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Longboard 01-16-2010 01:41 PM

Cutting 1/8" aluminum with what tool?
I'm trying to make a custom aluminum dash insert for my 61 Impala. What is the best tool for making trim cuts on the 1/8" thick aflat aluminum?

Old Rotor Flap 01-16-2010 02:00 PM

The simplest I can recomment is a jig saw with about a 12 to 14 tooth per inch blade. A finer tooth may give you a nicer, less ragged cut. I very fine tooth blade may clog easier, but in .125" it shouldn't be too bad.

For thinner sheet I've used a circular saw with a carbide tipped blade - more carbide tips produce a smoother job. On small trim cuts I would not use the circular saw only because it can get away from you and ouch big time.

oldred 01-16-2010 02:36 PM

Don't try to use a cut-off disc on an angle grinder unless the disc is specifically for Aluminum, not sure there is even one out there. I tried it with my 4 1/2' grinder and one of those thin cut-off discs and the darn thing exploded on me! I guess I must be a slow learner because I tried it again and the same thing happened after cutting only a few inches, it wasn't cutting worth a darn anyway so I gave up and used a Milwaukee sawzall.

Anyone else have this happen? I meant to ask about this a couple of weeks ago when that happened but just never got around to it so when I saw this thread I thought I would mention it.

C-10 01-16-2010 02:44 PM

Yessir it happened. Seems like it plugs up the abrasive and galls it in place. Ouch.

For the jig saw, use a protective cover (tape?) on your workpiece so the shoe of the saw doesn't kill it. :)

Chevrolet4x4s 01-16-2010 03:22 PM

A trick I learned in high school was to grind on a bar of soap,to prevent the wheel from loading up,works great for a 4.5 inch grinding wheel,never tried it on a cut off wheel though.

poncho62 01-16-2010 03:33 PM

Jig saw....Cover the piece with masking tape to avoid scratching the heck out of it.

Jake_Dragon 01-16-2010 03:47 PM

Soft metal will plug up the holes in abrasive wheels then when it expands with heat it will make it crack and explode.

Jig saw and a sanding disk to smooth it.

eloc431962 01-16-2010 04:26 PM


Originally Posted by poncho62
Jig saw....Cover the piece with masking tape to avoid scratching the heck out of it.

This is how i have done it in the past works real well. JMO :thumbup:


jsaw 01-16-2010 07:24 PM


Originally Posted by Jake_Dragon
Soft metal will plug up the holes in abrasive wheels then when it expands with heat it will make it crack and explode.

Jig saw and a sanding disk to smooth it.

I have had the best luck this way also. I like doing it this way better than I do using a plasma cutter. Less grinding & it comes out nicer.

bondo 01-17-2010 05:14 AM

Ayuh,... Working with aluminum is done with standard wood working tools,...

A jigsaw does Ok, but if you have acess to a Bandsaw, it works better, 'cause it's running in 1 direction, instead of back,+ forth...

The bar of Soap trick is a Good 1,.. I've found that Bee's Wax is even Better...
To stop the metal from loading up the cutting teeth or disc,..
Keeping a handful of Ice(or Snow this time of year) on the piece, somewhat near the work area will pull the heat away,+ allow longer cuts between picking the bits of metal from the saw teeth...

Rickracer 01-17-2010 07:29 AM

I've found that a cutoff wheel works great for "trim" cuts if you keep the blade speed high and let the wheel do the work, don't push it. For long cuts, a jigsaw with the appropriate tooth count works pretty well, but as posted before, the bandsaw is king, :cool:

bentwings 01-17-2010 11:56 AM

There are cut off wheels specifically for cutting aluminum. They work great. I make a lot of use out of them. I'd opt for the jig saw for this case if available however . Maybe use the aluminum cut off for some trim work if necessary.

I get them from Fastenall. 3M make them too. There is a cutting wax used on saws that works great on flap wheels for aluminum that I use. I think it came from Fastenall too. Had it forever.

geezer69 01-17-2010 12:28 PM

first choice,band saw. second choice, jig saw. use plenty of tape with the jig saw or even a piece of thick paper. like a shoe box glued to the bottom of the jig saw. sometimes the tape will break through.ive had that happen.

ogre 01-17-2010 12:36 PM

make a hardboard template, trim to within an 1/8" and use a router with a carbide bit in it. it will turn out like a machined piece. had a very involved build where the owner made some very intensive aluminum pieces with a router.
his whole thread was accidently deleted/crashed and he is currently rebuilding it.

OneMoreTime 01-17-2010 12:41 PM

The Puerto Mill...router on a router table and use the trim bits with the ball bearing guide to run on the edge of the template that you made.. :sweat: hearing and eye protection is a must..Hole saw for the gauge holes does work though I just rough the hole and do the finish cut on the router..


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