Tool Advice for Beginner


Hi,
I am an electronic hobbyist though I am always building housing and other related stuff for my projects. I do not have to many building tools (though I have plenty of electronic testing and measuring equipment) and am looking to buy some especially for my current project.
My current project involves putting a 12"x16" acrylic windows on a piece of particle board. The acrylic window is .220" thick and I need it to sit flush in the particle board (the board is 3/4" thick). I want to cut a hole in the particle board which is smaller then the window allowing for a 1" lip on all sides. I then want to lower the lips by at least .220".
I have experimented with some of the limited tools I have currently available to me to accomplish this and have found I need some new tools. I am on a small budget (still have one more year of school). I tried to cut through the particle board with a very inexpensive jigsaw that was borrowed (3.2 amp Black and Decker) with a brand new wood blade. The results were terrible; it was extremely slow and the blade kept bending (even on a straight cut). I was able to achieve much better results using a handsaw (though starting the cut was rather tedious). To lower the lip I think I need to use a router. I have the router attachment for a dremel and was able to test the idea on a smaller scale. I used a 1/4" straight bit and it produced what I needed on a small scale.
As you can see I need some new tools. I am having a hard time figuring out what tools to buy. I think the right tools would be a better jigsaw probably an orbital one and a router that can hold larger bits (probably need an 1" straight bit unless they make a rabbeting bit that can do a 1" cut). Now I would like to get some quality tools that would last me a while, though I do not think I can afford them right now (at least the quality I would like i.e. DeWalt, Porter Cable). I have thought about getting a RotoZip since it has a jigsaw and plunge router attachment. I know these attachments would be nothing compared to high quality tools of a jigsaw or plunge router, though they may allow me to accomplish this job relatively easily and the RotoZip should be useful for other projects I do.
I don't expect to use these tools to frequently probably 6-12 times a year. In the future I hope to have more time and be able to spend more time on projects (more tool use). I also understand that quality tools make your life much easier (this is also true with electronic test equipment). For tools I think my maximum budget here is $200.
Here are my possible options I thought of: 1. Use a hand saw to make the hole and use my dremel router to make the lip (would take 8 passes per side) 2. Buy some "single use tools" (cheap tools from somewhere like harbor freight) to do this job. Maybe an edge router and a jigsaw. I would also have to buy a 1" straight bit from somewhere else. 3. Buy a RotoZip and attachments. 4. Buy some low-mid level tools (like Ryobi). Maybe I don't need a plunge router.
I would like to hear from some experienced people. Maybe you have other ways to accomplish this or know of some decent quality tools that are inexpensive.
Nick
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Since this is a one time thing - option one still looks good. Wasting limited $$ on low quality tools is not a smart option. If you know the Dremel works then go for it. 8 passes per side won't take that much time.
I'd guestimate spending about $500 for a good jigsaw and plunge router or $0.00 for a little elbow grease. You do the math.
Of course, if you just want justification for a new tool................. :) -
Vic
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snip
snip
Easy way - More money - perfect finished product A plunge router IS what you need as well as two bits.
Hard way - less money - not so perfect finished product Drill - hand or coping saw, chisel, sand paper.
Dave
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You forgot:
1) Find someone who has a router.
Chris
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You say that you are a student. First thing to try is to find a shop on campus and see what you have to do to get access or to get them to do it for you.
Forget the Rotozip--it is very nice for cutting out holes for electrical boxes in plaster walls but that is about all that it does really well.
My inclination would be to go with "1".
An alternative would be to get a good jigsaw and redesign the part so it can be cut with one (for example set the windows in a hardboard surround rather than cutting a recess in the particleboard).
Another would be a good fixed-base router, which can do both cuts that you need and can be had for considerably less than a plunge router--you don't really need a plunge router for what you are describing.
--
--John
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On 6 Jul 2006 13:03:21 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I'm not a woodworking expert and don't have any experience with particle board (unless it comes in an Ikea box, anyway) so you can take this advice with a grain of salt.
The fact that you want the plexi to be flush suggests that appearance is an important factor in your project. I wonder if particle board is really the right material for the job. It's pretty ugly unless it's faced with something. I'm guessing it won't "machine" that well either. I'll leave ti to someone else to tell you how clean the edges would come out with a router, but you'd still have to square up the corners of the routed area by hand (or round off the corners of the plexi to the radius of the router bit).
I think that a redesign of your project that allows for some sort of edge covering will make your life a lot easier. If you can accept something that's not completely flush you could get some metal strip material say 1" or more wide and 1/8" thick for a "frame". You could then cut your hole to the size of the plexi (plus a hair for ease of insertion). screw the edging in around the hole, overlapping it enough to hold the plexi, and even silicone the plexi to the metal from the back side. Thus the plexi would be flush with the wood, but the metal frame would protrude 1/8".
Greg Guarino
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Roto zips are NOT the great useful tool as they are shown to be on TV. My wife has one and I find very few things that it does well.
Craig
www.vintagetrailersforsale.com

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I've used mine twice...
Al

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

I would not suggest any of these. My recommendation would be to get a plunge router and a straight bit, and a straight bit of wood and a couple of clamps to use as a guide. Clamp the straight board down to guide the router along the inner edge of your hole, plunge the bit all the way thru the particle board, and you can cut out the hole. Then move the guide board back an inch, plunge your .220, and cut the lip.
If you can rough-cut the opening first, so much the better, the router will then make a clean edge very quickly. If you're cutting the full thickness with the router it will be slow, you'll likely want to make 2 or 3 passes at successively increasing depths to get all the way thru.
I would recommend against the Ryobi router, too; other brands have a better reputation for quality & long life. I beleive I have seen brands like Hitachi offered at ~$150 on-line (e.g. Amazon).
I'll also specifically warn against the RotoZip idea. That tool is intended for cutting drywall, and works well for that. It's pretty much useless for anything else.
John
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Ridgid has a decent combination router for about 200.00 that would be a good place to start. Decent carbide bits aren't cheap, so figure that in also if your budget is tight.
I presume most of your projects are small, so I would consider the jig saw a luxury. You can rough out holes and make other small cuts just fine with hand saws. The router could then be used to trim the rough cuts to final dimensions.
Flip through a router book or watch some of the router shows on that internet woodworking channel to get a better idea of how useful a router would be.
http://www.thewoodworkingchannel.com /
-Steve
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On 6 Jul 2006 13:03:21 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

That'd be fine, just putzy.

A "single use" jigsaw won't do the job even once, unless you happen to be extremely gifted.

Only if you're going to be hanging drywall.

That's all you're doing? Here's my $.02- for about $160, you can get a Porter-Cable 690 series router with a D-handle, plunge or fixed base- $20 will get you a pattern making bit (straight bit with a bearing on the top of the bit (the side that goes into the collet)) for that router- it comes with 1/2" and 1/4" collets, so you can get a bit with either size shank. The other $20 will get you a set of (or one very good) wood chisels.
The router will cut right through the particle board, no problem. You can freehand it, or clamp a board to it to use as a fence. Cut your hole out with that, then use the chisel to square off the round inside corners. Use the same bit in the router, set to the depth you need, and rout your rabbet out. Easy as can be, you're at your $200 tool limit, and you have a good quality tool that will do the job, last a long time, and is really versatile. If you like using it and want to do some more messing around, google "The Router Workshop", and you'll find plenty of ideas.

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