Learn how to cut any kind of siding with these free and easy to follow instructions. Covers Hardy Plank, natural wood, and vinyl siding. If you have enough skill with a circular saw, then it is the tool of choice for most siding cutting tasks.
How to Cut Hardy Plank, Vinyl and Wood Siding
For most instances, use hand shears (aka tin snips) to cut vinyl or aluminum siding. They also work well for the trim pieces. All cutting processes with siding begins with measuring. Make sure to begin with an accurate measurement as possible. For square cuts, start by mark the siding with a speed square and carpenters pencil 1/2″ less than the exact measurement. This is necessary to allow for expansion and contraction. Use snips and cut slowly until you get the hang of it. It is difficult to shear the extra PVC in the first rib below the nailing flange. You may have to use two hands for this.
Use a circular saw. Do not allow for any expansion if the finish is not painted. For painted finishes allow 1/8″ for expansion at every joint. This is very important for Hardy Plank.
For pieces in gables with roof slopes on them you need to first establish the angle. The most accurate way to do this is with two scrap pieces of siding. Hold one on an an angle along the edge of the roof in line with the highest run of siding you are on. Hold the other beneath it and parallel with the finished siding. You can snap it into place if you like for vinyl applications. Mark the angle, this will be your pattern for this gable. Write Pattern on it so you don’t get it mixed up with any of the drops.
Setting up a Saw Table for Cutting Siding
Some siding professionals set up saw tables. These are homemade jigs that are basically tracks for a circular saw to slide on. All you need is a platform about 16″ wide and at least 8′ long. Set up a fence along the back edge of the plat form with a 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ rip. Orient it so you nail through the 3/4″ side. Establish a parallel line wide enough away from it to comfortably maneuver siding it between the rails. For square cuts, nail on a 2 x 4 rail positioned 1 1/2″ away from the desired path of the saw blade. Finally, screw on a slide for the saw to slide on. A piece of 3/4″ plywood about 6″ wide works well for this. Set it so there is about 1/2″ gap between the edge of the track and the saw blade. This translates into 2″ away from the table rail you just attached. Use this same approach for the roof pitches as well. Use screws for attaching the slide and rail so they can be easily adjusted or reset. Set the saw so the blade penetrates about 1/8″ into the platform. This will work for any kind of siding.