The steps shown here are for the Sandwich labeling technique. Skip to the Use the Sticker Method chapter if you plan to use a vinyl sticker as the label for your project's front panel.

So that the holes will line up, we'll simultaneously drill through the clear and the enclosure layers. After that, the clear layer will be removed leaving the enclosure and its drilling guide. The index pin holes are drilled next. The final machining step is to remove the enclosure's drilling guide.

Let's head out to the workshop bench to do some drilling then to the kitchen sink to remove the enclosure's paper drilling guide.

Attach the Drilling Guides

  • Do not remove the protective covering from the clear polycarbonate or acrylic plastic sheet. The protective covering will be removed just prior to mounting the components to the panel.
  • Using a washable glue stick, attach one of the two drilling guides to the clear plastic sheet. After the glue dries, trim the clear layer to size using the guide as an outline for cutting the edges. (The photo shows a small desktop saw being used to trim a polycarbonate sheet to size.)
  • Attach the second pre-printed drilling guide to the enclosure face using the glue stick. Thoroughly secure the guide, particularly the outer edges. Press down with your fingers to secure the label.
  • When the glue dries, place the clear layer directly on top of the enclosure's drilling guide and accurately align the edges. While holding the clear layer, tape it in place with blue painter's tape.
  • Don't place tape over any of the hole markings that need to protrude through the clear layer. In this example, the hole markings for component index pins were covered with tape to keep from accidentally drilling through the clear layer.

 

 

 

Drill the Clear and Enclosure Layers

  • Use a small, sharp center punch to create an indentation in the exact center of each hole. The indentation will help to guide the pilot drill in the next step. The photo shows the use of an automatic center punch adjusted to a low impact setting, perfect for soft plastics.
  • Start by drilling 1/16-inch pilot holes in the center of three or four holes marked on the drilling guide. Choose holes that will help to secure the clear layer to the enclosure. After drilling the pilot holes, enlarge the holes with a 1/8-inch drill bit.
  • Insert screws into the those first few holes and attach with nuts. Pro tip: instead of small nuts, secure the screws with long standoffs; they are easier to handle and grip with your fingers.
  • After the clear layer is secured with screws, continue drilling 1/16-inch pilot holes. After the remaining pilot holes are drilled, enlarge the holes with a 1/8-inch drill bit.
  • Using a step drill bit, drill each of the remaining holes to the size printed on the drilling guide. Gradually remove each screw and drill those holes to the correct size. Pro tip: place some tape around the step drill bit to visually note the desired hole diameter.
  • Peel back the blue tape and remove the clear layer. Do not remove the clear layer's protective film just yet.
  • Using the enclosure's drill guide, drill the index pin holes.

 

  • On both sides of the enclosure and clear layers, use a countersink or small file to remove burrs left over from the drilling process. This is an important step since irregularities may show through the label.
  • Head to a sink and run lukewarm water over the enclosure drilling guide. The paper will soften and the washable glue will start to dissolve. Remove the paper and rub the remaining glue with your finger until it completely disappears. Dry with a paper towel.
  • Check for any remaining burrs around the holes and remove with the countersink or a small file. 

With the drilling completed, it's time to attach the label and the components to the enclosure. Our new front panel will be ready soon!

This guide was first published on Sep 17, 2018. It was last updated on Sep 17, 2018.
This page (Machine the Layers) was last updated on Oct 20, 2020.