New Crawlspace Cover

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I have been hurriedly completing some exterior maintenance on my house and yard before it gets insanely hot and buggy.  One of the last things to do was to replace the crawlspace cover that I made out of pressure treated plywood when we first moved in to the house 15+ years ago.  It was in rough shape.  One corner had rotted away and I had to put two bricks there to close up that hole.

This version I hope will last a lifetime.  I got a scrap piece of aluminum from a local metal shop for about what I’d have paid for 1/2″ plywood.  I cut it with a jigsaw equipped with a metal cutting blade and bent it to shape using a vice for the four corners and 2″x4″ clamped on for the rest of the edge that wouldn’t fit in the vice.  So it is one piece construction with no seams.

I did add a piece of pressure treated wood behind the handles and spanning the bottom corner just to help it maintain its shape.  I think that wood will last a long time since all pieces are completely protected from the elements and none touch the ground.

I used neoprene-backed metal washers to separate the stainless steel screws from the aluminum.  It isn’t completely isolated but hopefully this will minimize any galvanic reaction.

Things I learned:
1.  There is a place in town that sells scrap metal and plastic.

2.  Bending sheet metal that is longer than your vice or without access to a bend break machine is intensely hard!  I had to break out Mjölnir (my 5lb hammer) to get the bend started and then finish with a 2″ x 4″ clamped on as a lever.  It took me a few hours.  It is so easy when you have the right tools.  This job could have been done in seconds and looked much better.

3.  Next time find a bend break machine or buy a length of angle iron I could clamp in my vice to bend the metal fold over.

4.  Carefully check the parts I buy.  I grabbed two handles from the same bin and Lowe’s but they were different parts!  One is an inch longer than the other one.

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