On occasion, I need to cut aluminum stock, both 1.5" x 1.5" x 1/8"
angle stock and 1" x 1/4" flat stock.
I have always used one of those metal-cutting wheels in my 10" Delta
Miter Saw, similar to this:
The other day, I was watching "How It's Made" and they showed the
process used to make Carbide Tips saw blades. They started with the
raw steel and followed the process through to the final product.
At the end of the segment, they showed a carbide-tipped blade in a
miter saw cutting through a steel rod with the voice over saying
"And when they're finished, they're strong enough to cut through the
steel that they are made from."
Somehow, I'm reluctant to start using my carbide tipped blades to cut
my aluminum stock. The thought of the teeth grabbing the angle iron
just scares the bejesus out of me. But if they can be used to cut
steel, aluminum should be a breeze.
Am I right to be afraid, be very afraid?
Are the cutoff wheels, even with the melting and subsequent filing/
grinding that I have to put up with, still the best option?
I've been using a 10" 40 tooth carbide saw in my old radial arm saw to cut
aluminum stock with no problems,
I have cut stock up to one quarter inch thick with no problem. Never get to
use anything heavier.
It does make a lot of noise.
I have used radial arm saws - with the cut-off wheels - to cut steel
plate, but I've done it by dragging the blade over the material at
I don't have a radial arm saw in my shop so the miter saw is my tool
I'm just curious as to whether I'd get a smoother cut with a carbide
tipped blade and if it would be safe to use on angle iron, especially
as to how the spinning teeth would first make conact with the upright
portion of the angle iron.
Rotate the angle iron so the angle portion is up-most and both
edges are down, against the table.
/ \ like that, only obviously the angle shows incorrectly in
text. Then the blade never has an uncut edge to hook into,
plus the end of the cut is done near the table. Feed
slowly and consider ear protectors if you have to do more than
a minute's work with it.
Ferrous materials (iron, NOT steel!) can be cut with carbides,
but not hardened steel and other types; they should have made
that abundantly clear as it would be possible to end up with a
lot of tiny pieces of carbide (teeth) being flung all over
your shop. I'd avoid anything except thin sheet steel on a
carbide blade. And put it between two pieces of wood unless
you want a really messy cut. They have the power of a .22
shell when the blade is at speed.
And if you're not careful it can create enough heat to
permanently warp the blade too, especially the cheap one with
stress still in them; heat will release that stress by bending
The "dry cut" saws (~$500) that use a carbide toothed blade to cut
metals including steel run at a much lower RPM than a standard table saw
or RAS. The true "cold" saws ($1,500+) that cut steel with a carbide
toothed blade run are really low RPM and use coolant. You can get away
with the regular saw for aluminum since the higher blade speed is ok
On Thu, 15 Apr 2010 09:04:16 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03
than that used for wood/aluminum. My regular carbide blade DID make
short work of the mechanism of my old WorkMate when I lost track of
where the blade was going, but anything heavier would likelyu have
damaged the blade.
*NO* 7 1/2 or 10" blade is good for steel, at 3600 rpm -- the sfpm are
just too high.
You can mebbe get away with thin steel or sheet metal, but then you are
likely not really cutting but simply tearing the metal.
(Cross-posted to rcm for other opinions)
Yeah, Morse is (or was) the real deal, but they do emphasize "thin" metals,
+ rebar. Their short video only shows versabar being cut.
The also have the line, "blades reach full potential when used on special
meal cutting circular saws".
Hmmmm.... I loved "full potential"!!! That *must* mean reduced rpm, no?
"cold" circular saws??
I suspect this is an expensive way to cut steel.
In their box How Fast?, they give some examples, for example, at 12" cut in
1/4" steel in under 12 sec, and some other stuff, incl blade life wrt
The numbers (and their units) seemed sort of OK, but also sort of cooked,
consistency-wise, and of course not clear under what conditions. Funny they
omitted blade life with aluminum!
Gave numbers for 3/8" SS: 12" cut in 51.2 seconds. Not bad, but right
away, ahm wunnerin about dat .2 seconds..... please....
In SS, they claimed a blade life of 13 cuts. If they used their 7"
csm748ssc blade at about $85 (incl shipping), yer talkin $6+ per cut. And
THAT was proly in their "metal cutting circular saw", not yer Skilsaw at
I just did a bunch of 8" cuts in 1/4 alum on a 10" RAS, and they certainly
took longer than 12 secs -- mebbe 15 secs, so either that Morse blade is a
real asskicker, or their numbers are, well, very optimistic.
I don't doubt these blades are legit, but I think they are legit at a very
high cost per cut, and proly not practical for you'n'me.
I suspect these blades are for persnickety field applications, where plate
footings etc. have to be just right, and oxyacetylene would be too crude
(couln't use O/A on SS, either), and no band saw was available.
Overall, very inneresting.
The saws I have seen for use with the metal cutting blades were notable
for the complete shroud that surrounded the blade, this kept the chips
from flying everywhere. I never looked at the RPM rating on it, should
be able to find it online. Cutting the stainless would be a real trick,
too slow, it will harden, too fast, you jam up the teeth.
Cutting Aluminum on the RAS, or power miter box is made a lot easier if
you have a non-ferrous metals blade on the saw, and lube it up with
teflon spray lube. If you take gentle cuts and don't clog the blade,
they last a very long time. We will make thousands of cuts in
1"x1"x1/8" wall Aluminum box tube with the same blade.
The fun one is cutting 1/4" Al plate into neat curvy shapes. Make a
3/4" plywood or particle board template, mark the plate, then using lots
of cutting fluid, saw just outside the lines with a sabre saw. place
the plate cut out back on the template, and secure it, then carefully
rout the edge to the template with a piloted, spiral flute router bit
designed for aluminum, again using lots of cutting fluid.
In this case we used water soluble oil, the same as our drill press and
cold saw run.
re: "then carefully rout the edge to the template with a piloted,
spiral flute router bit...again using lots of cutting fluid "
I'm assuming you are using something other than a router table,
Otherwise, how do you keep the lube out of the device?
Correct, using a big variable speed router not mounted on a table. With
the router above the work, it actually stays pretty dry. The guy doing
the work will want either long sleeves or a welding coat. Face shield
is a good idea too.
This particular project was sets of 8 and 4 identical shapes cut from
1/4" aluminum plate. The plates were 4x10 and it took almost 4 sheets
to get all the parts. Given the size and relative floppiness (they were
curvy, long and thin) keeping the work on saw horses and moving the
router over them was the best way.
Well, you could if your circular saw was mounted upside down to act
like a table saw.
I've used the following method to cut circles on my table saw many
Exactly! You don't want to be using your $100 cabinet blade. I keep a
cheap Ace Hardware blade around for cutting this kind of stuff.
BTW were some PPE, a face shield and a long sleeve shirt at a
minimum. This will generate lots of flying chips of metal.
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