Cutting rectangular holes in enclosures -- TIPS - diyAudio
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Old 8th January 2012, 05:28 PM   #1
icydash is offline icydash  United States
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Default Cutting rectangular holes in enclosures -- TIPS

Hey guys. So for a project I'm working on, I'm going to be using a USB connection and need to cut a square hole in my enclosure for the USB connector to fit through. Likewise, I'd like to use a few of these switches: SPST Heavy-Duty Slide Switch - RadioShack.com

Do you have any tips or tricks for cutting rectangular / square holes in a plastic or metal enclosure? If so, share them here!

Thanks,
icydash
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Old 8th January 2012, 06:02 PM   #2
ddietz is offline ddietz  United States
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Nibblers are a great start and may be all you need if the hole is hidden. Dremel can work ok also if the hole is large enough to accommodate the diameter of the cut-off wheel.

In the end, I'm a hand tool person. Rough out the hole any way you want - dremel, nibbler, lots of small holes, coping saw, teeth - then finish it to the line using files. I often finish square plastic enclosure openings using a sharp wood chisel. Needs to be sharp enough to shave with though.

Either way, carefully scoring the hole directly onto the enclosure using a razor knife and straight-edge is the first step to smoothly cut openings. Laying out on tape is a good start and protects from accidents, but pencil lines on tape are never accurate enough for the final cut line. A scored lines provides a excellent positive guide for the final passes with chisel or file. Final cut lines can be scored right through the tape.
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Old 8th January 2012, 07:28 PM   #3
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If doing more than one, make a template from masonite or MDF and use a small diameter guide collar on 1/4" plunge router bit. Then square corners with file. If chassis is thin metal, the nibbler works great as ddietz suggested. That Harbor Tool air nibbler is awesome on stuff up to as thick as PC cabinet sides in steel, a tad thicker in alluminum. In wood, use a Mortising tool if available.
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Old 8th January 2012, 08:37 PM   #4
icydash is offline icydash  United States
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Thanks a lot guys. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a nibbler. I don't have a ton of money to spend, so it seems like using a razor knife and straight edge to score the square on to the enclosure, then drilling lots of small holes and filing to perfection might be the best option for me.
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Old 8th January 2012, 08:45 PM   #5
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A hand nibbler is less than $20. Takes small nibbles of metal. Pulls a hard steel blade against a backstop. Drill a hole to get head in then nibble. Only caution is NEVER exceed rated thickness or you will bust the hard steel cutter.
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Old 8th January 2012, 10:41 PM   #6
icydash is offline icydash  United States
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And you think a nibbler is strong enough to cut through a basic guitar pedal metal box, like one of these? Pedal Parts Plus: 1290NS {similar to Hammond 1590B} UNFINISHED
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Old 8th January 2012, 10:52 PM   #7
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Hi.
It is much eaeier to cut a round Hole. you could then fit one of these.
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Old 8th January 2012, 11:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icydash View Post
And you think a nibbler is strong enough to cut through a basic guitar pedal metal box, like one of these? Pedal Parts Plus: 1290NS {similar to Hammond 1590B} UNFINISHED
The Klein model will cut up to 1/16" thick copper or aluminum. Guitar pedal box may be just a bit too thick.
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Old 9th January 2012, 12:46 AM   #9
icydash is offline icydash  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madtecchy View Post
Hi.
It is much eaeier to cut a round Hole. you could then fit one of these.
Oh! That thing is awesome! Didn't know it even existed. Perhaps I'll just stick to round holes then haha. What is the name/model # of that part, and where can I get it? I'm not seeing many panel mount USB ports available from U.S. companies.

Last edited by icydash; 9th January 2012 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 9th January 2012, 12:59 AM   #10
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all major electronic suppliers . here in the uk farnell and cpc stock them amongst others . They are made by neutrik and cost approx 4 uk pounds each . i would think digikey or mouser would stock them . Try googling neutrik usb im sure you will find them no problems. Also there is another benefit of using these you connect them to your pcb by jumper wires most other usb sockets i have seen solder direct to the pcb wich also acts as the mounting for them too in the rough world of guitar pedeals it wouldnt be long befor the normal usb sockets suffered from bad connections . I hope this helps .. Ps they also do a matching cover that fits over your usb lead so it locks into place as would an xLR connector . they even do an RJ 45 version for ethernet . I know what you mean ther is somthing nice about a round hole lol..

Regards Ian
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