8 Square Feet

18 May

Thursday I started work later in the day, so I had some time to work on the deck in the morning. We were toying with the idea of doing something a little different to deal with the joints of the deck boards where they meet on the joists. Because there are no 28 foot long boards, and the boards come in random lengths, there must be joints. Normally you butt the boards up against each other, end to end, and screw both down to the one joist. This disturbs the lines of screws that go down the joists.

I thought of a woodworking joint called a “half lap” as a way to still screw down both boards without having double sets of screws. The half lap joint, illustrated below, removes half of the thickness of two boards, one from the top and one from the bottom and overlaps them, hence “half lap”.

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This joint requires perfect depth cutting of the joint. I made a router jig to cut half the thickness out for a length of 1.5 inches. The jig supports the router base, and has built in fence to stop the cut right at the 1.5 inch point, as well as aiding dust collection so I don’t get covered with saw dust, and so I can see the bit at work. The jig is sized to perfectly slide over the end of the board and is held in place with one bar clamp.

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It took 4 tries to get the depth setting correct. A difference of two 100ths of an inch was noticeable, so I got it within one 100th and then used coarse sandpaper to take it down the last little bit to make it perfect to feel.

Refining the joints over and over took most of the morning and left just enough time to lay down one 16 foot row of decking with one joint to test it out. And that’s how I came to do 8 square feet of decking.

This method of decking will certainly not speed things up by any means but it should add a little touch of quality to the installation, and hopefully having all the screws lined up will be a nice effect.

Here’s a normal butt joint…

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And here’s a half lap joint…

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Even the wood seems to be smiling about it!

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