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I'm looking for a way to cut openings in 1/16" aircraft plywood. The openings must be square and vary from 1-1/2" x 2-1/2" to 6" x 2". I'm thinking a multi tool could be used, but have never used one. Is a multi tool easy to control to make the cut, or will it grab and make a messy cut? The openings need to have sharp, square corners and cuts are to be clean and smooth.
 

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I'll have to disagree with the Fridge. His statement is correct if you don't use the correct blade. I've used one many times because I need a precise cut, with satisfactory results, no over cuts allowed. Use two hands to hold the tool. After all one of the most common uses for a multi-tool is cutting existing door/jamb, trim that you don't want to replace when installing flooring. I've only had a multi-tool a little more than two years but in hindsight I realize I should have got one years ago. I got a battery powered one that uses same batteries has my impact & drill and really like it. Been going to write a tool review for the last month or so but haven't gotten around to it yet.

As with anything else all blades are not equal. Cheap is you get what you pay for and none of the blades are inexpensive. The best luck I've had with multi-tool blades have been the Bosch wood/metal blades. They have a slight radius across the end of the blade and that seems to be the key to control. If you buy the Bosch wood only blades you'll notice that the end is straight/square, these tend to want to jump/twitch just a little when starting to make the plunge cut. I notice the same occurrence with some of the cheaper blades I have purchased. At HD the price is the same, for ether Bosch blade. I bite the bullet and get the three pak, it's the only way I can stomach the price for such a small blade compared to the other blades I buy.
 

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Thank you all. That's just what I wanted to know. I was going to spring for a multi tool, but now I will explore other avenues. I found some utility knife blades with a bimetal edge that cuts well (Lenox). I will give them a try. The chisel sounds like the way to get clean, square corners after making the cuts with the utility knife. Maybe the corner squaring chisel is what I need.
I tried a Rotozip tool, but the cut was extremely hard to control. It kept leaping from side-to-side, resulting in very irregular cuts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I ordered the plywood last week and it should be here today or tomorrow. I will then try some cuts and see which works best.
Bondo Gaposis; I'm sure the utility knife will work. It's getting into the corners where I have the issue. I want sharp, clean corners.
 

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I have the Rockwell Sonicrafter and it is not what I would consider a precision tool as it will sometimes get away from the user. Of course I have not tried all possible blades. I have made a note of Darrell's suggestion of Bosch wood/metal blades and will try them.

Depending on the overall size of the pieces (not the cutout size) a scrollsaw (not a jig saw some get them confused) or a rotary tool (like the dermal) come to mind.
 

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If you have a scroll saw, use it to hog out the waste. Then switch to a straight edge and trim the last 1/16" of material away with a sharp knife. If you can't get the corners with the knife, finish them off with a wide chisel and a chopping cut.
 

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How many do you need to do and how many different sizes are there? If you are doing a one off, chisels would work well. If you are going to be doing a bunch like in a production setting, a small selection of punches/dies would make it go very quick. Then again, that would not be cheap at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
How many do you need to do and how many different sizes are there? If you are doing a one off, chisels would work well. If you are going to be doing a bunch like in a production setting, a small selection of punches/dies would make it go very quick. Then again, that would not be cheap at all.

- Ripthorn
This is a one off, but I do this on a regular basis as part of my hobby of building large scale trains. I tried using Crescent poster board, but the material was too soft to stand up to use. I just received some 1/16" aircraft plywood and although harder to cut, it is much more durable. My models are a combination of wood and metal; metal for the operating mechanism and wood for the body.
 

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The multi tool will give you a quick cut but being a RC aircraft builder and with a lot of small scale ply work experience I'd go one of two ways if true precision is important. As others have said you can go with a utility knife (Lenox blades are great, sharper and more durable than others) or VERY CAREFUL use of a multi tool to cut the side cuts sans the corners. Then with a quality coping or better yet fret saw complete the cuts into the corner. I finish all edges with a sander made with 1/4" thick aluminium stock cut to my spec with PSA abrasive paper attached(180-250 grit). Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I cut some openings in the plywood using a utility knife/Lenox bi-metal blade and single edge razor blades. It took a long time to get through the plywood with the utility knife, scoring each cut many times before the blank would show light at the cut lines. Using a razor, I went through the now, very thin material until it fell out. One square piece took about 15 minutes. I tried a chisel at the corners, but that didn't work too well. In the process, the knife slipped and I got a nasty cut in my thumb; lots of blood, but not serious. A bandaid fixed it up. Today, I will finish up the remaining cuts. I'm taking some extra bandaids with me to the shop.
BTW, I tried to rip cut the 2' x 4' plywood with the utility, but the blade wanted to follow the grain. I tried ripping it on my table saw with a fine blade and that worked great. Cutting through .050", 3-ply poster board was still difficult with a utility knife and razor blades, but a bit easier than with plywood. Other than that, the project is coming along well. I would post some pictures, but my camera quit working.
I use thin wood strips with sandpaper glued on to finish the cuts. For assembly, I'm using a combination of double stick transfer film, Crazy glue, titebond and contact cement, depending on the size of the parts and strength. Building models is pretty much like building furniture with size being the difference.
For those who build models, I have a few tips to offer. (1) When cutting small pieces of wood/plywood on a table saw, use a 7-1/4" fine tooth blade instead of the normal 10" or 12" blade. (2) Save all scraps and cutoffs. They are perfect for model making use. (3) Some modelers buy small strip wood and small shapes (angles, channels). I make my own from leftovers, but you will need jigs and fixtures to mill the wood safely. (4) Pin and brad nailers are useful for larger scale models. (5) Building models requires a degree of precision that is much more critical than full size woodworking. A 1/32" gap in a furniture project would be equivalent to a 1/2" gap at 1/16th scale. (6) Hardwoods are preferred, but soft woods can also find a place in a model. Visit a local cabinet maker for hardwood scraps.
 

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My Bosch multitool with Bosch blades have proved extremely accurate in doing plunge cuts into studs. I managed to sink a bathroom cabinet into the wall with minimum trouble. When the blade struck a nail I simply replaced it with a metal blade, cut the nail, put a new wood blade in, and finished the job. I was amazed how accurate the saw was, only downside is the high noise level.
 

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Well, it is a bit pricey, but a laser engraver is just the tool you need for cutting thin materials to very precise sizes. I have access to one, and have cut thin plywood, thin hardwood-veneered MDF, and acrylic sheet using a laser. By thin I mean that I've cut parts from 1/16" or thinner material up to about 1/4" or so.

Incredible precision, and results. And if you need to make a lot of any one item, the repeatability is amazing.
 

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I tried a Rotozip tool, but the cut was extremely hard to control. It kept leaping from side-to-side, resulting in very irregular cuts.
Trying to use a rotozip without a guide will do as you described. Make a square that has the inside measurement the size of the hole that you want to make, Then use the roto zip to follow the inside of the square … the corners can be squared with a chisel and you can use the square jig for subsequent holes.

You have to clamp the square to the piece, and if you make sure that the cutting part is below the square, you won't damage the square. This is equivalent to using a router and a jig to cut out a hole-pretty common way to do things-and it will be quick.
 
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