Now that you’re starting to really get into building stuff, I’m sure you’ve started to run into one of my least favorite materials to work with… plywood. I think the issue has more to do with my table saw and lack of a deck to perform straight cuts on larger pieces of material, but still, I hate you plywood, but not as much as MDF. I cringe every time I see a rerun of “While You Were Out” and they build entire rooms out of MDF… Shame on you TLC Network… Shame! With that said, Andrew Dan Jumbo was the freaking man!
Any who, at some point i’m sure you’ve had the mishap of your plywood not fitting perfectly square on to whatever surface you’re attaching it to. The dreaded “overhang”!
I say some of my favorite bad words (i’ll share those in another post) every time this happens… and it seems to happen a lot. Why all the rage though? Because it means I did something wrong in my measuring or perhaps my build isn’t as square as I thought it was. So to save time and anger I’ve started having the fine folks at the Home Depot pre-cut my plywood before I take it home. First off because it’s easier to transport and secondly because they have a way better method for cutting plywood than I do. But then… I’ve been finding their cuts are not really all that accurate, so we’re back to square one (or not freaking square at all!).
So how do you fix the dreaded overhang? You can cut your piece again on the table saw and hope you don’t take off too much. You can sand the bejesus out of it until it’s flush and then have to sand the other areas too now that it’s uneven. Or you can run a circular saw or skill saw over the edge and hope for the best. I’ve used all of these options with mixed results and i’m here to tell you, never again!
If you’ve got a router, use a flush-trim bit! What? That’s a thing? You mean there’s a little tool that specifically cuts that overhang off and makes sure you don’t cut into your other material? Yes my friends, this is not a snake oil sale, this little sucker works. Oh, and it’s ridiculously easy to use.
I have a Makita Compact Router and I absolutely love this little guy (or girl). You can pick up the base package for around $100 or add some of the attachments like a plunge, tilt or offset base for a little more. I got the base model and immediately regretted not getting the plunge base at a minimum. Luckily you can order them separately. It’s light weight and extremely easy to use, you could easily use it one handed it’s so light (but don’t). A flush-trim bit will run you about $20. It’s totally worth it. This Makita accepts router bits with 1/4″ shanks which means the post of your bit that fits into the router (I guess that does make it a girl…) have to be 1/4″. 1/2″ and 3/8″ are other very popular bit sizes, so be sure to check the packaging (technically this model accepts 3/8’s as well, but you have to change a few parts to do so).
On the bottom of the Flush-Trim bit there’s a little wheel that’s set to a hair larger than the cutting surface of the spinning bit. When you’re routing, you set the depth of your router base so that little wheel will roll along your flush surface and stop the blades from cutting your good material. So if you’ve got quite a bit (no router bit pun intended) of extra material, you’ll make several passes until the stop wheel hits your surface, giving you a flush cut. It’s ridiculously easy. I promise.
Quick side note, I posted that 18 second video on Instagram late one night and it had over 600 views in less than 2 hours. I’m not sure how to react to that. Ha.
So what’s the drawback Lazy Guy? Why all the sunshine and rainbows you’re blowing up our butts? Well, let’s be honest here, this is a fix for a craftsmanship issue. I took a metal and jewelry making class in college and because my cuts or solders weren’t always the cleanest, I used to sandblast the hell out of every project to hide those imperfections. The instructor figured out fairly quickly what I was doing, but the untrained eye didn’t. So will your edge be flush? Yes. Will that help your squareness issue? No. But it makes your piece pleasing to the eye, so it’s up to you. Oh, and if you don’t have a dust port to attach to a vacuum, this happens…
Routers make a serious mess. I don’t recommend using them indoors or someplace you can’t easily clean up. I ordered one for $12 on Amazon that night. It arrived Prime the next day.