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
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.
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!
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 email@example.com wrote:
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.
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.
A live Singing Valentine quartet,
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
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
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.
> Picked up the latest shopnotes and their is an artical about working with
> aluminum, making a square specificly. According to the artical you
> 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
Urban legend or fact?
If you run a wood cutting blade backwards, you can make clean cuts in
Yes. However it's even better to just get a blade with the right
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.
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.
> 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
> 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),
> I found it
> is better to use an old fashioned set of snips.
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.
> 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
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
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"
For every complicated, difficult problem, there is a simple, easy
solution that does not work.
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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