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mskathie32

Wood Cut Outs

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Hello! My name is Kathie of Kathie's Lancaster Lights and I am planning for 2012. I have several wood cut out that I have made over the years and I need help.

I chose to use the wood that I believe is some of the thinnest wood you can buy at lowes or home depot. Maybe the 1/4" thick. I did that because it was easier for me to cut. I sanded it and then covered it in like 3 coats of outdoor house paint as well in hopes to help with the rain. However when it rains alot my characters start to bend over and I have to go and pull them all up and lay them flat. Its such a pain for me. When I put them in the yard I use rebar in the ground and have used a screw through the front and the pvc fitting of some kind to hold my characters. I know that doesnt make scence. ( you can take two pieces of pvc and connect them with the fittng) it works for me pretty good because then the characters dont move.

What might help with the bending of the characters. This year I didnt add them to my display and I sure felt the loss of half my display. I was thinking of adding a wood brace across the back and top to bottom to see if that might help. I sure hope I didnt loose anyone trying to explain. thanks !! ~Kathie

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I have used some 1/4 inch luan plywood over the years. I glue 1X4s on the back side for stability. On some of them I have to go both horizontally and vertically. Use a good quality exterior glue. If you have an arm sticking out you will have to put something on the backside to keep it from breaking off. Glueing the supports on the back side has worked well for me.

I pretty much only use 1/2 inch plywood now so the I only need to put a single 2X4 on the back side for attaching to a 5 foot T-post. I had too much breakage with the thinner plywood. We get a lot of wind in our area. On the half inch plywood I use screws to attach the plywood to the support and then fill the holes with wood putty and then just paint over it. I have had minimal breakage with the half inch plywood.

The 1/4 inch is certainly easier to handle and I understand why you like to use it. Hopefully the above makes sense.

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Hey Kathie -

I used to use 1/4" Masonite. What I did (and still do with Coroplast) is make a frame for the back side of each character out of 2x2 treated lumber (available at your big box store). I would then screw through the front of the character into the 2x2 frame... and touch up the screw (and washer) with paint so that it wasn't noticeable from the front. Here is a video showing the backside of one of my characters that shows the frame.

In order to stake my characters, I'd drive two wooden stakes into the ground and then screw through the stakes into the upright supports of the frame. I've never had a character blown over in the wind as of yet.

Good luck and post pictures of your characters!

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Sorry to hear the problems you are having with your cutouts. Are you painting both sides of your cutouts? Both sides the same color? I've been doing cutouts for 19 years now and anything under 1/2 inch is probably going to bend or bow. The only time I used 1/4 was some 4 ft pumpkins 3 yrs back and if left laying on something will start bowing. I just don't think the 1/4 is thick enough to use. I have used some 3/8 plywood but normally, I use 1/2 for anything no longer than 4 ft. Over 4 ft is either 5/8 or 3/4. What kind of saw are you using to cut with? A jigsaw with a fine tooth blade is the best thing to use if the project is too big to cut on a band saw. Go slow on turns, otherwise, the cut may wind up slanted. A good rotary tool such as a Dremel is also good for sanding the curves and edges. Attaching bracing may help some on the 1/4 you've already done.

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Hi kathie. I have used 1/4" plywood as well, used only exterior paint, and it still bends. Next year I am rebuilding everything with 1/2". I have some pieces that are over 6ft tall and will most likely use 3/4". Marine or treated bc plywood is the best, from what I've read, to use outdoors. Hope this helps.

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I have two 8' gingernbread cookie characters that are 1/2" exterior plywood, painted on both sides with exterior paint. I had to use lateral 1/4" bracing after the first season. Lessons learned: If building new, use wood glue on both horizontal and vertical bracing, use wood screws and not just finish nails.; If repairing, use suitable construction glue (not wood glue) and wood screws.

I still plan on using 1/4" exterior plywood for future projects. Even with braccing, it's still easier to carry.

You shouldn't use the weight alone of the finished piece to keep it in place. The cutout should be firmly affixed to the ground otherwise it can become a missle in your neighborhood during a sudden gust of wind.

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In my experience any plywood in the elements smaller then 3/4" that isnt braced will bow some what. 1/4" more then others. I brace everything I make, no matter how big or small. Wood glue and screws from the front. 1" X 3"s on the base near the ground, 1"x1" or 1"x2"s the rest of the way around... For 1 1/4" plywood is lighter and cheaper, plus easier on your saws. 3/4" and 1/2" eat up saws in no time with as much stuff as we make a year. As mentioned above the bracing on the back also doubles as a way of mounting in the yard. I use the U brackets and 1/2" conduit driven into the ground at opposite angles, almost impossible to pull out one it's mounted, and someone's not going to take the time to unscrew it to steal it. Never had something come lose even in strong new England weather. I use exterior latex paint from lowes or home depot to paint everything, if it's good enough to paint a house for 10 years, then there is no reason it can't be durable enough in your yard for 3-4 weeks a season. Plus when making stuff move, the lighter then easier on the motors and less torque to move it. 1/4" is lightest

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I too have had bending issues. But only with 1/4" osb plywood. The wood becomes so britle that even if you properly brace them you will still run the risk of the cut out popping off the braces and stake, then you are left with ugly holes. The best bet is to go with exteriour grade 1/2" plywood.

I have not had any issues before other than getting exhausted bringing all my creations up from the basement.

Good luck.

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Cabinet grade plywood will help with the bending issue this plywood is not normally sold at your big box stores but through a lumber yard or specialty wood store. The difference is in the plys or strands. Regular plywood (1/4) has 3 to 4 plys and osb (oreinted strand board) is basically chunks of plys pressure glued. The easiest way I can explain how to tell the difference is the cabinet grade wood normally will come in 5 foot by 5 foot sheets and can be in 1/8" - 1/4" - 3/8" - 1/2" -and up. Both sides will be finish grade in baltic birch. You can go on line to Rockler.com - search baltic birch plywood they have a 1/4" - 24"x30" piece for $9.99. I have paid around 26 bucks for a 5x5 sheet and yes it is more money but will hold up much better.

Also on the sagging issue try to give your cut out a bit of a curve as you stake it down. The slight bend will give your cut out a good back bone to stand up tall. My cut out is 36" tall by 28" wide I put two stakes at 26" across then off set the center stake by a couple of inchs poof wella instand back bone.

Happy Hanging

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Sorry, Kathie re read your post I will add to the earlier post, Hopefully you will forgive me .... :rolleyes:

On new cut outs I do what I posted earlier. On the ones you have (with good buys at garage sales as I do) I take a piece of aluminum tube and bolt it through the ply wood, two on each side of the cut out. I use two to three bolts each tube and being carful not to crush the tube just real snug. On the small ones (25 to 36 inch hieght) I use 3/8" tube and larger ones 1/2" tube and bolts. The bolts I use are called Panel connecter bolts these bolts do not leave a big old glob hanging off the cut out, any hardware store should have them. what really cole is know you have a ready made stand for your cut out just find rebar or large timber nail and slide the tube's over them in your yard. I just repaint the tube to match my cut out.

Happy Hanging.............. :D

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After reading all of the above it appears that the best thing to do with cut outs is to just buy thicker, sanded on one side, exterior plywood. I have found that rebar does not work as well as 1/2" metal conduit. Cut to length needed and be sure to flatten the end that goes into the ground. Flatten by hammering end against concrete curb or ?? Much stiffer than rebar and cheaper.

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I use 1/4 inch tempered masonite then I use liquid nails and glue a 2x4 on the back side and use 1x2s for reinforcement for the arms and legs then I use primer on front and back and be sure to seal up the seams where you glue the wood to the back so water dont get behind it, then I paint the front side then I go around the outside edge and back with flat black paint over the primer and seal it all up then you can use a steel fence post from lowes and screw to the 2x4 so that way there are no screw heads showing on the front and with the masonite there is no wood grain to show through the paint. I have some my dad made 30 years ago and I still use them every year. Hope that helps if you still need it.

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Boy, it has been hot outside trying to do cutouts. I spent the last 3-4 weeks working usually first thing in the morning or late in the evening cutting out new gingerbread stuff. We will using them at the grandkids school come Christmas. I've got about 15 pieces cut out and plan to do the base coats nest week so Kathy can start the detail painting when she feels like it. She has to much going on right not to get to it. Ususally, I'm the bottle neck getting it cut out and ready for her. Some of the patterns were Winfield's and the newer ones are Sherwood's.

Using the scrapes for skeleton skulls,hands, arms and legs for Halloween. I can paint and outline those as they take no great painting ability.

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After reading all of the above it appears that the best thing to do with cut outs is to just buy thicker, sanded on one side, exterior plywood. I have found that rebar does not work as well as 1/2" metal conduit. Cut to length needed and be sure to flatten the end that goes into the ground. Flatten by hammering end against concrete curb or ?? Much stiffer than rebar and cheaper.

I concur.

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Hey Kathie -

I used to use 1/4" Masonite. What I did (and still do with Coroplast) is make a frame for the back side of each character out of 2x2 treated lumber (available at your big box store). I would then screw through the front of the character into the 2x2 frame... and touch up the screw (and washer) with paint so that it wasn't noticeable from the front. Here is a video showing the backside of one of my characters that shows the frame.

Can you please tell me where to get this motor?

In order to stake my characters, I'd drive two wooden stakes into the ground and then screw through the stakes into the upright supports of the frame. I've never had a character blown over in the wind as of yet.

Good luck and post pictures of your characters!

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I bought a "glue on plywood" nativity scene that I just completed gluing and cutting - quite a project in hindsight. The directions said I should use 3/8" one side sanded plywood. But when I was shopping for the wood all of the 3/8" stuff already had a bow in it. I opted for the 1/2" which turned out to be the right choice. Even the 1/2" had a slight bow but after cutting the individual pieces they flattened out okay. The tallest piece is about 58" tall. No way would I consider 1/4". If you are going to put that much effort into a project I'd suggest going the added cost that will make it last.

I painted both sides with outdoor latex and my wife said she would paint the edges before I secured the conduit supports. I'll take some pictures and post them after I get them set up. I'm pretty jazzed about the whole thing!

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