A New Deck Support Post

The rear deck rebuild adventure continues. Today’s goal was to remove remaining paint and stand up the corner post. Richard tackled the paint; I tackled the post.  I may have set a personal best in the number of power tools used today!  See if you come up with the same number as I do.

The old corner post will be sanded to remove discolored wood. After staining it will look like the new beam on the right.

After sanding, the old post looks pretty good. Unfortunately, it could not be used in the deck repair.

I started by sanding the post that we had taken down last week.  My thought was that a portable belt sander would work best for removing the top layer of discolored wood.  To that end I had picked up some sanding belts at Harbor Freight earlier in the week.  No success.  The belt loaded up right away and was basically useless.

Side note: I was at Harbor Freight, which is not close to my house, for another reason, and the sanding belts were an impulse purchase.  To my horror, they came in a variety of similar sizes: 3×18, 3×21, 4×20, 4×24, etc.  I whipped out my iPhone, googled Craftsman portable belt sanders, and noted that Sears was selling the 3×21 size.  I bought that size belt and they fit!

The end of the beam is marked for cutting. The 45 angle has too much dry rot to salvage.

I next tried the random orbit sander.  To my surprise, this device aggressively removed wood.  It was much faster than the belt sander and the sandpaper did not load up as quickly.  It did wear out so I was glad I had bought the large economy pack of sanding disks at Lowe’s.  The post had some paint left on it so I used the heat gun to melt it off before hitting it with the sander.

Rotten beam ends are cut off. A new post is needed because it has to be longer to fill the gap left by the cut beams.

My plan was to cut off the ends of the two beams where they met at a 45 degree angle, replace the two ends with a single short piece of 6×6 that would be lag screwed to the longer beams, and set the assembly on the same post that was there.  This plan had been reviewed with my consultant the week before.  To that end I had purchased an 8′ length of 6×6 (it did not come in shorter lengths).  Then I had second thoughts; I only need 9′ of the  10′ 6×10 beam.  I could trim the remainder into a 6×6 piece for the corner. and return the 8′ 6×6.

Two-inch angle iron was used to fasten the new post to the old beams. This produced a very secure joint.

I proceeded to mark all the cuts, took pictures of all the markings, and texted them to Tim for one last confirmation that I was doing the right thing.  Immediately the answer came back: “No! You need to replace the entire post.”  Tim had doubts about the ability of the lag screws to hold the weight of the deck.  Could I use the 8′ 6×6?  No, it was about 6 inches too short.

So I loaded up the 8′ post and lag screws and returned them to Lowe’s.  Unfortunately, Lowe’s does not carry 6×6 posts in lengths longer than 8′.  Fortunately Home Depot is a half mile away.  Unfortunately they don’t carry longer 6×6 posts either.  While I was wandering about the store, pondering my next move, I saw it.  One 6x6x10′ grade A post, sitting in the Return to Vendor (RTV) area.  It was special order, but had not been accepted by the customer.  Home Depot was glad to sell it to me for $20.

The new post is in place. I don't know exactly how the deck railings will look at completion, so the post was left at full 10-foot length to allow for maximum options. It will be cut to length later.

Back at the homestead, it was time to cut off the rotted ends of the beams and make room for the new post.   the first cut was made with a circular saw.  As this cut only went about halfway through the beam it was finished with a reciprocating saw.  Now there was room to stand up the new post.

A 1/2-inch hole was bored into the bottom of the post to fit the rebar coming up out of the concrete slab, using the corded drill.  A little hammer-and-chisel work was needed to trim up a warped beam, so the post could stand up straight.  The post was held in place with a piece of scrap wood fastened with deck screws driven by a cordless drill.

The job was completed by fastening the new post to the beams with 2-inch angle iron.  The angle was cut to length with the reciprocating saw and holes for the lag screws were drilled on the Shopsmith configured as a drill press.

Power Tools Used

Did you find all the power tools used in this adventure?  There were eight.  Here they are again.

  1. Portable belt sander
  2. Random orbit sander
  3. Heat gun
  4. Circular saw
  5. Reciprocating saw
  6. Portable corded drill
  7. Cordless drill
  8. Drill press

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