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Thread: Turning aluminum?

  1. #1
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    Turning aluminum?

    Anyone ever turn aluminum on a wood lathe using regular knives/chisels? I've got a couple of real simple parts I would like to make for my boat. Is a jawed chuck for wood adequate for holding parts?
    "Do, or do not. There is no try."
    -Yoda



  2. #2
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    Short answer...NO. You need a solidly mounted tool, not hand held. I've been a Tool & Die Maker for 30+ years, so my recommendation is find someone with a metal working lathe and save yourself a lot of grief and potential harm.

  3. #3
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    I have heard of it being done and there are some aluminum pen blanks on the market.
    Personally, I wouldn't do it. Suggest you heed warnings of those who are experienced with metal on lathes.
    To qualify my remarks. I do, on occasion, turn small brass items. I usually use broken files for my turning tools. These are usually gun related items and I have been doing it many years, originally with a clamped hand-held drill and make shift rest.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Newby View Post
    Short answer...NO.
    Kinda figured as much. I've got a couple of friends that are machinest's, they'd probably let me use a lathe to whip up the part I need. Basically just need to make a cap that goes on a pole. Simple stepped piece of round solid stock, with a bullnose on the exposed end. I'll spend more time driving to a lathe, than actually using it.

    Thanks guys!
    "Do, or do not. There is no try."
    -Yoda



  5. #5
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    In fact... aluminum is a BREEZE to turn with ordinary woodturning tools. It's not nearly as easy as WOOD, but it likes the same cutting speeds & the same edge styles. I turned aluminum pulleys with my old one-tube Craftsman lathe, and I've turned aluminum pens from aluminum bolts. Just keep the toolrest right next to the work - don't overhang the toolrest any farther than you HAVE to.

    Parting is an adventure - best to part down a short distance & then finish parting with a hacksaw.

    Aluminum likes scrapers just fine, too.

    EDIT: Aw, heck. Let's do the picture thing.









    The globby stuff in the picture of the pen/pencil pair - at the ends of the pen... I have no idea what that was. Photo artifact, prob'ly, since it's not actually on the pen. Looks terrible in the picture, though.
    Last edited by Tim Hofstetter; 12-02-2009 at 04:17 PM.
    -- Tim --

  6. #6
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    Great looking pullies and pens!! I have had a couple of students purchase and turn the aluminum pens. It is the one time I let a student wear skin tight gloves as the shavings are hot! High speed, sharp tools, cuts amazingly well! I would chuck it up and bring the tail stock up against until the last cuts to finish the top portion when you don't have much pressure against it. Also, wear a face shield with safety glasses underneath.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  7. #7
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    I knew there was something vaguely futuristic about Tim.... Apparently, He's from the year 2045 and is able to use some sort of internet worm hole to converse with those of us still in his past....
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Shively View Post
    Also, wear a face shield with safety glasses underneath.
    I abandoned safety glasses a few years ago for ski goggles. Its the only way I've found to keep everything out when stuff is flying everywhere.
    "Do, or do not. There is no try."
    -Yoda



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    I knew there was something vaguely futuristic about Tim.... Apparently, He's from the year 2045 and is able to use some sort of internet worm hole to converse with those of us still in his past....
    DANG. Every time the batteries in my camera die, the date gets allllll confubbled up.
    -- Tim --

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Hofstetter View Post
    DANG. Every time the batteries in my camera die, the date gets allllll confubbled up.


    Sure they do..........
    "Do, or do not. There is no try."
    -Yoda



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