Author Options:

I'm cutting a piece of finished one-side plywood on a table saw, which side goes up rough or finished? Answered


Just FYI Your table saw SHOULD have a riving blade just behind the saw blade to ensure the saw kerf stays open and the wood does not grab the blade. In addition it should have a cap over the blade set to just clear the top of the wood your cutting.

The cutting guide should be set to allow the wider part of the wood through rather than the thinner - that way your have plenty of room to use a push stick to keep the wood in line and under control.

All these things have been developed to prevent or minimise the possibility that the saw blade can grab the wood and lift it up onto the top of the blade - this will then throw the wood at you at GREAT SPEED - It hurts (don't ask I did know better)-

A lot of not most home saws don't have these fixtures but they are not hard to make.

A feather board is also a useful accessory (look it up)

Have fun but take care.


7 years ago

On a table saw, the finished side goes up.

Seconded -- you want the teeth chopping 'downwards' into the good side, the bottom 'bad' side will have the teeth come from 'inside' the wood towards outside, this will chip the edge.


In addition to what Burf and frollard said, I'd suggest setting the blade height to barely higher than the material. the less blade that protrudes, the less damage. I learned that from cutting plexi/lexan.

I thought otherwise; for lexan, definitely, then each cut is one long continuous shave of material. On wood, where the material is much softer than the blade (less likely to chip/explode) then you want the blade as high as possible so the incidence angle of the cutting edge is perpendicular to the material...probably doesn't make a huge difference for plywood.

Hmm... I'll have to give that some thought. I've found it more effective to keep the penetration to a minimum, both with lexan, and after I discovered that trick to minimize chipping in the plastic, with plywood. but I get where you're coming from. Maybe the perceived cut quality was just that perceived rather than actual and coincidental in nature. I haven't tried an "experiment" using both methods side by side yet, so perhaps I was being hasty.

. Please let us know the results of your experiment. Like frollard, it seems, in my head, that a higher blade would result in less damage - a low blade would be taking a much bigger bite and tend to push (with much force) the material about to be cut. It would be interesting to find out what the real answer is.
. I should have paid more attention in shop class. :)

lol, no, I'm far too poor and far too tasked with my "real" work to do any such experiment right now. But if "boon" ever comes my way again, I'll do that.

Indeed. I was taught that the blade should always be set just higher than the material - the idea being to minimize the "reeentry wound" caused by the spaces between the teeth of the blade, as well as to prevent binding and to have less exposed blade for safety reasons. Never done a side-by-side, though.

This is my first venture into a message board. I am shocked by all of the thoughtful answers. You folks are great. Thanks, Bill -

Finish side up - You may get a cleaner cut if you stick a strip of masking tape along the cut line on the finished side to minimise the risk of splintering.

Cut through the masking tape.