Woodworking Build: Backdoor Step



Hi and welcome to the icy Finland! Last year's summer was on a Tuesday, but now it's June and the first 
minor heat wave is already behind us. Summer is not simply knocking at the door, but has already crushed it into tiny pieces. So it's high time to prepare 
for summer activities. The door is not the only object in our 
household exposed to the whims of weather. As you can see, this step at the 
back door is not in a good shape. It's quite a senior one and in addition it 
was probably not made of impregnated wood, which could stand moisture.

This door leads from the kitchen to the garden, so it's in use a lot in the summer. In order to have a safe access to the 
backyard, this step has to be rebuilt. I purchased some impregnated lumber 
at a building material store. It is pressure treated which means 
that a protective chemical is taken deep into the wood at high 
pressure, to make it last longer. The initial design of the step was like this. A relatively simple box with 
some supporting elements inside. After cutting a few parts to size, I made a 
test to check how much the top boards will bend. Well, quite a lot I have to say, so I slightly changed the design and 
added extra support to the middle. I want no screw heads to be exposed on 
the outside and I have no pocket hole jig, so the best option is to assemble it by 
attaching additional structural elements using screws from the inside. Gluing might not be the best option 
because of the wide temperature range. I was considering a lighter 
design as well using less lumber, but eventually picked the more rigid one.

A cut list with all the details 
makes everything way easier! After making careful measurements, the lumber is first cut to 
approximate size using a circular saw. The reason for that is that long boards 
cannot be handled on the table saw. After cutting all the boards, 
it's useful to double-check and then number each one for 
easier identification and assembly. Making sure that the miter 
gauge is at a 90 degree angle compared to the blade is 
essential when making cross-cuts. Cutting with the circular saw leaves a rough end, so first one end of all 
the boards is straightened.

To fit the front and sides 
of the top frame together, the miter gauge has to be set to 
45 degrees angle to the blade. Measure and mark the size of the side boards. It is wise to make it a bit oversize. After making the cut, check the size 
and shave off a bit if necessary. The material always must be cut in the outer side, 
facing up to avoid chipping on the exposed edge. The difference can clearly be seen here. Therefore it's not enough just to flip the 
board over to cut the other end of the front, but the miter gauge must be flipped instead. Optionally the other miter slot 
could also be used in such a setup.

Check four square, to ensure a good fit. A miter gauge extension helps to make the 
length of the rest of the top parts consistent. Mark the position of the 
stop block on the extension. Again, it is recommended to make 
the board slightly oversize. You can always cut off more if needed, but you are in trouble if 
the board ends up too short. Drawing a reference mark on the extension 
helps to make adjustments to the stop block.

pexels photo 139309

The setup is ok now, so we can cut 
all the parts to the exact same size. Internal supporting parts are cut at the same way. Corners of vertical front and side 
panels are going to be joined seamlessly. One end of all four boards is 
bevel cut at 45-degree angle by tilting the blade of the table saw, plus a miter gauge extension is used again. My son gave me a helping hand 
to fasten the stop block. To make the smallest parts which 
hold the wall structure together side boards have to be re-sawn first. It is straightforward and needs no measurements because only a board must be placed tightly 
between the blade and the rip fence. The result is a timber with 
a square cross-section.

It turned out to be unnecessary, 
but to stay on the safe side holes were drilled to avoid splitting. Finally it's time for assembly. First layer of lower frame is 
laid down on a flat surface with the joiner sticks in the corners. Work slowly when you drive the screws in and make sure that the joints 
are flush and there are no gaps. Don't worry, if you make any 
mistake you can easily fix it by undoing the screw and repositioning. Assembly of second layer is much easier, 
since the first one is a good reference. Just put the boards on top and fasten with screws. Now comes the top surface. Lay the four pieces of the frame down 
upside-down and ensure that all are square. Then put the bottom part on top of it.

Check that the overhang on both sides 
are equal, plus the back is flush. When you feel that it's okay, position the pieces which hold the whole 
thing together and drive in the screws. It's somehow satisfying to see 
as the whole thing takes shape. Adding the floor beams is one of the last steps. Just position by the eye as 
chances are that any random visitor will not ask for a caliper and 
complain about minor differences. The last pieces of the puzzle are the elements   supporting the inner ends of 
the frame and the floor beams. After I noticed that two joiners are 
conflicting, it was easy to reposition.

It's a good example how 
easy it is to fix an issue. The last part which finds its 
place is the middle support. It goes in the same way as the side ones. Finally completed! The back yard is ready for barbecue 
parties and of course a good glass of wine. Cheers and thank you for watching!.

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