Fiberglass reinforced panels can be used as wall, ceiling or roofing panes for home renovations and additions. Fiberglass panels may be flat for interior uses or corrugated for use as a roofing material. These panel types can be cut with home power tools, but selecting the proper blades and using appropriate safety precautions will make the process go smoothly.
Cutting Fiberglass Panels
Fiberglass panels are a harder substance when compared to other construction materials such as lumber or plywood. Cutting tools must be able to cleanly cut the harder and more brittle fiberglass. Also, fiberglass panels tend to chip and splinter when they are cut. The proper tools plus a couple of techniques will help you avoid splintering along your cuts in the panels. The panels are also more flexible than plywood sheets, so you must have a work space with sufficient support to keep a panel stable when cutting.
Types of Saws
Fiberglass panels can be cut with either a table saw or hand-held circular saw. A table saw tends to be a specialty power tool owned by series craftsmen or woodworkers with a dedicated workshop. A circular saw can be used in whatever space you plan to accomplish your construction work. If you need to cut curved lines in the fiberglass panels, a power sabre saw or hand-held jigsaw should be used.
The manufacturers of fiberglass reinforced panels recommend using a saw blade with carbide-tipped cutting teeth and a fine- or high-tooth count. The number of teeth on a blade will vary with the size of the blade, so look for the blades with the highest number of teeth in the blade size for your saw. For a jigsaw or sabre saw, the same teeth and carbide tip criteria apply. For these types of saws, the blade may be designated for metal cutting instead of for wood.
Techniques and Safety
Cutting fiberglass panels with a power saw will produce chips and pieces of panel propelled to a high speed by the saw blade. You must wear proper safety gear including a face shield, long sleeves and heavy-duty gloves. When cutting a panel, place masking tape along the cut line, mark the line on the tape and saw through the tape to minimize chipping and splintering. Inside corners cut in a panel should be rounded so the finished piece will not develop a fracture from a sharp corner.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.