Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Sheet Goods Support Frame

Last weekend’s time in the workshop felt very similar to the weekend before, where I basically made a table enclosure, in to which a chest freezer could be tucked safely away. This time though, it was all about preparing myself for another workshop project that’s just over the horizon – for which, I’ll need to safely support and cut down some sheets of 18mm plywood…

It all started with with these scraps of ex. 7x2in treated pine; left overs from the ceiling joists I installed earlier this year. And, just like the Saturday before, most of my time was spent cutting notches out on my sliding compound mitre saw.

Whenever you’re producing multiples of identical components, it can help to temporarily clamp or cramp them together while you do the marking out. At least, in a situation where the length of each piece far exceeds the length-stop capacities of your work stations… I actually went with three of these longer beams, each one cut to a length of 2m. There are also four shorter cross rails that fit in to the notches and would support the 1220mm/4ft width of a standard MDF or plywood sheet.

As before, I found that working with the saw in this manner covers any nearby surface in a thick coating of sawdust. As surprising as it is just how quickly the fitted dust bag does fill up, I can’t help but think that there’s more I could do to improve this situation – more on that in a future blog post!.

My mitre saw stations is also in need of some attention:

Since I made some minor changes to the design of the support tables (so that they became ‘fixed’, without having to fold and interfere with nearby objects), the left-hand side has begun to sag quite significantly, making it highly inadequate to support a length of anything much more than 600mm/2ft! That’s why those blocks are currently in place; wedged on top of my router table. Something else that will need some attention, during the winter months…

If you’re still not sure of how this works or, exactly what it is used for then, hopefully, this next photo will help:

It’s slightly narrower than the width of my sawhorses, so that it rests on top. Then, on top of that, I can place one or more sheets, ready to be cut with a circular saw. Of course, you could also use this to support long lenghts of timber, table tops and even for performing other operations besides cutting, such as routing and sanding. I’ve made mine about 70mm/2¾in deep, which means that, even with the saw cuts it is likely to take, there’s plenty of depth and strength left in the timber. At first, I was thinking that I may also need to notch-out the tops of my saw horses but, this new support frame seems to hold its own under the force of its own weight and nothing more is required.

A notched construction makes it quick and easy for me to assemble the unit and, equally, to disassemble it when no required. Then, the individual lengths can be stored together on a wood rack, in the corner of your workshop, maybe with your stock of sheet materials or, as in my case, up in the roof space. I did find that the joints were a bit too tight at first but, by skimming one set of rails (either long or short) through your thicknesser, you can fix that with ease.

Also, if you find that the shorter rails are proud of the long ones (as in the photo above), you can also use your thicknesser (or planer) to reduce their widths until the top edges are flush. I have consider ‘lipping’ these top edges with disposable MDF or similar, so that the timber is not worn away with cuts through from your circular saw or plunge saw. But, as I said a little earlier, I do not feel that is entirely necessary, given the depth I have available, here. Also, it may complicate or interfere with the fitting of these notches. Although, it would be a way of making use of timber that is smaller in section, perhaps only 2in square (though, I wouldn’t make a frame any thinner than that, personally).

This is something so simple and yet, effective, that only takes a few hours to build. It doesn’t have to be pretty, the joints don’t need to be tight and, you can make one from almost any scrap wood you have lying around. The only real challenge I faced was trying to find the space to feed 2m lengths through my thicknesser, as the average thickness of this timber (before I started) varied by a good 3mm (1/8in)!

Thanks for reading.

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2 responses to “Sheet Goods Support Frame

  1. Brendan Shaw 01/10/2011 at 10:47

    “working with the saw in this manner covers any nearby surface in a thick coating of sawdust. As surprising as it is just how quickly the fitted dust bag does fill up, I can’t help but think that there’s more I could do”

    I borrowed a friend’s Makita LS714 (or something like that, looks rather like the one you have) and I too filled the place with sawdust. But, just plugging in a vacuum cleaner made a heck of a difference. Inconvenient, slightly, but cheap, yes!

    Brendan

  2. Alex Farrell 01/10/2011 at 12:07

    I felt cleaning saw dust constantly was using up too much of my production time. I then used a wickes wet and dry vac which was relatively powerful and cheap; however, cheap is not always good and this particular machine died after a short while. I ended up watching and researching different dust extractor units on a well known auction site. Now I have a 2HP Axminster with a micron filter which is awesome. I was able to buy this with plenty of hose (5″ or125mm) in diameter. I then made little reduction boxes where one end fits to the saw with a piece of normal vac hose which links to the reduction box and at the other end, the dust extractor sucks the living daylights out of the waste. I am lucky in that my Mrs has some little pet rabbits so not much goes to waste but I have also been thinking about placing a little ad on the supermarket notice board and sell this waste to pet owners for a quid a bag or something like that. I have also thought about having a wood burner in the home and apparently if I soak all the saw dust, I can buy a little brick former thing that squeezes all the excess water out of the saw dust and leaves you with a little solid brick which burns for hours. Cheap fuel for the future that comes from waste. Cant be bad.

    Alex

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