Best way to cut cleanly on installed cabinets?

I need to cut into some kitchen cabinets to install a dishwasher. I could use suggestions as to the best way to get a clean straight cut, from the floor to the bottom of the counter, with minimum chipping on the plywood edge. They are stained and varnished (years ago), and I would like to avoid having to change that finish.
I also need to cut the bottom 3/4" ply from the front to the back. Not so critical, but easy would be nice with the awkward access.
Tools I have: Hand saws, circular saws, router, sabre saw, sawsall, dremel tool, HF multi-tool.
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Score the surface with multiple passes of a utility knife before cutting with any kind of saw to limit tearout and splintering.
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wrote:

Haven't done that exact job, but masking tape has worked for me to prevent chipping.
Nowadays there are more/better tools available, so I'd do it this way. Mark your line. Use a cutoff blade on the dremel to cut through the finish on your line to a depth of maybe 1/8"-3/16." Though I haven't tried it, I bet the dremel will do a nice cut without screwing up the finish. I'd want that groove a bit wider that my sabre saw blade. Then I'd tape over the cut, pushing the tape in the groove with a suitable tool - small screwdriver, putty knife, whatever. Run a pencil over the groove to make your line stand out. Drill on the waste side to get your sabre saw blade in. Fine blade, cut slow and steady. Finish the cut near the floor and counter with a hacksaw blade. I've got a couple different hacksaw blade holders, but you could just wrap some tape on the blade where you hold it. Since you're concerned about the finish, slow and steady is the key.
--Vic
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Depending on the saw, I once had "down" cut blades for a saber saw. My suggestion would be to try locating them and use them for the corners you cannot reach with a circular saw. Take the good advice already offered about masking tape and scoring the line with an utility knife before cutting. The tape will reduce or eliminate any scuffing of the surface and the utility knife will assure you a clean edge. Mark the line with the knife and then cut INSIDE the scored line so that it is the finished edge.
Mark

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wrote:

Use a japanese style hand saw - cuts on the push, so no chipout problem, and easier to make a smooth straight cut than with a sabre saw - and you can cut virtualy to the floor and to the top. You still need to get it started though - - -
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Tough job no matter what you use. Scoring will help to some degree.
Of the tools you have listed I would choose the HF multi-tool with the 3/4 round blade, lightly score the line from top to bottom as suggested by another poster and gradually make it deeper using the MF tool. For the final cut at the very top you may need to use the straight saw blade depending on the lip of the countertop. I personally found the 3/4 round much easier to control and longer lasting as it saved my bacon on a job I did this summer.
--
Colbyt
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-snip-

I've cut the bottom off a fiberglass door, a couple crosscuts on some aluminum-clad 1x1 and 24' of 1" fir so far. No signs of slowing down. Using the standard 1/2moon sawtooth blade.

I did much better on the bottom of the door- even though I had to cut from each side. I used a guide there. A 2x2 that the tool rested on- took a couple shallow passes before the final cut.
The 24' of fir was a [4] rip cuts & I wasn't concerned about it but was surprised how nice it came out. [cutting a new rough opening for a window using the framing as a guide.]
Some folks say the HF blades are junk- seem Ok to me- but I might find a name brand blade to compare when this one shows signs of dying.
Jim
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I have not used a guide but I think it may be possible with the flat side of the blade along the guide. Test on scrap pieces first. Maybe spray a little silicone on the guide or the flat side of the blade.
My experience was that once you scored the entire cut line by about 1/16" no guide would be necessary as the tool tends to follow the groove. That first score line I did very slowly and carefully with a steady hand but I had the option of using caulk for any minor glitches. I suggest you score with a utility knife as another poster suggested whether you use a guide or not. A lexan/laminate scorer might even be better. Test first.
Overall the tool is about 20 times easier to control than a Rotozip doing the same job IF the RZ could even do the job. It also cut much slower.
The circle blade seems to be much higher quality than the straight blades. I feel fairly sure you will get 6 feet of cutting from one blade. I cut at least that much and I am not ready to buy a new one yet. Sooner or later you will hit a nail so I would buy a spare if they are not as close to you as they are me. For sure you should have extra straights if you use them.
--
Colbyt
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Rip it then finish with some nice molding.
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I'd use a small circular saw (like a PC Saw Boss) & finish up with Multimaster, tape the surface prior to the cut.
cheers Bob
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