Sheet Goods Rack
6th in a series of articles by Barb Siddiqui
how 'practiced' one is with a well set up table saw, unless you have the
luxury of a surrounding table surface, cutting 4x8 sheets of plywood alone
can be unnerving. To bring things down to manageable size, cutting full
sheets with a portable circular saw is a reasonable way to go. The problem
is, you can't exactly lay the plywood sheet on a workshop floor, and you
usually need both sides of the cut supported so the fall-off won't bind
are a couple of ways to do this. One is to buy a 4x8 sheet of foam insulation
board several inches thick and lay it down to cut into. The problem with
that is, you are on your knees scrambling along to follow the cut, and
you hash up the insulation board pretty quickly.
way is to build a "sheet goods rack" to hang between two 36" or 48" sawhorses
spread about four and half feet apart. For the sake of easy storage, the
rack doesn't have to be a full 4x8 feet (I hang mine on ladder hooks from
the ceiling joists), because the workpiece can slide around on it to support
the cut if necessary.
is made from simple pine 2x4s and 2x2s (which are actually 1 1/2" x
Cut two lengths of 2x4 to fit the back side of your sawhorse dimension.
Mine are 33" to fit between the angled-out legs.
2x4s in a 1 1/2" square at four locations: a 1 1/2" square cut at the
top of each end, and two spaced in the middle by eye. Clamp the 2x4s together
to cut these notches, so they'll line up. (Quick tip: you can cut a 1
1/2" square from light cardboard and align it with the top edge of the
2x4 in the four locations, then trace around it to mark your cuts.)
point four six-foot 2x2s will fit in the notches, with the 2x4s inset
in ten or twelve inches from the ends so there will be some overhang beyond
the sawhorses. The notched openings should be just deep enough that the
2x2s lay flush with the top of the 2x4s.
rack upside down and attach the 2x2s with screws from the bottom in pre-drilled
holes. It's a good idea to first use steel screws, then back them out
and substitute brass screws of the same size, in case a spinning blade
should encounter one. The reason for the change is that brass screws are
softer so they won't hurt your saw, but they can strip out quite easily.
over the sawhorses, the rack is now ready to support large pieces for
cutting. Remember to adjust the depth of your saw blade to just go through
the material being cut, and the rack will last a long time. With a plywood
sheet or hollow-core door on top, it can also double as a knock-down assembly
table for case work.