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Old 01-16-2010, 02:41 PM
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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?

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Old 01-16-2010, 03:00 PM
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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.
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Old 01-16-2010, 03:36 PM
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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.
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Old 01-16-2010, 03:44 PM
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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.
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:22 PM
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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.
Shane
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:33 PM
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Jig saw....Cover the piece with masking tape to avoid scratching the heck out of it.
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:47 PM
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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.
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Old 01-16-2010, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
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

Cole
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
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.
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Old 01-17-2010, 06:14 AM
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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...
And,...
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...
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:29 AM
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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,
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Old 01-17-2010, 12:56 PM
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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.
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Old 01-17-2010, 01:28 PM
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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.
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Old 01-17-2010, 01:36 PM
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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.
fiberglassforums.com 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.
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Old 01-17-2010, 01:41 PM
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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.. 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..

Sam
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