Custom Mahogany Kitchen Build, Part 2: Breaking Down Plywood

This is the second post in a series documenting my method of construction for an entire set of custom kitchen cabinets. This series is not intended to be a full how-to tutorial, but rather to show the sequence of steps using photos and commentary. You can find all the posts in the series here. Please comment below or send follow-up questions to 


I now need to break down part of the stack of 18mm plywood into the approximate sizes for the cabinet sides, tops and bottoms. For that I use my Festool TS 55 track saw. This saw makes a perfectly straight cut along any length of track and produces very little dust when connected to a vacuum. It also leaves a splinter-free edge along both the kept piece and the drop piece. A 28-tooth blade makes quick work of these cuts.

It is not difficult to create a homemade version of a tracksaw, but the combination of straightness, safety, dust collection, and quality of cut will not compare with a setup like this.

I own 3 tracks for this saw, one 1900mm (75”) and two 1400mm (55”) lengtsh. Since this plywood is 48” x 96” a single rail is not long enough. To connect two rails together I fabricated a pair of steel connectors shown here. 

These connectors work by sliding into the track slots on both rails. When the set screws are tightened, the steel bars separate, locking the tracks in place. I believe this is a superior design to the expensive connectors made by Festool because the fasteners do not press into the track damaging the aluminum. They are very simple and cheap to make.

Here I use my third track as a straightedge to align the two tracks that are to be connected.

The connectors separate when the set screws are tightened, locking the tracks in perfect alignment. 

This is the double length of track laid down along the length of an 8-foot long sheet of plywood. 

Previously, I have spent way too much time figuring out how to most efficiently break down these sheets to create as little waste as I could. This time I used a free online program called Optimalon that I was very impressed with. It is intuitive and without any instructions or glitches I was able to input all the panels that I needed and have it calculate the most efficient set of cuts to make. Below is a screenshot of the first panel layout. 

Here are the stacks of lower cabinet parts separated into sides and tops/bottoms and labeled with the final dimension (in millimeters) they will be cut to. 

Next I will size these panels exactly using both the tablesaw and the tracksaw set up on my Festool MFT/3 panel cutting table.

Thanks for reading. You can read the next post on sizing the panels here.