Square Panel, Round Hole: Cutting a Circular Window.

Square Panel, Round Hole: Cutting a Circular Window.

Cutting a window into a case can be a stumbler for many folks. There are a few different ways to it – all with their own pro’s and con’s. I like using a rotary tool with a cutting wheel. Of course, cutting a window is only part of getting it done. First, you have to design the window. I want to eventually do a “window in window” side panel mod. To start, I want a 12” or so round opening in my side panel. Thus my first problem – I’m no good with perfect circles! How do I get this round hole in my square side panel?

I could use a fancy compass. In fact, I have a few and one is large enough to do 12”. However, I have had bad luck with compasses slipping. So, I figure a large dinner plate is just about perfect. Unfortunately, there is a directive straight from the Queen that kitchen materials not be used in the shop.

This called for activation of special operation "Cat's Cradle ". I’m just the one for it.

“The name is Base: Manta_Base.”

I pulled out a $20 and dropped my line, “Honey, there’s a yard sale down the street. I’m going to be running the air compressor and it’s a bit loud – even in the house. Why don’t you see if they have anything good?”

With my subterfuge in operation, I hurried my work. The pattern on the plate is Marisol (Sea and Sun). They were made in Italy for Williams-Sonoma. I don’t know who the Williams-Sonoma family is, or how we got their dishes, but they are pretty nice ones.

Using the plate to help me, I put tape around where the cut will eventually be. This is for a number of reasons. First, it acts as a non-skid for the plate. Second, it takes writing better than the painted metal. Last, during cutting, it will offer some protection for my occasional slips.

With the pattern in place, it’s on to the cutting (after returning the plate to the kitchen). As, I said, I’m using a rotary tool with a fiberglass reinforced cutting wheel. Some tips are in order:

- Always wear eye protection – seriously.
- Ear protection is strongly advised.
- Let the tool do the work – that’s what it is for. Pushing on it to make it cut faster will actually break the wheel (and possibly the tool).
- Always cut in the direction opposite of rotation. Otherwise, you are asking for the tool to jump out of your hand (well, try to anyway).

And, of course, the standard disclaimer:

Any safety reminders given herein are not to be taken as a substitute for proper training and, if required, supervision. You (the reader) are solely responsible for any outcome, positive or negative, resulting from the use of this information.

With that, we begin...

Patience is the key. It will take five or so passes to make this cut. On your first pass you are simply getting through the tape and scoring the metal. On my second pass I typically change out the cutting wheel for a new one. The tape has a tendency to undress (“plug up”) the wheel . Try for perfect, and then settle for not having it – that’s the way of the Dremel, and we will shape up the finished cut. Work in short intervals (5-10 minutes). Most rotary tool are not designed to run for extended periods of time, so take many breaks. Speed wise, I set my Stylus to 6 or 7. I think that’s about 15,000 RPM.

This will take a while. I have five passes to make and I’m out of room. We'll pick this little project up next week and I'll complete the hole and dress up the edges. Until next time…

Happy Moddin’

Click here for Cutting a Circular Window: Part Deux

Today’s bling was dug up by Maximum PC forum Moderator Flytrap7. It’s the contest gallery at another place referred to as MPC. Atomic MPC’s Monthly Showcases 

Edited 10/13/07 - Reason: to address the comment of vaemor.

Edited 10/20/07 - Reason: to add link to continuation. 



+ Add a Comment


wow, it seems you couldn't restrain yourselves yet again, and went past personal, into even a vendetta. lol I'm big enough to admit I expected a bit too much from you guys, and that that was a mistake. But the way you've dealt with this was pretty infantile; like two immature bloggers with brains - and a lot of suppressed hostility. will you also gang up on the next person who criticizes you? it shows what kind of people you are. grow up; i'm big enough to admit this too, I was wrong. You're just bloggers



Someone needs to relax.LOL!! I think they dealt with you quite well indeed!



The difference between maximumpc editor's and you guys is that they don't do half-assed articles. If you're going to post an article it's best you wait until you've completely finished it and proof-read it before sending it in. I'm not trying to be mean this is just my way; and if you have a problem with taking constructive criticism then either this is not your calling or grow a thicker skin. Try to see it's only constructive criticism that's for your benefit. i've seen many semi-professionals take things too personally - (e.g. One4yu2c & others) which shows even more of their semi-professionalism in their type of responses. Don't take this personal, i'm only trying to help you. I have high standards for anything maximumpc related, /especially/ the pro maximumpc editor's, which I wouldn't hesitate correcting their mistakes if they've made any on the magazine.

This is not PC magazine.



Huh? I can't recall a time I've taken your 'constructive criticism' personally, though I do remember clarifying my position in response to your comments regarding Ads in Games.

On the subject of grammar/typos, believe it or not, we bloggers (including those of us who also contribute to the magazine) take this seriously. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on perspective), blogs just aren't going to match the level of professionalism found in a magazine article that's had the benefit of going through two to three different editors (including the author) before making it to print.



Thanks, Vaemor. I referred your comment and my blog entry to a professional consultant whose comments I appended to the entry (this comment). References upon request if you so desire - she is rather well known. While I appreciate your comment, I might remind you that these are blogs, not articles. Please understand the difference - or educate yourself as to it. In a blog, I write about just what I am doing or thinking at the time - and like the others, I write these off the top of my head with a few pics I take or collect. I appreciate that you are very serious about your content, and I will try to improve.

In the mean time, I await your modding entry at the Mod Shop or Modder's Workshop (at MPC Forums).

Glad to see you aboard!

Oh - and please don't take any of that as sounding mean. I certainly didn't mean it that way.

"Referred article to PhD in technical/professional writing Dr. Denise Tillery, who found the following mistakes: 1 missing plural, 1 additional typo and 4 minor grammatical/stylistic mistakes. BTW--Dr. Tillery also found 9 grammar/punctuation mistakes in vaemor's comment, which she is willing to correct gratis, with vaemor's permission."

lol - good to know people.

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