UP3/5 Panels & RJ12 6-wire Telco Jacks

Our next step is to determine the location and size of the holes we want to cut out in our side pieces for our Digitrax UP3/5 panels and RJ12 6-wire telco jacks.  I use the Digitrax DCC system which is why I'm focusing on these items.  You may be using other DCC systems but the process for locating and installing is the same.  If you "Right Click" on the graphics below, you can "Save As" the image which you can then print off and write on your own dimensions.

Determining The Holes Size For UP3/5 Panels & RJ12 Telco Jacks
The location and size of hole for the UP3/5 panel is shown below (I've made this one easy as I wrote down the dimensions when I installed a couple of them before).
We want to make sure that our UP3/5 panel stays clear of our middle cross member so we offset it 2" to the left of the centre of the side piece (the 2' mark).  We'll also do the same on the other side so that the edges of the hole will be 4" apart (2" on one side piece and 2" on the other side piece = 4" offset).  This will make things easier when we wire the installed UP3/5 panels.

For regular RJ12 and "Contempra" telco jacks, we want the hole large enough so that the jacks will fit flush with the surface of the side piece.  The limiting factors here are the plastic lugs on the faceplates that hold the jacks in place.  We want a very tight fit at each end so that we have a good "bite" for the screws when we install the jacks.
I always like to transfer measurements to a 4"x 6" index card which I can use in laying out the location of these holes to make sure I've got things lined up.  (I've ruined too many pieces of wood from cutting holes in the wrong place.)

Here's the location of the hole for our regular RJ12 6-wire telco jack.  Again, we've offset the location by 2" left of the centre of the side piece so that we are well clear of the middle cross member. And I've centred the jack in the middle of the 4 1/2" width so that I have the same amount of wood on the top and on the bottom. 

The 2 3/4" dimension will result in a nice tight fit.  When I cut the hole I may have to do a bit of filing to get the body of the jack into the hole.  Better to do a bit of filing than to try and fill a hole. 
I've done the same for the 'Contempra" RJ12 telco jack following the same principles of offsetting from the middle cross member, and allowing for a nice tight fit on the 2 13/16" dimension.   
Marking The Side Pieces & Cutting The Holes
Since I decided to use the "Contempra" RJ12 telco jacks, I've laid out the location of the hole using the information from the "Contempra" card.   Note that we are working on the "Out" side of the side pieces. 

I next drill 4 holes using a 1/4" or a 3/8" drill bit so that the outside edges of the drill bit touch the corners of the hole I want to cut out.  These drill holes will make the job easier when I cut the hole for the jack.

Whether I use the 1/4" or 3/8" drill bit depends on the tools I use to cut the hole.  If I use a coping saw, a fret saw, a router, or other small-bladed tool, I'll use the 1/4" bit.  If I use a jig saw or other large-bladed tool, it will be the 3/8" drill bit. How you cut out the hole will depend on the tools that are available to you. 

Once I have the 4 corner holes drilled, I cut the hole for the telco jack. I've used a fret saw (or is it a coping saw?) for this job.  I clamped a steel straight edge along the cut line(s) to make sure I didn't wander off course too much (that's one of the major problems I have with fret saws and coping saws!). Don't use the blade of the T-square for a straight edge?  The fret saw will cut the straight edge. 

With the hole cut out, I fit the jack into the hole to make sure it's snug.  I had to file the sides of the hole to get a good fit.

Recessing The Faceplate
We've managed to cut a nice rectangular hole for our telco jack.  You would follow the same procedure for a UP3/5 panel or any other panel.

The faceplate is sticking up about 1/8" above the surface of the wood which could cause us some problems when we transport the modules, aside from the fact that it really doesn't look all that nice sticking out like that.  So, we'll now recess it so that it is flush with the surface of the wood. 

These steps take a bit of extra work but the end result is worth the effort.  Here's where it really helps if you have a router or know someone who does.  Don't be afraid to ask your club members for their help.

If you don't have a router, you can achieve the same results with a utility knife, some wood chisels and a bit of sandpaper.  Your chiseling doesn't need to be fancy as any mistakes will be hidden by the faceplate.

With the ""Out" side facing us, insert the telco jack into the hole and trace around the perimeter of the faceplate. Remove the faceplate and trace the lines with a straight edge. 

Cut out a recess about 1/8" deep so that the top of the faceplate sits flush or just below the surface of the side piece.

Depending on the tools used, there may be some "fuzz" on the edges of the recess.  Sand/ file the edges to remove the "fuzz". 

Voila!  Recessed RJ12 6-wire telco jacks.

We're now ready to start assembling the bits-and-pieces of wood.  But before we do, let's make sure we've got everything done that we need to do.

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