I'm building a bar-top arcade game. I have some plans from I Like To Make Stuff which I'm modifying and I'm steadily cutting the necessary pieces etc. I'm upcycling an old desk to make the front panel, control panel and monitor mount. The desk top is 22mm thick veneered chipboard.

One of the modifications I want to make is adding 4 USB ports to the front panel. The holes to mount the USB connectors need to 13.5x6mm, ideally with lip around the outside measuring 14.8x7.2mm, 1mm deep (to accommodate the USB port lip).

I've enquired about getting this laser cut, but the material is unsuitable. Could anyone suggest a method for cutting such holes? Would CNC cutting be an option? Is it even worth attempting, as plan B might be to go with a material that could be laser cut? Thanx.

This is the USB port I'm trying to fit. USB Port

  • 1
    Chisels come to mind.
    – Ashlar
    Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 22:13
  • Just in support of what @rob says in his Answer, you may experience difficulty in forming a clean cavity in chipboard due to its rough texture and crumbly nature, so inserting a hardwood insert is a good workaround. You can use softwood instead (e.g. pine) but it won't be as robust and this may be an issue in the long term especially due to the usual (poor) quality of the pine sold over here these days.
    – Graphus
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 8:15

2 Answers 2


A CNC is definitely overkill here.

You can use a drill or drill press to remove the bulk of waste, then use chisels to square up the hole and clean up the corners. Then use the chisel to score and pare away the little lip.

That said, with chipboard you may have some difficulty, so I would suggest just cutting out a section slightly larger than the area that will house all 4 holes, and cut a solid hardwood insert that fits into this hole, then mounting your USB ports in that insert so you have an easy-to-install assembly. If it is a small enough piece, you won't really have to worry about seasonal movement, but you can also use a quartersawn piece for your insert to hedge your bets. You can also cut it slightly oversized then cut a rabbet around the outer edges so it has a small lip to cover any gap and potentially allow for movement.

  • Or use real wood, or MDF, which chisel more reasonably.
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 5:57

For a professional result I would suggest using two tools, a handheld drill and a handheld jigsaw.

First draw a rectangle with a marking pencil the size and shape of the USB port cage.

Wear safety goggles!

Second use the drill with a bit with a diameter slightly wider than the width of the jigsaw blade and smaller than the USB port cage. Drill a hole at the edge if your marked rectangle.

Third, insert the jigsaw blade in the hold you created. Saw along the edge of the rectangle until you get to a corner. The jigsaw will be capable of a pretty sharp turning radius so you should be able to spider out a few cuts from the same hole to get to all the corners of the rectangle.

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