Using Sacrificial Foam Board To Break Down Sheet Goods

By Robert Robillard on Workshop tips

Breaking Down Plywood With A Track Saw and Sacrificial Foamboard

Ripping full sheets of plywood safely and accurately on the table saw can be a challenging balancing act, especially if you’re alone. Trying to hold a 60 lb. piece of plywood flat on a table saw while pushing it through the saw blade and trying to keep it tight to the fence is not nearly as accurate as you’d think.

There is no argument that circular saw, panel saw or a track saw make this task easier and more effective.

I want to talk about using sacrificial rigid foamboards to support the sheet of plywood while making rips or crosscuts.  It’s a safe, effective and accurate method to break down panel goods wither on a bench, sawhorses or the ground.

Set your blade to cut completely through the plywood approximately 1/8 – 1/4 inch and make your cut one pass. The blade will cut into the foam board and not damage anything below it.

The foam board is light and supports plywood fully. (whether on the ground, bench, or saw horses) It protects my workbench surface from saw kerfs and the best part lets me cut through the plywood filly creating a tear-free rip cut.

The foam board costs around $45 a sheet,  is reusable and if stored properly should last you a long time.

I purchased two 1-1/2” 2×4 foam boards and taped the long, vertical seam together with duct tape to create one 4×8 sheet with a hinge. Then I cut the foam board down the middle to create two 4×4 components. This lets me rip smaller parts without having to set up the full-size 4×8 foam board. I duct-taped all the edges of the foam boards to protect them better during storage.

The foam boards store flat against the shop wall and take up very little space and my tabletop is protected when breaking down sheet goods.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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