Six tips for clean and accurate decking cuts
Fine-looking decks begin with basic details. And there is nothing more basic than cutting deck boards cleanly and accurately.
There are at least five chances for error in the measuring/cutting process:
- Measuring the space
- Communicating the measurement
- Measuring the board
- Marking the measurement
- And cutting the mark
Decking tip 1: Synchronize your measuring tapes
First, synchronize all the measuring tapes.
They do not all read the same. Even tapes of the same brand can vary.
These tapes are right on, but if yours are off, make sure that someone accounts for it.
Decking tip 2: Cut the split from the board's end
When choosing the lengths, look for ways to get the most from a board, but do not get too greedy, most wooden deck boards have splits ends.
If these are not cut off, the split will grow. So Ben nips this split in the butt—joint.
Cut off the split end and then keep removing quarter-inch sections until they do not break easily when you tap them against the saw table.
This is an old furniture makers trick. Its called the tap test.
Decking tip 3: Mark deck boards with a knife
With a clean and square end to measure from, flip the board around and pull your number. Ryan uses a utility knife to mark the length. And then he scores the cut line to reduce tear-out and give a crisp readable line.
Decking tip 4: Do not waste movements
To speed the process, put your knife in the length mark and then slide the square over to it. That way you do not have to goof around with sliding the square exactly over to the little mark.
Decking tip 5: Nibble your way up to the cut line
This saw has lasers on both sides of the blade, but Ryan still nibbles his way up to the cut line to get a precise length.
Decking tip 6: Seal decking end grain before installing
To seal the deal, he soaks stain into the end grain. And this deck board is ready to screw off.
—Thanks to Ben Bogie and Ryan Oliviari of Built to Last Design & Build for letting us invade their jobsite.