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Cutting slots in slats

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  • Cutting slots in slats

    I'm now part of the Ridgid family with my new table saw. I've been having a blast ripping boards and making little things. Now I'm on my first large (well, semi large) project and I'd like some advice.

    I'm building a sandbox for my kids (8'x10') and I want to run some slats over the top of it for shade. I was wondering what any of you thought about cutting each slat with a 2 inch deep slot to fit along a 2X6X12' boards running cross the front and back. Would I use a dado to cut those slots or a router? Or is there another way?

    Also, it would seem like a cool idea to use all biscuits instead of screws, but would screws hold better?

    Thanks again! I'm really enjoying this forum!

  • #2
    Not sure I understand what you are wanting to do. 2" thick lumber seems a bit heavy for overhead shade. If the dadoes are 2" wide, it will take muliple passes with a dado blade (which will be 3/4" maximum width). Also, if the dadoes aren't though cuts (stopped dados), then a router would probably be quicker and easier. If you make a jig to guide the router, it should go pretty quickly. If the dadoes are 2" deep, make sure your dado blade will cut that deep.
    As far as biscuits, etc, any exterior construction will require construction-grade exterior glue or Gorilla Glue. The Gorilla glue is expensive, but is an expanding polyurethane glue that requires moisture. If you are using fresh pressure treated wood, it will have a lot of moisture in it. The Gorilla glue will work much better in this scenario than construction adhesive, which usually requires a dry surface.
    If you go with screws, get the ones coated for the type of lumber being used (i.e. pressure treated, cedar, redwood, etc) or better yet, use stainless.
    Another option may be to put a 2x2 cleat along the front and back boards 1 3/4" below the top edge and rest the slats on that.

    Practicing at practical wood working


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply Gofor! I think that what I've decided was to go with gorilla glue with the stainless steal screws. I'm going to counter sink the screws and use a dowel to cover the holes. Thanks for the tip!

      Sorry that I didn't explain what I wanted to do very well. I've cemented in 4 4x4x10’ redwood posts into the ground 2 feet leaving me 8 feet above ground. At the top I'm going to run 2x6x12' across the front and back to give me a foot overhang on each side. I then want to hang 2x6x10' slats perpendicular with a 2" or less grove cut so that each slat kind of "bites" the 2x6x12' boards. Does that made sense? I think you answered my question about using my router to make those with guide. I want it to look nice and I don't want to use the steel brackets that people use at home depot. I'd like it to show no metal.

      Is there another way that I should be doing this? Thanks again for all your help!
      Last edited by mijohnst; 06-01-2006, 12:22 PM.


      • #4
        I think I understand: You are going to cut a 2" deep by 3/4" wide slot in the top edge of the front and back boards and cut the slats so that they have a 2" x 3/4" ear" that fits into the slot. OR you are going to cut a 2"L x 3/4"wide x 3/4" deep (half a "2 x" board thickness) slot in the top interior edge of the front and back boards to rest the slat in. This is assuming you are using standard 1 x 6 lumber for the slats which is about 3/4" finished thickness. In the first case, you see the 2" ear, in the second it is hidden.

        In the first case, where the slot goes all the way through the face boards, I would set my circular saw to 2" depth and make the initial cuts, cutting from the outside of the board (front on the front and back on the back) to minimize tearout. If you clamp a sacrificial board to the back side of your cut, it will eliminate the tear out. After the initial cuts, hog out the middle with the router, or use a hammer and chisel. Stop short of the bottom and pare the bottom square with a sharp chisel or craft knife (ie boxcutter with a new blade).

        In the second case, be aware that a router has a tendency for surface tear out in soft wood. A thin piece of scrap clamped over the cut area will eliminate that problem. I know some people use masking tape, but this rarely works well with soft or damp wood) Another option is to deeply score the edges of the cut with a sharp knife (get out the boxcutter again!! and use a straight edge )

        Also, if I were doing it, I would pre-drill the face boards for the screw diameter (you already said you were going to counter sink them) and remember to install the screws as you glue. The Gorilla glue expands and will push the boards apart if they aren't clamped or screwed securely. Might want to do a test piece to see how it reacts and how much to put in the joint to get minimum squeeze out. The expansion is one thing that forces the glue into the wood fibers, so it isn't a bad thing, but you need to be aware of it.

        Sounds like a fun project, and I'm sure the kids will enjoy the sand a lot more than the effort in the sandbox (hey, that's what kids do: Play!!) but you will be proud of it and later they will appreciate the love that went into it.


        Practicing at practical wood working


        • #5
          Thanks for the info Gofor! Those are for sure some things that I hadn't thought about! lol I'll post some pictures when I'm done with this project. Nice to know there are some experts out there to help us newbs...