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Handling large sheet goods?

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  • Handling large sheet goods?


    I'm just starting in WW but I recently spend some time at the hospital for a severe bulged disc and I'm looking for tips and advices on how to handle 4x8 sheet goods in the most intelligent and efficient way.

    How do you 'smartly' move and pre-cut large sheets by yourselves (especially the dreaded 3/4 MDF)? I would probably use a cicular saw and guides for the large cuts and then the TS for the more manageable ones.

    [note: I'm in the process of setting up a small workshop, about 10x20, so size is also an issue]

    I would love to have a buddy next door that I can call whenever I need to do this but this is not the case so these need to be solutions alone or with LOML.

    Thanks for any tips and tricks and jigs,


  • #2

    I buy my large 8 x 4 sheets of ply or MDF at Lowes or Home Depot. As well as wanting to avoid having to make initial cuts on this size of sheet, Transporting them is also a PITA.

    So I get Lowes or HD to make the first one or two cuts on their panel saw, and bring home the more manageable pieces. At my local stores, there's no charge, and it seems to be the one thing that I can request that gets done imeediately, as so far, correctly!

    This week just completed a folding outfeed table for the 3612, again to make handling just that must easier and safer.



    • #3
      Oliver---I teach classes on back injury prevention. Cutbuff already posted one of the best suggestion---get it cut down at the store.

      Also---because of numerous other factors---(dust, health, tool dulling, quality of product)--I'd avoid MDF as much as possible, as, in the case of your back, it weighs much more than plywood.

      Always use leverage----one end at a time, whenever possible.

      Make your cut-sheets/diagrams before you go to buy the stock---get what cuts you can done at the store. I then do my rough cuts off the back of my pick-up and with saw horses, using my circular saw.

      Moving the stock, as much as possible on the same level---i.e. keep it on truck bed, to saw horses, to table saw---don't set it down on the ground, as low bends are the hardest on your back.


      • #4
        Thanks for the feedback about getting it cut at HD.

        I have a supplier that would deliver the plywood to my house directly and I thought that might be less trouble than getting it pre-cut and still having to transport it (I don't have a truck).

        So I guess it's a toss up...

        How patient are these guys at HD with your cut list? It's always so hard to get someone to help you in the Lumber department...



        • #5
          I'm sure the help at HD will vary from day to day, depending on who you can find. Obviously leave enough fudge room on your cut requests to allow for their errors.

          Without a truck, and if you can get small quantity deliveries, great. Since you're still going to have to cut down the pieces, with a circular saw (cutting full sheets on a table saw requires help and good table space) you might consider arranging delivery when you're home----like having them stack the stuff on some saw horses for you---then you only have to slide in some blocks of wood to separate the sheets for cutting.

          Also, just for the sake of using good wood, don't get too much plywood ahead of time. I can age and start to warp if stored for months on end.


          • #6
            I really like the ideas of keeping the plywood at the same level. That saves a lot of effort. Even though you are planning a small workshop you could still setup a small outfeed table for your tablesaw that could also double as a work table. For example a place to sand or glue up materials assemble frames and doors etc...

            If you come out level from the back of your table saw at least five feet and of to the left side of the saw about 18 to 24 inches you would have all the area you would need to support a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood ripped on your tablesaw. This allows for easy ripping of any size plywood by just one person. A small cabinet shop that I have worked at a few times has a layout similiar to this, except his outfeed table is much larger.
            <marquee behavior="scroll"><font size="4" Color="#9f3030">Hope this helps!!!</font></marquee>


            • #7
              Olivier, I don't exactly know why, but I've had very good service in both HD and Lowes wood cutting sections of their lumber dept's. At Lowes you press the "assistance required" button in the section and with 2-3 minutes you're under way. No button in my HD's, but 2-5 mins, and again the cuttings beginning. I can't see any reason not to use their free service, but as Dave says, do allow an 1/8" spare, just in case!


              [ 02-22-2003, 11:14 PM: Message edited by: Cutbuff ]


              • #8
                One way to transport sheet goods easily is with the Telpro Troll Panel Handler. It is listed on the drywall tool page in the Amazon catalogs.

                There are also directions for inexpensive panel saws. The straight edge and circular saw is the cheapest. Freud and Ace Hardware make nice plywood finish cut blades for a CS. Charles M. (Freud rep.) fastens a piece of plywood on the soleplate of a CS to be sure of a 90 degree angle cut with the CS.
                Mac<P>Problems are opportunities in disguise


                • #9
                  check out the annual FWW Tools and Shops issue, which should still be available, they had a neat shop cart/extension table, which had a tilting panel. The article was titled "Tilt-top Shop Cart, subtitle, move large unwieldy stock without breaking your back"
                  You would have to lift one end about ... 6" to get the panel onto the tilting portion of the cart (which locked in the 'flat' position). The cart was on casters, so even in a small shop, should be useful for more than just panel lifting. They just built a simple box out of MDF, but I bet you could incorporate some storage into it.

                  [ 02-23-2003, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: ned86xj ]
                  Ned<br /><br />Madison Woodsmith<br /><br />Masonry: 2B1ASK1


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ned86xj:
                    check out the annual FWW Tools and Shops issue, which should still be available, they had a neat shop cart/extension table, which had a tilting panel.
                    Thanks! I just ordered the issue and should get it sometime next week (+ it had a review of 6" jointers and benchtop planers which is a double bonus!).

                    I was looking at NYW's 2 part garage workshop episodes(which were airing on HGTV this weekend, what a coincidence!) and he was using MDO for everything. I've never seen MDO in person, what's the average weight of a 3/4 4x8 sheet of MDO compared to MDF? Is it a lot more costly?



                    • #11
                      MDO is exterior grade plywood, with weight as you would expect. Therefore, a lot lighter than MDF. MDF 3/4" is near a hundred pounds per sheet, the weight of plywood escapes me at the moment.

                      MDO is serious expensive. Aside from the smooth face, there is little reason to buy it over a reasonable grade of interior plywood for shop cabinet use. If you have enough moisture to need exterior grade, you're going to have serious rust problems on your cast iron tools.

                      I make my shop cabinets out of plywood instead of MDF. Although MDF is less expensive, it is a pain in the neck (and other areas) to make carcases out of. Remember that sheet breakdown is only -one- of the times you have to move that stuff. Mounting an MDF wall cabinet is serious exercise.



                      • #12

                        Buying or building the tilting cart is a great idea. Planning your sheet storage with the idea of getting it on and off the cart helps too.

                        I use a vertical panel saw and it is a terrific back saver, you could slide your material from the cart to the saw with almost no lifting.

                        While they make such saws that are extremely precise and quite expensive, you can buy a small one starting at about $800 (check Safety Speed Cut and Saw Trax) or build one from a kit (Rockler has them, I think about $250 plus you supply the circular saw) or build one from scratch for about $200 complete. You can also buy them used; check Wood Quip and ExFactory on line or your local used tool dealer. Any of these saws are AT LEAST accurate enough to rough cut your material.

                        Good luck...