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Thread: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    Carbon fiber can be brittle depending on how thin the adapter is and what other fibers are laminated in
    together with the carbon fiber.
    If you're just drilling holes for screws then a sharp drill in a drill press will do fine, make sure the adapter
    is well supported underneath to lessen tear out, set up a vacuum to suck away the dust
    and make sure that the exhaust of your vac is directed outside unless your vac is HEPA rated.

    Adding to what Labrat mentions in using super glues to seal off any tear out, after the super glue
    cures wet sand the area. If you don't you'll be dealing with very fine needles of CF.

    The bright side of the CF splinters is that they're black, unlike fiberglass.
    You can see them to pull them out.

  2. #12
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    There are different kinds of carbon fiber sheeting. I assume the type you are using is fiberglass reinforced. Small hole can be done with ordinary cobalt drill bits,
    though special diamond bits are made for carbon fiber and will cut cleaner holes. If you're worried about dust, wear a reasonable dust mask and sponge up any
    dust afterwards. My shop if fully HEPA, so I never think about this. But I have personal cost advantages due to selling that kind of gear. In other word, I'm factory incentified to understand this kind of thing. But I strongly recommend small HEPA vacs for not only shop use, but darkroom and lab applications too. You can get one for around $500 up - and no, a HEPA label on a basic Shop Vac or household vac ad does not consitute a HEPA vac, but merely misleading marketing BS. A faux HEPA filter in an ordinary vac might be cleaner than a regular filter, but doesn't do a damn thing for dust getting past unequal seals, much less to protect the motor itself from dust infiltration and potential burn out with the inevitable reduced air flow. True HEPA vacs are two-stage, with the motor completely isolated from dust, along with special prefiltration systems to protect the life of the expensive main filter itself. You can sometimes even use them as ambient air cleaners in a lab.

  3. #13

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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    The easy solution to the dust in this situation, since you're only drilling 4 holes, is just to do it all with the entire work area sopping wet. You can almost certainly just bead up some water over the area you're going to drill through but if you want the belt and suspenders approach, you can make a little dam around the drill site using multiple layers of tape, putty, even dough and fill the little pond you just formed with water. So long as the cutting edges are submerged, the dust stays contained in the water.

  4. #14
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    Just spray the area with WD-40. This will keep the dust at bay ANd help to save the drill bit.
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  5. #15

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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lachlan 717 View Post
    Just spray the area with WD-40. This will keep the dust at bay ANd help to save the drill bit.
    There's no guarantee an oil-based product won't wick into the ends of the fibers and stay there, nor that it won't cause delamination. My preference for this would be an oil as well (I usually use synthetic ATF) but with composites you really have to play it safe with what you expose them to unless you know for 100% certain what was used to make them and what the chemical compatibility is. Using water instead of an oil just keeps you out of trouble when you're dealing with an unidentified composite.

  6. #16
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Barrett View Post
    I really prefer the small Arca boards to the Linhof. Being just a little larger, they allow me to orient the lens in any rotation... I like the cable release dropping straight down. Plus all my other cameras are Arcas, so I emailed Hugo and they are building me a new front standard for the 4x10 to take Arca boards. I just sent them the measurements of an Arca board. At $300, I thought it was a good deal. So, if you're not into the Linhof style board, Chamonix may be able to fix you up. Hugo did quote me a 3 month lead time, so for now I'm still using Linhof boards.

    Cheers,
    CB
    sweet
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 70:
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  7. #17
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    Quote Originally Posted by williaty View Post
    There's no guarantee an oil-based product won't wick into the ends of the fibers and stay there, nor that it won't cause delamination. My preference for this would be an oil as well (I usually use synthetic ATF) but with composites you really have to play it safe with what you expose them to unless you know for 100% certain what was used to make them and what the chemical compatibility is. Using water instead of an oil just keeps you out of trouble when you're dealing with an unidentified composite.
    Main ingredient is fish oil...
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  8. #18

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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lachlan 717 View Post
    Main ingredient is fish oil...
    Yep, that's the easy part. However, can you determine exactly which brand of CF plate he has? Once you know who made it, can you determine exactly which carbon product from their model line it is? Once you determine the exact brand and model of CF sheet, can you get an engineer to commit to a statement on the compatibility of the product with "fish oil"?

    The problem isn't knowing what cutting lubricant you're going to use; the problem is knowing with enough specificity exactly what fiber and resin are involved in the composite to confirm that the composite is compatible with your cutting lubricant.

  9. #19

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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    I drill my Chamonix carbon fiber boards outside on a windy day. Circular hole saw mounted on an inexpensive Harbor Freight drill press. Drill press wouldn't last but a few days in a production line, but for all I use it, will never wear it out. If the hole is slightly too small, mount the board in a vise and hand file it with a circular hand file, again outside on a windy day. Chamonix boards are on the expensive side but (usually) a fraction the cost of the lenses you mount in them. Used Chamonix boards are finally actually appearing on the used and in the online auction circuit market.

  10. #20

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    Re: How difficult is it to drill holes in a Carbon Fiber lens board?

    I know I'm late posting to this thread, but I've made more than a dozen lens and camera mount panels for my FrankenKameras over the years and the best solution I've found is to use diamond-coated hole saws (commonly used for cutting holes in glass and stone tile) instead of conventional bi-metal ones having teeth.

    Generic, Chinese-made ones are readily available in 1 mm increment diameters and usually for $15 or less via eBay and Amazon. They create accurate holes with clean, crisp edges and stay sharp for a long time.

    They do make a lot of dust as they cut, unfortunately, but I wear a good mask and work outdoors on my driveway (I mounted my drill press on a rolling tool stand to make moving it around easy) and use a shop vac with a nozzle mounted near the saw to minimize my exposure to it.

    If you need to make a hole of an in-between diameter, I've found that a round carbide-grit hand file from Perma-Grit works very, very well for this purpose. (As do their other files and sanding blocks, too!)

    I've learned the hard way to always apply a layer of gaffer's tape to the top and bottom surfaces of the carbon fiber sheet before cutting the holes, as they will help prevent the rough, chipped edges that occasionally happen regardless of one's best effort and technique. Clamping the carbon fiber sheet to a sacrificial piece of aluminum sheet (to prevent drilling into the much harder drill press table and/or dulling the hole saw) is recommended as well.

    Finally, my secret weapon for smoothing the cut edges of carbon fiber sheet is to rub them with a scouring pad under running water. (I recommend Brillo, as other brands don't seem to work quite as well for this purpose.) This prevents dust from being an issue and the net result is smooth-to-the-touch edges in just a few seconds. (IMO, this method works a lot better than using sandpaper or, for some reason, plain steel wool of a similar grade.)

    I hope this info proves useful to someone!
    JG

    More of my photos can be seen at my photo-blog here: https://audiidudii.aminus3.com/

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