Some tasks just aren’t flashy. After weeks of steady, yet not visibly exciting progress, my inner diva needed some sparkle. I’ve been working on framing a large porch and came to the point where I could start setting posts. The 17 6x6" posts range from two to eight feet. I would frame as much of the wraparound porch as could be set on temporary supports. Moving back to the central point

I could then level the frame and begin setting posts. The issue was that the first posts set were also the shortest. My posts will all be cut from six 16' 6x6"s. Before any posts were cut, I needed to create a cut list that allowed for all posts. Thus the non-flashy task that was threatening to push me over the edge.

In the mood or not, creating a cut list for posts is straightforward. Using a laser level, I established a benchmark. A benchmark is a point of reference from which measurements may be made. The base of the house-mounted ledger was the perfect benchmark. A laser level works by sending out a level spinning beam of light; think of it as a horizontal slice through space. A small handheld receiving unit beeps when near that horizontal beam. In addition to beeping there’s a screen with an arrow. The arrow points you the direction you need to go to find that horizontal beam. Once it’s located on the central arrows of the receiver, the unit’s beep becomes a steady tone. I had a steady tone above my ledger. By hooking a tape measure to the base of the ledger, the location I chose as a benchmark, I measured 12" to the central arrows of the receiver. That means my benchmark is -12", 12" below my laser level. Next I took a reading at the top of each concrete pad. This is the location of the base of the post. The benchmark of the base of ledger would be the top of the post. Let’s say the elevation at the top of a pad was -42". Keep in mind this is from the laser line. To find my post height I need to work from my benchmark, 12" below the laser line. This yields a post height of 30"; 42 minus 12.

The cut list generated isn’t meant to be exact. I’ll pull exact measurements as I level the frame. Once I have all my approximate post lengths written down I can determine how to most efficiently use the stock. I’ll start with the longest post, then decide which other posts will be cut from the same 16' post stock. Staying organized is key. First, draw a sketch to map and number all the posts. I letter my stock post. Six stock posts means I have A-E. If post 7 is cut from stock D along with four others, on my list it will read 7D, 1 of 4 (1/4).

Once I’ve gone to the effort of creating an efficient cut list, my next challenge is sticking with it. The temptation of ignoring the plan is great. A 16' pressure-treated 6x6" is heavy and awkward. It’s much easier to use one at a time rather than working through six simultaneously. On the up side, the stock becomes lighter and less awkward with every post cut from it. I set out hoping for some flash. On this task, getting easier as it progresses is as flashy as it gets.