Carving Fiberglass the Easy Way

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Shaping fiberglass parts might be messy, but it doesn’t need to be hard. When I need to cut back an edge, I find that an angle die grinder with a 2-inch sanding disk makes quick work of the task. The key is to anchor your hand to make it steady, and then take shallow cuts up to the pre-drawn line. To make a radiused corner, the edge of the disk makes a great carving tool—just take it slow and steady for a nice shape. Always wear a dust mask when grinding fiberglass.

Mark the lines for the cutout you want, then use a 2-inch sanding disk to carve the glass up to the line.

Radiused corners can be shaped by gently stroking the disk to create the curve you need. Steady the hands on the workpiece to make minute adjustments.

The edge of the disk is used to do precise cutting on the curve.

The finished cut can be touched up with a little sandpaper, and it is ready for paint.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

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