I am making a control panel out of wood, and I need to cut out a small 3" x 3" square hole in 1/2" plywood. I only have a small handsaw, with a wide blade. (about 2" wide) I don't feel comfortable using power tools for cutting, (*Jigsaws, reciprocating saws, band saws, etc.) so that is not an option. If I even cut this with my saw, how should I do it?

I also included a simple diagram of what it should look like. Diagram

  • What type of wood, and how thick is it?
    – Nate S.
    Aug 5, 2020 at 21:45
  • 1/2in Plywood is the type and thickness I'm using Aug 5, 2020 at 21:52

2 Answers 2


You're not going to be able to reasonably cut the square out with your hand saw. You'd have to scrape through the wood instead of cutting it.

Pick up or rent a coping saw and a hand drill (See saw below). Drill a hole in the four corners, remove the blade from the saw and run it through a hole, hook it back up and saw away.

enter image description here

  • 2
    This is absolutely the way to do it with hand tools. Do be aware, however, that the super narrow blade of a coping saw is designed to cut curves and it's going to want to wander. If you need this to be a nice, neat, straight line, cut just inside the line (so your cutout is 1-2mm smaller than you need), then using a file and/or sandpaper, finish it off to the line to get it nice and straight. If it doesn't need to be super straight, just cut to the line.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 5, 2020 at 22:43

Let me suggest a "Japanese" style pull saw. These are available in many sizes and are able to do both plunge cuts into your workpiece as well as cut right into a square corner.

Something like this:

Pull Saws

These are on the high-end but you can find similar saws at most home centers and hardware stores. They are very useful!

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