trimming prefinished end panels

lam702October 7, 2013

We are refacing our cabinets and I have a question regarding cutting the end panels. We are applying prefinished 1/4 " end panels to the cabinets and need to cut the large one, which goes on the back of the penninsula. We have to trim it in height, taking off about 12" and it will be cut across the grain. Do you have any tips for cutting so it won't splinter? I was thinking of putting some painters tape along the cutting line, and cutting from the back side. Any other tips? These panels are expensive, so we don't want to screw it up. All the other panels are cut to fit from the manufacturer, but they don't precut the cross grain, I assume because it tends to splinter. So any suggestions would be much appreciated..

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Yeah, you can use painter's tape but always cut from the front, not the back. Cutting from the back increases the chance of a tearout. Be sure you're using a panel saw blade/plywood blade on your table saw. It should have a LOT of teeth. More teeth= finer cut. On really long cuts, be sure that the material is well supported with a work stand for the infeed and outfeed. Get some help to keep it flat and square against the fence and to keep the possibility of kickback to a minimum.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:08PM
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Thanks for the info. We also have to notch out a square on the bottom right for the baseboard heat pipe. (The baseboard is attached to the penninsula, complicating it further) The baseboard runs the length of the penninsula, except for about 5" or so. To notch it I guess we have to use a jigsaw? Is it better to try and use the jigsaw on the entire long cut too, or is that a bad idea? As I mentioned, the baseboard will cover up a bit, we plan to loosen the screws so we can pull the baseboard cover away from the penninsula a bit, we can then slip the panel in there, then screw the baseboard back on. So it will cover some small mistakes, hopefully. Or am I being overly optimistic? I know this panel will be the tricky one, the others are precut, thankfully.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Are you cutting with a table saw or a circular saw? If you're cutting with a table saw then GreenDesigns is correct - cut with the back on the surface on the table and, if possible, get a zero clearance insert for your saw (this will help a lot).

If you're cutting with a circular saw, you'll want to do the opposite - as circular saw blades spin "upwards" into the material, vs tablesaws the cut "downwards" into the material.

Either way get the finest blade possible - or double-stick tape a thin piece of material (1/4" ply) along the cut line if possible - to backup the fibers.

I'm unclear about the second question with the jigsaw, are you able to take a photo of the cut and the baseboard?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 4:04PM
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The path of the blade either a jigsaw or circular saw or table saw will determine which side will end up with tearing. There are some jigsaw blades that cut on the upward motion which means the top side will tearout rather than the bottom side. Circular saws also tend to cut upwards where the blade teeth enters from the bottom and exits at the top. The exit side of the teeth is where the tearout occurs.

Table saws you will want to have the good side facing up as the bottom side would likely tearout.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 4:10PM
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For circular saw blades either table or hand held I use an "ATB", alternating top bevel- 60 tooth for a 10" blade- circular saw a 40 tooth.
Set high- so the teeth strike the material down instead of pushing it forward. Older hi speed steel blades were set so that just the teeth stuck out (low) and a lot of folks mistakenly have carried that over to a carbide blades.
IF you feel you can cut accurately scoring the line carefully with a knife is close to full proof so long as you cut exactly to the line. Tape is close to useless.
As noted for table saw have good side up, handheld good side down. When I must use a handheld I use a homemeade jig.
Piece of masonite about 3 feet long and 18" wide to start ,
- mount a very straight piece of good 3/4" ply 2-1/2" wide, to the masonite about 2-3" in from the edge-screw from bottom, counter sink screws.
Then cut of the excess using the saw and blade you wish to use.
Now you can lay that down to the line you want to cut
Clamp it on that extra edge of masonite left to the side-make sure your saw clears the clamps
Score the line
And cut. The cut will be exactly along the edge and the masonite prevents tear out.

Notch- I'd score and use a circular saw but am practiced.
A saber saw- score get a fine cut down stroke blade.
Note down stroke blades tend to make the saw bounce so don't feed to quickly and have firm hold and good support.
Alternative is a sharp fine tooth hand saw- not a pll type, a western push type, score, go slow, let saw do the work and remember it cuts on the push only so lift slightly on the pull to avoid tear.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:09PM
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Secure the panel in place. Put a double flute 1/2" bearing cutter into a 3 1/4 h.p. router. Adjust the cutter so the bearing rides on the cabinet. Cut from left to right (backwards) about an inch in and stop, then cut the panel completely from right to left. There will be no tearout and the panel will fit perfectly.

You can cut the sides of the panel the same way at the same time with the same perfect results too.

This post was edited by Trebruchet on Tue, Oct 8, 13 at 0:45

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:41AM
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