Need suggestion on saw for trimming plywood very carefully

I’ve made a painting on a piece of 1/8" plywood, and I need to trim the edges down to size in advance of framing. I have to cut about 2" off three of the sides, and about 12" off the fourth. Because of the painting, I need to do this carefully so that I don’t cause chipping. I assume a hand saw of some sort will be the most suitable, but it’s not a set of tools I have much experience with.

Suggestions of tools I should look into?

Blue tape and a finishing blade on the table saw would probably be the best bet (finishing blade for SawStop is in the drawer to the left of the miter saw at hip/belly level). I would say laser as well but would depend on the size and definitely be something where you would want air assist to prevent smoke ruining the painting. The smoke potential kinda scares me away from strongly suggesting the laser.

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While not a practical solution immediately, a camera mounted in Tarkin’s lid would allow you to accurately trace vectors from your art to guide your cut. Check it out:

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You might also try a track saw. If you taped the track, or if the painting is dry enough, putting the track down, and sliding the saw across it would prevent having to slide the painting on a surface. I believe the stock blade on a track saw is also a nice finish cut.

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I second the vote for using a track saw. I have one and a new plywood blade for it. Just let me know when you’d like to meet.

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if you want to be super duper careful, you may want to first heavily score the fibers of the outer layers of plywood with a knife, especially along the sides where you’ll be crosscutting those outer layers.


Laser cutter? Is it larger than Red’s 2’x4’ bed? If it fits in Red, that is easily the cleanest way to trim an 1/8" piece of plywood with no chance of splintering.

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Note that I may be weird in the shop in thinking of Red as my favorite saw. :slight_smile: But I do a lot of cutting down plywood using Red instead of table saw or other tools. I even use it to cut dowel rods to precise lengths. Anything up to 1/4" is dead easy, and sometimes Red will handle 1/2" (takes some practice and knowing your wood really well).

Raw size is 24”x46”. But I have no idea what the plywood is made from. So thanks @Stephen-L-M for the suggestion, but I’m hesitant on the laser for this task. But I like the idea generally, so I’ll have to get myself back up to speed on the lasers once we get all settled in the new space.

@JennChilds - I’ll take you up on your offer for help with your track saw. I have to get it varnished first, and I’ll let it sit for at least a week after so everything is cured up before we make cuts.

Here is the painting.


Is it wood? We’ve never found any plywood that is problematic for laser cutting. And it sure looks like Revolution Ply – that background pattern is very distinctive. But I thought Revolution only came in 1/4" thicknesses. If you’ve found 1/8" thickness, I’m very interested.

Tarkin is 1.6 meters by 1.0 meter so you could saw a lot. Flatness may be an issue on something large

I opted to visit the framer in advance of any work, and their primary goal is that I get it to be flat. So I’m going to build a backing cradle first, glue everything together, and only then trim it down to size (including the backing).

@Stephen-L-M - I measured the edge, and it is a bit shy of 3/16” (previous stated measurement was just me guesstimating). Also I got this for free, so no idea on source.

Also @Stephen-L-M a closeup for you

You could also sandwich it between sacrificial boards. Then the tear out would be mostly on the bottom board. Make sure the zero clearance insert does not have two big a gap around the sawblade. The tear out It’s mostly when cutting across the grain. If the grain is loose, sometimes even the tape will peel it off. If you use the saw stop, a larger number of sharp teeth will help your cut, 80 or so teeth. If you’re going to finish the wood With something like lacquer or polyurethane It might help to finish it before you make your cut and let it dry completely. The finish may help hold the whole the grain to the plywood.

Well, Tarkin will actually do this pretty easily. It’s doing straight cuts through 1/2" plywood, single-pas. The edges are black on the cheap plywood sample I tried. 3/16" is just butter.

It’s a bit much to employ a superlaser to cut a plywood rectangle, but this sounds pretty neat!