Adding an Outlet to Cabinets - HOW? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-11-2010, 03:46 PM   #1
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I've done the usual search of the forums, and haven't had luck finding this. I have a 1972 Boler, 13' and I want to add an electrical (110) outlet to the cabinet. There is one right in front, but I wanted to add one to either the end at the dinette, or the end at the bench, whichever is easier to get to. Anyway, long story short, how do you cut into the plastic cabinets without wrecking it? What tool have most of you used? Thanks!

EDIT: Sorry for putting it in the wrong subforum. I though it might should be in here, but I wasn't sure.
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Old 06-11-2010, 05:03 PM   #2
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Hi Gord,

I have put electrical outlets in the main kitchen cabinet, the big cupboard, and the rear dinette bench on the cupboard side. For the outlets which were far away from the electrical service inlet, I used a standard outdoor extension cord for wiring. This was because the stranded wire used in outdoor extension cords should handle the flexing and vibration better than solid core house wiring and the cord is already waterproofed.

To cut into the fibreglass body parts, I first drill a 1/4 inch or so hole along one of the outlines of my electrical box. Then I use a standard electric jig saw with a wood blade to cut out the shape I want. It is, however, important that the blade guard of the jig saw not touch the fibreglass that you are cutting. This is because the jig saw will leave scratch marks on the fibreglass if it is painted or even if not painted, which are impossible to get rid of. The jig saw will leave these marks even if the blade guard is covered in tape, as I do to avoid scratch marks in wood or metal.

So, what I do is manually hold the jig saw in the air while cutting, so that only the blade itself comes in contact with the fibreglass, This is actually quite easy and has worked perfectly. It uses up the blade fairly fast, but blades are cheap.

I also recently installed large access doors on the outside of the trailer, using the same technique to cut the holes. That post can be found here: http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...howtopic=40060

Of course, fibreglass fills the air so you would want a breathing filter and protective glasses, and I also use ear protection although it is not really necessary for the particular saw that I use.

Hope that helps,
Rick G
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Old 06-11-2010, 05:14 PM   #3
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Oh that's great Rick, thanks for the info! I considered a jig saw, but having never tried it, I had visions of plastic cracking and breaking off etc. I also thought of a dremel.

But I do have another question for you though. When you mentioned that you used extension cords for outlets on the other side of the electrical service, did you just drill a hole in the bottom of the Boler and ran the cord underneath? And did you use silicon to seal the hole? I'm curious about this too, because I might in the future need to do that as well. Thanks!
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Old 06-11-2010, 07:02 PM   #4
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Just as an aside Gord... your cabinets are not plastic. They too are fiberglass.
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Old 06-11-2010, 07:48 PM   #5
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To cut into the fibreglass body parts, I first drill a 1/4 inch or so hole along one of the outlines of my electrical box. Then I use a standard electric jig saw with a wood blade to cut out the shape I want. It is, however, important that the blade guard of the jig saw not touch the fibreglass that you are cutting. This is because the jig saw will leave scratch marks on the fibreglass if it is painted or even if not painted, which are impossible to get rid of. The jig saw will leave these marks even if the blade guard is covered in tape, as I do to avoid scratch marks in wood or metal.
How about putting tape on everything? The blade guard and also mask off the surface to be cut?

I think it might be possible to attach some protective surface to the blade guard, maybe a Delrin or Teflon runner, with counter-sunk screws?

Have you ever tried one of the Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating tools? It looks a little like a small angle grinder, but it has a semi-circular cutting blade, and can also take different sanding tips. It looks like it might be a good tool for small fiberglass and gel-coat repairs. I saw one at Home Depot (they're about $100) and was going to try it out on a panel I need to install. I may try the jigsaw first, though.

Regards,

Matt
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:51 PM   #6
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One nice thing about the Fein Multimaster/knock offs (oscillating blades) is that they create very little dust, and what they do make tends to mostly fall down (vs. flying everywhere).

Otherwise, I tend to tape a stick to a vacuum hose and hold the end of the hose right next to the tool.

Raya
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:51 PM   #7
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How about putting tape on everything? The blade guard and also mask off the surface to be cut?

I think it might be possible to attach some protective surface to the blade guard, maybe a Delrin or Teflon runner, with counter-sunk screws?

Have you ever tried one of the Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating tools? It looks a little like a small angle grinder, but it has a semi-circular cutting blade, and can also take different sanding tips. It looks like it might be a good tool for small fiberglass and gel-coat repairs. I saw one at Home Depot (they're about $100) and was going to try it out on a panel I need to install. I may try the jigsaw first, though.

Regards,

Matt
I use nothing more than a regular Dremel rotary tool with a disc cutter follow the line that you put on so you have something to follow. Works well but does get a little smelly and the dust is a problem no matter what method you use.
Ken
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Old 06-11-2010, 09:03 PM   #8
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I often wrap some electrical tape around the end of a hacksaw blade. Goes very fast after you drill a hole or two to stick it through. On some jobs you may not be able to get a jigsaw maneuvered to the right place, but the hacksaw blade almost always gets to it. Less dust with it too.
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Old 06-11-2010, 09:09 PM   #9
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How about putting tape on everything? The blade guard and also mask off the surface to be cut?

I think it might be possible to attach some protective surface to the blade guard, maybe a Delrin or Teflon runner, with counter-sunk screws?

Have you ever tried one of the Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating tools? It looks a little like a small angle grinder, but it has a semi-circular cutting blade, and can also take different sanding tips. It looks like it might be a good tool for small fiberglass and gel-coat repairs. I saw one at Home Depot (they're about $100) and was going to try it out on a panel I need to install. I may try the jigsaw first, though.

Regards,

Matt
I've recently cut some holes in the interior cabinets of my Trillium. The Dremel with the reinforced cut off disc was the ticket; not fast but very precise, but eats up the wheels pretty fast. As always; respirator, eyewhere, ect.
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Old 06-11-2010, 10:29 PM   #10
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I have a dremel and a jigsaw, so I guess I'm not sure. It sounds like either option works well for everyone. My only issue with a jig saw is that sometimes it gets away from you. I think I'd have to be very diligent to make sure I didn't go off course. The dremel sometimes feels like its going to vibrate your arm off and can take a while. I think I'll try the jig saw.

What has everyone done to get power into other sides of the camper? Have you run the cable beneath etc?
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Old 06-11-2010, 10:29 PM   #11
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On some jobs you may not be able to get a jigsaw maneuvered to the right place, but the hacksaw blade almost always gets to it. Less dust with it too.
Good point! The lack of dust is a major plus to using hand tools. I find a hand drill to be very useful for the same reason. I just dampen a paper towel and place it below the drill and the small amount of shavings fall onto it and "stick" there. Much better than dust flying around (not to mention the noise).
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Old 06-11-2010, 10:59 PM   #12
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Yes, I have one of those little hand held hack saws. That's a great idea, and you don't have nearly the chance of it getting away from you. Great point.
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Old 06-12-2010, 01:06 AM   #13
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A dremel tool with a cutting wheel works very well in areas where there is little room for a jig saw.
I prefer the dremel for small cut outs such as an electrical outlet.
John
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Old 06-12-2010, 06:36 PM   #14
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Thats one of the cool things about Uhauls (double walls) is that you always have a built-in wiring chase throughout the trailer. The base cabinets all connect together so any wiring can run inside them, from one side of the trailer to the other.
For those without that contiuous connection, I have also heard of some people running the wire through base cabs, and then crossing the open spaces using those plastic enclosures made for cord management in homes ('wire mold'). They're run low on the wall near the corner of the floor and are not really very noticeable.
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