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dantastic

What to best cut side panels with?

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I'm just about to install some side windows in my 90 in order to be able to see what I'm doing at junctions. Too many brown pants moments after blindly driving out in traffic...

I had initially thought I'd just use metal blades on my reciprocating saw but as I went to pick up some blades I read they were for 1.5-5mm. That lower limit concerned me a bit so I didn't get any blades and figured I'd ask here instead. A reciprocating saw is not exactly a fabricator's tool, it's for demolition but I still thought it was the right tool for the job. I'm no longer sure. Can I cut thin panels with it or will it leave rough edges?

What to use instead? Angle grinder I presume? I'm just a bit worried my hands aren't steady enough to be using the grinder.

 

 

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Jig saw? Clamp a scarificial piece of thin ply behind? 

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The side panels will still be on the car so I don't think I can clamp a piece of plywood to the panel. 

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I'd go in with a 4.5" grinder and slitting disc, roughing out the rounded corners, and finish with a file/finger sander/flap disc.

You have much more control with a grinder than you'd think.

BOM suggested rubbing a bar of soap on a grinding disc to help lubricate when cutting ali, I've not tried it yet, but does sound like a good thing to do.

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1 hour ago, dantastic said:

The side panels will still be on the car so I don't think I can clamp a piece of plywood to the panel. 

Sure you can! Wedge it in situ on the inside.

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Grinder with bacon-slicer disc, drill/hole-saw for the corner radius 1st then join the dots with the grinder.

Or plasma cutter if you have one ;)

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I would have thought a plasma cutter would be no use unless you intend to repaint the whole panel as you would need to grind off too much paint to get electrical contact.
I would have thought a grinder with a thin cutting disc would be best, air hacksaw tend to not produce straight lines.

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The template says a radius of 61mm. I don't have a hole saw that can do that so will have to do that with the grinder as well.

bacon-slicer disc, slitting disc. Are these even thinner than regular cutting discs? Haven't seen them at my local disc-monger I don't think.

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I would second the jigsaw approach, did this on a RR to fit Defender spats and it worked well. Probably need to apply masking tape to the surrounding paint to stop the jigsaw scratching though

 

More controlled than a grinder and less likely to make 'run off' mistakes

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Jigsaw.

Use masking tape to cover the line of the cut and then you can mark the line you need to follow clearly. It will also help prevent the paint lifting at the cut. Make sure the masking tape also covers the area the the jigsaw will be resting on as it will scratch the paint otherwise, especially on the corners as you turn the jigsaw to follow the curve, the back end of the jigsaw comes out a long way from the cut.

Remember the strengthening pillars behind the panel though, you either need to cut them out first from the inside or you'll risk snagging or bending the jigsaw blade. For that I'd use an angle grinder - carefully.

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You don't need to get the corners spot in, anything that can help with a hole saw will be good, but.... If you don't have one, just cut it at 45 degrees across the corner, you will find there isn't much material to remove afterwards.

I think you may be over thinking this, and underestimating your skill and achievable accuracy of an angle grinder held in two hands, with your thumb guiding the blade on the guard.

watch some the Binky stuff to get an idea :)

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Or take it round to @Shackleton and bribe him with pound notes to cut it out for you and film it for his channel ;)

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Make a wooden jig of the window, clamp on to the side of 90, use a plunge router to cut the aluminium, with a guide bush against the jig. Perfect windows everytime and nice neat cut.

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2 hours ago, rusty_wingnut said:

Make a wooden jig of the window, clamp on to the side of 90, use a plunge router to cut the aluminium, with a guide bush against the jig. Perfect windows everytime and nice neat cut.

That's a very good idea! I can screw the template to the panel as I'm getting rid of it anyway. I have a router so this might be the best option!

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Will I need to trim the brace in the middle of the panel? or will the cutout clear it? Is that spot welded on? 

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2 hours ago, dantastic said:

Is that spot welded on? 

Only at the top and bottom, not to the outer skin.

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1mm cutting disc in an angle grinder and lube with candle wax every minute or so (just cut into a candle with the wheel). Cuts aluminum like butter, does not clog/pick up on wheel and leaves a pretty tidy edge. 

Andy

 

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20 hours ago, dantastic said:

That's a very good idea! I can screw the template to the panel as I'm getting rid of it anyway. I have a router so this might be the best option!

Of course it is, it's one of my own 😏

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