Kinda OT: making a square out of aluminum

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Picked up the latest shopnotes and their is an artical about working with aluminum, making a square specificly. According to the artical you can cut aluminum with a carbid blade in your table saw or miter saw, not that I think they would lie to me but would like to know if anyone else has done this.
Richard
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Oh, sure, you can cut aluminum with just about anything that will cut wood, unless it's an especially hardened variety of aluminum. A carbide blade would probably be a bit better than high speed steel, but just about anything will do. Even then you probably wouldn't have much trouble except maybe building up some aluminum galling on the blades. Which you can knock off with a sharp scraper with a little trouble.
Tom Dacon

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richard wrote:

Yes. Aluminum is soft. Brass too, I think, but I haven't tried it. You just can't cut ferrous metals (iron, steel).
I'm considering making one of those aluminum squares too. Sure you can buy them for less money, but...you made it yourself!
Mike
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I allready have the aluminum, made3 a snow saw a number of years ago, I was thinking of making it with self tapping machine screws vs the rivets just predrill everything and screw it togeather upand_at snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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I've cut up to 2" aluminum plate on a cabinet saw. It's just plain dangerous. Of course, now there are going to be a bunch of people jumping in and saying it's no problem. It isn't, unless you have done it on appropriate equipment (not a tablesaw) and know the consequences of screwing up. WARNING: a kickback with aluminum can kill you. Get hit with a piece of it and you will appreciate how soft wood really is. A hand held circular saw also works and is much safer. WD40 is a good cutting fluid.

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There is also the problem of the sawdust acting like bullets

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I did forget to mention that didn't I? Thanks for filling in.

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Bullshit!
WD 40 sucks as a saw lubricant and won't prevent blade galling as well as a wax stick lubricant. Use a blade with the least hook or negative hook. I make many items of aluminum and have used a chop saw, table saw, router, and band saw. I can't even say it takes any more caution, but I do seem to get a more careful grip on aluminum, make sure the too is fully up to speed, and launch into the aluminum a bit more carefully, kinda like making that last finish trim cut on hardwood when splintering it or gouging it would ruin the project.
You will probably not get a nice "finish" cut in aluminum. I've tried blades meant for it, lots of teeth, just a few, and whatever was on the saw. The results are similar. I would hope that basic table saw practice would be enough to prevent kick back. Yes, I've been hurt to the point of stitches (oak, don't ask) and have had several incidents. It's not rocket science to position yourself, the material, and the approach to deal with the potential. An upgrade to a 5 HP 3 phase Unisaw puts a whole new meaning to kick back!!! Once you know what it is, how quick it happens, and some of its causes I have not been re-injured, -- - - - -yet. Yes, lucky AND good.
You will get a lot of chips and they hurt. Plan on wearing goggles (face shield would be better) and gloves and long sleeves.
--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
DanG
A live Singing Valentine quartet,
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richard wrote:

Didn't see the article. But I can tell you a couple of things about this as we use a miter saw to cut columns, beams, etc., when we put up aluminum room enclosures and patio/deck covers. (As a side note, the aluminum window mullions and many frame pieces on almost all commercial buidings are cut with a miter saw).
First, you will get aluminum shavings all over everything. They are metal shreds, and they are really messy. And once in the saw, after using it for several cuts you will have the little chips around for a while. They have a nasty habit of reappearing embedded in the face of a piece of molding I was cutting face down to keep from spintering the face.
You will probably ruin you blade as the friction will catch the soft aluminum and it will stick to the teeth. It always does on mine and those gummed up blades don't work well as finish cuts after cutting aluminum. It is worse then cutting a pile of wet yellow pine.
Make sure you always wear you goggles as the little shavings can really fly around. Don't trim a piece unless you are completely confident in what you are doing. Cutting off a quarter or so will let the saw grab that little vibrating piece of metal and tear it off and throw it. If your piece is not completely secure and it moves a little when cutting, you will find metal much more unforgiving than wood. I have found that a small piece of aluminum will bounce and ricochet with the greatest gusto.
I now have a saw dedicated to that task (cutting almuminum) since it is too messy to cut with my good saws, and I don't want to lose a good blade in the process.
If you just have one miter saw, I wouldn't do it.
As always, YMMV, and after all, it's only my 0.02.
Robert
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richard wrote: > Picked up the latest shopnotes and their is an artical about working with > aluminum, making a square specificly. According to the artical you can cut > aluminum with a carbid blade in your table saw or miter saw, not that I > think they would lie to me but would like to know if anyone else has done > this.
Urban legend or fact?
If you run a wood cutting blade backwards, you can make clean cuts in aluminum?
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

Yes. However it's even better to just get a blade with the right angles.
You can get clean cuts in aluminium if you use a normal wood blade, so long as everything in sight is clamped rigid. The problem is (in bandsaw terms) "excessive hook" and a tendency to grab at the cut. As most woodworking setups are less rigid than metalworking rigs, this leads to chatter and a poor cut.
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

With my natural German heritage being as tight as it is, I am inclined to save buck where I can. Being a contractor like many here, I have an opportunity to try out as many of these methods as I want in the course of my normal workday. And you can bet if I can save buck without giving away quality, I will do it. So of course, I tried this method, having heard it for the last 30 years. This method was first introduced to me as a way to cut 29 ga. metal used in roofing and in flashings. The job site brain trusts have since expanded this method to cover just about anything that needs to be cut; aluminum, acrylic sheet (soory if it burned dude, you must have gotten the wrong kind), brass, copper pipe, you name it.
Here's my experience: Turning a blade around simply made the blade mash through the aluminum, chewing through using friction only as it cutting method. And of course, the heat generated warped the blade, making the cuts ugly while building debris on the saw blade, making it even harder still for the next cut.
When cutting sheetmetal (29ga steel), it is easier on the saw because the saw just burns through the metal. You will literally have orange hot splinters come off your cuts, and the edges of your metal really rough and burned blue. Actually, in limited use I did have some success with the old 120 tooth plywood blades cutting single thickness pieces, but the blade was installed on the saw correctly. I found it is better to use an old fashioned set of snips.
YMMV.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:
> With my natural German heritage being as tight as it is, I am inclined > to save buck where I can.
Unless you can be heard walking from 5 mile away, you're not tight.
OTOH, making prudent use of ones available resources, now that's a different matter.
> Here's my experience: Turning a blade around simply made the blade mash > through the aluminum, chewing through using friction only as it cutting > method. And of course, the heat generated warped the blade, making the > cuts ugly while building debris on the saw blade, making it even harder > still for the next cut.
If it's in a chop saw, why not an abrasive blade?
> When cutting sheetmetal (29ga steel), <snip> > I found it > is better to use an old fashioned set of snips.
Makes sense.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

Lew, you're man after my own heart. That is exactly how I look at it, but others have accused me of being so tight you couldn't drive a toothpick in my rear with a sledge hammer. Not true! I just don't spend money unless I have to.
I think of it as being responsible. But I like the phrase "being prudent with one's resources". Puttin' that one in the book.

You cannot cut aluminum with an abrasive blade. It is too soft and will quickly foul your abrasive wheel. You can kind of grind it (which is what an abrasive blade does instead of cutting) but you cannot cut it. Non ferrous blades are only for masonry.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:
> I think of it as being responsible. But I like the phrase "being > prudent with one's resources". Puttin' that one in the book.
With a grandfather from Prussia and a grandmother from Hesslot, can relate to your German heritage, and yes I had an uncle you could hear walking from 5 miles away.
Having parents who survived the Great Depression probably has something to do with "prudent use of ones available resources".
> You cannot cut aluminum with an abrasive blade. It is too soft and > will quickly foul your abrasive wheel. You can kind of grind it (which > is what an abrasive blade does instead of cutting) but you cannot cut > it. Non ferrous blades are only for masonry.
SFWIW, my tenant uses a Skill 77 equipped /w/ a 7-1/4 abrasive blade to cut fiberglass laminations.
Works quite well as long as you are patient.
Sure as hell beats a carbide blade since fiberglass laminate is very abrasive.
Lew
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I'll have to remember that phrase: "prudent use of one's available resources". Sounds a lot better than "tight".
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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I once built an enclosed trailer for a ultralight aircraft- sided the trailer with sheet aluminum all cut with a cir saw with the carbide (cheapie toos at the end) blade (as i rmember, the idea was stated in a homebuilding aircrafet article) on backwards. While the finished cut wasn't too bad, the bitch lay in the feed rate (wanted to grab) and the small slivers strewn all over the work area. Was still finding them in the sweepings of the area months later. I seem to recall that more than one tooth was shed in the process, and I still occasionally use the semi- toothless blade for rough hogging chores) being a cheap bahstud. Pat
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You know, I see that recommendation time and time again in the ng, to mount the blade backwards for cutting plastic, aluminum, or what-have-you. Then I think about the posts where someone had a carbide tooth come off, while cutting plain old ordinary wood, and the injury or pain it caused. I think running a carbide tip blade backwards through anything harder than, say, styrofoam, would definitely be on my "DO NOT TRY AT HOME" list
--
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L wrote:

The forces on the tip aren't much different whichever way you do it. It's shock loads that break tips off, not just putting the brazed joint in tension.
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On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 16:54:10 GMT, Lew Hodgett

I've seen this done plenty of times with both aluminum door components and glavanized brake metal for trim flashing.
Personally, I don't do that- it seems like a good way to rip off the odd poorly-brased tooth and send it shooting off like a bullet. I've never it that happen, and it may be a straw man I built up in my own mind- but I can't get the idea out of my head, and I leave that that task to others (preferably others with less expensive, beat up saws)
Really, you can cut metal with woodworking tools- the question is whether or not you want to. It's not only messy, but requires a whole extra level of worry and attention. There's a reason why metal is securely clamped when it is cut or milled.
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