Dismiss Notice

Welcome To CK5!

Registering is free and easy! Hope to see you on the forums soon.

Score a FREE t-shirt and membership sticker when you sign up for a Premium Membership and choose the recurring plan.

best way to cut aluminum?

Discussion in 'The Tool Shed' started by mo, Jan 23, 2007.

  1. mo

    mo 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    542
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Folsom, CA
    I am trying to make a new center console top plate for my camaro to incorporate my neew shifter, and was wondering what the best way to cut aluminum was.

    I was thinking a little jig saw with a metal blade (if they make one)...


    what do you guys think?

    thanks
     
  2. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2000
    Posts:
    36,173
    Likes Received:
    1,384
    Location:
    E-town baby!
    Skill saw with a carbide tooth blade if the lines are straight...for shapes you're stuck with a jig saw or vertical bandsaw/scrollsaw. Get yourself some cutting wax for whatever you're cutting with though. It keeps the blades from getting galled up with aluminum, and makes the cutting smoother.

    Rene
     
  3. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Posts:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Scroll saw or vertical band would be best for shapes...we cut most of the stuff for my friend's tube bend panels with a jig saw and it was a BITCH!

    We couldn't find any carbide blades for my skill saw, so that sorta screwed us as well. However, thin abrasive blades worked pretty well for straight stuff as well. Clean up the edges with a flapper disc but be careful because they can remove a lot of material in a hurry when you're messing with Al.
     
  4. az-k5

    az-k5 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Posts:
    2,774
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Phoenix AZ
    Also AL doesn't spark, it just hurts with no warning. Don't use a bench grinder as it will gum it up and kick AL all over next time you use it for steel.
     
  5. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Posts:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I learned both of these lessons the hard way...good advice!
     
  6. mo

    mo 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    542
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Folsom, CA
    cool, thanks for all the tips, the scroll saw isn't even that much more than the little jig saw, so I will try that, looks much easier to work with.

    thanks all!
     
  7. Hossbaby50

    Hossbaby50 3/4 ton status

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2001
    Posts:
    8,972
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Peoria, AZ
    I have used snips & cutting wheels on angle grinders. They both work ok. You have to be good with a set of snips though, & have a steady hand with a grinder if you use a grinder.

    Harley
     
  8. mo

    mo 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    542
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Folsom, CA
    oh yeah, for drilling, should i get some cutting oil, or will wd-40 work alright?

    (i've never worked with aluminum before)

    thanks
     
  9. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Posts:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Aluminum is damn soft. For panels and such that are fairly thin you really shouldn't need anything.
     
  10. Hossbaby50

    Hossbaby50 3/4 ton status

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2001
    Posts:
    8,972
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Peoria, AZ
    What he said. Unless it is really thick like 1/4"+ I wouldn't even worry about cutting out if then even. Aluminum is way softer then the drill bit you will be drilling it with so it shouldn't cause any problems with your bits, and bits should eat right through it.

    Harley
     
  11. mo

    mo 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    542
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Folsom, CA
    cool, the bottom mount's gonna be 1/4" the top plate is 1/8" (which i think might be too thick, but i'm gonna try it and see.)
     
  12. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Posts:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I think 1/8" should be about right. We used 1/8" aluminum diamondplate for my buddy's rig with some square tube supports and it worked really well.
     
  13. skyyk5

    skyyk5 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Posts:
    1,537
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    N.E. PA
    if you need straight cuts you can use a circular saw with a regular wood blade for up to 1/2" think. or a coarse wood blade on a jig-saw untill you get under 1/8" thick. there is great cutting fluid called tap-magic that is green and made for aluminum. it helps drilling and cutting alot.
     
  14. rdn2blazer

    rdn2blazer 1 ton status Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Posts:
    16,487
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Location:
    So Cal.
    I prefer a band saw for aluminum down to even .062. I will take a piece of plywood and cut into the middle of a decent size piece to cover the size of aluminum Im cutting. the wood suports the aluminum. it wont leave a swell on the bottom of the piece from the teeth trying to pull down on the aluminum if the teeth are a corse blade. you want to use a corse blade for al too.

    most band saw machines have a kinda wide slot for the blade so it can allow a swell to develop in thin alum. if it 1/8 in or thicker thats not even a problem.

    also tape before you cut so the panel wont get scratched by any chips on the table (or wood)that were not cleaned off or from the cut you are making.

    granted I know most home garage guys dont have a band saw but its the best method I have used.

    skill saws work well with the right blade for straight cuts that are long. use a straight edge to get a real good straight line.

    jig saws are ok for like 1/8 in thick, thats about it. thicker its tough cause it will gall or load up the teeth. use corse teeth and wax. thinner will tear its way through and swell and bend the cut just like a band saw will. you would have to use a thin say 1/4 in piece of wood to back it up.​
     
  15. camiswelding

    camiswelding 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    May 25, 2003
    Posts:
    2,545
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Redding, CA
    wd works well for al.. (not for steel)
    plasma cut long runs.. if you get your speed right there is almost zero kerf. straight edge or steady hands
    jigsaw short pieces
    cutoff wheel for small cuts

    if you use a grinder (flapdisc for al) for cleanup never use it on steel... the buildup can cause the wheel to explode.... AL welding tools should only be used for AL... thats the safe way to do it.. I have complete seperate sets in my shop
     
  16. badboycrawler

    badboycrawler Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Posts:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sherwood, OR
    Never use wd-40 for a cutting oil (drilling, tapping, etc.) it's just not made for that. I use a plasma cutter for my cutting of aluminum.
     
  17. mo

    mo 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    542
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Folsom, CA
    you guys a wealth of info, thanks!
     
  18. rdn2blazer

    rdn2blazer 1 ton status Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Posts:
    16,487
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Location:
    So Cal.
    you should NEVER use a grinding wheel for aluminum. either a hand grinder or a bench grinder. I have worked in shops where the shop forman would fire someone for doing that. as cam said it can explode and it can kill a person.

    since it loads up and sticks to the wheel it causes an out of ballenced wheel. also when you need to grind something clean the stuck al. causes your piece to bounce which can also shatter a grinding wheel.

    disc grinders are what you use for aluminum.
     
  19. diesel4me

    diesel4me 1 ton status Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2003
    Posts:
    17,553
    Likes Received:
    939
    Location:
    Massachussetts
    Carbide!..

    I've used carbide tipped wood circular saw blades to cut up aluminum truck bodies for scrap...works suprisingly well!...cant do curves though...:crazy:
     

Share This Page