Thursday, May 3, 2007

Cutting The Plywood Parts

I designed the Whizbang Garden Cart so that all the plywood parts can be cut out of a single sheet of 1/2" plywood. Make five simple straight cuts and you’ll have the four pieces of plywood you need (bottom, two sides, and the dump-front panel). Part of the beauty of the Whizbang plan is that no fancy woodwork joinery is required—straight plywood cuts do it.

The plywood cuts should be perfectly straight and accurate. You can achieve straight and accurate cuts without any special or expensive woodworking equipment. A basic electric circular saw will do the job just fine. But you do not want to freehand the cuts. Freehand cuts, no matter how skillfully executed, are never perfectly straight. That being the case, I recommend in my planbook that you clamp a straight edge to the plywood and guide your saw’s baseplate along the edge. It takes a few moments to set the cut up but once that’s done, the rest is easy. The following photo shows what I mean…

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I bought that old Rockwell circular saw more than 25 years ago when I started working in the building trades. Me and it have cut a lot of wood since then- probably many miles of it. The straight edge is nothing more than a four-foot level. Four feet is the longest cut you’ll need to make. An Irwin Quickgrip clamp holds each end of the straight edge to the plywood. Any kind of clamp will do the job but you can’t beat those Quickgrips for convenience and ease of use.

You’ll notice that the plywood is laid over a couple of 2x4s. They provide support so the sheet doesn’t flex and bind as I’m cutting it. My saw’s depth of cut is set to go through the plywood about 1/8." So the 2x4s end up with some little saw kerf tracks in them but that’s no problem because they are poor quality lengths of wood and are serving a useful purpose.

I’ve used this plywood-cutting setup many, many times over the years of my building trades career. And I’ve even used it when making yeoman furniture. Here’s another picture.

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The above picture shows my 12-year-old son, James, making the fifth and final plywood cut. He watched me make the first ones and I let him do the last. It was his first time using an electric circular saw. He did a fine job. Once the straight edge and clamps are properly set up, even a 12-year-old novice can make a perfect cut. Fact is, it’s hard not to make a perfect cut with this technique. Here’s one more picture…

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As you can see, James is very pleased with himself. Making a Whizbang Garden Cart is an excellent father-son (or father-daughter) woodworking project. There is a real sense of satisfaction that comes when you make a useful tool like this cart.

To learn more about the Whizbang Garden Cart planbook, read the book’s introduction, see some pictures of the cart in action, and find out how you can get a copy of the book, Click Here.

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