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Thread: Question on cutting aluminum

  1. #1
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    Question on cutting aluminum

    For the chancel furniture project I need to install a 1/2 x 1/4 aluminum trim piece. I had a metal working friend over to show me how he does it, but he used a hand saw and my disk sander to sneak up on the angles for the joints. I thought this not to be the best bet, and it was slow and did not produce the crisp joint I was looking for.

    I went to the local Borg to pick up a cheap carbide blade for my chop saw - remembering that Vaughn, myself, and others have all noted that aluminum cuts just fine with carbide - but ran across 10" metal cut off wheels that looked as though they would do the job, and they're cheaper.

    Can I use these in my chop saw? Will they produce the clean cut I'm looking for?
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  2. #2
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    if were me i would use a regular carbide and one with many teeth rennie..dont use a fiber type blade you wont like it..if the cheap ones are metal and not fiber than you should be ok try it and see, i have cut 1/2 thick alum.. before witha radial arm saw and it was with carbide just hang on..
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  3. #3
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    A fiber wheel will load up with aluminum when you are cutting it. I have worked with aluminum for 30 years welding and cutting. I would go with the carbide blade and like Larry says, hang on. One thing to remember, the chips coming off the saw are hot and will burn you. We used a lot of hand held air cutters that held the equivalent of a shaper blade. It gave a nice clean cut.

  4. #4
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    Ditto on carbide blade recommendation. Key is SLOWWWW feed and best to clamp work to fence. I had a "learning experience" cutting 1.5" x .125" aluminum angle - got in a hurry and rushed the cut. The blade grabbed and threw the stock into the fence. On the rebound I got a few skinned knuckles and bruises. Could have been a lot worse.

  5. #5
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    after thought,,,,rennie take and cut it with hack saw close then go an trim to size with your carbide..that way you wont be taking much off and the binding will be diminished alot..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  6. #6
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    ............
    Last edited by John Bartley; 05-08-2012 at 09:50 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by larry merlau View Post
    after thought,,,,rennie take and cut it with hack saw close then go an trim to size with your carbide..that way you wont be taking much off and the binding will be diminished alot..
    Quote Originally Posted by John Bartley View Post
    I have a Freud blade made for non-ferrous metals. It leaves paper smooth cut with no tearout or chipping or any burr in both aluminum and brass. I use it on my table saw and make sure I clean up the shavings well afterwards so that they don't get into the compost pile.

    http://www.freudtools.com/p-39-thick...albr-nbsp.aspx

    cheers

    John
    looks like carbide is the way to go! Thanks everyone for all the input. Now I have an excuse, I mean reason, to buy a new tool!
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  8. #8
    I routinely rip, crosscut and use a band saw on .080" and .100" al. sheet and I crosscut .188" angle. When crosscutting using the miter saw, I cover the al. with a wood scrap that bridges the fence opeing. It allows me to really get a hold on it. It will try to slide on you, especially if cutting angles.

    I, too, had an attention getting bout with some al. channel. I was using a 12" miter saw and my "prize" Freud 96 tooth blade. The blade grabbed and the next thing I knew the angle was bent, the blade chipped a couple teeth and I had a sore thumb for a month. As said, it could have been worse. I have been very conscious of going slowly ever since.

    Be sure to protect your eyes and you may feel some hot visitors on your hand/arm. No sweat, aluminum cools quickly
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  9. #9
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    Rennie, on another forum there was a discussion a couple of yrs back about cutting methods for aluminum and several said they got the best results using a carbide blade for non ferrous metals. They ALSO gave a "TIP" that improved the cut, that said to stick a strip of the "original type of clear Scotch Tape" down solidly on the aluminum, centered on top of the cut line, and it seemed to lubricate the cut and give EXTREMELY smooth edges.

    Note: I have not tried this, but SEVERAL there recommended it.

    (If all else fails, you can always clean up the edge with a router bit). DAMHIKT

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Hitt View Post
    Rennie, on another forum there was a discussion a couple of yrs back about cutting methods for aluminum and several said they got the best results using a carbide blade for non ferrous metals. They ALSO gave a "TIP" that improved the cut, that said to stick a strip of the "original type of clear Scotch Tape" down solidly on the aluminum, centered on top of the cut line, and it seemed to lubricate the cut and give EXTREMELY smooth edges.

    Note: I have not tried this, but SEVERAL there recommended it.

    (If all else fails, you can always clean up the edge with a router bit). DAMHIKT
    Hi Norman,
    I'm looking into the Freud LU89M as a possibility. I know I'll get a better cut backing it up with some wood. The tape idea is interesting. The LOML just took a scroll saw course in which the instructor told her that he always covers his pattern in packing tape for the same reason - lubricates the blade.
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