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Thread: Planks and sawhorses

  1. #1
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    Default Planks and sawhorses

    Haulout next week. I don't mind most of the work I do (mainly sanding and painting topsides, others do bottom paint.) I find that what I dread most is dealing with the staging I need to work around the hull. It used to be that the boatyard had a collection of old wooden sawhorses or barrels and planks, but no more, probably liability issues. Plus those things were so heavy that carting them around and moving them took a lot of energy which is in shorter supply as I age.

    So I realized that if I could simplify at least that one aspect this year, my haulout dread level would decrease a bit. Maybe I need to rent aluminum planks, or maybe even buy a couple of lightweight sawhorses and planks. Or what about those fancy folding ladders "As Seen on TV"? Anyone have any luck with those? Renting a motorized lift is out, there is usually not enough space between the boats or clear path to drive on around the boat stands. But I need to get about 3' off the ground. It would be nice to have the full length of the boat (36') set up once, but probably not practical. Second best would be to have light, easily movable planks of about 10' or 12'.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Longtime listener first time caller. I have used the folding ladders combined with scaffolding saging to work on boats, and they are pretty good. Their big drawback is that the narrow width of the staging requires careful footing and doesnt provide much space for tools. Given that you only need to get 36" of the ground it might be simpler to make a few sawhorses and then use 2/12s for staging on top. That would give you a wider and more stable work area, plus the wood might not get as slippery as the aluminum can. Hope this is of some use.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    I would make 6 sawhorses at 36" high with nominal 2x4 legs and horizontals, 1/2" ply gussets under the horizontals on the ends and 1x8 pine horizontals down on the legs for left and right rigidity, all fastened with deck screws. One at a time they won't be too heavy.

    If you space them on 8' +- centers you can bridge the spans with 6 of 8' 2x12s for spans #1, #3 and #5, then bridge spans #2 and #4 with 4 of 10 footers on top of the ends of the 8 footers with about 1' of overlap at each end. This will keep each span level. The relatively short spans will also allow you to conform to the curve of the hull.

    The proposed planks at those spans should be strong enough if you use carefully selected DF, flat grain to avoid spike knots. If you find them too bouncy you can screw one cleat across the undersides of each set of 8 footers and two cleats across the undersides of each set of 10 footers.

    One deck screw thru each plank into the horses or, in the case of the 10 footers into the 8 footers below them, will keep them in place, and a bit of sand sprinkled on top will give adequate traction.

    Then all you need is a 36" step ladder.

    Nothing too heavy here, and if you store them under cover you'll have them for the rest of your life.

    Sorry if I'm insulting your intelligence here Ron, but you did ask.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    If you can spend some money, you can't go wrong with the typical folding benches used by the guys who do drywall. Here is one link: http://www.walltools.com/products/dr...all-bench.html

    These things are fairly lightweight and the legs fold easily. They are height adjustable and will even compensate for uneven ground. They are far sturdier/safer than any typical sawhorse with a plank. The intermediate horizontal support beam means you can "walk up" onto them. I've got two of these and find them immensely helpful in many situations. I am not a drywall contractor.

    Jeff

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    I use the design in the upper left for my staging sawhorses.



    Very lightweight and stable when the proportions are right, I make the legs with 8" wide 3/4" fir ply and a 2x6 bench piece. One sheet of ply with two 8' 2x6, glue and nails will give you four benches at 30"+ height. Or three at 36-42" height. Make them nesting pairs for greater height options by stacking if required. These materials are common dunnage on many residential construction sites so I have made and used more than a few. Planks as required, 2x10x12' fir would be my choice if purchasing.

    A 36" two-step folding drywall bench would be prime, with a corresponding price. Painting topsides can be tricky this time of year; are you inside for this work? / Jim

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Ron, I'll be interested to see what you end up with. I painted the topsides on Petrel from a folding stepladder. It worked after a fashion, but not ideal as I had to move it every three feet or so. If you don't come up with something better I may opt for something like this Gorilla Ladder step platform:



    $60.00 from Home Depot
    .

    I'd still need to move it around, but not as often. And I'm not sure the 20" height would work for you as Snoose is a lot deeper than Petrel I think? Alternately these look very tempting:



    Also from Home Depot, although more expensive at $350, but would cover about 3/4 the length of the hull. And it might be possible to build some simple supports out of galvanized pipe so you wouldn't need a full scaffolding? Something like this...


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    The wood sawhorses are nice, but they present a storage problem for me, even if they are stackable. Disadvantages of a city dweller. But I'm starting to think that rather than try to stage the whole boat, I'll go with shorter spans and light easy to move gear. Maybe a couple of folding aluminum sawhorses plus my existing 5' aluminum ladder and two 10' 2x10s. It should be easy to move as needed.

    Yes, the weather is a problem for painting right now but there are a couple of planks that are going to be replaced first so hopefully the weather will be a little better when she's ready for paint. Not ideal. But when the weather is nice I plan to be cruising not painting. If the paint job suffers a little, so be it.

    And Chris, whatever I come up with you are welcome to share, assuming you are going to be hauling at a more sensible time of the season and our schedules don't overlap.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Thanks Ron. Also I have lots of storage space so I'm happy to put anything you want to store in my shop (I have the entire basement garage of an apartment building in Ballard so space is no problem).

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Sounds like you have this under control. Let me know if you ever head up this way, boats like yours look doubly sharp when they are north of Desolation sound. / Jim

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Quote Originally Posted by chas View Post
    Sounds like you have this under control. Let me know if you ever head up this way, boats like yours look doubly sharp when they are north of Desolation sound. / Jim
    Hope to get up there soon. But wife keeps postponing her retirement which tends to keep us closer to home.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Lots of construction rental joints will rent scaffolding. I've done it, and it was pretty cheap. Not as cheap as owning... but far more convenient. They'll deliver and pick up, and some will even set up for you. Available as fixed... or as a moveable rig that your roll/drag around the boat as you go.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Gib Etheridge and David G are giving you the best advice.

    You can't paint topsides and move staging without losing your wet edge. You need to have complete access all around and be able to do it all around in one continuous shot. This is an absolute.

    You can rent wooden sawhorses and wooden staging from scaffolding rental places if the yard doesn't provide them. It's cheaper than buying it. Scaffolding planks are a particular select cut from the lumber yard and designed for the job. Sawhorses give your staging a good solid wide base. A narrow support, like a step ladder, is liable to wobble and tip on you.

    This is very important: When you set up your staging, you're supposed to nail it together. This is a safety issue. It's also a good way to keep a-holes from "borrowing" your staging when you are not around and using it on their jobs in the yard. Oddly enough, a lot of people will do this, thinking "he's not using it." There are special "scaffolding" nails made for the task. They are double headed so you can drive them though the plank and into the sawhorse and then easily pull them out with a claw hammer. Even if you are only two or three feet off the ground, losing you balance and falling off the staging can ruin your whole day. A good staging set up will make the work go fast and efficiently. The time you take setting up will be repaid several times over. Cobbing together planks and step ladders and such is dangerous and makes for a poor job.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    If you use staging nails toenail them in thru the edges so you don't trip on them.

    Deck screws are even easier to remove if you have a screw gun or drill with a screwdriver bit in it.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    My dad did a lot of carpenter work, and would sometimes spend the whole day in stilts like these. Anyone ever try them for boat work?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    If you use staging nails toenail them in thru the edges so you don't trip on them.

    Deck screws are even easier to remove if you have a screw gun or drill with a screwdriver bit in it.
    +1 !! Scaffold nails on the top of the planks are very dangerous IMO. I prefer deck screws for this reason. I find 2x10/12 a little bouncy if over 8' in length so I screw some 1/4" or so ply on top to stiffen it up.

    I've used these:


    But they're 32". so the planks on top would make it a few inches lower than you want. $80 each @ Lowes, but they fold up quite small. Bolt some 2x4's to them so the planks can be screwed down (& raise it the extra few inches you'd want) . Not cheap - but a lifetime investment.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Quote Originally Posted by sharpiefan View Post
    My dad did a lot of carpenter work, and would sometimes spend the whole day in stilts like these. Anyone ever try them for boat work?
    For use on clean, flat, level surfaces. Disaster waiting to happen in most boatyards I've been in.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Good advice here, thanks all. I think I have a plan.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    harbor freight is selling a step stool platform for $30, often much less on sale, if that fits your needs. I've thought about getting one or two for working on topsides.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/step-st...ampaign=032017

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    Garret, that is quite literally a saw horse. It is the platform for a DeWalt sliding miter saw, I use it often, though I am not quite sure it is the best for what Ron is needing to do.

    And I agree that the duplex nails are a tripping hazard, not so special though, they are used for concrete forms.
    Steve Martinsen

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Planks and sawhorses

    It certainly is a sawhorse - just a specific type I was familiar with & one that I thought might work for him because it folds up very small.

    My dad was big on scaffold nails - in the days before sheetrock/deck screws - so I had too much experience with 'em
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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