03-30-2012, 02:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
My Ride: 325XI, 330 ZHP
How to cut openings in the doors for speakers
Having cut openings in the doors to fit speakers in both the e46 sedan and the coupe, I have some tips which will hopefully save someone a lot of grief:
Notes: The metal is thicker than the coupe.
Best: use a 3/8" cobalt drill bit for metal and drill several holes along the circle you want to cut. Then connect the dots using a jigsaw/multisaw attachment for the dremel tool.
Use a sheet metal blade!!
If done right with all the right equipment, should take less than 10 min.
Drill with a 4" round circular drill bit. - slow. The metal is too thick and wouldn't cut well. Even the one for tiles didn't cut well.
Dremel heavy duty cut off wheels would cut but were super slow and went through 3-4 before giving up.
Notes: metal is thinner, but watch out for the guide for the window that is bolted likely within the lower edge of the circle you want to cut. Before you start, unscrew this bolt, push it back and place a piece of cardboard in back of the area you want to cut, between the door panel and the window guide, so you don't cut this guide. It is VERY close to where you want to cut.
Best: Dremel EZlock cutting wheel for METAL:
Sparks fly and it looks scary so make sure you use eye protection and wall everything off with plastic to keep the shavings out of your car. Should cut like butter and take less than 10 min.
Dremel heavy duty cut off wheel or fiberglass reinforced heavy duty cut off wheel - too slow and wears down quick.
Tin snips - heavy duty tin snips will cut the metal and I have heard of people doing it this way, but in my experience the cut is very jagged and the metal bends a bit as you do it. Takes a bit of strength too. Using the metal cutting wheel is much faster and makes a much cleaner cut.
Multisaw/jigsaw with a metal saw - the base is too uneven in the coupe to firmly plant the jigsaw and keep it from vibrating. Too hard to control the cut and that window guide that you want to avoid is pretty close. Too dangerous.
Tungsten carbide cutter dremel bit - this thing looks pretty mean and I thought it might cut well, but it's also hard to control and I ended up breaking it.
Other tips for both cars:
- Wall everything off with plastic sheets to prevent metal shavings from flying all over your car.
- Place a cardboard or hard barrier behind the area you are cutting - a hard barrier especially important for drilling in the sedan. Once the drill bit goes through the first sheet of metal, it tends to keep going and you don't want it to drill straight through your door!
- With the right tools, the process is actually pretty easy. Over an hour of planning but, it only takes about 10 min per side to do the cut.
- Wear eye protection and a mask!! - metal shavings go flying everywhere and it gets dusty. Plus when that tungsten metal carving bit broke, it really went flying! This stuff cuts through metal, it will definitely carve up your eye. I use a full face shield.
One last thing - On the coupe, the placement of that bolt for the window guide is a real bummer. I went through all of the above to put in a pair of DLS Gothias and realized that despite the driver being the a manageable depth, the magnet is too wide and hits that bolt. Tried everything short of cutting off the bolt and welding it. So note that the width of the magnet is just as important as it's depth. Super sad about it, but I hope all the above details of the crap I went through might help someone who is preparing to do similar surgery on their car.
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