Cutting aluminum - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 08:16 AM Thread Starter
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Cutting aluminum

Hey guys,
I have some pieces of 1/4" to 3/8" thick aluminum that I would like to rip to dimension and I was wondering about using the table saw.
What kind of blade would I use to make this cut?
I havent really seen anything at the store that said metal cutting for a table saw.
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post #2 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 09:01 AM
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you have told us the thickness . . . but not the dimensions.
what is the project ? how will the the pieces be used ?
how many pieces do you need to cut, yada yada yada

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post #3 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 09:19 AM
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A standard carbide tooth blade will cut aluminum. I would use a high tooth count to eliminate catching and a slow feed rate.

I do cross cuts on the miter saw.

Ripping definitely calls for hold downs. This can be done by attaching some wood to the fence hold off the table just about the thickness of the stock. Then bury the blade in the wood a bit.
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post #4 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
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They are about 1" strips of aluminum about 24" long with rounded edges.
I was wanting to square an edge or possibly make sled runners for band saw table.
You know, goofy stuff that you just try to create while in the shop that might not be a good idea in the end.
I guess it would be the same blade that I would use to cut T Track on miter saw.

Thanks guys
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post #5 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 10:17 AM
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I cut ally using a Bosch jig saw blade for ally.
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post #6 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 10:58 AM
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You can, but it's exceptionally dangerous. If you need straight lines, you could cut it on a bandsaw or jigsaw, a little oversize (blade width or less over) and then cut it down to size with the table saw.

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post #7 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 11:32 AM
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just a little over-kill for small sled runners, IMO.
when there are soooooo many other options available
that will serve the same purpose (plexiglass comes to mind)
and much safer to cut.

I would re-think the project.

.
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post #8 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 12:10 PM
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Agree. There are better alternatives. I think 1/4" aluminum is just too thick.


Well, I may have to change my mind. I "googled" metal cutting blades for table saw and found some blades. It may be OK with a metal cutting blade. I still think there are better alternatives.



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Last edited by GeorgeC; 03-24-2020 at 12:12 PM.
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post #9 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 01:20 PM
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For the price of a blade you can buy a length of 3/8" X 3/4" bar stock if you want to use metal.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #10 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 01:54 PM
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my 2C

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSXRFanIM View Post
Hey guys,
I have some pieces of 1/4" to 3/8" thick aluminum that I would like to rip to dimension and I was wondering about using the table saw.
What kind of blade would I use to make this cut?
I havent really seen anything at the store that said metal cutting for a table saw.
you would likely use the exact same blade as on your chop saw, if you had a non-ferrous blade for it.

But I would not do it. At least not without finding others on You tube who have done it successfully.

Retired engineer-bureaucrat in Oakland, CA. Been working with wood since the 1960's.
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post #11 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 01:56 PM
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I have used the table saw for aluminum many times. I'm not fond of doing it because it throws chips everywhere in the (wood) shop....
full face shield recommended.


Concord is one maker of titanium carbide blades - good even for steel.
they have a negative hook - this is critical for cutting thicker metals.

a standard wood carbide blade will do fine on thin stuff - but 1/8 and up you should be using a blade designed for metal cutting.


at one inch wide, you will absolutely need something to hold the work piece - that's not freehand territory - hand feeding a small metal piece is exceedingly dangerous.
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post #12 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 03:28 PM
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It is amazing how some will gladly pay thousands for a table saw such as the Sawstop because of what might happen, yet others will risk injury to save a few dollars, hard to understand human nature.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #13 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
just a little over-kill for small sled runners, IMO.
when there are soooooo many other options available
that will serve the same purpose (plexiglass comes to mind)
and much safer to cut.

I would re-think the project.

.
Never thought of using plexi. Much easier to cut for sure.
Thats why I was asking
Didn't want to try it if others like you all had issues.
Thanks for the advice
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post #14 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 03:58 PM
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GSXRFan - - - don't get me wrong. being a sign maker, I have cut
tons of aluminum in thickness up to 1" with just about all of my
wood-dedicated power tools. the most often used machine was the vertical
Milwaukee panel saw. that 8" saw has really seen some aluminum !!
BUT - I would never, ever recommend cutting aluminum on a wood
dedicated power tool to a novice - never.
now, to the plexiglass . . . 1/4" thick and 3/4" wide will work absolutely
perfect for you. depending on how you mount it to the sled, you must
be careful with screws. overtightening can crack the plexi rail in the
blink of an eye.but if you have a good sized piece, you can afford to
lose some in the prototypes. (it is fairly cheap).
all the best to you in your projects !!
show us some photos when you gitter done.

.

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Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 03-24-2020 at 04:27 PM.
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post #15 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 05:18 PM
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OK, deep breath everyone.

Yes you "can" but more importantly "why".

At the hardware store you can find ĺ wide by 1/8 thick. Just use that stuff rather than trying to machine your aluminum. I made a sled for my dial indicator for alignment of the table saw.

Just a hint here about tightening aluminum runners.
Put the aluminum in your table saw slot (band saw) about half way. Then with a Crescent wrench put a slight kink in the aluminum. Then after making the sled, run the sled back and forth until it moves easily and remains snug.

Rich
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post #16 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 08:53 PM
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I have used 1/8" X 3/4" strips doubled up to get a bit extra depth if I didn't have 1/4" or 3/8" thick material for sled runners on hand.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #17 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michael.j.kitko View Post
You can, but it's exceptionally dangerous. If you need straight lines, you could cut it on a bandsaw or jigsaw, a little oversize (blade width or less over) and then cut it down to size with the table saw.

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Not even close to "exceptionally dangerous". As far as the table saw is concerned, its just a less dusty wood, follow standard safety precautions and the danger is the same as any other cutting operation. Secure the work, keep your hands away from the blade, avoid kickback situations, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSXRFanIM View Post
They are about 1" strips of aluminum about 24" long with rounded edges.
I was wanting to square an edge or possibly make sled runners for band saw table.
You know, goofy stuff that you just try to create while in the shop that might not be a good idea in the end.
I guess it would be the same blade that I would use to cut T Track on miter saw.

Thanks guys
As other people have already said, you can cut aluminium with a standard woodcutting blade, you dont need anything special. Frankly as far as the tool is concerned, aluminium is just a slightly harder and less dusty species of wood. Carbide tools cut it just fine, you can actually route profiles on the edge of a piece (though that does get admittedly dicey). Heck, if you wanted to you could actually use a hand plane and plane a chamfer on the edge of an aluminium bar. Have to sharpen your blade a bit sooner, but its possible, and ive done it. Standard common sense applies, make sure your workpiece is secured from unintended movement, keep hands away, dont force-feed the work, and watch out for the chips, they come off hot

Now, for your particular use, i.e sled runners, table saw wont work. Itll cut, but not particularly well. Cutting aluminium on the table saw, especially ripping, leaves pretty rough edges. The blade deflects, the cut wont be straight, and aluminium really likes having some sort of cutting lubricant to prevent galling which you cant really do on a table saw. Youd end up with a saw runner that might be close to proper dimension, but with a sloppy fit that doesnt slide smoothly

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post #18 of 25 Old 03-24-2020, 10:39 PM
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Forgive me for talking and encouraging use of an evil machine for the process.

With custom hold downs and a Craftsman RAS from the early 1970s. I had to rip cut an aluminum transom to fit a sliding patio door. So with the RAS in rip mode and three hold downs I started the cut. The original piece was 8 feet and I only needed 6 feet or so. The plan was to shut off the saw at about 7Ĺ feet. Well at about 7 feet I got the kick back that I KNEW was coming. No blood because I was expecting it. I trimmed the piece at 6 feet and completed the job.

Damage was something else. The alignment block (aluminum) in the RAS pulled the threads out. Which I later discovered was a major cause of RAS injuries. You could realign the saw and it would be fine for ten or a hundred cross cuts and then cutting through a knot all h*** would break loose. Why they ever used aluminum for a part with threads I'll never know.

Rich
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post #19 of 25 Old 03-25-2020, 09:32 AM
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Epic's got it right. You can also route cast iron! I have two tablesaws, same brand, different models, and the darn miter slots are different widths as well as distance apart, so I needed to remove a few thou off to make the miter gauge fit.

I think UHMW strips would make good runners, even AZAK, but I think they have to be installed in a dado.

Robert
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post #20 of 25 Old 03-25-2020, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRobert View Post
Epic's got it right. You can also route cast iron! I have two tablesaws, same brand, different models, and the darn miter slots are different widths as well as distance apart, so I needed to remove a few thou off to make the miter gauge fit.

I think UHMW strips would make good runners, even AZAK, but I think they have to be installed in a dado.

What brand of saws have different size slots? Years ago I believe Craftsman cheap job site saws had a different slot, but thought all Craftsman saws were now standard.


George
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