Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Deck Repair Adventure

I was not going to repair the deck before the planned big trip departure, but as that is delayed, I needed to get started.

I have a large ground level deck that surrounds my pool. It's about 20 years old now and some of the boards need replacement. It has a curved edge and the vertical boards were not done in the best way back then. You will see I have a better way now.

Dianne was worried someone would cut their feet on the rotted wood like this bit below. It does show the way I made the top and vertical pieces fit. 45 degree mitres and nails. Not really a secure way to join the two pieces.

Here's another example of the state of the occasional board. All like this have to be replaced.

I used / am still using a lot of tools for this job. Here is a chop saw and a set of persuaders.

A couple of useful tools. The one on the left is called a Cat's Paw. Generally, it is used on finer work, but I use it a lot.

My old drill has batteries that won't hold a charge. So, I now have a new drill and it's companion impact driver. Rigid is the only company that warranties the batteries too! But, you have to buy it from Home Depot.

These wooden steps at the base of the patio doors had to be moved. They are so heavy, I should have had a helper.

Some of the vertical pieces are in custom widths. So, how am I going to do a better job this time?

I'm going to use dowels. 30+ years ago, I bought the yellow dowelling jig shown below. You can see the first attempt in progress.

Custom width needed? Dowel two pieces together. This has the advantage of keeping the fancy rounded edges too!

The jig makes it easy to drill perfectly in the centre of a piece and to match up two pieces.

So, here is the old board removed...

And, the nice new board and vertical edge in place. Now I need to repeat this about a couple dozen times, on the house side alone.

Because the deck edge curves to match the curve of the pool, I have to mark each horizontal board and cut it at an angle. The length across the angle is longer than the width of one board, so that is why I have to make custom vertical boards. I cheated a bit on the original build but am going to do it right this time.

I am using some spacers on the concrete pool apron to ensure a proper vertical length and an equal space at the bottom of each vertical board.

And, this is the pile of old screws and nails I have pulled so far.

Most of this requires lying on the deck, using something that looks like a dental pick to clear the Robertson / Square Drive socket on the head of each screw and then trying to unscrew the fastener. If the wood is rotted at all, the screw just rotates in place. Then, I have to chisel wood near the screw head and use Vise Grip pliers to back out the screw. Did I just name another three tools?

One tool I used for this blog post is my Nikkor 105mm Macro lens. It's a bit long but a great lens.

OK, that's what I have been up to and will be up to for a while. Then, maybe I will be off on my big Western bike ride.


  1. Ed:

    what an excellent job you are doing now. The dowels are going to be much stronger than the mitred 45° edges with nails. It's going to be a challenge to follow that curved deck

    I am thinking you have the Nikkor 105mm 2.5 Macro which is an excellent lens. Is it the AiS version. I have the non macro 105mm 2.5 manual focus. I also have the 60mm AF-D micro which goes 1:1 without extension tubes

    Send air fare and I would be glad to document your project with photos. Always glad to be of help

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Thanks Bob
      Yes, it is 105mm with autofocus and stabilization. I'm impressed with the little photos in this post, given they are D90 Basic shots. I did not resize them. Used your suggested means of adding them to the post, mostly. The batch upload order to the post did not seem to match the order in the Web Album, which I had done to avoid having to do this twice. No big deal.

      Pulled more boards since the photos and found some of the understructure has some rot. It's localized to the sides of the sun shelter, where the roof sheds rain and the sun does not really reach to promote drying. Will "sister" the 2x6's and might cut out rotten wood and replace with 2x4s screwed in. I don't want to leave rotted wood there as the fungus/bacteria might spread and rot the new wood.