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Vision Panel Routing Project

Easy steps to rout a vision panel opening in a door, using an offset template.

With the enforcement of fire regulations, vision panels often need to be cut into existing doors. Machining a vision-panel aperture in a fire rated flush door can be done easily with a router and a simple template.

Using a jig can save time when used for repeated work and produce accurate results.

The aperture should be routed with the door detached from the frame, placed horizontally positioned on trestles or suspended between work surfaces.


Step 1 - Making an Offset Template

Make an Offset template to be used in conjunction with a guide bush and suitable cutter. The offset template will have a larger opening than the finished size of the aperture to allow for the difference between the cutter and the guide-bush. (Formula: Guide bush diameter, minus cutter diameter, divided by 2).

Example: 30mm guide bush and 12mm diameter cutter =18mm divided by 2 = 9mm offset.

Therefore a finished aperture size of 160mm x 450mm would need a template opening size of 178mm x 468mm. (9mm offset).

This method allows the cutter to reach the full depth in a number of passes, avoiding the need to cut out the waste piece by other means.

The template can be made of a sheet material such as MDF or plywood, minimum 6mm thick.

Clamp the template to the door. Use clamps with protective pads to save from marking the door.

Ensure the 30mm guide bush is centrally placed in the router.
Some non-Trend routers may need a sub-base to allow our guide bushes to be used.

Insert the cutter in the router to the K mark on the shank.

If a 1/2 inch capacity router is available, the aperture should only need to be routed from one side of the door only. For smaller capacity routers that need to be routed from both sides of the door, an allowance for the leading edge needs to be made when re-positioning the template to ensure it is the same location as the other side.

Step 2 - Routing the Vision Panel

With the guide bush following the template, rout in a clockwise direction, taking light passes until the full depth of cut is reached.

On the final pass a small amount could be left to prevent the waste piece dropping out, and carefully removed by hand.

Square up the corners of the apertures with a chisel, so that the beading can be snugly fitted.

Cut beadings to fit. A chop saw is ideal for this.

Refit the door. Fix the beadings and glass in place.