OT: Cutting Aluminum Stock

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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:
http://www.westerntool.com/10-inch-cut-off-wheel-metal.html
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 something like:
"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?
Thanks!
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problem. There are a lot of metal shops who use a radial arm saw for this sort of thing.
And the cold cut saws are just a beffed up miter saw with a diamond blade.
And if you are really paranoid, there is always a hacksaw.
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On Apr 15, 11:44 am, "Lee Michaels"

Thanks for the hack-saw tip, but paranoia isn't an issue since I've been using the cut-off wheel in the miter saw for years, for aluminum as well as steel.
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.
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Thanks for the hack-saw tip, but paranoia isn't an issue since I've been using the cut-off wheel in the miter saw for years, for aluminum as well as steel.
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.

dirty!
I never used carbide blades on aluminum myself. I usually had a bandsaw or recip saw handy.
When I do cut angle though, I usually face it down so the saw first touches it on the back of the angle. As long as you have a way to hold it firmly, it should work. Most metal saws have some kind of clamping arrangement.
If I had to do it on a wood miter saw, I would come up with some kind of block to put over the angle and clamp it down.
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[...]

Turn it over so you cut into the corner first.
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On Thu, 15 Apr 2010 08:59:38 -0700, DerbyDad03 wrote:

I've always used my bandsaw. With whatever blade is in it. Aluminium is *soft*. Same with brass and copper.
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re: "I've always used my bandsaw"
I've got a 10" Bandsaw and need 12" pieces.
I guess if I took the case off, I'd gain the other 2". <g>
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On 4/15/2010 1:06 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Cut twice once rough and a little long then a second time to exact length to square the cut. Of course you put the 12" end on the side _away_ from the arm.
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Carbide is what's used all the time to cut aluminum from what I've read. I cut a fair bit of it at work and have sometimes used a piece of wood inside the angle to back up the cut. Never had a problem. Wear safety glasses.
JP
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I've never had to cut twice -- and I've always got perfect cuts (so long as I clamp the piece). In fact, I just checked, and I have some good closeups of some results on my web page: http://www.ulvr.com/john/train/hints.htm?bk=FFFFFF (the top piece is cut without a clamp, the bottom with a clamp.
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Remember not all carbide is steel grade.
Wood carbide might be C2. Steel might be C6 up to Cn N might be 17.
There are over 5000 grades of Carbide. [ Carbide Processors, Inc ] The object is thin kerf. Less back pressure and more power in the smaller tooth. PSI comes into play. Tungsten carbide is good A Cermet is at the high line of TC and has the best wear factor.
Cermet might get you into micro fracturing. Making TC best overall.
THe TC or C-n is graded by use. C1-4 cast iron non-ferrous and non-metallic. C-3 is finishing and C-4 precision.
Steel and steel alloys - C5-C8. C-7 is finishing and C8 for precision.
and so forth...
Martin
Martin
DerbyDad03 wrote:

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For sheet metal, aluminum, PVC and other softer products, I bought a skil-saw (not the name brand) from a pawn shop (inexpensive!) and mounted it under a home-made cabinet. With a miter slot and guage, cutting these items are quick & easy and keeps that kind of debris from the wood-cutting areas/tools. Small/tiny filings won't get into any belts, gears, bushings, and/or bearings of woodworking tools, either. 7-1/4" blades are cheaper than 10" blades.
Sonny
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On Thu, 15 Apr 2010 11:44:54 -0400, "Lee Michaels"

years ago I used to install aluminum store fronts. AL frame and AL doors w/ glass. most all shopping centers have them. we used a 15" hitachi with a 110 tooth triple chip carbide blade for a ultra smooth cut. Clamp to the fence to avoid movement because it will grab if you go to fast. If you get your fingers behind the AL you gonna have a bad day! Go at a smooth slow pace and you will be fine. ;-]
skeez
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

and not sure I want to. Alum. in most grades is not as hard as hardwoods. Makes a nice clean cut with little or no filing. Ive even heard its good for the blade, guess it helps to clean it or something.
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On 4/15/2010 10:38 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

The shop dummy accidentally cut through an aluminum miter gauge fence on my Unisaw with a Forrest WWII with no ill effect to the blade (Its now got a nice, 45 degree, "zero clearance insert" built right in).
I've cut aluminum angle stock on my Makita LS1013 on purpose with the carbide tripped stock blade. Not something I do routinely, but enough to know that its not been a problem.
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In forth:

I've cut aluminum lots of times with my miter saw, 80-100 tooth blade, no problem
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I've got a Freud metal blade (it says it can cut aluminum right on the blade...) for that, and done tons of cuts on aluminum. Two things I've learned -- clamp the aluminum to your fence or the aluminum will move when the cut is almost done, ruining your finish. Second, make sure your fence is strong... (I had a wooden fence with one to many notches. One of my cuts broke the fence, and sent the aluminum flying. Made a decent dent in my wall. luckily the ricochet missed...).
The cuts I get are very clean. If you want shiny clean, you can use your oscillating sander to do that (I have a special belt for that, and so far it's still good).
John
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The woodworking carbide blades are ground to different rake and clearance from aluminum/nonferrous metal blades. Ferrous blades are either abrasive types, or are run at VERY slow cut rates; even if your bandsaw has the right blade, it can burn the teeth off if you try it at woodworking blade speed into an iron workpiece.
I've never seen a woodwork-type circular saw that was right for cutting steel with a carbide blade. Closest is some of the 'renovation' blades that are made to proceed through nails in lumber.
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Look up Tenryu, DML, Morse.
Here is one:
http://www.mkmorse.com/products/index.aspx?productu
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I'd like to share what the guy at the local "Saw and Knife" store just told me and ask for your opinion.
For 1.5 " x 1.5" x 1/8" Alumninum angle stock and 1" x 1/4" Alumninum 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.
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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