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Cutting Aluminum

#1
If the cut was a straight line , a Skilful saw and any old blade works but this is a couple of 1 1/2" half moon cuts on the edge of a aluminum hood, I guess it's about 1/8 or 3/16' thick. Much too tight for a jig saw, a hole saw on the edge with a hand held drill motor is asking for trouble. If it was steel, a torch and a die grinder would be what I'ld use. But I haven't had any success with die grinders and aluminum , the burr just gummed up. Company tools many years ago. Any suggestions? THX
 
#3
My computer skills involve looking for each key, but here is factory made lapidary saw to give you an idea http://www.hplapidary.com/en/highla...-slab-saw-model-24-model-24-call-for-shipping . The one we have is a home made one that was rebuilt in a shop with a new tub and hood out of aluminum . Nice. But the hood only lifts up. it's not hinged. Since the rockhound in the family is the wife , I want to hinge it and add a couple of PA gas strut cylinders. These saws use oil for coolant so the hood fits inside the tub. On this one, the carriage rails are high , the hood sits behind the ends and catch when tilted, as you would do when hinged. The rails are 1 1/2".
 
#6
If the cut was a straight line , a Skilful saw and any old blade works but this is a couple of 1 1/2" half moon cuts on the edge of a aluminum hood, I guess it's about 1/8 or 3/16' thick. Much too tight for a jig saw, a hole saw on the edge with a hand held drill motor is asking for trouble. If it was steel, a torch and a die grinder would be what I'ld use. But I haven't had any success with die grinders and aluminum , the burr just gummed up. Company tools many years ago. Any suggestions? THX
They make different profile burrs for aluminum.

Maybe not information that will help with this project, sorry. Just passing it along
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#9
Depending on how many you have to do, there is the time honored tradition of drilling a series of closely spaced holes, connect them up with a slightly smaller rotary burr. The middle drops out & you are left with a slightly 'coggy' feature. A die grinder should be able to handle finish profiling. Yes, the cutter itself makes a big difference. Those hose (typically carbide) corncob profiles are not cheap. Most people spin them way too fast if they don't have variable speed, especially if they are used to grinding steel. That just aggravates aluminum. There are high viscosity wax like cutting pastes you can apply that are meant for aluminum cutting & tapping that might work better spritzing fluid. Sooner or later you will run into shapes that are not constructs of circles & lines or too small to get saws in & this about the only budget option short of nibblers. But I think this gauge is pretty thick & the tools are an 'investment'. I wouldn't rule out a jigsaw with a fine tooth metal cutting blade. I've cut 1/8" not speedy though.
 

Attachments

#13
Dabber, the hood is 48x26x16 , I don't think it will fit on a either the drill press or the mill/drill. I have an air nibber, but I thought they were for sheet metal work.

I guess with all this help, I should explain a little about rock slab saws and this one. Someone might have an interest in lapidary machinery. One of rockhound searches is for semi precious stones, pretty rocks. When they find them, some are just specimens, of no use but interesting, others they will turn into jewelry, mostly pendants. They do these by cutting 1/4" or so slices, called slabs, off the rocks. They then trim them to close to the desired shape , finish by grinding, and polishing them. For hers, my wife then silversmith the mountings. I enjoy the trips into the bush. That's as far as my rockhounding goes.

A 24" is a big saw. The ones in the link, $4,995, are made in China to a copy of the original Highland Park saw . American made ones go for about $2000 more, numbers USD. John made this saw years ago. Gord bought this saw off of John, who was well into his 80s then , about 7 years ago. I talked to Gord a couple of nights ago, a millwright rule is always talk to the operator. Gord had put a hole in the saw "through my own fault " . The tubs rust out. Gord then had a shop in Chilliwack make the tub and hood. Gord only got to use it a few times when the feed jammed up and stripped the little brass gears. The gear box was off a floor polisher. We bought it off Gord, we paid too much, but it was from a friend and he lost money on the deal.

After talking to Gord, here is what I think happened. The rails for the carriage and the arbor mount to the tub. The shop that did the tub and hood might not have gotten the alignment right. It's pretty critical on these saws. I've been reading up on rock slab saws. I'm replacing the feedworks. John had a 1/2" 13tpi rod, I'm switching to a 5/8" 18tpi for both easier reduction, at lowest speed it should turn at 2 rpm from a 1725 motor, about 7" per hour, and stiffer rod. I'll be hinging the hood, the aluminum cut, and I've already built a stand. Which will be handy for mounting the motors and the on sale at PA 60/1 radicon. There is wiring as well. I'm always surprised that there are any rouckhounds alive with the way they wire their machines !
 

Dabbler

Well-Known Member
#14
Thanks for all the details! From your first description, the fly cutter seemed plausible...

In thinking about this, I'd probably just use a hand fret saw and use files to get to dimension b/c it is in aluminum. I've done a lot of hand work like this in 1/8" steel, and it goes much quicker than you think.
 

ducdon

Active Member
Premium Member
#17
Back in the day the shop I worked in used alot of aluminum checker plate. I cut miles of it using a skill saw with a carbide blade and a straight edge. A little WD40 lube to decrease the screeching. After a year or too the bearings in the saw got pretty sloppy. Go figure.
 

Chris Cramer

Member
Premium Member
#18
I have a few 1/4" aluminum checker plates that I'm planning to use for fancy lettering. The cuts are not simple, they contain many sharp curves. What would be the most efficient way to cut 1/4" aluminum plate without a plasma cutter? my first few times I used mild steal and just polished and coated them, so I used an oxy fuel torch to cut it. would a jig saw with a good metal cutting blade work well enough?
 
#19
I have a few 1/4" aluminum checker plates that I'm planning to use for fancy lettering. The cuts are not simple, they contain many sharp curves. What would be the most efficient way to cut 1/4" aluminum plate without a plasma cutter? my first few times I used mild steal and just polished and coated them, so I used an oxy fuel torch to cut it. would a jig saw with a good metal cutting blade work well enough?
Sharp corners are tough with a jig saw unless you can get at them from both sides. Other possibility would be cut as sharp as the jig saw allows and then finish with file/grinder/etc?