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Old 07-19-2021, 10:37 AM   #1
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Make Headliner Holes Bigger

I have some 4” diameter holes in my aluminum headliner and some 4 1/2” diameter light fixtures that I want to install. I’m looking for good ways to make the holes bigger without making a mess of the headliner. Seems maybe as simple as a sanding drum on a drill, but my past experience with those things is that they don’t move a lot of material before they wear out. I’m pretty tooled-up and always willing to add to the collection, if there’s a better tool for the job, let me know

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Old 07-19-2021, 10:45 AM   #2
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If I had to do this...and I've had to enlarge holes, but not on the headliner...I'd get a 4 1/2 inch hole saw and cut a hole (with the pilot bit installed) in a piece of plywood. Then you can affix this in place over the 4 inch hole and use it as a guide (without the pilot bit now) to cut a 4 1/2 inch hole. If there's no danger of the pilot bit hitting the underlying structure, you can leave it in place.

I've done this several times, but always with a way to clamp or screw the guide board in place. So, the real challenge to this technique in your situation will be the question, "Do you have a way to clamp a guide in place?" If you're enlarging holes in a row, can you use a board long enough to reach the existing holes on either side and clamp the ends through those holes?

EDIT to add a fallback plan: Carbide burr bits in a 1/4-inch die grinder work quickly but if you aren't careful (you go too fast and hard) they can get filled with the aluminum. Going slowly, though, I've been able to use them on aluminum. The risk of slipping and marring the surrounding headliner is real, though, so this would be a last resort.
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Old 07-19-2021, 10:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post
If I had to do this...and I've had to enlarge holes, but not on the headliner...I'd get a 4 1/2 inch hole saw and cut a hole (with the pilot bit installed) in a piece of plywood. Then you can affix this in place over the 4 inch hole and use it as a guide (without the pilot bit now) to cut a 4 1/2 inch hole. If there's no danger of the pilot bit hitting the underlying structure, you can leave it in place.

I've done this several times, but always with a way to clamp or screw the guide board in place. So, the real challenge to this technique in your situation will be the question, "Do you have a way to clamp a guide in place?" If you're enlarging holes in a row, can you use a board long enough to reach the existing holes on either side and clamp the ends through those holes?

EDIT to add a fallback plan: Carbide burr bits in a 1/4-inch die grinder work quickly but if you aren't careful (you go too fast and hard) they can get filled with the aluminum. Going slowly, though, I've been able to use them on aluminum. The risk of slipping and marring the surrounding headliner is real, though, so this would be a last resort.
Thanks the hole saw template is a really good idea. I worry about having a place to clamp, but maybe I can use existing holes where the headliner screws to the ribs?

The die grinder thing made me think of a buddy of mine that used a router to “machine” aluminum. That bit might be in the bin afterwards.
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Old 07-19-2021, 11:16 AM   #4
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Enlarge the pilot bit to 4" inside of a 4-1/2" hole saw. You may need to upgrade your arbor. Linseed oil between plug and material (may help).
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Old 07-19-2021, 11:21 AM   #5
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Enlarge the pilot bit to 4" inside of a 4-1/2" hole saw. You may need to upgrade your arbor. Linseed oil between plug and material.
That’s a cool trick!
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Old 07-19-2021, 12:07 PM   #6
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Thanks the hole saw template is a really good idea. I worry about having a place to clamp, but maybe I can use existing holes where the headliner screws to the ribs?
You could wedge the plywood hole template up against the ceiling with a pair of 2x4s cut to the proper length. Of course the 2x4s will cost you $200.
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Old 07-19-2021, 12:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
Enlarge the pilot bit to 4" inside of a 4-1/2" hole saw. You may need to upgrade your arbor. Linseed oil between plug and material (may help).
Hey, that's cheating! My way involves lots of extra steps and the opportunity for more excitement...

Nice trick, DeMac.
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Old 07-19-2021, 06:44 PM   #8
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I would use a pair of shears to accomplish that task.

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Old 09-12-2021, 11:50 PM   #9
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I friend some time back mentioned using a router to Machine aluminum in his apartment. I’m about to make those holes bigger and I think I’m going to try it.

I’ll report back in a couple days…

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Old 09-13-2021, 12:25 AM   #10
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A kind of air powered or electric powered tool

Use a tool called a “nibbler”.

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Old 09-13-2021, 04:51 AM   #11
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Use a tool called a “nibbler”.

William
Wow that’s impressive, especially the Trumpf brand.
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Old 09-13-2021, 06:48 AM   #12
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roto-zip, but make a practice run on scrap first. or try a oscillating saw, I bought a cheapy thinking I would only use it once....it's handy, I use it all the time.
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Old 09-13-2021, 09:15 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by BarnYardCamp View Post
roto-zip, but make a practice run on scrap first. or try a oscillating saw, I bought a cheapy thinking I would only use it once....it's handy, I use it all the time.
Yeah, like that. I definitely practicing on some scrap before I get busy.
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