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Good Method for Cutting out a Window.

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#1
Hey guys if you happen to be a craftsman and have the skill and the tools check out this method for making a nice clean opening in an aluminum side panel.


I use melamine to make router templates but you can use chipboard or anything thick enough to guide the router.


One benefit of using a template is being able to easily layout the exact position of the opening. Another one is if you screw up you can just grab a piece of stock and start over...


Throughout I assume your complete familiarity and mastery of basic tools. Using a tablesaw crank the blade up through the work to give yourself perfectly straight and parallel sides.


Use a jigsaw with the appropriate blade to finish off the template.


Another benefit of using a template is it makes putting the hole where you want a lot easier. Plus when you clamp it to the panel it makes the panel stiffer. Clamp the template in position using rubber padded spring clamps. Mark about 1/8" in from the actual perimeter. Cut this out using a jigsaw. Here is when the template comes in handy again by protecting the surface from the base of the jigsaw as you cut. After you've hogged out the waste you can now use the template to guide your router. I like to use a 1/2" shank two flute carbide straight bit with a template collar on the base. This leaves about 1/16" of material hanging past the template. If you make a mistake in the way you handle the router and leave a ripple you can file or block it out or you can use a top bearing flush trim bit to blaze the 1/16" off flush to the template.

Again the template will be handy for sanding the panel by protecting the anodized exterior for any stray grit while hand or block sanding. Only after you have the piece dressed and ready for the window should you take the template off the panel.


Using low tack tape to protect panels is standard practice when doing any kind of heavy work to them...you can never undo a careless moment.


The cut left by the router is inifnitely smoother than you could get with a saw.


In fact it might even be as smooth as a laser or waterjet (which leave little ripples BTW).


The template is an aid again in keeping the sanding block dead perpendicular to the face of the panel to leave a perfectly smooth and flat edge.


With an edge like that there is no need for bulky rubber channel. If the silver looks wrong to you just black it out with a sharpy. Once again if you use the template it will keep the ink on the raw metal and leave no ugly smudges on the anodized panel.


And one last benefit of the template...you can easily reproduce the work.

Hope that is interesting to the case modding community. Do not just go out and buy a tablesaw, router and jigsaw and try this...you will also need to learn how to use those tools safely. If you only have one panel and no second chances I suggest you practice on some scrap to get a feel for it. 2mm aluminum is not easy to route and you need to maintain firm control of the tool to pull it off.

Happy Modding :rockout:
 
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#2
that is damn handy work and advice right there my man :)
I can't wait to be out of an apartment and have the space to work on projects like this, however for now a craftsman 7.2V drill and a dremel are all I can really make use of :(
 
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#3
great post CyberDruid! :respect:

:toast:
 
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#4
A very informative post ..thanks CyberDruid,

Making a template to help cut out windows etc is an excellent idea and as you say can save on ruining a one off chance at cutting a side panel exactly how you want it.

Always using low tack tape to cover the rest of the panel to stop scratches etc from the tools you use is a good idea.Also when using a router ..get to know the tool before attempting any cuts on your final piece as it can be very easy to make a mistake...and practice makes PERFECT..just like your's :)
 

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#5
you should do this to a mac.
"lol added windows to a mac"

*runs away*
 
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#6
Thanks guys.
 
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#7
thanks CD for this very helpful post
 

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#8
my joking post earlier aside, you've done a great job with that window, and left a useful guide for others. Good work.
 
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#9
Nice job, I wish I had the skill + tools to do that stuff.
 
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#10
CyberDruid said:
Again the template will be handy for sanding the panel by protecting the anodized exterior for any stray grit while hand or block sanding. Only after you have the piece dressed and ready for the window should you take the template off the panel.
A very good piece of advice here.I have ruined a good side panel by being lazy and not bothering to tape the panel off.While moving the panel/tools around I ended up with a very badly scratched finish, due to the little shavings from my jigsaw, which ruined the piece altogether.

PLZ...Some more of your excellent guides CyberDruid......so we can all make cases like yours.
 
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#11
Thanks guys :)
 
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#12
I'm jealous, I want fancy tools and 1337 modding skills :cry:
 
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#13
I want to make some wine out of water...maybe we can work something out?
 
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#14
I want to make some wine out of water...maybe we can work something out?
Sure thing, bring over some tools and a few bottles of water. I'll take the water and when you're done setting up all the awesome tools, you'll have some awesome wine :laugh:
 

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#15
while we're at it, make a large moat and teach me to walk on water. it'll be a good way to pass the time, particularly after drinking all that whine.
 
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#16
Walking on water is quite easy, I do it all the time when it rains :p

edit: back on topic, this really is a nice guide/tip/whatever. I hope to someday have a "shop" of sorts and be able to do work like this.
 
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#17
great work
 
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#18
Thanks guys. I built this 14' x 32' shop from the ground up by myself last year just to do PC Case Modding. Yeah I know...I'm a weirdo.
 
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#19
Here's another way to make a template that takes almost all chance for error out of the picture.


Use a piece of ply (1/4" is fine) for the base of your template. Make it large enough to use clamps, or at least wide enough to give the router support.


By cutting strips say 2" wide and to exact length you can make the opening of the template perfectly square and parallel without have to play with the tablesaw.


By using glue and clamps you can avoid using any screws which can accidentally scratch a panel or make for a bumpy ride for the router.

When it's dry route out the opening in the ply base of the template and check it against whatever you are fitting.


I used a junker case but any piece of scrap will do.


Depending on what you use to route the opening you may need to allow for 1/16" more or less of overhang so be sure to check your fit and adjust the tmeplate at this stage. You can make the opening smaller by laminating a strip of formica or wood to the bearing edge or you can make it wider by filing, sanding or cutting.


Get yourpanel protected and marked. Check your marks against the template.


Drill holes in the corners to facilitate turning the jigsaw..


It may be impractical to use the template to protect the work when cutting. In that case protect the panel with an extra layer of tape and tape off the base of the saw.


Leave about 1/8" of material to route off.


If you cannot use clamps foam tape is a good substitute.


Using some scrap to protect the interiot of the panel clamp the template briefly but firmly to make sure the tape has grabbed fully.


Do all your filing (in this case the corners are square not round so that needs to be carefully dressed) sanding and polishing before removing the template.



In this case the hole is for a reservoir and needs to be neat enough to skip using C channel.


Do any other work like drilling holes while the panel is still protected.


This hole frames a rectangular resrvoir so tolerances needed to be precise.

Hope that helps ;)
 
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#20
another beautifull post CyberDruid! :respect: :respect: :respect: :respect: :respect: :respect:

many thnx for the tip's and pick's bro!

:toast:
 
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#21
I don't think you're weird for building your own shop, I'd do the same thing if I modded as much as you. Hell, I'd like to build one anyways.

Damn, you sure know your shit man. I will definitely keep this in mind for the next time I have access to somebody's workshop. And that's a nifty looking reservoir too.
 
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#23
I enjoyed the read, I do like your creativity.
 

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#24
I could of used this thread when I cut the square for my phase by eye using a drimal. It's not bad but not perfect.

Still need to make a plex window and a little lost on what I need to do....and where I can pick up the rubber seal for it so the holes don't show from the grill.

Stacker 830
 
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#25
You mean like C Channel? I have it in stock.