Cutting Sheet Goods

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Project by Bill_Steele posted 01-24-2017 07:43 PM 3324 views 2 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have a small basement workshop and up to now I have always cut my full size sheet goods on the floor. I lay out 3 to 4, 4×6s and then using a straight edge and circular saw I cut the panel down to the parts I need.

I decided to try and come up with a support system that would enable me support and cut large sheet goods without having to do it from a kneeling position. It was important that the system be easily broken down and stored, relatively easy to setup, inexpensive, and did not take up much space when stored in my small workshop.

I ended up not having to spend any money for the components, since I already had all of the raw materials. My solution consists of 3 major components:

  • Support structure—- Black iron pipe (~ 1” od) – 3 pieces (I already had this pipe and used it in the past as long pipe clamps).
  • Support elements—(2) fixed end supports and (5) moveable supports—- a few small pieces of framing lumber and/or other wood cutoffs/scraps of suitable size.
  • Floor/End supports—(2) saw horses or other supports on which the fixed end supports (#2 above) can be clamped.

To set it all up I place the saw horses about 6’ apart and then lay the pipe across the top of them. I have drilled holes in all the support elements so that they can easily slide onto the pipe. I then clamp or screw the end supports to the top of the saw horses and spread the movable supports to equally support the sheet good. If I need to crosscut the sheet, I can easily move the supports so that each side of the cut is supported. I set the saw blade depth to 1/8” or so deeper than the material being cut and expect the movable supports to get surface cuts.

This setup has worked well for me. I’m interested in hearing what other people do to cut sheet goods and I’m definitely open for constructive criticism if anyone has ideas for change/improvement.

15 comments so far

View fivecodys's profile


1228 posts in 1838 days

#1 posted 01-24-2017 08:42 PM

That’s clever. I have just started to look at things from a “i’m getting older” point of view. No more bending over if I can help it. I like that the piece is you’re cutting is always supported.
Thanks for sharing.

-- I always knew I would grow old, But I expected it to take longer!

View robscastle's profile


5482 posts in 2406 days

#2 posted 01-24-2017 09:07 PM

As fivecodys said above bending over and moving around on your knees these days is needing avioding thats for sure and your project seems to lend itself to that. But you do not show the underside assembled ready for use.

I aplaude the repurposing of items from their primary role thats for sure.
It dosent take too much grey matter to imagine everything all connected below the material being ripped.
However having metal below and in close proximity to a spinning high value plywood saw does concern me for a couple of reasons.
1. You could accidently cut your pipe clamp and send hot sparks into a pile of sawdust, who knows what may happen next …you have the fuel and you have the heat.
2. You may possibly ruin a saw blade.

So what I guess I am saying its, a great idea, but may I see more pictures of the assembly from underneath to remove the above concerns.

BTW: If you didnt already know I am an unofficial LJs 6 Project pictures and decent project story police. (tee hee)
In closing I am very impressed with your detailed story and overall project just needs a bit of a tickle up!

All intended in humour or consructive comment of course (Just ask Smitty)

-- Regards Rob

View tyvekboy's profile


1823 posts in 3215 days

#3 posted 01-24-2017 10:14 PM

Bill – Here is what I do to cut sheet goods.

I get 2 saw horses upon which I lay an old recycled door. For old guys hollow doors work best. I got several of them from a remodeling job where the contractor was going to throw them out.

When the doors get too cut up, I’ll just throw them out.

I’ve also seen others that have taken an old exterior paneled door with the panels cut out to make it lighter. It also makes a good support for sheet goods.

Recycling is good.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Bill_Steele's profile


451 posts in 1933 days

#4 posted 01-25-2017 12:38 AM

@tyvekboy: That’s a great way to do it! Full support, much lighter, and quicker to setup. If I ever come across an old door I will be sure to save it. Thank you for the feedback.

P.S. I’m not sure if I’ve asked you this before, but is the Tyvek in your screen name any reference to the DuPont product? My dad was an engineer there for 35 years—he worked at an aramid fibers plant where they produced Tyvek and other products (e.g. Nomex, Kevlar, etc.).

@Robcastle: I went ahead and setup the “stand” and took a few more pictures.

To make a crosscut and support both sides of the cut you can move the supports. I didn’t make a cut for the picture, but I would cut between the two supports that are closest together.

You make a good point about the concern for hitting a pipe or a clamp head and damaging/ruining a blade and likely the stock being cut. I realize that there is some risk involved so I have a few shots here to show more detail.

Here’s how much I typically cut into the supports.

It looks like I have about 3/4” before I hit the pipe.

Here’s what it looks like under the table.

The clamp clearance is not comfortable. I would likely use a screw to secure the end support if I knew I would need to cut near the clamp.

I also took pictures of the circular saw and jig saw clearance. I would NOT recommend using a jigsaw with this setup—it looks like it will definitely hit the pipe.

I hope these pictures help to clarify this setup.

I really do appreciate your feedback and interest in this project.

View dannmarks's profile


721 posts in 783 days

#5 posted 01-25-2017 01:38 AM

First of all your setup is pretty solid. Some thoughtful common sense will get you by just fine. If you were to ever hit a pipe with a blade it is less than a $10 error at most; the price of going to Arbby’s for dinner for goodness sake. A circular saw Blade is cheap. You have very little room and have done a bang up job of using what you have for multiple purposes. I think your set up is great.

View Bill_Steele's profile


451 posts in 1933 days

#6 posted 01-25-2017 03:43 AM

@dannmarks: Thank you for the kind words.

View robscastle's profile


5482 posts in 2406 days

#7 posted 01-25-2017 05:20 AM

Wow thats a lot of tickling up!!

Nice work again!

-- Regards Rob

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3068 days

#8 posted 01-25-2017 03:21 PM

This is a very creative way to do panel sizing in a small shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Tony1212's profile


250 posts in 1936 days

#9 posted 01-25-2017 04:04 PM

Interesting idea. My main concern would be hitting the pipes with the blade.

My solution is to use two adjustable height sawhorses and four 2×4’s.

I have these sawhorses. The tops extend out to a full 4 foot width. I lay the 2×4’s on them then put the sheet on top of the 2×4’s and cut. The sheet good is fully supported and the 2×4’s are cheap enough to replace as they get chewed up.

The four 2×4’s store easily in my lumber rack and the sawhorses collapse to be stored in a 5” gap between tools in the shop.

It’s also good for finishing/painting since the width can be adjusted just by moving the 2×4’s and you get a full 8’ long “table” to finish on that’s at a nice height for my back.

BTW, I’ve had 2 surgeries on the same herniated disk (L4/L5), so I do everything I can to keep my back straight while in the shop.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View Bill_Steele's profile


451 posts in 1933 days

#10 posted 01-25-2017 09:47 PM

@Tony1212: I like those sawhorses you have. They appear to be height and width adjustable. I think you have a good system.

I recently read about someone who uses a sheet of rigid insulation as a buffer when cutting sheet goods. this seems like a good solution as well.

So many good ideas here—that’s one thing I really love about this woodworking community.

View Siv's profile


62 posts in 771 days

#11 posted 01-25-2017 10:27 PM

This is a great idea. I thought, as others have, that hitting the poles would be the biggest concern. Given that the circular saw blade cuts to finite depth, simply making the stand-off from the top of the rail to the pipe greater than the cut depth would ensure this is never an issue.

View JCinVA's profile


148 posts in 1032 days

#12 posted 01-30-2017 04:38 AM

Good idea to use items you already have and that take minimal space to store.

I use notched 2×4’s to make a grid that works very well. I’ve used it on the floor. driveway or on sawhorses depending on the job. The 2×4’s take a bit more storage space than your pipes do though.

View dannmarks's profile


721 posts in 783 days

#13 posted 01-30-2017 05:13 PM

While I love what you have done. However I ordered two of these and I am excited about getting them. You might want to consider these babies.

View dannmarks's profile


721 posts in 783 days

#14 posted 01-30-2017 05:20 PM

View Bill_Steele's profile


451 posts in 1933 days

#15 posted 01-30-2017 07:57 PM

A big thank you to everyone who responded. So many great suggestions and ideas. I appreciate the links to the saw horses—there are many options to choose from today.

I think my favorite option so far is from @Tyvekboy. A couple saw horses and an old hollow core door with a layer of rigid insulation on top to take the saw cuts.

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