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Old 06-09-2006, 08:48 AM
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Cutting holes in dash

I am getting ready to install gauges in a reproduction steel '32 Ford dash. I have new hole saws in 3 3/8" for speedometer / tach and in 2 1/16" for all other gauges.

Having used hole saws in sheetmetal in the past with what I consider fair results (I am a retired toolmaker) as the hole saws have a tendency to "run out" and end up cutting an oversize hole, I am reluctant to use them.

I would bore them in a milling machine, but no longer have access to one.

I have looked for Greenlee style knock-out punches in the above sizes with no luck.

What do you folks suggest for cutting the holes?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 06-09-2006, 09:14 AM
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Can you under cut the hole size and hand file it to the finished diameter? I always use a block of wood under the sheet metal when cutting these type of holes. (I'm sure you know that). When you say run out, are you talking runout of the cutter or that the cutter wobbles around cutting too large of a hole?

Steve
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:34 AM
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Get a piece of dense hardwood, a slat from a pallet will work great. Cut a hole in the slat with the intended holesaw and then clamp the slat to the object you want to perforate. Use the existing hole to line up your holesaw and keep it from wandering.
This works very well for me, especially if there is no way to put the item on a drill press or mill. I also use this method to cut larger holes when there is no material for the 1/4" guide bit to run it. I usually don't use the 1/4" bit when cutting holes this way.
Save the template for use later...
Mark
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:43 AM
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I mark out the hole then drill small holes around the inside circumference.
I then knock out the center and file to size, tedious but neat.
I used this method to cut the holes for my Camaros guages.
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:52 AM
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Personally I do not think it will be a problem if the holes are not exactly the size of your hole saw. The gages have a lip on them that will allow for a slight hole size difference. I installed the gages in my fiberglass dash by using a hole saw and I can tell you for a fact the holes are larger than the hole saw. The gages are a snug fit and actually required a little massaging on the hole to get them to slide in

Vince
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:54 AM
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holes in sheet metal

I use and under sized hole saw cause i usually get wobblly holes even with good saws. I use a squeezer type hand nibbler to finish the hole. you can cut any shape with a nibbler. I also have an air nibbler, $20 fron HF. Its NOISY and doesn't wook that good in thicker gauges
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Old 06-10-2006, 06:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1931 steve
Can you under cut the hole size and hand file it to the finished diameter? I always use a block of wood under the sheet metal when cutting these type of holes. (I'm sure you know that). When you say run out, are you talking runout of the cutter or that the cutter wobbles around cutting too large of a hole?

Steve
Yes, I use a block of wood for backup under the sheetmetal. I am talking about the cutter wobbling around cutting too large a hole. This is more prevalent with larger diameter hole saws. Using an undersize hole saw is an option.

Thank you for your suggestion!

Last edited by Frisco; 06-10-2006 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 06-10-2006, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astroracer
Get a piece of dense hardwood, a slat from a pallet will work great. Cut a hole in the slat with the intended holesaw and then clamp the slat to the object you want to perforate. Use the existing hole to line up your holesaw and keep it from wandering.
This works very well for me, especially if there is no way to put the item on a drill press or mill. I also use this method to cut larger holes when there is no material for the 1/4" guide bit to run it. I usually don't use the 1/4" bit when cutting holes this way.
Save the template for use later...
Mark
Now this suggestion sounds excellent! As I read what you have written; you are using a wood pattern of the correct size clamped on top of the sheetmetal to act as a guide for the hole saw. I assume you are also using a wood backup clamped to the back of the sheetmetal.

Thank you for your suggestion! This is what I will do.

Last edited by Frisco; 06-10-2006 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 06-10-2006, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malc
I mark out the hole then drill small holes around the inside circumference.
I then knock out the center and file to size, tedious but neat.
I used this method to cut the holes for my Camaros guages.
Malc,

I have done this many years in the past. It works OK but feel there is a better way. Thanks for the suggestion.

Last edited by Frisco; 06-10-2006 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 06-10-2006, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frisco
Now this suggestion sounds excellent! As I read what you have written; you are using a wood pattern of the correct size clamped on top of the sheetmetal to act as a guide for the hole saw. I assume you are also using a wood backup clamped to the back of the sheetmetal.
That works just fine to guide a hole saw..have done it many times when there was no way to guide the saw by the 1/4 " bit..

Sam
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Old 06-10-2006, 06:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 302/Z28
Personally I do not think it will be a problem if the holes are not exactly the size of your hole saw. The gages have a lip on them that will allow for a slight hole size difference. I installed the gages in my fiberglass dash by using a hole saw and I can tell you for a fact the holes are larger than the hole saw. The gages are a snug fit and actually required a little massaging on the hole to get them to slide in

Vince
I have done the holesaw in fiberglass dash many years ago with no problem. The number of teeth on the larger diameter holesaw (3 3/8") have a tendency to grab and pull the holesaw out of alignment despite the pilot drill when trying to cut the hole in sheetmetal. Doesn't matter if using a drill press, milling machine or hand held. The pilot drill does not offer enough stability to keep the holesaw in alignment.
Astroracer seems to have an excellent solution.

Thank you for your suggestion as well!
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Old 06-10-2006, 06:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timothale
I use and under sized hole saw cause i usually get wobblly holes even with good saws. I use a squeezer type hand nibbler to finish the hole. you can cut any shape with a nibbler. I also have an air nibbler, $20 fron HF. Its NOISY and doesn't wook that good in thicker gauges
I thought of this as an option. Not sure it could be used for the small diameter holes. Thank you for your suggestion!
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Old 06-10-2006, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMoreTime
That works just fine to guide a hole saw..have done it many times when there was no way to guide the saw by the 1/4 " bit..

Sam
Your vote of confidence for this method has convinced me that this is the way to go. Thank you for your comments!
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Old 06-10-2006, 07:26 AM
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Actually I think I would like to make a template with all the holes I needed in a piece of 3/4 plywood..then having that as a guide then make my holes..You can pick up all the switch holes as well while you are at it..

Sam
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Old 06-10-2006, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMoreTime
Actually I think I would like to make a template with all the holes I needed in a piece of 3/4 plywood..then having that as a guide then make my holes..You can pick up all the switch holes as well while you are at it..

Sam
Excellent idea!

Since the dash I am going to use is relatively flat, this is a very workable suggestion!

Thanks to all who have replied. I appreciate you all.
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