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Cutting Horizontal Clapboard

Hi there!

We have a old house built in 1944. The exterior is covered in 8" clapboard. We have been scraping the old paint off using an infrared heater that we built ourselves after watching your show (awesome tip!). The results have been fabulous and we've been documenting everything. Our issue is this....drum roll...we have some boards that need to be replaced. However - the corners of the house (inside and outside) corners do not have corner boards. Instead the clapboard meets at each corner to a perfect point. We can't figure out how to cut the clapboard to do this. A simple 45 degree cut does not seem to be working. Any tips?

K&D Labiuk
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

A. Spruce
Re: Cutting Horizontal Clapboard

Because the siding laps bottom over top, it is angled to the vertical plane, which means that a straight 45* butt cut is not going to work, you must calculate the compound angle to accommodate the vertical angle and the corner angle.

I can't tell you how to calculate the proper angle, but I can tell you to use the pieces you're removing as a template to set your saw and a jig for cutting the new pieces. The corner angle will be easy, simply set your saw over the end of the board and tilt it to match the angle. The vertical angle won't be too bad to jig up either, but it will take some time to get it right and you'll need a right and left handed jig to cut both sides of the corner. What I would do is place a board tight along the top and bottom of the template piece, set your saw blade and leave the saw in full contact with the end cut. Now place a third board along the edge of the saw's shoe and screw it to the boards along the top and bottom of the template piece.

Now all you have to do is set the jig over the end of the piece of siding and make your cuts accordingly. Do a few test pieces and adjust your blade angle and jig angles accordingly.

Re: Cutting Horizontal Clapboard

What you are trying to do is fairly skilled. You can follow Spruce's guidelines, but if you don't have experience in compound cutting, forget it. You will destroy good materials down the drain.

Call an experienced carpenter with the right tools. You already saved a pretty penny on your remodeling, don't blow your savings here.

Re: Cutting Horizontal Clapboard

You will need skill, patience, a compound miter saw and a lot of spare wood to practice with.

Or hire someone. Preferably someone with a lot of grey hair.

Re: Cutting Horizontal Clapboard

If you've got a compound saw you can do this. Using similar-sized scrap of any flat wood material, lay one piece where it goes and draw the near-vertical outside angle on it. Do the same on the adjoining side. Cut with the saw beveled to 45deg. Now put the pieces together, taking note of what is too open or too closed in the joint angle. Alter the bevel a few degrees accordingly and try again being careful to stay with the first angle on the board, which may require an adjustment of the miter setting! Study the new joint and repeat this process till you've got a good fit. Now use the real thing which should fit. Tweaking the last degree or two will take some patience, just watch what happens at the joint as you make small adjustments to the saw. You can do this on a single-bevel compound by turning one piece upside down, the other right-side up.

Or you can hire a mathematician to calculate the settings for you


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