Deck Building Tips
Chisel trick that’ll make woodworkers cringe
Need to persuade a deck board into position? Use your chisel.
First, start a nail or screw in the deck board. With the bevel of the chisel facing away from the deck board, drive the chisel into the joist. Pulling the chisel toward you will lever the deck board into position. You have to pull hard. Once there, sink the fastener and check your biceps. You’ll be pumped.
Tools, glorious tools!
Rotary Hammer. There are two main things I consider when I need to drill holes in masonry for a deck, which is usually for the ledger board along the house.
First, since I pulled a permit for the build, I know from my application that I’m not allowed to fasten a deck ledger to a brick veneer. A house made of brick—yes. A house covered with brick, no.
Second, if I can drill into the house—this was an old stone foundation—I know I need the power and efficiency of a rotary hammer (a hammer-drill’s bigger, tougher brother). If you have to drill in masonry or concrete for 1/2-inch diameter bungs—yes, they’re really called that; also called ‘shields’—a rotary hammer is the tool for the job. A 1/2-in. hammer-drill might be able to do it. And even if it can, every inch of the way will be excruciatingly loud and you’ll go through bits like gangbusters.
If you don’t own a rotary hammer, you can rent one. It’s worth it. And, it can serve double duty. I’ve used chipping irons and spades on my rotary hammer to break rocks out of post holes, loosen impossibly compacted soil and chip off the edges of sidewalks or patios that obstruct post placement. They’re a great deck-building tool.
Sidewinder Saw or Worm-Drive? For pros building decks, worm-drive circular saws are great for several deck-specific cuts like cutting joists in place. You can do it with a sidewinder, but a worm drive is better. I also like it for cutting off the stack.
But wormies are heavy. While I like their length and out-front design, a sidewinder is easier to lift and move around.
Mark Clement is a carpenter and co-host of the MyFixitUpLife show, www.MyFixitUpLife.com.