Fabricating with FRP: How to Cut And Drill with Standard Tools (Video Series)

If you work with Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer, you need to know how cutting and drilling FRP differs from traditional materials, and the many other advantages of FRP over steel, wood, and aluminum. Watch this video for the step-by-step process along with tips and tricks for clean fabrication.

One of the advantages of working with fiberglass-reinforced polymer — or FRP — is that it’s easy to fabricate with standard tools. We demonstrate cutting and drilling FRP in this video. But first, there are a few things to keep in mind.

— Always follow common safety practices. Eye protection is a must. Hearing protection and gloves are also recommended.

— FRP is extremely abrasive. Tools like saw blades will wear rapidly and will need to be cleaned and sharpened frequently.

— Lastly, we recommend using diamond-coated saw blades with FRP.

Now let’s take a look at a basic straight cut. A hand-held circular saw is good for small-volume cutting. Be sure to provide adequate support to keep the material from shifting. Without support, you could chip the material. As you cut the FRP profile, it’s important to use light, evenly applied pressure. Too much pressure tends to clog the blade. And cutting too fast will fray the edge of the material. For smaller, thinner pieces, a hand-held mini circular saw works well. Remember to avoid applying too much pressure or cutting too fast.

Now let’s move on to our FRP drilling demonstration. Drilling FRP profiles is a simple, routine task. You can use any standard high-speed drill bit, but it will require frequent sharpening. Properly sharpened brad-point bits will give you the best results. For drilling large quantities of FRP, carbide-tipped drills are recommended. When you’re drilling FRP, use the same drill speed you would use for drilling hardwood. Holes drilled in FRP are generally two thousandths of an inch under size. For larger holes, you may want to use a backer board for a cleaner hole on the back side of the profile.

For more quick tips, download our free FRP fabrication manual.