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  #1  
Old 03-11-2012, 07:04 PM
DHeal DHeal is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Windsor, California
Posts: 738
Default Tip: Cutting Fiberglass Parts

I just finished making the initial cuts on my various RV-12 fiberglass parts (tail fairing, cowl, etc.). I used my cheapy Craig's List Skil bandsaw with excellent results. Here's how I did it: I carefully ran dark masking tape along the mold cut lines - on the outside surface of the fiberglass. I made a saw blade kerf guide out of a scrap piece of clear plastic. I backlit the kerf guide from underneath the saw table using a small worklight. Now I could easily see the saw blade and its relationship to the masking tape through the translucent fiberglass. I was able to accurately guide the fiberglass piece so that the blade cut within 1/16" of the masking tape. Worked great for me -- be very careful, no cutting of fingers permitted!

ps -- You may want to have a trusted associate help you hold the large lower cowl piece as you maneuver it through the saw.
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David Heal - Windsor, CA (near Santa Rosa)
EAA #23982 - EAA Technical Counselor and Flight Advisor; CFI - A&I
RV-12 E-LSA #120496 (SV w/ AP and ADS-B) - N124DH flying since March 2014 - 700+ hours (as of Nov 2018)!
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  #2  
Old 03-11-2012, 07:37 PM
jersey jersey is offline
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Wharton, Texas
Posts: 122
Default Also Try Diamond Dremel Wheel

For sharp radius, angles and non flat pieces etc. try the dremel diamond wheel. Cuts like butter.

Gary Eldridge
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  #3  
Old 03-11-2012, 09:23 PM
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Bill_H Bill_H is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Peel, AR
Posts: 1,763
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The dremel with a small abrasive disk is the SUPERIOR tool for the fiberglass pieces!!! Also borrow or get a 4 inch bench mount belt sander - the kind where the belt is horizontal with the rounded end exposed. You can very easily make straight and curved lines right up to the scribe line with great control and much faster than hand sanding. I think you have better control with the big pieces using it than a saw. Use coarse paper.
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  #4  
Old 03-12-2012, 03:56 AM
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whittfic whittfic is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 123
Default

Fibreglass is very abrasive and hard on band saw blades. Extended use will quickly take the edge off steel blades and drill bits.

Clive Whittfield
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  #5  
Old 03-12-2012, 06:57 AM
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Geico266 Geico266 is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Huskerland, USA
Posts: 5,860
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Make sure you wear a dust mask or respirator when working with fiberglass. The fiberglass dust is now classified as a potential carcinogenic. Do the work outside if you can and avoid bringing dusty clothes into your house. If you use an airhose to blow the dust out of the shop wear a mask. It is better to use a vacuum with a good fine particle filter, but wear a mask also.
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Last edited by Geico266 : 03-12-2012 at 07:01 AM.
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  #6  
Old 03-12-2012, 11:58 AM
DHeal DHeal is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Windsor, California
Posts: 738
Default

I forgot to mention in my initial post that one of the benefits of using my band saw for these cuts was that I could easily hook up my shop vacuum to the band saw and vacuum away most of the fiberglass dust while cutting. Always use a mask -- that fiberglass dust is nasty stuff. I agree that the Dremel tool with cutting wheel works -- especially for the curvy cuts.
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David Heal - Windsor, CA (near Santa Rosa)
EAA #23982 - EAA Technical Counselor and Flight Advisor; CFI - A&I
RV-12 E-LSA #120496 (SV w/ AP and ADS-B) - N124DH flying since March 2014 - 700+ hours (as of Nov 2018)!
VAF donation through June 2019.
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