blade with large teeth and a tapered tip, allowing for easy entry into the material.

Keyhole saws typically have 6 to 8 TPI and are ideal for making plunge cuts or starting holes in plywood. They are often used in carpentry and construction projects, especially when working with materials like plywood for house framing or installation.

5. Dovetail Saw

The dovetail saw is a specialized hand saw that is commonly used in woodworking for cutting precise joints, such as dovetail joints. It features a narrow blade with fine teeth, allowing for clean and accurate cuts with minimal tear-out.

Dovetail saws typically have 14 to 20 TPI and are known for their ability to cut with precision and control. While they are not specifically designed for cutting plywood, they can be used for making dovetail joints in plywood if needed.

6. Flush-Cut Saw

The flush-cut saw, also known as a pull saw or double-edge saw, is designed for cutting flush with the surface of a material. It features a flexible blade with fine teeth, allowing for precise cutting in tight spaces or close to edges.

Flush-cut saws are often used in woodworking projects that require trimming dowels, cutting off excess material, or removing protruding plugs. While they may not be the primary choice for cutting plywood, they can be useful for trimming and refining the edges of plywood boards.

7. Backsaw

The backsaw, also known as a tenon saw, is a specialized hand saw with a stiffened back and a reinforced handle. It is designed for making precise, straight cuts in woodworking, including cutting plywood for furniture or cabinetry.

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Backsaws have fine teeth, usually ranging from 12 to 16 TPI. The stiff back provides stability and prevents the blade from bending during cutting, resulting in accurate and controlled cuts. The reinforced handle allows for a firm grip, ensuring stability and reducing the risk of slips or accidents.

Comparing Hand Saws for Cutting Plywood: A Handy Chart

Saw Type Teeth Per Inch (TPI) Blade Length Best For
Crosscut Saw 10-12 TPI 12-26 inches Making clean, precise cuts across the grain of plywood
Rip Saw 4-7 TPI 12-28 inches Cutting with the grain of plywood and shaping materials
Coping Saw 12-20 TPI 5-8 inches Making intricate or curved cuts in plywood
Keyhole Saw 6-8 TPI 5-12 inches Starting holes or making rough openings in plywood
Dovetail Saw 14-20 TPI 6-10 inches Cutting precise joints, such as dovetail joints in plywood
Flush-Cut Saw 18-20 TPI 6-12 inches Trimming and refining edges of plywood boards
Backsaw 12-16 TPI 10-14 inches Making precise, straight cuts in plywood for furniture or cabinetry

Choosing the Right Hand Saw for Cutting Plywood: Tips and Recommendations

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of hand saws for cutting plywood, here are some additional tips and recommendations to help you make the right choice:

  • Consider the thickness and density of the plywood when choosing a hand saw. Thicker plywood may require a saw with larger teeth and a wider blade for effective cutting.
  • Always use a sharp and properly maintained saw for the best cutting results. Dull or damaged teeth can lead to splintering and inaccurate cuts.
  • Take into account the size and weight of the saw. A lightweight and well-balanced saw will be easier to handle and maneuver for extended periods of cutting.
  • If you are unsure about which hand saw to choose, consult with an experienced woodworker or seek advice from knowledgeable professionals at your local hardware store.
  • Invest in quality hand saws that are specifically designed for cutting plywood. While they may be slightly more expensive, they will provide better cutting performance, durability, and longevity.

By considering these tips and recommendations, you can confidently select the right hand saw for cutting plywood based on your specific needs and requirements.


Choosing the right hand saw for cutting plywood is essential for achieving clean, accurate, and professional-looking cuts. By considering the type of plywood, your cutting requirements, and your experience level, you can determine which hand saw is best suited for the task at hand. Whether it’s a crosscut saw for smooth cuts or a coping saw for intricate designs, each type of hand saw has its own unique features and advantages for cutting plywood. Remember to prioritize safety, maintain your tools, and seek expert advice when needed. With the right hand saw in hand, you can tackle any plywood cutting project with confidence and precision.

What Hand Saw to Cut Plywood?

  • Choose a crosscut saw with fine teeth for cleaner cuts on plywood.
  • Consider a backsaw with a miter box for more accurate and precise cuts.
  • Use a panel saw with a rip tooth pattern for cutting plywood along the grain.
  • A Japanese pull saw can be a versatile option for cutting plywood due to its flexibility.
  • Ensure your hand saw is sharp and properly maintained for efficient cutting.

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to cutting plywood, choosing the right hand saw is crucial for achieving accurate and clean cuts. Here are some commonly asked questions about selecting the appropriate hand saw for cutting plywood.

1. What type of hand saw is best for cutting plywood?

For cutting plywood, the best hand saw to use is a crosscut saw. Crosscut saws have a fine-toothed edge that cuts across the wood grain, resulting in smooth and clean cuts. They are specifically designed for cutting plywood, as well as other types of wood. Look for a crosscut saw with at least 10 to 12 teeth per inch for the best results.

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Alternatively, you can also use a panel saw, which is specifically designed for cutting large panels like plywood. Panel saws have a slightly larger tooth size and can make quick work of cutting plywood sheets. Whichever saw you choose, make sure it is sharp and properly maintained for optimal performance.

2. Can I use a rip saw to cut plywood?

While rip saws are great for cutting wood along the grain, they are not the ideal choice for cutting plywood. Plywood has layers of alternating grain orientations, and using a rip saw can cause the wood to splinter or tear. The large teeth of a rip saw are designed to quickly remove material when cutting along the grain, but they can be too aggressive for plywood.

If you only have a rip saw available, you can still use it to cut plywood by taking extra precautions. First, mark your cut line clearly to ensure accuracy. Then, make multiple shallow passes with the saw, gradually increasing the depth with each pass. This will help minimize splintering and produce cleaner cuts.

3. How can I prevent splintering when cutting plywood with a hand saw?

To prevent splintering when cutting plywood with a hand saw, there are a few tips you can follow. Firstly, always make sure your hand saw is sharp and in good condition. A dull saw blade can tear and splinter the wood. Secondly, mark your cut line clearly and use a straightedge or a guide to help you make straight cuts.

Another effective method is to score the plywood along the cut line before making the full cut. This can be done by running a utility knife or a sharp blade along the cut line, creating a shallow groove. This scoring weakens the wood fibers along the cut line and helps to prevent splintering. Remember to take your time and apply gentle, steady pressure when cutting to minimize any potential splintering.

4. Are there any safety precautions I should take when cutting plywood with a hand saw?

Yes, it is important to take safety precautions when cutting plywood with a hand saw. Always wear protective eyewear to protect your eyes from any flying wood particles or splinters. Additionally, wearing gloves can help provide a better grip on the saw and reduce the risk of accidents.

When cutting the plywood, ensure it is properly supported and secured to prevent it from moving or slipping. Use clamps or a workbench to hold the plywood firmly in place. Finally, take your time and use controlled, smooth strokes when cutting to maintain control of the saw and reduce the risk of injuries.

5. Can I use an electric saw instead of a hand saw to cut plywood?

Absolutely! While hand saws provide great control and precision, using an electric saw like a circular saw or a jigsaw can make cutting plywood even easier and faster. Electric saws are especially useful when cutting large sheets of plywood or making angled cuts.

Just be sure to use the appropriate blade for cutting plywood with an electric saw, as different blades are designed for different types of cuts and materials. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines when operating electric saws, and remember to wear safety goggles and other protective gear.

what hand saw to cut plywood? 2

How to CUT PLYWOOD With A Handsaw on a Budget


Cutting plywood can be done with a hand saw, specifically a crosscut saw or a rip saw. A crosscut saw is best for making smooth cuts across the grain, while a rip saw is ideal for cutting along the grain. It’s important to choose the right saw and use the correct cutting technique for the best results.

When using a hand saw to cut plywood, remember to mark your cut line accurately and use a guide to ensure straight cuts. Take your time, use steady strokes, and let the saw do the work. With the right saw and technique, you can easily cut plywood with a hand saw.

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