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post #11 of 17 Old 01-06-2008
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Check Halekai's first response...he mentions using masking tape to minimize splintering.

Three things reduce splintering—masking tape, blade depth, tooth pitch... get the thinnest blade with the smallest teeth, set the saw to the right depth and then tape over the cutline and scribe the tape.

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Thomas, isn't there a trick for this ? I seem to remember it's masking tape, or something like that. Oh wait, I think it's putting another board on top of the one you are cutting so that the bottom one doesn't splinter, it's something like that, some kind of a trick.

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post #12 of 17 Old 01-06-2008
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I would make the cut out section a new lift out, since you're doing most of the work as it is. You'll need to seal the cut edges of the boards with penetrating epoxy and install some sort of cleats to support cut out section, as well as latch it.

If you're feeling really adventurous, you could bevel the cuts, so the piece doesn't fall through.
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Minimizing the cut depth as SD mentions will also minimize splintering.

In this case, I'd be real tempted to try to create a new lift-out in the area where it's needed.

Failing that, if you're determined to cut across the sole, and you don't have the tools or skills, most stores like Home Depot will do cuts, but you'd be better off taking it to a cabinet maker, they'll care more about the results.

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post #13 of 17 Old 01-06-2008
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Bevel cutting an access panel will prevent the piece from falling into the bilges, but would not be advisable for two reasons.

The panel's top surface will be slightly recessed below the level of surrounding T&H - relative to the saw kerf thickness. Also it's best to avoid any tapered edges on plywood, since the top ply will become vulnerable to delamination from foot traffic.

Instead, a continuous perimeter panel stop should be screwed to the fixed sole's underside, assuring a level top surface. I use a Bosch finish circular saw, fitted with a Freud, fine tooth carbine blade for this type of cutting.

It takes a little practice for making perfect plunge-cuts in expensive plywood - especially when aligning the cut with adjoining radiused corner cuts, made with a jigsaw.

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post #14 of 17 Old 01-06-2008
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Just a couple of thoughts from a woodworker.
Not to be a wet blanket, but both of my thoughts are on the negative/worry side.

Will adding a third location with a removeable panel weaken the floorboard, making it flex under weight? Maybe that's why they did only two?

I've done the operation you're considering many times and still kringe every time. If I were giving a new woodworker their first project, this would not be it. Assuming the existing ones have radiused corners, you'll want to duplicate that and steering a jigsaw to make four identical corners is tricky. The advice to practice on cheap plywood is a wise one.

If you're anywhere near Annapolis, I'd be happy to do it for you.
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post #15 of 17 Old 01-06-2008
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Good point TB... but you could always use stops to keep it flush with the rest of the sole. THe difficulty of the beveled cuts is the main reason I'd avoid even trying to do it that way.

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post #16 of 17 Old 01-06-2008
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Once the cut is made you might want to consider adding pulls to the floor boards instead of screwing them down. That would make for easier and quicker access. You may not be able to find that screwdriver in an emergency when you need it.
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post #17 of 17 Old 01-06-2008
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I still say go to a cabinet shop for such a small project with a potential high downside if you make a mistake. It has also been mentioned going to a lumber yard or to Home Depot. These guys are used to cutting 1/2" CD plywood that makes very little difference whether it splinters or not, and you never know what condition their blades are in. Cabinet shops are used to dealing with expensive veneers. I have messed up a $150 sheet of teak and holly before because I lacked the tools and knowlege, that sucks...............
DD

Doug
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