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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Boat Canopy - Yet Again

I'll admit it.  I have all the pipes and fitting for the boat canopy design.  I'm just a bit afraid to start making it!  It suddenly feels a bit more complicated than I expected.  It's one thing to design something, but another to actually build it.

The first thing that struck me was how to cut dozens of 1.25" PVC pipes into the pieces I needed.  I have a pipe cutter that you turn around on the pipe and keep tightening.  But doing that for dozens of cuts seemed daunting.  I considered the radial saw, the tablesaw, a hacksaw, and a jigsaw.  All seemed problematic.  I googled a lot of PVC discussion sites and the evaluations of the various cutting methods all had supporters and detractors.  Serious power tools not only toss up a lot of nasty PVC dust, but can make bad cuts, and even spray splinters that get into the skin.  Low-powered tool like a jigsaw are slow and tend not to make square cuts.  Manual saws are s-l-o-w...

I decided a reciprocating saw was the best choice.  So I pulled out my never-used reciprocating saw.  It had only 1 saws blade on the kit, designed for metal.  And I had read some reports that said those blades melted the PVC edges and left hard blobs.

So I went to the net to find reciprocating saw blades designed for PVC.  Go ahead and search for yourself.  They are mentioned often, but never specified!  It was a maddening search.  There is basically "metal", "wood", and "multipurpose".   I was so frustrated!

I went to Home Depot yesterday and looked at reciprocating saw blades.  The hardware/tool clerk (manager?) helped.  He pointed out that all the blades fit all the saws.  That helped, I thought I need the same brand as my DeWalt saw.  Then he noticed that there were little graphics on the blades that showed what they were designed to cut.  One had a picture of PVC pipe.  But that was a pack of 10 blades and I sure didn't need THAT many.  He had to go help another customer.  But then I noticed that the teeth description on the PVC blade was "8/12".

So I looked at the individual blades and found others that were "8/12".  It seems to be a pattern of varying teeth.  I bought one!  Yay...

I have a few old pieces of PVC pipe and I will try the blade on one in the next couple of days.  If it works well, I will start cutting Boat Canopy PVC soon.

I've been thinking on how to cut pieces accurately.  I need a bunch of 1.25" pipes at 7', a bunch of 1.25" pipes at 5', a bunch of .5" pipes at 5" and a bunch of /5" pipes at 2.5'.  I think I will have to set up stop blocks on my workbench and use the far end to mark the cut points.  Then I can set the PVC pipes in a pair of Workmate benches set 1/4" part to guide the reciprocating saw in a straight cut.

Assembling all the pieces is going to drive me nuts...

On the other hand, I'm going to be thrilled after I get it all finished.

I'll sure be glad to go back to working with wood when this project is completed!

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