Tools for cutting 3 mm sheet aluminium

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Vidar Velle

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Sep 14, 2021, 4:24:51 AM (7 days ago) Sep 14
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Hi, 
I'm looking for the best tool to cut a big 3mm sheet of aluminium into 60x60 cm squares, 8 squares in total. What tools do we have in the workshop that would be suitable for that? The edges need to be smooth as the end result. 

-Vidar

Stephen Rodway

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Sep 14, 2021, 4:29:43 AM (7 days ago) Sep 14
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A few options I can think of

A) Angle grinder : Annoying to do and easy to slip and mess it up,
probably have to clean the edges manually afterwards

B) Plasma cutter : Quick and simple but noisy and makes a mess, you'll
have to clean the edges by some other method afterwards

C) Getting and fitting a metal-cutting blade to the table saw : Costly,
long setup time, neat and clean result

If you really want a neat, clean edge without putting a lot of effort in
then this might be a job for a commercial shop with a large guillotine
cutter or a laser cutter.

Steve
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Ian Petrie

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Sep 14, 2021, 5:20:25 AM (7 days ago) Sep 14
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It doesn't need a metal blade for the table saw. The TC tip blade works fine - and survives the experience unscathed.
Clamp a sheet of plywood to the saw bed and pop the blade up through it so that there is support all round the metal as it is cut - this gives a cleaner finish and prevents chatter - though 3mm aluminium is generally stiff enough.
Wax the blade before each cut
Although an ordinary candle works just fine.
Ear defenders and eye protection of course.



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Vidar Velle

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Sep 14, 2021, 6:13:42 AM (7 days ago) Sep 14
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Thanks for the tip Ian, but I'm not sure the table saw blade would be that happy about it, so would have to use a knackered blade I guess. I was considering the band saw with metal blade but that wont give me the full width i need...

-V

Andy Noyes

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Sep 14, 2021, 6:25:55 AM (7 days ago) Sep 14
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I find a jigsaw the best DIY type tool for cutting large aluminium sheets, it's quicker than you might imagine and the blades are cheap. Just spray WD40 in a line ahead of where you are cutting to lubricate the blade and stop it gumming up. 

A 1.2 x 2.4m sheet would be fairly awkward but possible on the table saw, I doubt the bandsaw would have a big enough throat.

Steve Rodway

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Sep 14, 2021, 6:45:39 AM (7 days ago) Sep 14
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That's a good point Andy, I hadn't remembered about the jigsaw. The
little battery one wouldn't be up to the job but there's a mains powered
one in the back of the big metal table. Cobalt blades would go through
aluminium like a knife through butter and aren't overly expensive. You
could rig up a wooden guide rail to keep your cuts straight.

The bandsaw can cut aluminium fine with the proper blade but the
throat's only 460mm so that won't help here.

Steve
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Vidar Velle

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Sep 14, 2021, 7:10:10 AM (7 days ago) Sep 14
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Thanks Andy,

That's an excellent solution. What kind of blade are we looking at being most suitable?

V





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Vidar Velle
Nordic Glamping LTD
Ph: 07712880021

Vidar Velle

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Sep 14, 2021, 7:11:35 AM (7 days ago) Sep 14
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Do we have cobalt blades in the space, not sure I know what to look for, or should I buy a pack? 


Andrew Carson

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Sep 14, 2021, 7:15:05 AM (7 days ago) Sep 14
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I used these on some 10mm aluminium plate a while back:


It wasn't exactly easy going, but they'd probably eat their way through 3mm no problem.

Andy



Tim Masson

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Sep 15, 2021, 4:11:33 AM (6 days ago) Sep 15
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I have used my Makita sliding mitre saw to cut some 4 & 5 mm aluminium plate.  The TC blade give an excellent burr-free finish.  I used my 'old' blade but have not got around to changing it afterwards yet (its a bit of a pfaff) and it still cuts oak to a fine finish - so I don't think there was any significant damage.  I did spray PTFE dry lubricant, but with hindsight candle wax or machine wax might have been a better choice. 

The one draw-back it that my garage workshop was filled with little shreds of Al swarf - and I still find them hiding al round the place.  They aren't very sharp but they will scratch fine surfaces.

I would not use the r-lab table saw unless I could swap to an older blade, and was prepared to spend quite a bit of time cleaning up the swarf and swapping the blade back afterwards.
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