Any experience working Aluminum with woodworking tools

I've got to make some jigs which will require some moderately careful shaping of, say, 1/4" Aluminum sheet. Does anyone have experience sawing and shaping this material with woodworking tools like carbide tipped circular saw (table, radial arm, chop) blades and carbide router bits? Norm
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wrote:

Last year some time I finally got around to making a replaceable insert table saw insert like the one Norm (the TV one) uses: http://www.normstools.com/images/normstools/oak-insert.htm
I wrote it up as an article at WoodCentral, which you can see here: http://www.woodcentral.com/cgi-bin/readarticle.pl?dir=shop&file=articles_893.shtml
I don't have a metalworking tool in the shop (I mean like mills and metal lathes--I have a drill press, grinder, and lots of files). Everything was done at the table saw, miter saw, band saw, and router table. Note the caution in the article about generating heat. Might not apply to your project, but it's worth taking into account.
There were some replies and dialogue which confirmed that what I did was pretty reasonable insofar as the tools used is concerned. My comment in the article, and one I'd repeat here, is that this kind of project requires a little more attention and a little more skill and experience than the average DIYer normally (heh, heh) possesses. Yours might not.
A couple of things that were affirmed that made me feel pretty good were my guesses as to (router) bit speed and feed rate. The Carol Reed who replied referencing her CNC experience was formerly The Router Lady and has published work regarding router use. That was like Roy Underhill telling me, "nice dovetails" (which he wouldn't).
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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Norm Dresner wrote:

Although I've outsourced production to a CNC machine shop across town, these were cut with a (CNC) router with a 1/4" carbide bit and worked with woodworking tools:
http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/SuperZero /
and the aluminum motor mounts here were machined with the same router:
http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/Projects/JBot /
The ultralight aircraft factory next to my shop routinely cut aluminum (and sometimes chrome-moly steel) tubing with a chop saw - although I'm personally much more comfortable using my cheap HF horizontal band saw for that kind of operation.
--
Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
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I have cut aluminum with my tablesaw and a variable speed router set on low speed using standard wood working blades and bits. Watch out for the chips. The chips from cutting are sharp and hot! Wear safety glasses! Greg
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All the aluminum & plastic components in this picture (
http://patwarner.com/images/drilling1.jpg ) were cut with ordinary routers and cutters and extraordinary jigs and fixtures. Working aluminum with woodworking tools, in my case: bandsaw, drill and routers, is relatively straight forward but not a straight forward cross over. There is a lot of technique sensitivity and risk to work & operator.
Routers (http://www.patwarner.com )

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Don't forget the lubricant needed for any metal cutting another metal. No lubrication with grit blades is one thing as some are meant to be used without; but if you can get the right stuff you should always lubricate metal if you are drilling or machining.
FWIW, we always used kerosene on aluminum when drilling because the glass guys on big commercial jobs used it when drilling aluminum mullions and thresholds for windows and doors. They also used it on their carbide blades when cutting the large extrusions for length.
I cut heavy aluminum in my oldest 10" miter saw with a 60 tooth blade in it. This is the aluminum we use to cut the piece of angle used to secure the feet of the posts as well as any weight bearing beam. When I sub the installation, my sub uses paraffin, rubbing it all over the blade, especially on the teeth every couple of cuts.
The difference? With the lubricant cuts are smoother, and the swarf doesn't embed on you blade. Without... well that blade (unless it is just a cut or two) will be best used on aluminum for the rest of its useful life.
Remember too, stay away from painted blades when cutting metal with high speed cutters. The paint will melt onto your material. DAMHIKT.
http://www.ch601.org/tools/cutting_aluminum_sheet_metal.htm
http://www.cnczone.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-6898.html
Robert
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