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Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

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  • Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

    I need to drill a 1 1/8" hole in the fiberglass of my boat to install a plug receptacle. Can I accomplish this with a standard hole saw without problems? The fiberglass is about 1/4" thick. I've read about starting the hole with the drill in reverse to prevent the gel coat from chipping. Is that my only concern? Will the hole saw cleanly cut through the fiberglass otherwise?

    The instructions for the plug just say 1 1/8" hole saw, but I thought I'd ask before I butcher something.

    Thanks
    '94 Bayliner Capri 1850 4.3LX / Alpha One Gen II

    Get right or get left. <*{{{><


  • #2
    Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

    Yup..a hole saw is your best bet..if possible attach a piece of duct tape on the hull and mark your hole location on the tape..then drill,use a good quality NEW bit to minimize gelcoat damage.
    Nec aspera terrent

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    • #3
      Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

      drill a small pilot hole first, then start the hole saw in reverse to score the gel coat, then go to forward and cut it.
      FLORIDA GATORS
      TEBOW Country



      Please, NO PM's (Private Messages) regarding boat/engine problems. they will not be answered.
      That is what these forums are for. Post your questions, in the appropriate Forum.

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      • #4
        Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

        Do you have access to both sides?
        You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

        I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat. (Will Rogers)

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        • #5
          Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

          Originally posted by Tim Frank View Post
          Do you have access to both sides?
          Not really. It's the inside edge of the bow. I can just barely reach my hand up there.
          '94 Bayliner Capri 1850 4.3LX / Alpha One Gen II

          Get right or get left. <*{{{><

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          • #6
            Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

            Covering the cut area with tape is a good idea to prevent chipping. Use the blue painter's tape for a best result. Duct tape is a little gooey and will stick to the saw blade and make a mess on your hull.
            “We do not inherit the earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children.”

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            • #7
              Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

              i just drilled 2 holes with a holesaw in my fiberglass boat and had no problems.....i didn't know about the"backwards trick"....and i didn't have any chipping, but i would try it, wouldn't hurt.

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              • #8
                Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

                In addition to the good advice already given I'd like to add that the backside of the hole will end up a little rough. Can't be avoided unless you can get to the back side and partially cut thru.

                The other thing to know is to use a low speed and high pressure. High speeds and hole saws don't go good together. Use a dust mask, you'd be surprised at how much fiberglass dust it will create.

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                • #9
                  Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

                  I'll add another trick, If you ever have to enlarge a hole you will find it difficult, because there is no place for the pilot bit in the hole saw to drill into. Trying to place the large portion of the hole saw in the correct position, while engaging the drill won't work - you won't be able to keep it in place and will end up with a scarred boat, and a hole in the wrong place.

                  Instead, clamp or firmly wedge a thin piece of wood (1/4" ply or similar) to the area to be drilled. Measure carefully to find the correct center point, and start the pilot bit in the wood. The bit will then keep the hole saw in place, resulting in an even hole, in the location that you want it.
                  Please don't PM me on advice issues - let's keep that in the forums, so that everyone can benefit. Please note that I do not email PDFs, etc. I have a bandwidth limited aircard for internet access. My avatar does not mean I have any offical link to iboats. I just like it!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

                    Originally posted by jay_merrill View Post
                    I'll add another trick, If you ever have to enlarge a hole you will find it difficult, because there is no place for the pilot bit in the hole saw to drill into. Trying to place the large portion of the hole saw in the correct position, while engaging the drill won't work - you won't be able to keep it in place and will end up with a scarred boat, and a hole in the wrong place.

                    Instead, clamp or firmly wedge a thin piece of wood (1/4" ply or similar) to the area to be drilled. Measure carefully to find the correct center point, and start the pilot bit in the wood. The bit will then keep the hole saw in place, resulting in an even hole, in the location that you want it.
                    That's a pretty cool trick. It occurred to me, although I haven't tried it (yet) if you used a piece of plexiglass you'd be able to keep track of progress. Also less chance of messing up measuring.
                    Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

                      plexi tend to melt, and gum up hole saw.
                      FLORIDA GATORS
                      TEBOW Country



                      Please, NO PM's (Private Messages) regarding boat/engine problems. they will not be answered.
                      That is what these forums are for. Post your questions, in the appropriate Forum.

                      Comment



                      • #12
                        Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

                        Originally posted by tashasdaddy View Post
                        plexi tend to melt, and gum up hole saw.
                        1994 Bayliner Capri 1604 w/94 70 Force (sold)
                        1984 SportCraft 222 OFF w/84 Mercruiser 488 & Alpha 1
                        1979 Sears Gamefisher 13'6" Aluminum w/1959 Johnson 10HP
                        1969 Smokin' Hot Wife

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                        • #13
                          Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

                          I just wanted to report that this install was a success. The hole saw worked beautifully! I didn't bother taping the spot. All I did was run the drill in reverse nice and slow to begin cutting the gelcoat. Worked great and no chips at all!

                          I would like to post some pictures, but I've been way too busy.
                          '94 Bayliner Capri 1850 4.3LX / Alpha One Gen II

                          Get right or get left. <*{{{><

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                          • #14
                            Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

                            Thanks for letting us know how it turned out.
                            Glad it worked out for you.
                            sigpic
                            Nothing is so broken that Government can't make it worse.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Drilling fiberglass with hole saw

                              Originally posted by tashasdaddy View Post
                              plexi tend to melt, and gum up hole saw.

                              True, dat!
                              Please don't PM me on advice issues - let's keep that in the forums, so that everyone can benefit. Please note that I do not email PDFs, etc. I have a bandwidth limited aircard for internet access. My avatar does not mean I have any offical link to iboats. I just like it!

                              Comment

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