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Old 10-06-2010
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drilling and cutting fiberglass

I would like to mount some oarlock holders on my sail boat. The boat is from the 70ies and is fiberglass. Really worried about trying to drill or cut the material. Worried that it will just splinter. Any thoughts on how to do this?

It would be cool if someone made clamp on oarlocks but I haven't found any online.
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Old 10-06-2010
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you could put tape on and drill through the tape.. a brad point bit may splinter less.
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Old 10-06-2010
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For cutting into FRG or gelcoat, suggest that you first apply a 'strong adhering tape' and then saw into the FRG and the tape 'at a very shallow angle'. Dont 'force' the saw or saw with the teeth 'perpendicular' to the work.

For drilling, ditto the tape, and use either forstner or brad-point drill bits; not the common "v" tipped drill bits. A forstner or brad point will first cut a small circle into the gel before drilling out 'meat'. As with a saw, dont 'force' the drill bit .... or you WILL get 'chip outs'.
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thanks. for the thoughts.

What do you mean by add tape at a "very shallow angle"? I'm thinking that a dremel tool with a saw blade will be my best tool for this?
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should I use bronze or nickle/zinc plated?
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Old 10-07-2010
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Thinking that you were using a hand saw, you cut through the tape and FRG simultaneously and the saw held almost parallel to the surface ... not the usual ~45 degree angle to the surface so that the teeth make looooooog cuts so you dont break the gel/frg with the teeth.
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To cut GRP: An angle grinder with a thin cutting disc (plus a proper mask for yourself

To drill GRP: Just tune your drill bit point angle to a proper value for cutting plastics, say, 90ļ.
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To drill through gelcoat/fiberglass, first run the drill in reverse, this will burn through the gelcoat and prevent chipping, For larger holes, a holesaw used in the same manner after first drilling the pilot hole. For irregular holes I use a jigsaw with a special laminate blade that is made by Bosch, these blades are available from Lowes or Home Depot. Use masking tape to protect the surface you are drilling/cutting, I also use masking tape on the late of the jigsaw. What ever the tool used, slow and steady is the order of the day and if you do not do this regularly, always be prepared for the tool to bind a drill will try and twist out of your hands and a jigsaw will jump out of the cut potentially causing damage to the suface.
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thanks for the help. looks like the rowing hardware is all drill stuff so it should be easier then I thought. I'm thinking about making a plastic spacer for the rowing socket so that it absorbs some of the force before transferring to fiberglass. Probably the same on back side of fiberglass. That way nuts and washers push on entire surface.
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