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  • Best way to cut aluminum on a budget?!?

    I have been cutting up some aluminum diamond plate (about 3/16 thick) and have tried the following methods.

    Jig saw, very slow and just doesn’t work very well regardless of what blade I use, Grinder with a cut of wheel is even worse. The fastest thing I have found so far is a skill saw with a wood carbide blade. But after 20 or so cuts the blade gets dull and gummed up, it’s also loud as **** and make a huge mess and I can only do straight cuts.


    Is there a tool that would make my life easier? Like some metal shears or something along that line and is under $150.

    Thanks in advanced.

  • #2
    Would this work?


    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...LVWXRH5ULS5K27
    Last edited by demo2; 06-03-2015, 08:14 PM.

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    • #3
      lowlypawn, as far as the skil saw blade dulling and gumming up, have You tried kerosene as a cutting lube? It works great for Me. So does wax but is more dangerous to apply!(CAREFUL) As far as other common tools a sawzall with a fine tooth blade running wide open and kerosene works fast but is difficult to control. Securely clamp the workpiece! Hope this helps. Carl

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      • #4
        Originally posted by lowlypawn
        No, not for the thickness you have.

        Best way to cut aluminum on a budget?!?
        I have been cutting up some aluminum diamond plate (about 3/16 thick) and have tried the following methods.

        Jig saw, very slow and just doesn’t work very well regardless of what blade I use, Grinder with a cut of wheel is even worse. The fastest thing I have found so far is a skill saw with a wood carbide blade. But after 20 or so cuts the blade gets dull and gummed up, it’s also loud as **** and make a huge mess and I can only do straight cuts.


        Is there a tool that would make my life easier? Like some metal shears or something along that line and is under $150.

        Thanks in advanced.

        I'd recommend you look into one of the non-ferrous, metal-cutting saw blades for a 7.25" circular saw. Tenryu, Morse, and others make them. They will produce some noise as you've experienced already---wear earmuffs and plugs. Here's an example of Tenryu's blade made especially for aluminum cutting. As long as this isn't a production run, this should work fine and only set you back $36. It has better teeth and a different geometry than what you tried earlier. Wood cutting blades are best kept for cutting wood-not metal. Plus, when it starts dulling you can take it to a shop and have it resharpened. Just ask beforehand to make sure they are competent in sharpening these type of blades.

        http://www.ebay.com/bhp/aluminum-cutting-blade

        -dseman

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        • #5
          $150 kinda narrows the field down.
          In that range a good quality jig saw with orbital stroke would work. Use bi-metal blade for aluminum and WD-40 for lubricant. A saws-all would have more power and a little less control.
          If possible, maybe rent a plasma cutter.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by lowlypawn
            you are cutting 3/16" that tool is for 18 ga i realize you are cutting aluminum but that would be a stretch. i use the skil saw all the time for aluminum, just have to lube the blade once in a while. probably not the safest way of doing it so be very careful!! and if you are welding the seams that will mean more cleanup time if you lube.
            The one that dies with the most tools wins

            If it's worth having, it's worth working for

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            • #7
              Thx for the link.

              http://www.ebay.com/bhp/aluminum-cutting-blade

              I have looked for those kind of blades but am unable to find them here in Las Vegas.

              I have tried all the home stores IE Sears, homedepot and lowes, Anyone know locally where they can be bought?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by lowlypawn
                Thx for the link.

                http://www.ebay.com/bhp/aluminum-cutting-blade

                I have looked for those kind of blades but am unable to find them here in Las Vegas.

                I have tried all the home stores IE Sears, home depot and lows. Anyone know locally where they can be bought?
                These blades are not sold in the volume necessary for them to be in a HD or Lowes. Contact your local power tool retailer other than the big box stores. Check out your yellow pages for power tools, etc. Give All Machine Tools on West Tropicana a call. Oh, and you'll be paying more than $36 for the blade I bet.

                -dseman

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by dseman
                  These blades are not sold in the volume necessary for them to be in a HD or Lowes. Contact your local power tool retailer other than the big box stores. Check out your yellow pages for power tools, etc. Give All Machine Tools on West Tropicana a call. Oh, and you'll be paying more than $36 for the blade I bet.

                  -dseman
                  Local power tool retailers are getting really hard to find any more becouse of the big chains. I buy most of my tools from the nearest one left in my area, its over an hours drive but the way I see it, if he goes out of buisness the only thing left will be Lowes & Home Depot so its worth the drive for me and I dont mind paying a couple dollars more to help him stay in buisness.
                  To all who contribute to this board.
                  My sincere thanks , Pete.

                  Pureox OA
                  Westinghouse 300 amp AC stick
                  Miller Syncrowave 250
                  Hexacon 250 watt solder iron

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                  • #10
                    Cutting aluminum plate

                    First, I would recommend a trip to your local industrial supplier and sharpener of saw blades/ check the yellow pages, there's bound to several nearby. Ask for a 7 1/4" NEGATIVE RAKE saw blade designed for cutting aluminum. The reason for the negative rake is that due to it's configuration, it is less prone to trapping and building up the waste material in the gullets between the teeth. Next, buy a tallow based lube stick, which they probably sell as well. They're not expensive and last a long time. Whatever lube you use doesn't matter, but it is ESSENTIAL! As for applying it, jamming it into to the saw blade while it's spinning is a bit dicy, but is effective. However, you can improve the quality of the cut a lot by simply pre-marking your cut and manualy smearing a line of grease along the cut line; that way you're guaranteed lubrication all the way throuh the cut. This method works equally well with the skill saw and the table saw. Incidentaly, the table saw is a fantastic way to cut aluminum - just be sure to wear a full face sheild.
                    Being both a metal worker and a wood worker, the thing I love about aluminum is that you can approach the fabrication part exactly as though it is wood, and to this end, here is one of the coolest tricks I discovered about fabbing alu. There are a lot of times (especially after plasma cutting ) where you want to clean up and possibly bevel an edge in preparation to further fab. or welding. Enter the wood jointer, or in certain circumstances the portable power planer. The beauty of the jointer is that the combination of the standard high speed steel blades, and the relativly slow RPM are ideal for the MILLING of aluminum, and believe me, if you keep the cut light and steady, you will be delighted with the result. As for the lube, the secret here is to pre-grease the edge to be worked beforhand. Works a treat, and no harm what-so-ever to the jointer blades. These techniques work well with the router as well, just keep the revs down, and maintain a firm hold on the work/router.
                    The next level up is to install a misting lube system on whatever machine you are using, This is the ultimate, ensuring a constant application of lube, and much easier clean up. There are a number of water soluable lubes on the market made for this purpose. The one I use is called Mechanoil and although it runs about $50.00 CDN. per 4 litres, at a dilution of between 7% to 10 % lube to water it's pretty economical, and it works great for all your lube requirements such as drilling and tapping. We have squirt bottles of it beside all our drill presse and milling machines.
                    Hope this helps.
                    Mark

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                    • #11
                      Why don't you rent a plasma cutter. very effiecient, straight or curved cuts, and you won't have to rent it for long.

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                      • #12
                        How about one of them handheld bandsaws? Harbor Freight has one for less than $150. I sometimes see them on sale for $60.

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                        • #13
                          Aluminum cutting

                          Take my word for it I have cut 100's of sheets of aluminum diamond plate. Get a jigsaw (I have a craftsman commercial) that the blade goes back and forth as well as up and down I believe they call it oscilating or orbiting. You will really be surprised how well this cuts. I have tried everything else this WORKS CIRCLE B FAB.

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                          • #14
                            If i remember correctly they make dedicated alluminum cut off wheels, SAIT comes to mind.
                            Dynasty 200 DX
                            Millermatic 175
                            Spectrum 375
                            All kinds of Smith OA gear

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                            • #15
                              using a cheap carbide tips...

                              I use a 8" carbide blade to cut all of my flat, angle, channel, rod and tube Aluminum stock on a 10" chop/miter saw. I use the 8" blade because I get them for free (they are a "take-off" from a machine we produce). I used to use a 10" "aluminum/plastic" blade with the wax-stick lube and found that it would get dull and start "chunking" the cuts after it got hot (40-50 cuts or so). Keep in mind that this is production and I'll sometimes cut 100 pieces at a time. The carbide will cut fine until it gets hot at which point the braze that holds the carbides on will soften and the carbides will start coming off. The blade will still cut, but not as cleanly.

                              Cutting a sheet of diamond plate using carbide shouldn't be a problem because the metal that is being cut is cool as opposed to a piece of stock that will continue to get hotter and hotter, transferring the heat to the blade. I'd clamp a guide on the D.M. to be better able to cut a straight line and not accidentally pull a carbide off. And let the blade spin down to a stop before you remove it from the slot or you could pull the carbides off.

                              Cutting with a saw will leave a razor-sharp edge that can be cleaned with a blending wheel (sandpaper flaps) then I would use a deburring wheel to final clean the edge.

                              Hope this helps, Bob.
                              TA Arcmaster 185 w/TIG/Stick Kit
                              MM210 w/3535 Frankengun
                              MM140 w/o AS w/SM100 & CO2
                              Hobart (Miller) 625 Plasma
                              Hobart 250ci Plasma
                              Victor O/A (always ready, but bored)
                              Lincoln Patriot Autodark (freebie)
                              .45ACP Black Talons for those difficult jobs

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