Tips or Tricks for ripping full sheets of plywood

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Forum topic by AAANDRRREW posted 01-03-2017 02:31 PM 1664 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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217 posts in 1781 days

01-03-2017 02:31 PM

Hi All,

I recently built a very nice outfeed table to aid myself when cutting large pieces, specifically ripping full 4×8 sheets of MDF and plywood.

I am wondering if I’m missing something though – my friends all make it sound so damn simple, but I’m having trouble still with ripping full sheets – I get everything all lined up, but I have trouble keeping the piece flush to the fence for the first 1-2’. I know if I had an infeed table as well as help that’d be beneficial, but I usually solo when doing this. Would something like a featherboard or similar help? Once I’m past the 1-2’ mark I can easily keep it along the fence, its just when I start off. I am positioned on the opposite side of the piece at the corner so I can attempt to keep it against the fence as I feed it.

I’m thinking a roller stand might be of assistance.

13 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117909 posts in 4185 days

#1 posted 01-03-2017 02:51 PM

It depends on what kind of space you have and what kind of fence and saw and fence you have.Table saws with smaller tops and not so rigid fences somethings makes it all but impossible, To cut full sheets Some people have infeed table or extendable side support making it easier to hold the heavy material. Your approach standing at the outside corner is what I’ve used for 30 years. Some folks have a panel saw or track saw to do the initial breakdown of full sheets of ply.


View AAANDRRREW's profile


217 posts in 1781 days

#2 posted 01-03-2017 03:07 PM

I have the Delta 36-725, so although not as large as some saws, its not a contractor saw on a folding stand.

The fence is pretty large and good quality considering the price point of the saw. I feel like I’m good with side support, its in the beginning, so little is against the fence and the potential to have it move is large… I may have to consider a small infeed table. I don’t have much room left for another table, but I wouldn’t need much at all really to make this easier…

View jmartel's profile


8697 posts in 2758 days

#3 posted 01-03-2017 03:12 PM

Get a circular saw if you don’t have one and make a panel ripping jig. Trying to rip down full sheets of plywood on the tablesaw without big in and outfeed tables can be dangerous and not very accurate. You can cut slightly oversized if you want and then do the final sizing rip on the tablesaw with a smaller piece that is easier to maneuver.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View AAANDRRREW's profile


217 posts in 1781 days

#4 posted 01-03-2017 03:16 PM

I do have one, but I’ll be honest, I’m lazy and would like to use my table saw haha.

I even have the big kreg circular saw guide. I can get away with 1/2 ply, but anything with the word MDF or 3/4 and I struggle, plus I’ve had recent lower back issues, so maybe I should just be smarter about it…

I did see some 2×4 infeed supports that just fit over the fence rail – I’m sure that would help things, but not sure how I feel about using my fence rail as structural support…

View a1Jim's profile


117909 posts in 4185 days

#5 posted 01-03-2017 03:16 PM

View bonesbr549's profile


1588 posts in 3675 days

#6 posted 01-03-2017 03:19 PM

Before I got my TS55 track saw, I used porter cable Circlular saw with a forrest WWII 7 1/4” blade and a 2” thick 4×8 piece of solid foam (at any big box store) layed on the floor with a strait edge. I liked the PC because it had a good solid base and it had a nice fixed distance from the edge of the base to the blade. That made setting the strait edge easy.

That worked well. I have the festool tracksaw now so its a piece of cake to break down ply. I still use the foam.

I agree hossing a big piece of ply on the TS is not cool without help and even then don’t like it. I always break down from 4×8 or 5×10 and then use the TS.

I’ve had that same piece of foam for 4 years now. If you don’t have the extra to waste to break it down first then go to TS to clean it up. The Forrest 7 1/4” blade and a good CS is the way to go. Tracksaw the best but not cheap. (and don’t get a cheap imitation).

Good luck.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View a1Jim's profile


117909 posts in 4185 days

#7 posted 01-03-2017 03:23 PM

I’ve seen this kind of tilt up in feed made out of wood,this would make it a lot easier.

scroll down on this link


View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1528 days

#8 posted 01-03-2017 03:25 PM


My workbench located on the infeed side of the table saw is a great aid when ripping full sized sheets of plywood. Roller stands can be a bit unstable. I would think a small roll around work table could offer more stable support.

Since you are only having problems with the first few inches of the cut, perhaps an auxiliary fence that extends beyond the infeed edge of the table saw could be useful. The extra infeed length of the fence could then be used to get the plywood moving straight before it engages the blade.

Whenever possible, I like to cut plywood a little wider than the final dimension. That way, if the plywood departs from the fence during the cut, I have some extra material that can be trimmed away after the plywood is easier to handle. It also allows me to cut away the factory edge.

View a1Jim's profile


117909 posts in 4185 days

#9 posted 01-03-2017 03:35 PM

Here’s a tilt up infeed that would work very well.


View lndfilwiz's profile


114 posts in 2209 days

#10 posted 01-03-2017 03:59 PM

It cuts up to 24” wide but I have made jigs to use with the guide to cut 48” wide material

-- Smile, it makes people wander what you are up to.

View lumberjuniorvarsity's profile


89 posts in 1503 days

#11 posted 01-03-2017 04:35 PM

I am wondering if I m missing something though – my friends all make it sound so damn simple, but I m having trouble still with ripping full sheets

I m thinking a roller stand might be of assistance.


Ha ha. Yep, a person can make anything ‘sound’ simple, but actually doing it is another story. I’m just an amateur, but FWIW, I think it just takes practice. Others have said that cutting it oversize and then handling a smaller piece for a more precise cut – I’ll second that. I’ve also found that while not optimal, a roller stand does help bear the weight of the sheet so I can focus more on making the piece flush with the fence.

You also mention using the Kreg circular saw guide. I started out using that and found that using a straight edge yields MUCH better results. With the Kreg guide, t’s just too easy to push on the guide in just the wrong way and get a crooked cut. When you have a single piece of straight edge (metal or MDF) that’s properly clamped down you can get much better results.

View AAANDRRREW's profile


217 posts in 1781 days

#12 posted 01-03-2017 04:39 PM

completely agree with you JV – clamping a guide does work much easier – pushing the saw against it is easier than “pulling” the saw and guide along the edge. I got the kreg jig and used it a few times, but again, I’m lazy and digging it out and setting it up is just annoying. :)

View Redoak49's profile


4355 posts in 2597 days

#13 posted 01-03-2017 04:49 PM

When I was younger, putting a full sheet of plywood on the cabinet saw was not easy. Now that I am older, it is not possible. When I was younger I would have my wife help and it is not easy moving such a large piece accurately on the saw.

Initially, I used an aluminum guide and circular saw short saw horses with 2×4. Now I use the Festool TS55 and it is the best for me. It cuts incredibly accurate.

Using the sheet of 2” foam board is great. But for me and my back like to work higher off the ground.

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