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Old 11-03-2016, 09:08   #31
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

I used a Dremel with an apprasive cut-off disk to cut rectangular openings when I built a panel for my previous boat. Drills for holes, table saw for outside trim cuts. I did it in my home shop, so it was easier. To make an opening with rounded corners, I used a drill at the corners then connected the tangents with the cut-off disk.
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:03   #32
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

had to over size hole for new radio, sabre saw worked well,
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:36   #33
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

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Originally Posted by Aaarrgh View Post
Vibrating "plunge saw" - very easy to control for precise straight cuts. Drill corners for rounded corners.
Never heard it called that in the UK but if it's what we over here call a scroll saw -

Spot on, +1, best tool for that job by a mile.

Scroll saws are built for pierced work like that. Incredibly easy to control and follow a line of any shape.

You move the work not the saw.

Soon as you see a picture you'll get it.
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:41   #34
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
What in the blazes type of aluminium are you guys cutting that causes a 10000+ rpm cutting disc to bind up in 3mm thick sheet?
It's not the type of Aluminum that's the problem, it's using the wrong type of cutting disc.
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:46   #35
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

There is some missing information here? size and shape of the desired hole. and what surface finish in the dash board to be worked on. In terms of need to protect it from solvents and heat.

In Victorian times in England they taught machinist apprentices the rhyme.

Oil on steel nothing on cast,

paraffin on ally nothing on Brass.

So WD 40 perhaps, Lamp oil or similar more traditional might be better. Rapid tap perhaps the best.

I make up a plywood template of the desired shape over sized to account for the off set of the tube guide. Temporarily attach it to the surface with double sided tape and or use a hot glue gun. Drill an over sized hole than the diameter of the router cutter and then router out the hole. Try .5 mm depth of cut and go around 6 times. with coolant.
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:52   #36
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

I have cut a lot of aluminum over the years just by treating it like wood & using power woodworking tools & blades.
From 16ga sheet to 1 " plate-not much different than wood. Feed slower,use a little liquid soap,clamp well.
Tablesaw,radial arm saw,bandsaw,jig & sabre saws.
Aluminum is very slippery-it needs to be well clamped or screwed. Masking tape the "good" surface-both for protection & slippage of portable saws.
Drill starting holes at corners. Square the corner after with a jig/sabre saw. Use good holesaws for round holes/gauges.
Greenlee makes square as well as round chassis punches,but no need.

Sand, buff & wax after cutting.

Cheers/ Len
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:52   #37
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

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Originally Posted by Brewgyver View Post
It's not the type of Aluminum that's the problem, it's using the wrong type of cutting disc.
Yes, if you use a regular bench grinder for example on a piece of aluminum, it can clog up the grinding wheel and make it explode, I bust enough of those little disks on a Dremel I've learned to not put my face in the path of the flying pieces
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Old 11-03-2016, 12:07   #38
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

If you don't want to shell out for a scroll saw mount your jigsaw upside down.
Blade about 24 tpi will be easiest to control.

Clamp it securely in one of those folding work benches with full length vise jaws with the saw's face plate just above the worktop.
Handy way to use a router too.

Hole drilled in each corner obviously, work piece face up, saw cuts on downstroke.

Key point is that you guide the work piece not the saw.

There are air panel saws used for vehicle bodywork, bandsaws, lots of different choices.
Scroll saw is best though, no question

on edit: not band saws for pierced work of course, was thinking back to using them for days at a time on sheet alloy.
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Old 11-03-2016, 12:51   #39
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Get some scrap and experiment with it, if not too many holes and if they are straight lines and corners you can do very well with a cut off wheel in a die grinder and files, of course radius the corners to prevent cracks.
Circular holes are best done with a body punch up to 3" or so

Called a chassis punch, male and female parts, small hole put one on each side tighten bolt in center, it punches out a clean hole
This thing
http://www.chevpac.co.nz/catalogue/p...pg?w=600&h=600

Same thing, but for aircraft, makes perfect holes for aircraft instruments in instrument panels
INSTRUMENT HOLE PUNCH 2-1/4 AND 3-1/8 ( ATS-123C ) from Aircraft Spruce
Yep, Chassis punch is the only way to go, if you can find the right size.
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Old 11-03-2016, 13:22   #40
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

The neatest, and perhaps simplest and safest way to cut a rectangular hole in your aluminum panel could be to use a trim router with ~1/4" carbide bit (lube with wax-type blade lube) and bushing on a simple plywood pattern. The pattern protects the panel during the entire operation.

But it can also be done using a saber saw with rip blade (again, lubed to keep the blade from clogging/catching). Very slow feed and blade speed faster than you would think necessary, to prevent catching; plenty of downwards pressure to prevent the saw from lifting.
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Old 11-03-2016, 13:52   #41
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

OK, Dockhead, time to get serious.


Check out the free CAD software from emachineshop.com or any other online service. Draw a new panel, pick the material you want, select waterjet or laser cut, and let them do all the messy stuff. You'll have a nice custom panel back to you in the next week's mail.


Something any competent machine shop will be able to do too, if you can find one around.
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Old 11-03-2016, 14:06   #42
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

The only hand tool that will suit for you job is a good quality Pneumatic jigsaw

like https://eshop.wurth.co.uk/Complete-c...gid/en/GB/GBP/

Electric alternatives or cheap warehouse variants has several times proved to be unsuitable.
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Old 11-03-2016, 14:17   #43
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

I've done this many times in the past for non-boat projects. Make holes at the corners of your cutout using Greenlee punches. You want a radius on the corners as it retains the most strength in the panel. Something like this, but pick an appropriate dia. Connect the outside of the corners with a square nibbler tool like this. You can follow a scribed line easily with this. Using just these hand tool, you can make very nice cutouts and with very little dressing with a fine file will look like they were done by CNC.
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Old 11-03-2016, 15:08   #44
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

\I am a sheet metal worker I think the best methord is tape up the face of the panel and use a jig saw with approiate blades\24 tpi too smoth alu will cloge the teeth
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Old 11-03-2016, 15:22   #45
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Re: Nibbler? Or Dremel Router? Cutting Alu Instrument Panel

Terra Nova is on the right track. Use a small plunge router with a straight tungsten bit.
Clamp your workpiece down on a thick piece of plywood.
Make a fence of say 2x1 scrap timber in the shape of your desired cutout, but much larger so that when the footplate of the router is pushed along inside it, the router bit describes the hole you want to make.
The fence needs to be well secured.
You may want to drill a small hole to start the router.
Totally foolproof, and you do your test runs using a thin bit of ply to make sure the hole is the size and location you need.
I love routers and fences, they are my preferred way of cutting if I want an accurate clean cut.
Use eye and ear protection.

Regards,
Richard.
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