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I need to cut 9 holes in potentially 9 pieces of decking board (composite). I am thinking about using this method:

  1. Drill a big hole ~1.5" using hole saw bit (for the door knob) in the middle

  2. Drill 4 holes at 4 corners of the square

  3. Then either (a) use a short blade reciprocating saw (so it won't shake) OR (b) use "Gyros 82-20715 Saw Blade w/Mandrel Set, Coarse-Teeth 3/4" Diameter" but hook to my drill gun (wired and wireless).

The problem with 3(b) is that the blade is not big enough to cut through 1" deck at once but this method has more control. I hate my reciprocating saw because it's big, heavy and shaking too much.

What are the common methods for this type of job?

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    Deck builders usually design a deck in such a way as to avoid making these kind of cuts because it removes too much wood, and makes the board weak. It also does not allow the boards to expand and contract properly. Typically, the railing is attached to the outside of the rim joists, and the deck boards are notched to go around the posts. The deck layout would be setup in such a way that the center of the post would fall on an edge of the deck board, so you would not have to remove more than half of the deck board for the notch. This ensures that the board will not crack easily over time. – Jason Hutchinson Jun 30 '16 at 18:22
  • Notching two deck boards to go around the posts needs to be stressed. Cutting a 3.5" hole in a 5.5" (probably) board will cause a problem. – Ben Welborn Jun 30 '16 at 20:27
  • I can't control the position of the posts and board much due to "cosmetic" reason. For example, I have an edge that is 9ft long, so I have to divide the posts to be 4.5ft apart evenly. Same thing for other edges. I have not laid all the boards down to see if in fact, any board will get 3.5" hole in middle. It's possible so that's why I asked. But yes, ideally I just want to notch half of two boards. – HP. Jun 30 '16 at 22:17
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There is also this type of saw that may work ok for this job:

enter image description here

This type has a lot more control than a larger reciprocating saw because the base rests on the surface of the decking board. These do have disadvantages in that when cutting thicker materials the blade can wander from straight down and create a cut that is not square with the surface. This can be controlled to a large degree by quality of the tool, blade selection and limiting the feed rate in the cut.

One advantage with this is that there would be no need to cut the larger diameter hole. Just two corner holes would be all that was needed.

  • When I used to frame decks, we'd always use a jigsaw like this. Once you get good you can actually cut without drilling a hole, just start with the blade as horizontal as you can get it and slowly lower it into the wood. I would recommend cutting at an angle instead of square; remove some of the lower portion of the decking to make it easier to install the posts. – DrewJordan Jun 30 '16 at 14:42
  • @DrewJordan - I also very often use a jigsaw in the manner that you describe without drilling holes. Particularly useful on thin materials like plywood such as cutting out the rectangular holes for soffit vents. – Michael Karas Jul 1 '16 at 1:19
  • Its a good idea to have something flat between the saw and the decking though to protect the decking surface.. – Trevor_G Mar 1 '17 at 18:06
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What are the common methods for this type of job?

The one you described, plus:

Multi-Cutter Tool

Hacksaw blade holder

Rasp

Chisel

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