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Choose the Best Circular-saw Blade for Plywood

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Q: 

I need a 7¼” blade to cut 4×8’ sheets of plywood for cabinets. What style of portable circular saw blade will give me the best performance and the least amount of splintering?
—Charles Brozek, Zion, Ill.

A:

Those basic 24-tooth blades that  come with many circular saws were meant for rough carpentry, Charles, not chip-free cuts in veneer plywood. For smoother cuts with less tear-out, move up to a 40-tooth blade. They cost only slightly more than those basic blades—we spent $15—but the resulting cut quality is worth the added price, as you can see above.

For even less tear-out, attach a zeroclearance base to the circular saw plate.But handle the saw carefully because the telescoping blade guard will not extend through the zero-clearance base to cover the spinning blade.

Like a zero-clearance insert on a tablesaw, this base keeps wood fibers along the edges of the cut from being pulled upward by the blade teeth. To make a zeroclearance base, cut a scrap piece of 14 " hardboard to match the size of the saw’s base plate. Then retract the saw blade above the base, and attach the zeroclearance plate using double-face tape (or screws, if the base has mounting holes). Make certain the edge of the insert on either side is flush with the base plate edge.

Rest the zero-clearance base on the edge of your workbench where the blade won’t cut the bench. Start the saw, and plunge the blade through the zero-clearance base to roughly the desired depth. Use the saw as you normally would, alone or with a straightedge.

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