Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to that plyboo project

Once my deck was put up the area underneath it seemed much more appealing than when it was just a back yard. Each weekend I told myself I was going to take my plyboo planks out back and cut them up into squares.

I suppose a bit of back story is in order.
You long time readers will recall that I bought six 4ft by 8ft sheets of plyboo to cover the back wall of my house with. On a particularly warm (70°F) winter day I hauled three of these sheets into the front yard, put them up on bricks, and started cutting them into 16 inch strips. The jigsaw caused fibers to break off of the board and eventually the blade bent. The circular saw worked much better.

The first piece I cut wasn't perfect but it was an outside edge with a straight side. I started clamping that board to the sheet I was cutting and using it as a straight edge. But it had to be repositioned each time and there was some very minor fluctuation in the width of the boards I cut. Not bad though.

So Saturday I hauled all the 16" boards out back. I laid the extension ladder across from the fence on one side of the yard to the air conditioner on the other side. I used a bike lock to fix the ladder in place so it couldn't wiggle off. Scrap from the building of the deck was placed across the ladder so the material I was cutting would be elevated enough that the saw wouldn't hit the ladder. I put two boards together,
used the circular saw to offset one the distance from the blade to the edge of the guard, and clamped them together. This was my jig. Another board was placed on the ladder perpendicular to the jig. A perfect 16" board was placed on top of that new board parallel to the jig. When all pressed together I could run the saw along that last board and cut a perfect 16" swath every time. I just had to slide in or replace the board being cut between cuts.

Maybe I should draw you a diagram.

A 4'x8' sheet should yield 18 16" squares. But only if your blade is only a few atoms wide. Using a circular saw means that the end is about 1/8" too small. So I only got ten perfect pieces from each sheet and eight slightly smaller in one dimension. This is irritating, but I keep telling myself that there's enough odd nooks and crannies along the wall that those piece will get used as well.

So three of my six sheets are all cut up... except for the parts used in the jig and the boards that were 5'11 7/8" wide. I have a nice stack of plyboo squares in the kitchen.

Now I just need to do the same thing with the last 3 sheets. The whole sheets are trickier since I can't reach clear across them. I had to lay them on the ground and walk over them last time. I suppose it might work if I put it on the ladder, apply the jig, and then operate the saw left handed so I can stand off to the side while cutting. That seems really awkward. Still seems more doable than rigging up a series of ropes to suspend me over the sheet of lumber while I cut.

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