OT: Cutting Aluminum Stock

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I don't cut a lot, but I've been cutting aluminum angle off and on for a few years (after someone recommended it here), using a carbide tipped wood cutting blade (40 tooth I think) in a Delta 10" miter. It cuts so fast that heat is not a consideration, so a slow RPM is not needed like with steel. I've never had a problem with it grabbing. Cut corner-up as someone else suggested. I mostly cut aluminum angle to make small L-brackets at a fraction of the price I can buy them for (looking good is usually not important).
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Machine shops cut aluminum with 10" carbide sawblades ALL the time! On my RAS, I've cut 1.5" alum plate, with ease, stacks of 2x2x1/8 alum angle, 1/4 plate by the boatload, you name it..
They even show that shit POS Dual Saw (a hobbled circular saw), going through 1/8" alum. They make a BFD out of it, calling it "diamond plate", leading the shop-unsavvy viewer to believe it's diamond hard, not realizing its fukn 6061 alum with a tread pattern. goodgawd.....
You don't know whatcher missing!!! Your miter saw/carbide blade is *tailor made* for alum! Any tpi will do, just be more gentle if using a very course blade. Fine blades will weld up a little more, but no biggie.
Some people like to use wax, as, depending depending, the alum *can* weld between teeth, but it's easy to break out, and water is good too. I usually don't use anything, just don't push as hard as if I had coolant.
Next, that abrasive wheel is undoubtedly for FERROUS metals. It must be a BEAR to cut alum with that!!! In fact, I've never heard of an abrasive wheel even made for non-ferrous, as toothed blades are so efficient.
They DO make **grinding** wheels for non-ferrous, tho, which are very cool to use. For angle grinders, poss. for bench grinders as well.
Just use good shop sense when cutting. If using an RAS, best to push the blade IN (conventional cutting), must safer, no sudden grabbing. In a miter saw, just have the material up against the stop, in a way that minimizes the blades ability to "lift" the material.
There's a video somewhere of a shop teacher cutting like 4" alum plate with a 7 1/4" circular saw!!! Holy shit.....
As far as using these blades for ferrous (even rebar), I wouldn't do it -- the sfpm is just not right for the material, you'll wind up chipping/dulling the carbide. It CAN be done, just not with any economy of tooling.
--
EA



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fwiw, we had a hydraulic water-cooled machine, essentially a fancy chop saw, for cutting alum bar. Iirc, it went through 3" round bar in somewhere between 10 and 20 sec. Holy shit.... In principle, our chop saws/RAS are/do the same thing, just slower.
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EA

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Existential Angst wrote:

That would be one of the "cold" saws I mentioned. They are expensive and work very well.
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Not a cold saw. We had one of those, two speed: slow and slower. Very expensive blades, very accurate, centering vise, A Thomas, iirc. Repeat cuts within .005.
This was a Kalamazoo, a real *screamer*, very high rpm, special vise that held the drop side, so no material would fly off. If the coolant wasn't aimed properly (fairly high pressure water), you would get welding to the blade.
A cold saw could never get through 3" alum in 20 secs or less -- at least a traditional cold saw..
This screaming Kalamazoo put the whole shop on edge.
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Existential Angst wrote:

I imagine it was essentially a cold saw, but with the RPM increased for aluminum only cutting.
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I cut up to 1/4 inch aluminum often. Most of the time on a miter saw with a 60 or 80 tooth carbide blade. Angle stock no problem. CLAMPED DOWN TIGHT. GO SLOW. Smooth cuts. Blade will dull in time. I use the cheap Harbor Freight 10 inch blades for this. I even cut on regular band saw with wood cutting blades the thinner stuff. Blade will dull in time. But it works for me. WW
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Thanks for all the tips (and confidence) as far as using carbide tipped blades. I'll try it this weekend.
Next question:
re: "I even cut on regular band saw with wood cutting blades the thinner stuff."
I often need to round off the ends of the 1" x 1/4" flat stock, essentially turning 6" rectangles into 6" hockey rink shapes.
I usually nip off the corners on my band saw, then use my bench grinder to rough out the rounding and finally clamp sets of 4 in a bench vise and even them out with a hand file.
Is there a special type or grade of grinding wheel that would give me the smoothest finish or any other suggestions to reduce the labor?
Thanks again.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Router and template
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I do it on my radial arm saw and table saw all the time. I don't recommend cutting long pieces, ripping, as it will kick back at you.
Jimmie
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JIMMIE wrote:

Indeed. I once had need to rip an aluminum yard stick in half. The blade wrapped it around itself and my nice, thin - *REALLY* thin - Tenryu blade was ruined. <sob>
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re: "I once had need to rip an aluminum yard stick in half. "
Why? Were you planning on sharing it with a friend? :-)
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

I was putting it into a groove on a router table fence. The other half was going on the other half of the fence. Yes, I'm frugal :)
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In this case, I guess you were "penny wise...pound foolish"
Been there, my friend, been there!
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

The key is to use the right blade for the purpose -- this includes material, thickness, shape, and the tool in which it is being used.
To simply take any woodworking carbide-tipped blade and expect to use it on any general metal (ferrous or non-) _IS_ reason to be very afraid.
OTOH, there are blades for virtually any application readily available; you simply have to look for them (and, of course, know something about what it is you intend to do with it).
The key thing for safety is that the grind and particularly the hook angle be suitable for the material thickness and shape--generally that's what gets you in trouble in using a woodworking blade for metal; they're too aggressive on the hook angle and do grab or "get away" before you can prevent it. That's what the abrasive wheel prevents as it doesn't actually have teeth.
<www.carbide.com> has a nice selection menu system online for selection of nonferrous blades; they don't (or at least didn't last time I looked) have ferrous blades selection online.
Amana Tool and the other major manufacturers all have a lot of useful information on blades for all purposes and what styles of tooth, etc., are good for what.

Not always if you'll look at what is available for your specific needs--in fact, I'd venture probably "no" altho again it'll depend on what you have to use one in as well as what you want to do mostly.
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Thanks for that info.
There's a local "Saw and Knife" shop in my town that sells/sharpens/ services all kinds of cutting blades and machines.
Maybe I'll stop by there and see what they recommend. I wouldn't mind a dedicated - and proper - blade for when I'm cutting aluminum.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Try a steel plywood blade...one of those with lots of little bitty teeth.
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On Thu, 15 Apr 2010 08:36:34 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03

aluminum - and if you use a disk for aluminum, NEVER use it for steel- and vise versa. It is not a LIKELY outcome, but the POSSIBILITY of a Thermite explosion dictates that you keep the two separate.
A carbide blade cuts aluminum very effectively but be sure the chips do not get into the cooling air of the saw motor - chips will short the armature VERY easily - and permanently. I damaged my good Rockwell saw doing that.
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Aluminum can be cut just fine on a miter saw with the correct style blade.
This a very good one meant for non-ferrous
Freud LU89M015 15 Inch x 108 Teeth Non Ferrous Blade $125 new from 9 sellers Freud LU89M015 15" 108-Tooth Industrial Nonferrous Metals Blade. This heavy-duty non-ferrous metal cutting blade produces an excellent finish. These blades have custom designed gullets to minimize chip build-up and specially formulated carbide with a -7 deg hook angle and a 13 deg Top Bevel Angle for long life.
or cheaper one
Freud D1080N 10" 80 Tooth TCG Non FERROUS/PLASTIC Saw Blade $58 new, $56 used from 13 sellers
Nonferrous Metal Diablo Saw Blade Specifically designed for on the job cutting of nonferrous metal such as copper pipe, aluminum extrusion, brass plate, and even plastics. Laser cut stabilizer vents for reduced vibration and precise cuts.
I even use just my regular carbide wood blades for the very occasional aluminum cut when I'm too lazy to change out the blade.
Slow even rate feed.
cheers Bob
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Regarding the TPI's you suggested (80 & 108) I'd like to share what the guy at the "Saw and Knife" store just told me and ask for your opinion.
For 1.5 " x 1.5" x 1/8" angle stock and 1" x 1/4" flat stock, he said:
Based on the thickness of the material, 60 TPI is probably the highest you want to go. Above that you run the risk of melting the stock and have it weld back together behind the cut. 80 TPI and above is for very thin material.
Best tooth design is Negative Hook Angle, Triple Chip Grind. Alternate Top Bevel, especially with a Positive hook will dull very very quickly.
Cut the Angle stock legs down (as suggested elsewhere in this thread)
Cut the 1" x 1/4" flat stock "standing up" - clamp it so the the 1" surface is against the fence.
According to that info, the $59 Diablo non-ferrous 84 TPI blade that HD carries doesn't sound like what I want to use. The Saw and Knife place has a $79 blade in stock that fits the specs he laid out.
Your thoughts?
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