Cutting Fiberglass - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-21-2008, 12:00 PM   #1
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Hi,

I have a few fiberglass projects that will require some cutting. I am going to enlarge the closet opening by 1/4" on both sides so that the standard plastic shelf system will fit in like it did on my 72'. I will also be enlarging the converter opening height by 2"s to fit my new 3 stage smart charger/converter.

I have lots of tools including routers/sawzalls but I am thinking a Dremel style tool would be the best fit for this job as it's more accurate (anything is more accurate then a sawzall). Has anyone done this kind of thing before? Looking at the Dremel products I can't see a cutout blade that is specific for fiberglass.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-21-2008, 12:47 PM   #2
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A dremel cutting wheel might work for a smaller job but sure would take a long time for bigger ones. Maybe a jig saw with a finishing blade? I was wondering the same thing and am curious to find out what others will answer.
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Hi,

I have a few fiberglass projects that will require some cutting. I am going to enlarge the closet opening by 1/4" on both sides so that the standard plastic shelf system will fit in like it did on my 72'. I will also be enlarging the converter opening height by 2"s to fit my new 3 stage smart charger/converter.

I have lots of tools including routers/sawzalls but I am thinking a Dremel style tool would be the best fit for this job as it's more accurate (anything is more accurate then a sawzall). Has anyone done this kind of thing before? Looking at the Dremel products I can't see a cutout blade that is specific for fiberglass.

Thanks in advance.

I used a Dremel Tool with a sidecutting "zip" blade on my closet walls and exterior it did great.

BUT, be careful!

Unless you have some sort of miter, or guide, or something, you will not be able to cut a straight line. You will NEVER be able to cut straight freehand, you have to have some sort of guide, or undercut everything and sand down to your final dimension.

Good trick...mark your cuts 1/8" short and heavily scribe your cuts first. The scribe will act like a "pilot hole" and if you're careful, your "zip" blade will track along it. The 1/8 offset will give you a margin of error and you'll only have about a 1/16" deep edge to smooth down.(the blade cuts about 1/16" wide cuts)

I recommend you get the drywall cutting attachment for the Dremel tool. You can use it to set your depth, and it can help you by offering a solid offset for your cut as well. It's a cone-shaped clear plastic guide that fits around the tool tip and allows the blade depth to be set. If you have the room, you can lay a straightedge along your cut, offset by about 1" and it'll act as a fence guide. You then just run the tool along the straightedge.

Dremel Tool...2 Thumbs up!

ConwayBob
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:19 PM   #4
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Hi,

I have a few fiberglass projects that will require some cutting. I am going to enlarge the closet opening by 1/4" on both sides so that the standard plastic shelf system will fit in like it did on my 72'. I will also be enlarging the converter opening height by 2"s to fit my new 3 stage smart charger/converter.

I have lots of tools including routers/sawzalls but I am thinking a Dremel style tool would be the best fit for this job as it's more accurate (anything is more accurate then a sawzall). Has anyone done this kind of thing before? Looking at the Dremel products I can't see a cutout blade that is specific for fiberglass.

Thanks in advance.
Hi Booker
I clamped a steel ruler (any steel straight edge would do) to the side of the opening to provide a guide for my saw blade. The I used a manual hacksaw with medium tooth. That worked quite well. Then use a file or emery paper to smooth the sharp edges.

Rene
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:25 PM   #5
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I think Kevin used my Dremel to cut the hole in the Burro when we installed the window air conditioner through the back of the Burro. I could not tell you the blade though.

CindyL
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:27 PM   #6
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I used a dremel to cut a vent hole 1/2" wider...worked well but it was a very small job dremel got pretty warm so I took my time. Wear a mask of some sort it gets pretty dusty. Brandy
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:30 PM   #7
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I've had to do a lot of fiberglass cutting lately while finishing my new EggCamper. You can find some pictures in the "EggCamper Kit Buildout" post.

I use a jigsaw, the baby brother to the sawzall, and a wood cutting blade (14 or 18 tooth). I have found that, if you take it slow, you can make a very accurate cut. One thing I have found to be very helpful is to outline the area where you are making the cut with blue masking tape. It gives the jigsaw foot something to slide on to avoid scratching the gelcoat and, at the same time it gives you a very visible indication of where to cut. It is orders of magnitude better than a felt tip marker line hidden under the dust generated by the saw. If you have a variable speed jigsaw keep the speed down. You can control the direction of the cut much better and, if things do go wrong, you have a much smaller mistake to repair.

To clean up the edges of the cut I use a fine wood rasp.

The last bit of advice. Measure many times before you cut.
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:52 PM   #8
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I would echo the Dremel for small projects. I have used jig saws for big projects but prefer to use my 4 inch grinder with a thin metal cutting blade which makes the edges smoother. The saw tends to shred the fiber and leaves a ragged cut. I can also cut my aluminum and stainless parts easier and finish them to a smoother edge.

Tape is definately the best way to mark the hole. You can pencil the finished edge and then tape to that line so you have a good guide line to follow.
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Old 05-21-2008, 03:28 PM   #9
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I second the use of tape, except I usually tape up the foot of the jigsaw mostly to keep it from scratching the gelcoat.

Since fiberglass/resin is very abrasive to cutting tools I prefer to use a short metal-cutting blade in the jigsaw, and the stroke works better for me when there it is set for NO orbital action. Grabs less and is easier to control.

A rough round thin file has also been quite helpful when cutting to fit switches and outlets. A manual hacksaw blade with some electrical blade around one end is very efficient and controllable.
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Old 05-21-2008, 04:54 PM   #10
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The very best thing I've ever seen to cut fiberglass is Dremel 565 Multi Purpose Cutting Kit 565D.

It makes a very smooth cut, no chips, tape isn't needed.
The control is unbelievable. I carefully measured and drew the cutout needed to install my propane detector. I drilled a hole in the section to cut out, inserted the dremel bit and made a freehand almost perfect cut. I was absolutely amazed as how easy it was. I've tried saber saws, key hole saws, etc. and nothing compares.

OK, my $.02 worth

Byron
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:05 PM   #11
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I used the same cutting tool as Byron without using the guide or skirt shaped thing, I agree it is wonderful. My biggest worry was that it would run off in the direction of rotation but that was not a problem. I cut it freehand but if I had a long straight cut like it sounds as if you would like to make, I would clamp a hardwood guide in place.
Chris
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:23 PM   #12
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Ah, the Dremel kit I was looking at has just that guide:
400-3/55 400 Series XPR Rotary Tool Kit

Maybe it's a sign I should run out and buy it today =)
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:27 PM   #13
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Byron, what tool bit did you use?
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:49 PM   #14
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I have also enlarged many openings in our egg but have used a different approach with great success. I used a fine point permanant marker (and a good straight edge) to draw the pattern I needed then I went at the area with a pneumatic flat board sander. Yes it threw A LOT of f/g dust and a mask was worn, but perfection was a piece of cake with no necessity of follow up detailing.
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