Preparation: Tips for Organizing Materials at Your Job Site


Once you have inspected your material and determined that you have the tools required to complete your project, it is time to think about setting up your job site. Even if this is a DIY project on your own home, working like a professional will save time, material and money. It will also give you the best possible finished product. Here are some tips for staging your job to make it as simple as possible.

Stacking Materials

It is always best to stack materials off of grassy areas for two reasons. First, the dew and moisture from the plant material will seep into your material causing potential warping and making it heavier and harder to work with. Second, it kills the grass. If available pavement is not too far from your deck site, stack materials there.

Use cross blocks to stack material on. Cross blocks are pieces of lumber laid flat on the stacking surface, perpendicular to the material, and spaced to support the material to prevent warping. In general, you will need one cross block for every 4 feet of length in your lumber, plus one for the end. (For example, 12 foot pieces should have 4 cross blocks)

Cross blocks help air circulate around material, drying it. They keep it up and out of water in case of rain, or irrigation. They also make bottom boards easier to lift.

Here are some simple rules for stacking to make it simple to access materials:

  • Stack perpendicular to nearby walls to allow access at the end of the material. This allows you to see material sizes and pull pieces from the stack easier.
  • Stack like materials together. This prevents confusion and saves time in sorting later.
  • If individual stacks are not possible, stack longest material on the bottom and start with materials you will use last so that your first materials are on top.

Setting up your Tools

Tools should be set up in stations. Set up your cutoff saw (miter saw, chop saw, or circular saw) near your materials stack so that leftover pieces can be easily restacked and only cut pieces are carried onto the deck. A miter saw stand, or saw horses are best to get the saw up to waist level where it will be easy to see and work with.

If you are sanding, drilling, or performing other milling tasks before the boards are installed, set those tools up near the saw with another set of saw horses to keep your work at waist height as much as possible to reduce fatigue and make it easy to see and easy to handle.

Pro Tip

Safety is a huge concern with electrical power tools. Here are some tips to keep your work space safe!

  • Use heavy duty electrical cords rated to handle the amperage your tools are pulling.
  • Use heavy duty power strips with built in breakers to plug tools into.
  • Plug large tools, such as miter saws and air compressors, into separate circuits if at all possible.
  • Keep tools that are not being used staged in a separate area out of the construction and traffic zones.
  • Manage cords carefully and keep them clear of traffic areas. Be aware of where your cord is at all time to reduce the risk of damaging the cord and prevent tripping.

Plan to clean up your work site every day. Put tools away so they are easier to find and stack unused materials correctly. Wrap up all cords and dispose of debris. It will save you time getting started in your next work session and save money replacing materials and tools.