Techniques & Tools for Creating Lens Holes

The baseline design (Jan 2017) instructions for creating the holes for the lenses in the camera box was to use a 4" hole saw, along with rather dire warnings regarding the dangers of doing so (i.e. the saw teeth can suddenly dig into the plastic, spinning your hand and the drill, or the box, or both in circles).

When I was building PAN006, I found the warnings rather off putting… besides, I didn’t own a 4" hole saw. But I did own a Dremel rotary tool, so I cut the holes using small cutting disks, making little slots all around the perimeter of the holes, then cleaning the rough edges up using a Dremel sanding drum.

Recently Jonah tried a third technique while building PAN013: a jigsaw.

There is a fourth technique that might well work: using a fly cutter, which is a variable diameter tool for cutting holes. For example:

They’re easier to use on a drill press (which may be possible if the table can be adjusted to allow the camera box to fit), but can also be used with a hand held electric drill (this is common for cutting the holes for recessed light fixtures). There are pros and cons for these compared to a 4" hole saw.

  • The hole saw can, with some effort, be used with a hand held drill to create a hole even when a smaller hole already exists, while that is much more difficult with the fly cutter which really needs support to keep it centered, which doesn’t exist once you’ve made a smaller hole.
  • The fly cutter can create holes of a variety of sizes, for a price similar to a single hole saw.

Here are some that might be of interest at Amazon:

I found this review to be useful in understanding how to use a fly cutter. If you try these out, please do let us know how it goes.