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Author Topic:   How to slightly enlarge the dash cut-out for the helm (fiberglass)
CHenry posted 10-17-2001 11:20 AM ET (US)   Profile for CHenry   Send Email to CHenry  
With the installation of my hydraulic steering I'll need to enlarge the existing helm cut-out by about 1/4 inch.

What would be the "best-practice" to accomplish this?

Thanks for your help,


JBCornwell posted 10-17-2001 12:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
I don't know if this would qualify as "best practice" or not, CHenry, but it is what I would do.

Bolt (or screw) a piece of 1/4" or thicker plywood to the back of the helm hole.

Using a compass, find the exact center of the hole. Mark it on the plywood.

Using a hole saw or hole cutter on a VSR drill, cut the new, larger hole in the console using the center of the plywood backing as a guide.

Good luck.
Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

lhg posted 10-17-2001 04:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I have found that a cone shaped rasp for a power drill does the trick quite easily.
Just keep grinding away all around until it fits the hole.
LarrySherman posted 10-17-2001 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for LarrySherman  Send Email to LarrySherman     
I used a hand rasp. It took about 30 min to get the fit right.


noswah posted 10-17-2001 07:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for noswah  Send Email to noswah     

You might look into getting a Dremel (the most versatile tool in the world) their advertisment, but I agree. You can grind, router, sand, cut, drill, polish, etc. just about any material, metal, fiberglass, wood, tile or glass, etc.

I'm on my 2nd one, the 1st one lasted about 8 years. RPM's are much faster than a router and i haven't found anything that I couldn't cut with one.

I think it should be the 1st tool in everyone's tool crib. Having said that, it's what I used to inlarge the hole I cut in a brand new console with a jig saw.

CHenry posted 10-17-2001 10:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for CHenry  Send Email to CHenry     
Thanks for the suggestions...I think I'll go the Dremel route (I happen to have one) and carefully grind away the opening to slightly enlarge it
Dick posted 10-17-2001 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
Another vote for the Dremel tool. I have two, the oldest is a model #2 that I bought in 1965. The only thing I have done is change the brushes and it is still running strong. Like my new variable speed better though.
andygere posted 10-18-2001 02:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
The best tool for oversizing an existing hole in an oversizing bit. They are also called step bits, and look like a cone made from a stack of slightly larger circular wafers. Each step is typically 1/16 to 1/8 inch. It's the perfect tool for this type of work, and they will cut anything from wood to sheetmetal to fiberglass. Dremel would be my second choice, but get one anyway....they have hundreds of uses on any boat!
noswah posted 10-18-2001 03:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for noswah  Send Email to noswah     
andygere, with all do respect. The hole that was for my teleflex steering in my old console was not a perfect circle, it was kind of a distorted circle, so to make a really tight fit, I would still use the Dremel so I could angle the sides etc.
andygere posted 10-18-2001 11:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
The hole for my helm actually was cut with a hole saw, so it was round. The dremel will be the best tool for an irregular shape. Be sure to mark carfully so the hole in not enlarged too much. The former owner of my boat did a nice job with this when updating the steering system, but he didn't fill the old mounting holes, which partially showed from behing the "steering column". I pulled the wheel this summer and glassed/gelcoated the holes, which was worth the effort in terms of appearance.
Jim Bennett posted 10-18-2001 11:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jim Bennett  Send Email to Jim Bennett     
Thought I would continue this thread since my questions are related. Restoration of my 73 OR 21 is in progress. Plan to have instrument panel in console totally rebuilt,i.e. solid marine plywood 3/4' panel enclosed in fiberglass. Will need to cut appropriate holes for all new Teleflex rotary steering and instruments. Don't know cutout size for steering since haven't purchased yet. Small gauges require 2 1/8" cutout and tach requires 3 13/32" cutout. I know there are hole saws for smaller size but not sure about larger size. Will also need to make other rectangular cutouts for throttle/shift control and rocker switch panel. Have been considering purchasing RotoZip saw or Dremel tool for these jobs. Any opinions on which is better for all these needs?
Tom W Clark posted 10-18-2001 11:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Jim Bennet,

Let me address your questions. A hole saw will work for the gauges. 2 1/8" is an easy size hole saw to find. The tach will fit into a 3 3/8" hole quite nicely. 3 13/32" might be the "perfect" size (I find it hard to believe that's what is recommended, unless it's an overly precise translation from metric) but the fact is a 3 3/8" hole saw will probably result in a hole that is 1/32" over size anyway. So there you go; run down to the hardware store and they will have those sizes for you. I strongly recommend that you purchase the larger size hole saw mandrel with the auxiliary pins, in fact, I think it is mandatory for the 3 3/8" hole saw anyway.

As to cutting rectangular holes, do not use a Rotozip or Dremel. The job is a little too much for those tools. The best thing to use is a jig saw, ideally with reverse tooth blades that have teeth pointing down so as not to produce a lot of chip out. If your saw is an orbital action jig saw you must set it for zero orbital action when using the reverse tooth blades. If you don't own a jig saw just go rent one, preferably a high end Bosch.

You should mask off the perimeter of the cut out with tape. I use electrical tape but just about anything you have will do. This will further reduce chip out, work as a visual guide, and protect the surface of your console at the same time.

andygere posted 10-19-2001 02:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I own a Bosch and it is an excellent tool for the job. I used mine to cut plywood panels on a kayak I built, with virtually no chipping at all. Worth the $$.
noswah posted 10-19-2001 09:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for noswah  Send Email to noswah     

I used a $20.00 Home Depot jig saw with a fine blade. It cuts just fine and didn't have any chips or chip outs. I think tape is only needed if your using a coarse blade.

My idea for the console is to cut a rectangular hole than get some Black Lexan or Acrylic and mount the various gauges in it, that way if you mess up you can just get another piece of lexan or acrylic.

There is also an adjustable circle drill that has allen wrench screws that works pretty well on thin material. Also remember to seal your electrical connections with silicone while your installing your various gauges. Just my thoughts.

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