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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'd like to get some advice on how best to approach a sort of vivisection of a piece of furniture, that is to say how to cut it in half.

The item is cross between a utilitarian piece and fine furniture. It was originally designed as a specific type of rolling workstation that wouldn't look too offensive in a domestic setting. It's a desk combined with a sort of hutch with large hinged doors which swing open to make 'wings'.

Now, I'd like to now re-purpose it for service as a computer desk (it has a nice full width slide-out keyboard surface) by removing the doors. Simple enough.

The problem is it's too big 24"(W) x 48"(L) x 72"(H) to maneuver down the hallway and make the turns into my office/study. So I'd like to cut the top section off at the level of the desktop, and then perhaps reassemble it once I get it moved into study. The case is made of 5/8" ply and the back of the piece is I think 1/2" luan ply.

I'm racking my brain on how to get a straight, clean, even, cut flush with the desktop (latter is also of ply).

Any ideas?



























 

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did you build it?

Then know you how it was constructed. From what I can tell the sides are made from one piece and I "assume" the same for the back...hence your dilemma. I see that the hinges that hold the folding shelves can be removed leaving only the "half" side and the back.
You can make a cut with a circular saw and a guide all the way around IF you know where to make the cut.....? You could use a framing square and transfer the height of the desk top around the sides then intersect the 2 lines across the back. Just to make sure, I'd drill a 1/16" hole on your line ..carefully .... to see if the drill appears on the inside above the desk top.
You can favor the cut to slightly above the desk top OR slightly below and count on a piece of trim to conceal the kerf. You would want to set the kerf to just the thickness of the side and back material which is different. I'd want to lay the piece over to better manage the saw and guide.
Next question ....which to cut first the sides or the back...?
If you cut the sides first, the back will hold it together if you support the sides at the right height. If you cut the back first, it will be less manageable, in my opinion.
If you favor the cut above the desk surface and there is an "oops", it won't cause any damage. Then you could use a router to trim the excess flush OR below the surface for a trim piece.

Just some things to consider. Before doing anything post your plan here for the "operation" :laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks for the input Woodthings,
Yes, the sides and back are each made from a single piece of ply. As you've observed, once the hinges are removed the back is a 'half back'.

I like the idea of the circular saw and router trim bit. However, it's circular saw is one tool I dont own since my last one was ripped off many years back and never replaced, as I managed to get by without it.

Your sequence of cuts is also well thought out.

If anything gets damaged by the cut I'd prefer it to be the top, as the desk portion is more valuable and versatile to me, there's always an option down the road to use it as a stand alone desk by just adding some trim to the cut.

In my imagination I'd vaguely envisioned a sort of deluxe burly Japanese flushcut handsaw (like for trimming dowels) that tracks immaculately and cuts perfectly square ;)


Any other suggestions?
 

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I would recommend an oscillating multi-tool with a flush trim blade. Using that, you could use tape to protect the desk surface and cut it almost perfectly flush. You would want to put shims under the sections you had already cut to keep the weight off of the blade. You may also want to put masking tape on the outside for a cleaner exit.

If your not familiar with them, you don't want to just press them into the wood like with most power tools. If you do that, the tips will catch and it will burn, not cut. But, if you use a slight sawing motion, they cut very nicely (assuming you have a good blade).
 

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Are you SURE that cart won't make it down a hallway to your office? Most doors are wider than 24" and taller than 72", and with 4 larger swivel casters most hallways that are up to code should easily be wide enough in the corners for it to make a 90 degree turn.

I say this because I'm a university professor working out of an old building with fairly tight halls leading to offices, but I've dragged similar carts and larger PC cabinets from my office to a lab to a studio and back a few thousand times and never had a problem. Even if it is simply difficult but not impossible I'd recruit a couple of friends and give it a try. If you can move it whole that'll save having to slice it in two, which is clearly also a big challenge for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
4DThinker,
The desk unit is presently in my foyer. A 29" wide doorway off the foyer accesses a long, 36" wide hallway. I have to maneuver it through the doorway negotiating a 90 degree turn into the hallway; bring it down the long hallway, then negotiate it through another 29" doorway further down the hallway.
It's too big to make the turn through the first doorway into the hallway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I would recommend an oscillating multi-tool with a flush trim blade. Using that, you could use tape to protect the desk surface and cut it almost perfectly flush. You would want to put shims under the sections you had already cut to keep the weight off of the blade. You may also want to put masking tape on the outside for a cleaner exit.

If your not familiar with them, you don't want to just press them into the wood like with most power tools. If you do that, the tips will catch and it will burn, not cut. But, if you use a slight sawing motion, they cut very nicely (assuming you have a good blade).
That's an intriguing suggestion Tman1.
I have the Harbor Freight oscillating multi-tool (1st gen./non-variable speed & I've only ever used Harbor Freight blades). Despite owning one for several years I've only really ever scratched the surface of its use and I've never had occasion to do extremely exacting work with it ...I never would have thought of using one for this cut.
But it's definitely a highly interesting versatile seeming, much vibrating, and quick to heat up tool that's ripe for discovery (that and a pair of some heavy duty anti-vibration gloves)*.

Have you made long precise cuts like using an oscillating multi-tool?


While on the topic, can you point me to an online resource depicting an oscillating multi-tool doing a very fine panel crosscut? (For that matter any favorite site with deep exploration of the multi-tool?).


*Advice or recommendations for a seriously good pair of anti-vibration gloves, buffered yet with a good feel?
Or, perhaps an outstanding online review, test, or endorsement? Even my electric hair clippers can give me grief these days.
 

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4DThinker,
The desk unit is presently in my foyer. A 29" wide doorway off the foyer accesses a long, 36" wide hallway. I have to maneuver it through the doorway negotiating a 90 degree turn into the hallway; bring it down the long hallway, then negotiate it through another 29" doorway further down the hallway.
It's too big to make the turn through the first doorway into the hallway.
Cutting off the top is not going to help with this problem. The maximum width of the unit will still be the same because the bottom half has not changed.

Removing the front half of the "doors" will give you a overall lighter unit to be man handling.

If I am reading this post correctly the problem is the 48" length of the desk. Have you actually tried to make this move and found it would not work?

If not, I would make a scale drawing of this unit on quarter ruled paper and see just how close it comes to working. If it is close you may be able to remove a piece of door trim and get it to work.

George
 

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If you just "have to" cut the unit I would suggest a Japanese style pull saw. If you practice with that some you may find that you can make an almost mar free cut.

George
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Cutting off the top is not going to help with this problem. The maximum width of the unit will still be the same because the bottom half has not changed.
Hi GeorgeC,

As it is now intact, with the castors removed it's measurements are 72" x 48" x 24'.


If I am reading this post correctly the problem is the 48" length of the desk.
It's the 72" height of the unit combined with the 4' width and 2' depth ... it just gets wedged trying to make the turn through the narrowish doorway/hall.

With the castors removed, doors removed, and the top (carefully!!) cut off, the unit dimensions are 24" x 48" x 28.5". I can't foresee any problem tilting in on it's side and carrying it through the doorways/hall... at that point it's essentially a tidy 2' x 2.3' box (although 4' tall, but not problem going through a 7' doorway).
 

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Hi GeorgeC,

As it is now intact, with the castors removed it's measurements are 72" x 48" x 24'.



It's the 72" height of the unit combined with the 4' width and 2' depth ... it just gets wedged trying to make the turn through the narrowish doorway/hall.

With the castors removed, doors removed, and the top (carefully!!) cut off, the unit dimensions are 24" x 48" x 28.5". I can't foresee any problem tilting in on it's side and carrying it through the doorways/hall... at that point it's essentially a tidy 2' x 2.3' box (although 4' tall, but not problem going through a 7' doorway).
Before you do anything that is not reversible do a model.

George
 

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Lovegasoline said:
That's an intriguing suggestion Tman1.
I have the Harbor Freight oscillating multi-tool (1st gen./non-variable speed & I've only ever used Harbor Freight blades). Despite owning one for several years I've only really ever scratched the surface of its use and I've never had occasion to do extremely exacting work with it ...I never would have thought of using one for this cut.
But it's definitely a highly interesting versatile seeming, much vibrating, and quick to heat up tool that's ripe for discovery (that and a pair of some heavy duty anti-vibration gloves)*.

Have you made long precise cuts like using an oscillating multi-tool?

While on the topic, can you point me to an online resource depicting an oscillating multi-tool doing a very fine panel crosscut? (For that matter any favorite site with deep exploration of the multi-tool?).

*Advice or recommendations for a seriously good pair of anti-vibration gloves, buffered yet with a good feel?
Or, perhaps an outstanding online review, test, or endorsement? Even my electric hair clippers can give me grief these days.
I have not made that long or precise of a cut with a multi-tool. I am also not familiar with the harbor freight one, but my understanding and experience is that in general, it's the blade quality that is most important. I would not try this with a harbor freight blade or a straight blade. I would get a name brand half circle blade, possibly a bi-metal blade. As long as you keep the blade moving in a sawing motion and don't try to just plunge it through, you shouldn't have issues with burning. (Assuming you also support the weight of the upper cabinet so it is not resting on the blade. You may want to lay the cabinet on its side. I would not expect a perfect cut, but if you use the desktop as a guide it should be pretty clean. My biggest concern would be protecting the desk top. You would need to keep a close eye on the tape so you didn't wear through. I don't have any recommendations for dealing with the vibration, other than if you push the blade in to hard, it will make the vibrations, cutting and burning all worse. I'm sure someone can recommend some gloves to help with the rest of the vibrations. It definitely is a long cut for a multi tool and you will need to be patient. If you're patient, I would expect it to be faster than a pull saw, but with a lower limit on how clean of a cut you can get. (I'm not very good with hand saws, so I would probably get a better cut with the multi-tool.)
 

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OK, so the box won't fit into the hallway. It'll only fit with the bottom half standing on end if you chop the height in half. Any chance it'll come completely apart? If it'll unscrew into flat pieces then it could be taken in pieces to your office to be screwed back together.
 

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Are you SURE that cart won't make it down a hallway to your office?
+1. :yes: My thoughts exactly. If you took off the two doors and removed the casters, it should make it to where you want to go. You may have to tip the top over or squiggle it through a doorway, or remove the passage door and the trim. It's gotta fit. Maybe you just gave up too soon.

If cutting it is the last resort, you could use anything really, even a handsaw, and do above the desktop. It can be a few inches or whatever. After the cut, the top should fit reasonably well on top of the lower edges, and can be installed on dowels. If necessary, horizontal trim can be added.






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Maybe it was brought into its current room and assembled in place.
I believe this would be unusual. When I'm at this point I stand back and think it had to get in here somehow. Keep trying different twists and turns before giving up.
 

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this thread haunts me...

Cut 1/8" above the desk top, cut into the desk top, use a circ saw part way through then finish with a hand saw, cut all the way through with a circ saw, cut 3" above the desk top and leave the edges as a retainer to prevent small items from falling over, cleat the interior and space the upper unit up 1/8" to allow for the missing kerf, .... so many choices.

Just cut the daggone thing and give us a break. :yes: :boat:
 
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