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Old 12-30-2006, 08:09 AM   #1
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quick question on aluminum cutting

My hubby wants to know if he can cut a piece of aluminum sheeting on his table saw with a regular blade or is it necessary to buy a special blade for one cut?

TIA
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Old 12-30-2006, 08:44 AM   #2
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Personally, I would not attempt it. The best tool for cutting aluminum, IME, is an electric shear. I found one on Craig's List for $75, worth every penny. If cutting aluminum is not a common occurence, a hand shear or tin snips will do the job.

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Old 12-30-2006, 08:48 AM   #3
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Cutting aluminum

It won't be pretty. Maybe dangerous if it grabs and kicks back. Aluminum needs a fine tooth to get a smooth cut. Got a band saw? Better yet...wait till the closest shop with a shear opens up and bum a cut from them. You will like the results better in the end. Whats ya makin'?
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Old 12-30-2006, 08:59 AM   #4
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cutting aluminum

i have cut aluminum lots of times, you have to put your blade on backwords.
that way the saw will not kick back. you must wear safety glasses.
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Old 12-30-2006, 09:20 AM   #5
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I have cut aluminum strips as wide as 4" (1/8" thick) many times using a sabre saw with a high quality metal cutting blade. The results have been excellent. I would think that this method would also work on thinner stock if it was well clamped with a good solid backing.
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Old 12-30-2006, 10:31 AM   #6
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An Abrasive blade, Plasma Cutter or Shear would be best. If the saw grabs the alumnum and throws it someone will get slived pretty good or impaled.
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Old 12-30-2006, 12:13 PM   #7
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air-driven shears are available at Harbor Freight for about $20. Unless you can bum a cut on a bench shear, you will need an aluminum file (a steel file that has teeth cut especially for aluminum--soft aluminum will clog a regular file). More rules:

1. If you use aviation snips, NEVER close the jaws all the way--when the tips meet, it causes a serious stress riser in the sheet at that point and usually a small crack perpendicular to the cut. You'll find that electric or air shears never close the jaws all the way.

2. Get used to using the left and right cruve-cutting models of the aviation snips. They can both cut straight lines, too.

3. Always file the cut edge to remove burs and stress risers.

4. If you're cutting a large sheet, use a saber saw for rough cut, then trim with a bandsaw. Tape the bandsaw table to prevent scratches. Make sure the sheet is held reasonably firmly down on the table so it doesn't vibrate and grab. If vibration is controlled, bandsaws can cut very thin sheet.

5. Think "prevent scratches" all the time.

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Old 12-30-2006, 12:57 PM   #8
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I cut aluminum on my unisaw all the time. I use a special blade from harbor freight (I ordered mine, didn't see one in the local store). Makes great cuts. Name brand blades are also available (Freud) but for the amount of cutting I do it didn't seem worth the additional cost.

If you follow proper safety procedures I think you can do this safely. First issue is to be sure that you have adequate infeed/outfeed table to fully support the stock. Kick back can occur if you allow the work to come up off of the table after the cut and contact the the back of the blade. If the stock you are cutting from is bigger than your table, I'd suggest you find another way. In my experience abrasive blades make messy cuts.
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Old 12-30-2006, 02:30 PM   #9
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Thanks

Thanks everyone. I had already checked Harbor Freight and told him about the shears. I think that we'll probably go and get a set.

Melody Ranch - I'm not quite sure what he's making. He was working on the rear of the unit, on the hose storage box. He's beginning to be a bit like Dr. Frankenstein out there.....
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Old 12-30-2006, 02:47 PM   #10
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My office has an attached machine shop - our guys repair all our oceanographic gear there and the machinists are excellent. They cut aluminum on a regular table saw with a carbide wood blade all the time, this is a government run shop and safety is never ignored. I have cut aluminum stock 2.5 inches thick on a table saw before. That was the way I was tought on high school shop class - a while back.

You must feed it slow - have a block of wood above the blade to keep it from kicking up and wear gloves and goggles for safety.
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wannaroam
My hubby wants to know if he can cut a piece of aluminum sheeting on his table saw with a regular blade or is it necessary to buy a special blade for one cut?

TIA
You can also cut aluminum with a "razor knife."

Using a straight edge, score the aluminum 8 to 10 times.

Then try to bend the metal at the scoring.

It will snap in two.

Dress the edge with a file if you wish.

We do it every day.

Andy
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clancy_boy
..have a block of wood above the blade to keep it from kicking up and wear gloves and goggles for safety.
Whoa!! I've never seen gloves recommended around a rotary saw of any kind. It makes sense from the aspect of holding the aluminum sheet, but not from getting close to the blade. I'd be conflicted...

Zep
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:50 PM   #13
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Aluminum

We cut aluminum on our Jet Cabinet saw at our aircraft sheetmetal shop all the time. Usually to cut off a large flange that is needed to contact the dies on the press brake. Large radius bends are needed to bend .125 2024-T3 and require a very wide bottom die so we have to cut off the flange to final demension after bending, usually on U or C channels. We do however use a blade made for nonferous metals
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Old 12-30-2006, 04:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium
Whoa!! I've never seen gloves recommended around a rotary saw of any kind. It makes sense from the aspect of holding the aluminum sheet, but not from getting close to the blade. I'd be conflicted...

Zep
Zep, I agree - gloves and long sleave shirts have always been taboo around a saw of any kind for me (long hair too - but that's a different story). I am talking about aluminum sheets that take two or sometimes three to handle - no one is near the blade and the gloves are to protect the guys from the more probable injury from the raw edge of the sheet of aluminum and not the blade. BTW - the saw guard on the shop saw would almost make getting your hand near the blade an act of stupidity, government shop and all it has to stay in place.
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