45. Window Modding - When You Just Can't Put It Off Any Longer
It was time to take the risk and cut out the window mod on the side panel. I'll be honest, I've been putting it off because... well if I screw it up, there's not much I could do to save it. I'm cutting a big honking hole in a very specialized piece of metal. Cut it wrong, and I'm stuck with an ugly mess.
But all those months of cogitatin' paid off. Here's how it came together.
My first step was to plan out the cuts. If you remember, a while back I asked for feedback on window shape, and the majority came down in favor of a simple rectangle with rounded corners, hiding some or all of the drive bays. So I got out the old pencil, and previous cutout from the hole saw, and marked that baby up:
As you can see, I compromised on hiding the front bays. I did so much work on those accent colors, I didn't want to completely cover them up. But I didn't see the point in showing it all either. So I split the difference.
I first drew a pure rectangle, actually a couple of options, to eyeball what I wanted. Then I took the hole saw template, used it to trace the arcs, and eyeballed it some more. Once I was satisfied, I used that same template to mark the centers of each corner-arc, and then took a nail and punched a hole there (below left photo)
Let's just say I learned my lesson well on previous attempts to keep that drill bit from walking across the metal. I needed high accuracy here. And just to be safe, after punching the hole, I pre-drilled it with a small drill bit so the hole saw's center bit would pretty much have
to line up where I wanted it to. Not taking any chances.
And then back to the trusty hole-saw. Alas, poor hole saw, your end came too early. I think I mentioned many posts back that my drill press is geared too high to protect the saw from "rubbing" and overheating? Well I tried using the hand drill instead, but it was too unwieldy. So I went back to the drill press.
Well folks, I'm sorry to say it finally gave up the ghost on hole number 4 there. I just didn't have any bite left at that point, and is maybe fit for a few more holes in wood. But I doubt I'll ever get another hole in metal out of it.
I think, doing the math, I managed to get almost (hah) 8 holes in metal and 2 in plastic out of that baby before it gave up. I'll call that $25 worth of benefit, considering how much easier it made cutting fan holes and such. But as you can see, that last hole just wasn't gonna go all the way around. Luckily for me, the outer corner (the only part I really cared about) was completed.
Then I grabbed the pencil again, redrew the connecting lines (had to adjust them a bit, the hole saw wasn't perfect) and brought out the nifty jigsaw with metal-cutting blade.
I gotta tell ya, after using this good-quality jigsaw, I'm not sure I'll try to use the Dremel with cutoff wheels for long, straight cuts in metal. The jigsaw was a dream to use on this piece. I think with the hole saw + jigsaw, it took 1/10th the time it would have using the Dremel.
Here's the cutoff piece:
And I went ahead and threw the rough-cut panel on the case to see how it would look:
Obviously, those cuts need some cleanup, smoothing, and deburring, but overall I couldn't have asked for a better result. I call myself satisfied. I hope you are too.