Cutting holes in electronics enclosures

What’s your preferred method for making non-circular cutouts in plastic electronic enclosures? There appear to be 5 religious camps:

  1. Drill centre, jigsaw to corners, score edges and snap the triangles off.
  2. Cut along edges with a hot knife (eg. soldering iron attachment).
  3. Use a cutting disk on a rotary tool.
  4. Use a flat blade on an oscillating tool.
  5. Hack, drill, punch, whatever, then file neat.
  6. Laser cut it! (Thanks Stephen)

I used to drill a few holes in the middle of the cut out, then used a small hacksaw, coping saw or sharp blade to carefully cut near the edge I wanted. Finally I’d file the edges neatly. I never got the hang of using rotary tools or other power tools - they always seemed to end up melting the plastic rather than cutting nicely. :wink:


I’m a big fan of desiging and 3D printing customer enclosures for projects (no cutting/drilling required) :relieved:

If you have access to a 3D printer, that is, of course, the way to go, but 30 years ago when I was building projects 3D printers were the stuff of science fiction. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I usually drill a hole at each corner, then use whatever I have available to cut between them. If using a saw it gives a place to turn the blade. With any method there is a nice rounded corner and then I clean it up with a file.

Just to add another religious camp, I would probably laser cut it! :sunglasses:

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Hmm, some great ideas there. Though it reminds me of the adage from medicine - when there are many solutions, none work well; when there is one solution it works well…

I think the old school manual drill, saw, file method is probably the most faithful. It just feels so cumbersome and slow if you’re doing more than one.

We’re going to see if we can make it work with a rotary tool, using a jig and going slow to try to get clean cuts.

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