This project has meant dealing with a lot of sheet goods. For many woodworkers, breaking down sheet goods on the table saw is a challenging affair; even dangerous without the assistance of a shop helper.
So far, I have been working with quarter-inch thick plywood. Even though this thin material does not weigh much, ripping wide sections of eight foot long material is a little tricky. Unsupported thin plywood will sag and in general, it will be uncooperative.
Now I am working with much heavier and more difficult 3/4 inch thick plywood. Just as I did with the quarter-inch plywood, I take advantage of the panel saw at my home center and have the 3/4 stock ripped in half – easy to transport and easier to make additional cuts in my workshop. Since I want to use my table saw for additional rips on these 2 x 8 foot plywood panels, I am somewhat concerned about sending this size stock through my table saw.
To help support the long and still somewhat heavy stock while ripping, I created a new jig. I had seen it in one of the best Taunton publications I own: 201 Tips for Woodworkers (buy your copy here – it is currently on sale 50% off). Using articles in this publication, I have built a planer cart, two pairs of saw horses, a tapering jig and now the table saw fence extension you see below (click to enlarge).
I made it from some pine I had lying around; used screws to assemble it and clamped it to my saw fence. The fence extension worked like a charm. Easy to make and easy to use and a much more safe option than what I was doing previously.
But the thing does look kind of bizarre hanging off the front of my table saw. Just remember this fence extension is one of Fine Woodworking magazine’s “best ideas from over 30 years” so it has to be good, regardless of how odd it looks.
Adding the Molding
Using the fence extension, I quickly form seven four-inch wide by eight foot long strips of wood. These strips will serve as the vertical elements for the decorative moldings I want to make. I have designed three removable panels to the left of the future tool chest.
I easily add the vertical strips of wood, known as stiles, to the left and right ends of the three panels. Next, I started adding the horizontal rails. For panel 1, there is actually a monster size air return for our first floor heating and cooling system to deal with (not drawn in the illustration above). I need to cut around the air return in a way that enables me to remove the panel easily. Not real hard to do, but I want it to look orderly, so I take my time making the cuts. I create a template and make the cuts with my jig saw, band saw and router.
The rails and stiles go on with screws. I plugged the screw holes with dowels taking care to plane them flush. I next trimmed the inner edges of the rails and stiles with 1/2 inch pine quarter round. The panel really begins to look good at this point.
A Change in Plans
As work on panel 3 drew near, I became increasingly concerned it was too heavy. And as designed, the panel fits snugly around a large section of ducting. I decided that this panel would be too cumbersome to work with when needing to remove it in the future. And I will need to remove it. We recently had our annual furnace maintenance completed; the guy from the heating and cooling company advised me that he would need access to the lines directly behind this panel for air conditioning maintenance. So, I decided to divide panel 3 in half. See below…
Since the frame for panel 3 was assembled with screws, I quickly disassembled the framework, divided it into two sections and built the new frame for panels 3 and 4. This meant about one full day in unplanned work, but I know this change will be appreciated in the future. This alteration does means additional complexity for my method of bringing all the panels into one finished wall.
Just as with panels 1 and 2, the remaining panels get a series of rails and stiles which form simulated recessed panels. The process is shown below…
I am at the point in this project where some excitement is starting to build. Before I call the left side of the project completed, I need to add the base board molding, add some sort of minimal crown molding, and I want to add air vents to the lower section of panels 3 and 4. Still some work to do, but the end is in sight for the first phase of this large project.
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