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Forum topic by James posted 02-04-2014 09:54 PM 4588 views 0 times favorited 42 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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154 posts in 3004 days

02-04-2014 09:54 PM

I’m building a router table for my incra. I stopped by Home Depot to get a sheet of Birch. I figured it would be easier for them to cut my list (3 pieces) on their panel saw.

Question: How do you have a multi-thousand dollar panel saw that doesn’t cut straight?! Two pieces (first and third) had ONE 90 corner. They were all off by almost 3! I had to recut them all again destroying my original plans.
To give a better idea, an 8’ rip cut would have been off by almost 3/4”!!!

Do it yourself friends!

-- James - Semper Fi

42 replies so far

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 3014 days

#1 posted 02-04-2014 10:01 PM

I once had them cut a sheet for me. Before they started I noticed a LOT of saw dust built up in board rest (holder, whatever) I asked the guy to brush it out. His response was “wonder if that is why things aren’t square?”

My cuts were square.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6484 posts in 4030 days

#2 posted 02-04-2014 10:18 PM

The big box stores have never been my favorite place to find plywood. They usually don’t have the top grade cabinet plywoods. I prefer Mr. Plywood, or specialty building stores.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Ocelot's profile


3354 posts in 3855 days

#3 posted 02-04-2014 10:21 PM

There usually is a sign which says “no precision cuts”. They are mostly set up to whack something in two so it will fit in your car.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View darthford's profile


774 posts in 3141 days

#4 posted 02-04-2014 11:00 PM

I expect at best rough cut to size though 3/4 off does seem extreme. Given the low quality of their sheet goods expecting any corner to be square is overly optimistic. Just plan on milling the thing square yourself, in fact plan on not even buying their sheet goods in the first place. Another issue I have seen is the sheets are not of uniform thickness, typically the edges are thinner than the middle of the sheet. Plus there tends to be lots of voids when you cut into them.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4188 days

#5 posted 02-04-2014 11:23 PM

I tried to get a piece cut the other day.
I’m moving and building a new shop and all my tools are in storage so I asked to get a 24 by 48 sheet of MDF cut down to 23×48.
HD guy says we’re not supposed to cut anything less than 12”.
Okay, you keep the drop and I just want the 23×48. That’s all bigger than 12”.
He looks around for several minutes and finally says well ok.
He got about 4” into the cut and he had the thing so out of alignment it was smoking like a freight train.
Then the breaker kicked out.
He looked at the smoking sheet of MDF with the diagonal sideways cut and says, I’ll keep this one you just go get a new one. I won’t be able to cut it for you though.
No shit Sherlock.

View Armandhammer's profile


235 posts in 2842 days

#6 posted 02-04-2014 11:26 PM

Sadly some of us have no other option. Lowes or Home Depot or nothing.

View Danpaddles's profile


588 posts in 3528 days

#7 posted 02-04-2014 11:46 PM

Get them to cut it oversize, take it home and fix it. Or get some nice racks on your car, do it all yourself.

Even factory edges are not always true.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View bondogaposis's profile


6029 posts in 3568 days

#8 posted 02-04-2014 11:49 PM

Never trust anyone else to make your cuts except in the very general roughing sense.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


10275 posts in 3626 days

#9 posted 02-04-2014 11:59 PM

I am amazed you found the guy to cut the plywood they always seem to teleport to the 9th Realm when anyone wants something done or a question asked.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 3654 days

#10 posted 02-05-2014 12:01 AM

Those saws in HD/Lowes might have been accurate when they were first installed, but do you really think they keep them tuned for accuracy? One bump from a forklift or cart full of lumber and it’s out of whack and will remain so. This was one of the main reasons precision cuts were not guaranteed. Pretty much the only maintenance that was done when I worked at HD were blade changes and checks of the safety features. If the saw broke, it might get retuned by the people that repaired it, but I never saw it happen.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View shampeon's profile


2167 posts in 3400 days

#11 posted 02-05-2014 12:09 AM

If anyone in San Francisco is thinking about picking up some plywood at Lowes or HD, go to Discount Builders Supply at Mission & Duboce instead. They have a panel saw and know how to cut square sheet goods, and price is about the same. I think they charge a buck a cut.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 4103 days

#12 posted 02-05-2014 12:43 AM

Drives me crazy how the guy behind the saw pulls the thing as fast as he can causing the most amount of chipout damage. If they just cut a bit slower it would be much better.

View basswood's profile


264 posts in 2837 days

#13 posted 02-05-2014 12:55 AM

You can get good Columbia—made in USA—plywood at Home Depot. The C-3 Pure Bond they stock is okay, but you can special order all sorts of good Columbia stuff:


View basswood's profile


264 posts in 2837 days

#14 posted 02-05-2014 12:58 AM

3/4” off in 96” is less than a 1% error! ;)


View James's profile


154 posts in 3004 days

#15 posted 02-05-2014 01:03 AM

It looks like everyone has to learn this themselves. I ASSUMED that a huge panel saw would be set up correctly but there was a good point about incidental collisions with the teenagers. For the money, I like their birch pure bond. It was $45 and they give military discounts.

Lesson learned guys.

-- James - Semper Fi

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