Friday, April 5, 2013

Cutting down the plywood sheets

I'm back finally with some slight progress on the closet organizer project. I haven't been posting as frequently for a few reasons. One is that cutting down the plywood sheets took longer than expected. It's one of the drawbacks of living on a strata that you can't use power tools too late in the evening if you wish to be respectful of your neighbors. If I were to make regular posts, they would get quite boring since all you would be seeing is more pictures of me cutting wood with relatively no dialogue. It is likely that I generally wont be posting as often for this same reason, especially when it comes to finishing the pieces, since I expect this to take a loooooong time.

That said, let's get right into the next step: cutting down the 4'x8' plywood sheets into more manageable sizes. Shown below is a 'cut list' diagram made in SketchUp showing all of the pieces I need for the project. As you can see, 2 sheets of plywood are plenty for this project (I actually bought 3 sheets to be on the safe side, since they were on sale). There may be more efficient ways to lay out the cuts, but this seems satisfactory for me.

Cut list including materials for both closet organizers.
I don't really want to cut out each individual piece from the larger piece, so my goal in this step is to cut out a few pieces just small enough that I can start working from my newly made workbench. I started with the upper piece, cutting down the length of the sheet to give the shelving unit sides. Since a sheet of plywood is too large to cut on my workbench, I decided to do this on the floor. To accomplish this, I laid out some sacrificial boards to prop it off the ground. I will then adjust my circular saw to give a shallow depth of cut so  the blade will not contact the cement, as shown below.

Sacrificial pieces of wood are used to raise the plywood so that it may be cut.
My method for making measurements was to take a long measuring stick in combination with a framing square to yield an accurate measurement. With a few marks made, I could then connect them with the measuring stick.
A simple method to make accurate and consistent measurements.
Below are shown two saw blades. The DeWALT saw blade is the one that came with my saw. It is an 18 tooth fast cut blade. This was fine for the workbench, since I didn't care too much about how clean the cut was, but in this case, the plywood has a more delicate surface, so I picked up the 40 tooth blade to the left. The results were probably as good as I am going to get without spending more money on a finer tooth blade. I've found that as long as I keep the 'good' side of the plywood faced down, there is very little damage to the good surface.
Different saw blades excel at different tasks.
You may recall that I was using a cutting guide for some of my cuts during the workbench build. But what you may not know is that this came in two equal length parts that can be combined to form a ~100'' long guide capable of reaching the entire length of the plywood sheet. This came in very handy for the long cuts shown here.
The extendable cutting guide came in handy for these long cuts.
I made these first cuts before I realized which side I should have facing up. When cutting along the wood grain as shown above, it is not a big of a problem, but when cutting across the grain, the surface of the wood can 'tear-out', as in the cut shown below.
Now I know for next time which side to face up when cutting.
As a result, I needed to do some clean-up trimming, which will mean that the depth of the shelves will be slightly less than originally planned. Fortunately, this is not a big problem, as long as the depth is made consistent across all pieces, which I will get into next time.

With that, I transformed two large pieces of plywood into several smaller pieces (shown below) which I will be able finish up using the workbench.
The plywood has been cut down to more manageable pieces.
Next time I will further cut these pieces to their final dimensions using my workbench (which should be much more comfortable for me).

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