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I need some good opinions on cutting down the size of my layout.  After 15 years I have decided  to remove the one side that is against the wall. I need to cut length 20' long. I want to be able to walk around all of the layout. I need to cut through 5/8" plywood,  1/2" homesite, plus the framework 2x4's. I want the cleanest way possible. I have the room full of trains and buildings that I don't  want to  clean afterwards. Let's hear your suggestions.  Thanks Dave

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Hey Dave. Well....if you are cutting wood, it is going to take a saw. I would use a combination of circular, jig and reciprocating saws. I would have a helper use 1 or 2 shop vacs with a nylon over the exhaust vent to control the dust from being blown into the air. Any saw dust that still occurs should drop down to the floor where if can be cleaned up. I would think this approach should keep dirt to a minimum.

Go slow and cut straight lines to avoid excessive sanding later.

Regardless, unless you have access to a laser, you will get some saw dust to deal with.

Donald

I think you have a dust problem. Cutting Homasote with a saw makes a huge amount of dust and it has to be a saw to cut the plywood beneath. A circular saw with a vacuum cleaner hose attached would help but there will still be dust.

To cut the 2X4 framing in place I think you will need to use a sawzall to have sufficient reach. Again, lots of dust.

Done this more than once.  In fact just did one of these in July.  A new fine tooth hardened tip circular saw blade with an attached clean hepa filtered vacuum on top and a helper following below with a hepa filter shop vac.  I also use Delta air cleaners on a dolly to follow the work.

Of course, before you start, place temporary supports on involved cross members to maintain structural integrity at what will be the new platform edge.  Carefully align a level horizon on the raw edge.   Then, with fresh STRAIGHT material, apply a well supported new  side rails

Depending on how delicate your layout decorations are, consider using light weight poly 1 mill paint drop cloths.

I saw Homasote indoors on a somewhat regular basis in customers homes with nary a complaint.  I can not stress enough the need to have a freshly cleaned hepa filter and a new saw blade.

Once you have run the slit then follow up with a SawsAll to complete cuts in the cross members.

You could use a quality Bosch jig saw however the edge will not be as  straight as a circular saw would provide. The most irregular cut would be one cut with a reciprocating saw.

If you skip any one step in the above you potentially can have a mess.

In any event, cutting a 1 1/8" dado to accommodate the 5/8" plywood and the 1/2" Homasote along the inside top edge of the new side member would clean up the cut.  Follow up by cutting any involved crossmembers back equal to the depth of the dado.

If you have 3 1/2" frame members on the rest of the layout use a custom 4 5/8" ripped new side member to share a common lower edge.

Last edited by Tom Tee

John's chain saw is an interesting idea.   May be a little less intense.  An assortment of different blades, one that I have used successfully is a reverse cut/ cuts down and into the material, with limited splitter-ing of the surface.  Variable speed is nice.

Dirt, dust, debris is a constant remodel concern.  Customer education about the process helps.  Comment at the end of the day.  If dirt, dust is the problem, it's been a very good day.  IMO,  Mike CT.

Edit/Add:  Remove nails use an old hand saw.  10/26/20 AM.

Nursing homes/hospitals use positive ventilation systems, with hepa-filters, to contain construction dust.   You would also see this type of equipment, and containment, on a site where asbestos is being removed.   Can become a matter of how much money you wish to spend.

Last edited by Mike CT
@Tom Tee posted:

Done this more than once.  In fact just did one of these in July.  A new fine tooth hardened tip circular saw blade with an attached clean hepa filtered vacuum on top and a helper following below with a hepa filter shop vac.  I also use Delta air cleaners on a dolly to follow the work.

Tom's the king of doing this kind of work with minimal mess, I was impressed how little debris we generated cutting wood and Homasote.

HO track is pretty frail. How to do the least damage?  The fella I was asked to help with this is new to trains and I don't know him at all. We're meeting at the house for the first time at 2 today.  Will probably use a Dremel that I saw there the other day. A realtor friend asked to to advise them on this removal as the house was just recently sold. Layout has been sitting for several years since the owner passed.  Wish I had met the builder some years ago as the layout is fairly large and themed on the Santa Fe.

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