Cutting Aluminum can be accomplished with normal wood working equipment. The cutting speeds of wood working equipment are a bit fast for cutting aluminum, so cutting lubricants are helpful. The diameter of cutting blades can be decreased in diameter on many wood working machines to decrease the cutting speed. When using a 10″ table saw to rip aluminum plate, a 7 1/4″ blade can be used in place of the 10″ thus decreasing the cutting speed of the blade by 27.5%. A 10″ blade rotates 31.4″ of cutting tips through the aluminum each revolution. A 7.25″ blade rotates 22.77″ of cutting tips through the aluminum per revolution. A carbide tipped blade can with stand these cutting speeds through aluminum, a high speed steel blade can’t. The same is true for router bits only use carbide tipped bits and a variable speed router attachment or variable speed router is helpful to decrease the cutting speeds. I purchased an old table saw at a yard sale that I use for cutting aluminum and ripping nasty dirty wood. The drive pulley (motor pulley) I decreased in size 2.25″ to 1.25″ which also dramatically decreases the cutting speed, and increases the torque to the blade.
Speed that the aluminum is fed into cutters or the speed that blades are fed into the aluminum is slower than that of wood. The carbide teeth of wood working cutters, or saws are not designed to take heavy cuts of aluminum like that of wood. Although to slow of a feed rate will increase temperature of the aluminum and the cutter or teeth.
I have found using old candles that my wife has discarded work well for lubrication of the cutting bit or teeth. As on a table saw the candle is fed into the side of the blade, heat is generated and melted paraffin wax will adhere to the blade and teeth. I do the same with my Dewalt 12″ wood chop saw. The wax that has solidified on the blade and teeth will melt during the cutting of the aluminum and help in cooling by less friction, and allow chips of aluminum not stick to the teeth.
Be aware that the aluminum vs. wood being cut has more tendency to kick back, the blade, to reverse the direction of cut in a violent manner. I have a slot in my drywall from such an encounter, STAY OUT OF THE KICK BACK ZONE of the machinery.
Very thin sections of aluminum can be ripped on a table saw by adhering the sheet of aluminum to a piece of old plywood or particle board, with 3M super 77 adhesive this adhesive is really handy for lots of applications and is readily available at many home improvement stores or lumber yards. Adhesive can be removed from the aluminum using acetone also available at the same locations, which is also excellent degreaser before painting and a great thinner for slow drying oil based paints. The plywood or particle board (backs up the aluminum) while the cutter is cutting.
When cutting aluminum it is not necessary to have expensive shears band saws or plasma cutters to cut your aluminum stock. Anyone can use wood working equipment and increase profits. Always use a good face shield and protect the body from the hot aluminum chips that are produced when cutting aluminum.
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