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Plunge/Tracksaw for cutting plywood

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Blackswanwood

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I need to make some new workshop storage cabinets and am going to use plywood and pocket holes which ordinarily I regard to be the work of the devil.

I have a circular saw that I used for some oak framing but expect I will get a fair amount of splintering if I rely on that and a straight edge to break the boards down. If I use a plunge/tracksaw (which I can borrow) is it likely to give a cleaner cut? My assumption is that it will as the blade can be set to not protrude as deeply through the board Which effectively changes the angle of the cutting action?

From other posts on here I see that 18 mm BB grade Birch Baltic ply is the product to go for. Given I can paint them when constructed is there any reason why Baltic Birch is better than Q mark plywood?

Any advice will be welcome.
 

marcros

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my tracks gives a very clean edge. I dont know whether it is because of the angle of cutting, the zero clearance splinter guard or what, but the cut is very good.
 

Lons

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I think you'll find that a track saw will give a far superior finish. I have a Makita and can get a virtual splinter free cut on both sides if I use the setting to first run a 3mm cut then the second cut at full depth, Sounds fiddly but it isn't. Several members have praised the Aldi / Lidl saw which I have no experience of but worth some research. For years I resisted the urge to buy a track saw but now wish I'd got one a long time ago.

I have used birch ply several times and it's nice material though expensive but haven't compared it directly with other types.
 

AJB Temple

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A few things make a big difference.

A sharp, clean blade. Blades used for cutting man made boards can dull quite quickly.
Track in good nick - rubber edge not knackered.
Saw set to correct depth to just cut through enough (not miles too deep as you often see)
Cut into a sacrificial sheet below. This last point is crucial in my experience for the cleanest cuts.

I am sure Lons' 2 cut system works. But I just use one cut. In my case I am using a Mafell saw and track. Goes through like butter.
 

Trevanion

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I think some of it is to do with the complete rigidity of the track saw setup as well as the splinter guard strip. The saw goes along the rail perfectly, there's no wobble at all in the setup where the trailing edge of the blade can knick the work and take out chunks like when you're free-handing a regular circular saw
 

Lons

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I am sure Lons' 2 cut system works.
It isn't my method it's a built in feature of the Makita and quite likely other saws as well, you just push a button and it limits the cut to about 2 mm which effectively scores the top surface, release the button and make the full cut. I never cut through into sacrificial material as there's no need, both sides of the cut are excellent.
The first time I used it was on some oak veneered MDF and I couldn't believe how clean the cut was, as said a sharp blade and good rubber condition is important.
 

AJB Temple

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It isn't my method it's a built in feature of the Makita and quite likely other saws as well, you just push a button and it limits the cut to about 2 mm which effectively scores the top surface, release the button and make the full cut. I never cut through into sacrificial material as there's no need, both sides of the cut are excellent.
The first time I used it was on some oak veneered MDF and I couldn't believe how clean the cut was, as said a sharp blade and good rubber condition is important.
The Mafell has the scribe cut too Lons. I just find that I get a super clean cut anyway with very sharp blades. So I just do the one rail slide, not two. Even when I am wanting the highest quality on BB ply, I find sharp blade is key, and the board I am cutting needs to lie dead flat on my table so that the bottom of the cut is fully supported.
 

Lons

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Yes I use the scoring method automatically now even when there are times I probably don't need to, just habit I guess. I often don't have enough time to set up a perfectly flat full support table and cut on a couple of trestles withe temporary 4X2 support timbers.

My neighbour has a Titan track saw he got from Screwfix a couple of years ago and is currently cutting up 6mm birch ply to line his large shed but though it cuts very well he is getting a slight rag on the top surface. The ply cost him an arm and a leg, far to good for lining a shed IMO but each to his own. :)
 

RogerS

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It's all about the right blade for the material you're cutting. Check out this article, for instance. How Many Teeth to Cut Plywood - Circular Saw Showdown

The saw is pretty much irrelevant IMO. As is the rubber on a track being in good nick. Bear in mind that for a lot of people, blade longevity is important and so they might make a compromise choice as to blade. For my money, not being in the trade, I'd always go for the best blade I could get.
 

TheTiddles

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Zero splintering with a Mafell saw crosscutting birch ply, even on the small ones without the score function
Aidan
 

AJB Temple

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Doug71

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I have 28 and 48 tooth blades for my Festool tracksaw, the 28 tooth blade gets used for more or less everything. The 48 tooth can give a slightly better finish but it is slower, the finish from the 28 tooth is acceptable for most things..

I generally don't bother with a scribe cut but if you want to a good technique is to set the blade so it cuts just a few mill in to the material then make this first cut by pulling the saw towards you so it cuts backwards acting like the scribe blade on a panel saw.

I love my tracksaw, had it 10+ years and it still makes me smile every cut I make.
 
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maznaz

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I've got a Triton tracksaw that has the scoring function. Thus far I've not used it as by putting a piece of insulation foam under the workpiece and the track held firmly on top, I get a lovely cut both sides of the cut each time on plywood, mdf and 3cm cherry (so far).
 

DamoF

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I use a festool ts55 with tracks and it's perfect on plywood. You could also try using masking tape along the cut line, both sides and edges. Press it down nice and hard and mark your line again on the tape.I do this when cross cutting narrower pieces on the mitre saw and it works every time.
 

Blackswanwood

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Thanks everyone. I was loaned a Festool TS55 to try out - great piece of kit and the cuts were made very cleanly and with ease. I experimented with the scoring cut but found it wasn’t needed.

Boards now waiting as workshop build delayed to the end of this month though as brick manufacturer still working through Covid backlog!
 

DBT85

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Thanks everyone. I was loaned a Festool TS55 to try out - great piece of kit and the cuts were made very cleanly and with ease. I experimented with the scoring cut but found it wasn’t needed.

Boards now waiting as workshop build delayed to the end of this month though as brick manufacturer still working through Covid backlog!
I do not envy you doing it as the year rolls on and gets wetter and darker! I was fortunate enough to get the bulk of mine done in the lockdown and got a lovely tan in the process, but the rains since have made it much less fun doing the outside!

I'm only going to use hardwood ply for my cabinets. I love the look of the birch ply but its nearly double the price and not actually needed for workshop cabinets.
 

cookiemonster

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I bought the Lidl track saw for occasional use, pimped the blade and rubber strip as recommended by Peter Millard and now it cuts 18mm sheets like a dream. Personally I think Baltic Birch is OTT for a workshop but each to their own.
 

Blackswanwood

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I bought the Lidl track saw for occasional use, pimped the blade and rubber strip as recommended by Peter Millard and now it cuts 18mm sheets like a dream. Personally I think Baltic Birch is OTT for a workshop but each to their own.
I downgraded the ply to hardwood following earlier advice and saved half the price. I still think all plywood is the stuff of the devil though;)
 
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