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
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
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
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.................
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.
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
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.
On 6 Jul 2006 13:03:21 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org 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".
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.
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
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
On 6 Jul 2006 13:03:21 -0700, email@example.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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.