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Old 11-09-2012, 09:08 PM
zild1221 zild1221 is offline
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Default New to Metalworking - Cutting Aluminum

Just wanted to say hi. A quick Google search found me this forum so I figured I would give it a shot.

I have a few questions, the main of which regards the cutting of aluminum stock. I have a project that involves 1" thick, 2" wide aluminum bar. I need to cut a 2" long 'channel' out of it. Other things I will be doing to this is drilling holes, some of which will be tapped. I do have a drill press, but if you could recommend proper bits for aluminum, that would be helpful. Also, if you could, a "cheap but not disposable" tapping set.

I don't have metalworking tools, we are more of woodworking people. I have read I can cut aluminum with a jig saw with a metal cutting blade. Is this correct? Is there any other way you would recommend doing this? I have every wood working tool pretty much available. I have to make three of these pieces. Here is a quick picture just to show you:


On another note... My father and I are considering purchasing a small MIG welder. We have misc projects that sometimes require welding, and figured it would be handy to purchase one and begin learning. We have an old ARC welder and that is it. In searching for a decent beginner welder, I have heard many suggestions (IE. buying used). I have also been reading recommendations on this Northern Industrial one:

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...2691_200332691

Would you guys recommend this one just to get into MIG welding? It pretty much comes with everything to get going. What I could find used around here is still much more expensive than that one new. I understand it probably won't be the highest quality, but we're not professionals. Also, it uses common parts which are easy to get your hands on if necessary.

I think that's about it for now. Just wanted to say "thanks" in advance and I look forward to hearing your responses.
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Old 11-09-2012, 09:44 PM
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Scotts Scotts is offline
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Welcome in and folks will be along to help you with your questions.
In the mean time we do pictures a little differently. See the FAQs please.

Thank you for posting and please continue to enjoy the best place there is on the net.

Scott
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Old 11-09-2012, 09:46 PM
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Welcome to the site.

There is metal cutting blades for jig saws, read the package that comes with the blades.

A band saw would be better.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:02 PM
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If I read it right, you're only looking at doing three of these parts? I'd just use whatever drill you may have that makes the right size hole. You're not going to see the benefits of trying different drills. It'll be just like drilling through a chunk of wood anyway. Just make sure it's a tapered point and can drill metal (no brad point wood drills).

As far as cutting it goes, I'd be inclined to change the back 'flat' of the notch to a radius, and drill a hole the right width. Then just cut it straight with whatever hacksaw, bandsaw, jigsaw, etc. blade you might have handy. Like your wood, cut it close to the line and then sand off the excess and try to get it even across the cut. The bevel on the leading edge, I'd just sand that in with a belt sander as well.


There are lots and lots of threads on here that tell you what to look for in a newbie MIG setup. They all pretty well read like this: Buy as much as you can afford, buy as big as you can afford, and above all else buy quality.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:03 PM
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If you have a good table saw you could make a fixture to hold the piece in a vertical position and cut the notch out the same way you would dado a piece of wood. Just be sure your fixture is good and solid. A fairly fine tooth blade will cut aluminum fine; just take it slow and easy. If you don't mind a bit of clean up spray a bit of WD40 on the cut as it progresses...
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:11 PM
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Some might disagree with me on this, but Aluminum can be cut with wood working tools. I have used router bits in a router, drill bits work and saw blades will work too. I would suggest a finer tooth blade for cutting. But with the right setup, you could make that notch with a router. Sharp carbide cutter, but you need to keep the router from chattering. Keep a tight grip on it. A good fixture jig would help. And take light passes. You can spray some WD-40 on the bit to keep the aluminum chips from building up, or a wax product. Usually at work, I cut aluminum sheet with a skil saw or tablesaw. Usually use a non ferrous cutting blade. Once I had to cut several feet of 1" thick aluminum plate for another company. I think once their worker helped me cut it with a skill saw, they probably said we can do that ourselves next time! A band saw would make the fastest cut, until you get to the inside part.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:14 PM
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Like dubby said drill three holes (if you have a drill press) and use a hacksaw and file. If you use a 5/8" drill bit (using a 1/8" pilot bit first) and carefully lay it out cheating a tad on the bottom hole and saw from hole to hole.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:26 PM
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Sweet!

I inspired a digr drawing!
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  #9  
Old 11-09-2012, 10:38 PM
zild1221 zild1221 is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions. The hole drilling and little cleanup seems the best route (not having to waste money on additional blades or burning through good ones). I'm sure I will have tons of other questions, also I will post soon what this will be going to for reference.

Edit: Actually, I may use our router and an older 45 degree bevel to "break" the outside edges of the entire part a bit. It sounds like it can be done fairly easy.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:55 PM
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Zild welcome to the best shop site on the net . The other guys gave you some great info on your aluminum work . The other question you had was on a mig welder I am no expert at all strictly a weekend warrior but I have learned alot from these guys . I dont know if you have a Tractor supply in your area buuuuuuuuut they have the Hobart Handler 140 mig for about $469 which is about $100 more than the northern machine you were looking at . The differance is the Hobart machine is made by Miller and is probably 2 to 3 times the machine that the northern one is .



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