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Choose the Best Circular-saw Blade for Plywood

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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.


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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