View Full Version : Sawing Aluminum with tablesaw

brian Rupnow
04-29-2008, 12:45 PM
I seen a post on here about a month ago where someone was talking about cutting aluminum with a carbide tipped tablesaw. He said it worked very well if the blade was waxed. Okay---semi-dumb question---what kind of wax? I have liquid car wax, I have pastewax for the hardwood floors, and I have some wax candles. Which would be the best to use for waxing the blade?---Brian

04-29-2008, 12:56 PM
Paste wax on the blade and candle wax in the ears if you don't have hearing protectors. Cutting aluminum with a table saw will make such a racket it will scare anyone within a block radius and can damage your hearing.

thnx, jack vines

04-29-2008, 12:58 PM
Brian, when making my CNC router, I cut 1" ali plate with my makita drop-saw.
Use candle wax. You'll be fine.
If thin ali, just a squirt of WD40 or kero.

04-29-2008, 12:59 PM
Bee's wax is the ultimate aluminum lube. Got any bee's wax candles?

04-29-2008, 01:08 PM
I have a spare koolmist sprayer that I mounted under the table in plane with the blade. Works well. Keeps the blade cool and keeps it from warping from the heat. I use a 9" hollow ground HSS blade I picked up from boeing. I think it has a 1/16" kerf.

04-29-2008, 01:53 PM
I frequently use my table saw to cut aluminum and find a large plastic bag and cover myself with it during cutting. If I don't cuttings get in my hair and down my neck.Safety glasses and face shield just don't do it. Peter

04-29-2008, 02:08 PM
in the absence of beeswax, a bar of soap will do just as well ;)

brian Rupnow
04-29-2008, 02:11 PM
Evan---I just went out in the backyard to get some bees wax. I squeezed a bee and the damn thing stung me!!! Guess I'll try the camdle wax or paste wax instead. Thanks, fellows.---Brian

04-29-2008, 02:15 PM
I guess that's none of your beeswax, huh?

'Major Frank Burns'

brian Rupnow
04-29-2008, 02:40 PM
Yah, and it stung me right on the bee-hind!!!!

04-29-2008, 03:03 PM
Arrrrrrrrrrr Brian ,as the old tars would say.....
"avast behind!"

brian Rupnow
04-29-2008, 03:07 PM
Aarrrrr Billy---I been to sea, but 'twas in my youth, when I was but a nipper----

Norman Atkinson
04-29-2008, 03:17 PM
The Cabin boy's name was nipper
By God, he was a ripper
He stuffed his ars** with broken glass
And circumcised the skipper

And no I don't want to hear that classical English song
" Where the bee sucks"



( Rehearsing for my son's Stag Night)

brian Rupnow
04-29-2008, 03:17 PM
Enough of this funny Bees-ness!!! I just cut a peice of 5/8" aluminum with my ancient flea market table saw, and it cut beautifully. I waxed up the blade with some Johnsons paste wax that normally gets used on hardwood floors. I am supposed to be working an engineering contract right now, but I'm hung up waiting for a call back from my customer, so I'm playing Mister Machinist this afternoon. I roughed out a 3 1/2" circle from the 5/8" aluminum plate and machined up a small jig to hold it for turning, and I have turned it to finish size on the lathe.---- and now I have the hub for my water-wheel. I was going to use 1" plate, but the 5/8 was here in my scrap bin, and was free!!!

04-29-2008, 03:21 PM
Modern day candles are made out of some wierd stuff that is not really wax. I mean, it is, but it sure is crummy wax.
When I saw aluminum, or rout it with my big 3 hp hitachi router, I use a wax stick that is made for the purpose.
I know its cheating to use the right stuff, rather than catching my own beaver and making lard from its tail fat, and then climbing a tree barefoot in a loincloth to get a beehive, and mixing the two in an old oil drum out back over a pallet wood and used motor oil fire-

but it only cost about ten bucks, and it comes in a cardboard tube kinda like a grease tube, and it is exactly the right stuff- solid at room temp, but soft enough to rub on the blade.


A decent industrial supplier will have it, I am sure MSC/Enco/McMaster all carry it too.

One stick will last you a long long time- I think I bought mine in the 80's.

04-29-2008, 03:21 PM
Aharr, ye'll have a taste o the bosun's pet!
No! not the cat again!

Left hairs all over me 'ammock larst time. :(

04-29-2008, 03:25 PM
Ries, nice touch of humour there :D

But I have the same hitachi router (multo torque) and I assure you, cheap soap does the same job.

Norman Atkinson
04-29-2008, 03:35 PM
I was going to suggest petroleum jelly- and thought better of it.

And then, I got to a serious recollection. The author of 'Screwcutting in the Lathe' used liquid paraffin on his lathe. He also had a rear parting tool but I think that that might be misconstrued.

Now S&S ever tried Naval Jelly? You know, Coca Cola has the same ingredients.

Exit to 'I;m walking backwards for Christmas' One of the Best of the Goon Show songs.


04-29-2008, 03:55 PM
Naval jelly, or navel jelly?
I don't remember da goons (much)
Was dat da milligan (gunner) etc on da steam wireless?

oh, yeah, wit da secombe
but he didn't speak inglish, it was welsh (ne?)

04-29-2008, 04:03 PM
Isnt liquid paraffin basically kerosene?

Norman Atkinson
04-29-2008, 04:13 PM
Of course, you appreciate that I studied Economic History as a youth.
I write- I do- aviation articles. This brings me back to the World War One air Aces( phew, spelled it right). They all had the 'trots'. It wasn't fear or whatever but the lubricant in the engines which was ------castor oil.

So, critics, I am on topic- after all.


04-29-2008, 04:18 PM
Ho yus Norm :)

back up that huck starter to the avro 504

Did the Bristol Bulldog have self start? (and dual magnetos)

Norman Atkinson
04-29-2008, 04:52 PM
Nah, Swarf. This old fruit was on modern stuff- like Avro Ansons which meant that you had to wind up the undercarriages- by hand.
By the time that we wound em up, we had were running out of fuel and had to wind them down again. I ended up like Popeye!

Would you believe that only a few years ago, my old station still had the Grahame White Company on one hangar wall which was long before the Avro 504K and the Bulldog. They made it into a Museum. It was an improvement because it was originally a lunatic asylum. I jest not!

Got a phone call. Me old mate from those days. 'Fancy a Jaguar, Lofty?'
'Nak, just bought meself a MiniCooper' 'This one is only 5000' It was a aJaguar bomber

Orf tomorrar, we have a Canberra PR7 down at Newark, wherever that is.
I chipped in a few coins outta me old age pension for a bit- I think. Was pissed, as usual. The Dragon- her old man was in the Squadron- Burma or Darkest Africa or somewhere when she was a gal at St Trinians. Good show and all that. She is playing the saxophone! No limit to the Old Mem Sahib.

Back to the other Lunatic Asylum.
Tally Ho Chaps! There goes the little bastard!


04-29-2008, 05:18 PM
Me 'ats orf ter yer old chap!
A Jag!
I couldn't afford the air to start it, let alone the kero to keep it in the air :D

You don't happen to have a dirty old Harrier cluttering up your garage?

Norman Atkinson
04-29-2008, 05:42 PM
Surprisingly, the offer came for a Quarter Scale Tornado- the Panavia thingy.
It was up for grabs as the bloke wanted room- in his garage!
Big council of war at the Asylum here. Please, but please. We have room on one of the lawns( indeed) This 'ere effort was the instrument prototype test gear whatsit. Big hook, big chopper and up , up and away. 29 thousand feet, release and catch it with a blanket or a chute. No way, replied the Boss Woman.

Now a Harrier. the A1 Road from Newcastle to London- and RAF T'Wittering is there complete with a Harrier 'gateguard'

How much? Son is a boss of DHL. Make me an offer? One careful owner and all that sort of jazz!

Google 'RAF Wittering'. Not my squadron, either!


04-29-2008, 05:46 PM
Bugger me!
Where would I get it serviced Norm?
RAAF never flew em :D
Could you deliver, or would I have to pay postage?
(If Arnie Whatisname could fly the USMC version, I'm sure I could)

Norman Atkinson
04-29-2008, 06:14 PM
This Harrier thing- Do you want it sent gift wrapped, Sir, or would Sir like to take it with him?

'Who said it had an engine ?'

Mind you, I did have one mate who bought a steam locomotive- full size and that. I said- innocent me- about getting spares to repair the thing. He has a Myford lathe!!!!!!! One weary eye was raised and as he winked, he said- it came with 3 waggon loads of spares!

That's the beauty of old age- one meets so many 'normal people' in life
The rest just die off unnoticed.


04-29-2008, 06:42 PM
Waddya mean "an engine"?
"sir" would like it with both engines!

"Dear Mr Hawker...." :D
Failing that, a hurricane would be nice.
I'd gladly pay postage :)

I'm sure there are still some, even in this outpost, who could service a merlin.

04-29-2008, 10:00 PM
The last time I cut aluminum I used an abrasive wheel.Yes I covered all parts that move under the saw.Other than noise what is the advantage or disavantage of useing a carbide saw blade over an abrasive blade

Deja Vu
04-29-2008, 10:17 PM
need wax? I keep a couple extra toilet seal rings of wax around for general use. found easily at your local hardware.

04-30-2008, 01:12 AM
The last time I cut aluminum I used an abrasive wheel.Yes I covered all parts that move under the saw.Other than noise what is the advantage or disavantage of useing a carbide saw blade over an abrasive bladeClean cut, little heat, no burr, speed, and precise control of dimensions on larger pieces.

Paul Alciatore
04-30-2008, 01:39 AM
A radial arm saw also cuts aluminum nicely. I've done up to 3/4" thick. Ten inch, 48 carbide tooth blade. Didn't have bees wax so I used WD.....spairingly as I did not want to ruin the fiberboard top. Be sure to set the restraining device to a fairly stiff position and proceed slowly. You are more holding the blade back than feeding it forward. Nice, clean cut.

04-30-2008, 01:50 AM
Paul, most people use a radial the wrong way, IE, climb cut.
Gives you a longer cut, but possibly shorter fingers, arms, life.
Push it!

04-30-2008, 02:04 AM
While working for an aluminium company many moons ago [twas Hawker Sidley high duty alloys] we suffered from a large fabrication department, dozens of saws and punches an stuff, the staple diet of the saws was saw wax, also known as tallow, marked up canning and about 2lb per bar, blades were TCT /HSS designed for ali, not your normal woodsaw beasty, bronze antivibration plugs [stop the resonance/blade bursting/squeal] fitted at regular points around the blade, we used circular saws [the machine] designed for wood, eg Dewalt etc but with the correct BLADE!
it all worked fine, small sandbags help on routing big sheets [plastic clipseal and damp sand]
ear protectors a must with anything over 85db, my wife is deaf in her right ear from sawing carpet edge [ i always sleep on the left so i can call her names and snore/fart etc with impunity]
otherwise cuts just fine but remember safety glasses also, tips can detach and fly and swarf scars your eye [coo that almost rhymed]

04-30-2008, 02:33 AM
Paul, most people use a radial the wrong way, IE, climb cut.
Gives you a longer cut, but possibly shorter fingers, arms, life.
Push it!

For the longest time, I never could understand the arguement that an RAS was inherently dangerous, till I noticed how many people pulled them. Before that I always attributed it to the normally large size of them scaring people.


04-30-2008, 02:43 AM
Ken, nossuh!
My first full-time job was in a timber yard.
It went from the big twins (logs) to finished mouldings.

A radial is not a thing to treat lightly.
Use hold-downs, and push.
Chances are, you'll get old like me and be able to count to 10 without taking your boots off :D

Norman Atkinson
04-30-2008, 03:19 AM
Morning Swarf!

'this ere Harrier?Nope, better not.
In the 'oddfellows', I have a matey who actually worked on Merlins and Griffons. Spits not Hurricanes,you see. RAF 31 like me. Apart from a shakey undercarriage and a pre-delection to strong drink and even stronger religion, he is in great shape. The other one is or was a maker of 'Bouncing Bombs' as a young strippling at Vickers here on the Tyne.

With a little jiggery pokery, I could get you a spare pilot or three. If you are into political unrest, I actually have an ad hoc old boy who was in the Poison gas department. Full colonel- bags of gongs, MBE's and DCL's and a bit bored with Anno Domini having a serious effect. He was a bit narked the other day. He hasn't killed an SS bloke for ages.

Beats this 'f-ing about' with a bit of ally. Agree, Agree, Agree?


04-30-2008, 03:28 AM
Sounds like one of my high-school teachers Norm.
He was sacked from Die waffen SS for brutality.

Hang on a mo, I'm sure he's still in the phone book...
Would one of yer old squadrons do a fly-by ?(fully armed)

Just to digress a mo (unusual, innit) we do have some old warbirds here, mostly US. Wish the bugger would find somewhere else to play. It's EFFIN NOISY!


Norman Atkinson
04-30-2008, 04:01 AM
Come on, Swarf!

The Squadron does a navigational exercise annually.
A diamond four comes over the hotel which- quelle surprise- has a line up of zimmer frames on the roof. ( keeping to the alloy topic)
At prompt 1500, they come in - moving the mud- and do the old 'putting on smoke' as they go up, up and away. The drivers of the zimmer frames mutter that in the jungles of a Burma, they could put a DC3 with a glider attached under the belly of a snake- wearing a top hat!

The nice thing is that a little old lady is still there. She was a school girl at Arnhem and tended the Paras who were wounded. You might know it as 'A Bridge Too Far'. Some of the new boys on the block are part of the Drop.
We got a Victoria Cross there. I got a special invite on year- and we sobbed our eyes out. I think it was the tiny posy of flowers on 'Lummy's grave'
Nuff said


brian Rupnow
04-30-2008, 07:38 AM
The last time I cut aluminum I used an abrasive wheel.Yes I covered all parts that move under the saw.Other than noise what is the advantage or disavantage of useing a carbide saw blade over an abrasive blade

My advantage was that I have a table saw with a carbide blade setting in my garage. I do not have an abrasive wheel

04-30-2008, 07:40 AM
Why aye man.
we just had oor ANZAC day an I had a greet.

An I know whereof you speak, Arnhem.
Poor boogers.

Sorry, have to edit this to include some metal.
Bloody fine bridge that, eh?
Didn't they export that to some casino?

Auf weidersehn again pet
Ga canny lad :D

Norman Atkinson
04-30-2008, 07:56 AM
Have a look at the Angel of the North.

Now that is a clever way to land an aeroplane.
How way the laads!

Me missus says the guy has a nice bum! Ah, well?

Anzac Day?? There used to be a little boat called Tumbarumba.
Named after a place in Orange that had a stretcher bearer who went in at El Alamein- under the guns.

Let's say that I know how he felt!

Cheers, Bonny Laad

Wor Norm

04-30-2008, 07:59 AM
Paul, most people use a radial the wrong way, IE, climb cut.
Gives you a longer cut, but possibly shorter fingers, arms, life.
Push it!

I agree 100% Lin.

I have a (USA-made) "Bosch" 10" mitre saw. Beautiful machine. Repeatability and accuracy is superb.

I do "climb" sometimes on firmly gripped/fastened timber but most times in "non-climb" mode.

I use "drop" with in/out feed firmly clamped and fully retracted. This works fine with most timber and aluminium.

For larger sections or angled/longer cuts, I "feed-in".

I have a 10" aluminium-cutting blade specifically for "drop/mitre" saws. Great blade.

I also have and use the "wax in a cardboard tube" as mentioned previously - especially for aluminium but works great for anything and everything.

I refuse point blank to even consider putting an abrasive/cut-off blade in my "Bosch" saw or my "Triton" bench and saw.

I bought them all at "Bunnings" (just about the biggest hard-ware store in OZ).

Swarf and dust is not a problem as the built-in/provided woven bag on the saw catches just about all of it. I don't use it in the shop. I use it either on the concrete slab/apron unde the car-port or on the gravel drive-way.

I do always wear ear-muffs and safety glasses as well.

04-30-2008, 08:24 AM
Aye, seen that.
Bloody angel my arse.
Weighs more than a loaded B52 and its parked all wrong.

Howay man, have a loonie soup for me :D
BTW, have you been through the Falkirk wheel yet?

04-30-2008, 11:12 AM
Paul, most people use a radial the wrong way, IE, climb cut.
Gives you a longer cut, but possibly shorter fingers, arms, life.
Push it!

I don't want to start a radial arm flame war here, but a radial arm saw is designed to be pulled, not pushed, climb notwithstanding. Pushing risks kicking the work up, and exposes the operator to the blade in all the wrong ways. There is no constraint on a radial arm saw to keep the work down against the table, except for the action of the blade when it is making a climbing cut. If you use it backwards, the only thing holding the work down is your hands. If the blade catches on the work, you risk a face full of splinters or worse.

A radial arm saw set up right, used right, with the correct blade, and the correct preload on the carriage, will cut very well, and very safely, on the pull stroke, as it was designed to do.

Edited to add as an afterthought: In addition to the above, the RAS is designed so that the blade is always parked behind the fence before the cut. This allows you to place, adjust, measure, etc. the work on the table with no risk of accidental blade contact. It is simply and plainly impossible to do this safely with the blade in the out position for pushing. Please think about this matter carefully.

If you are used to table saws and hand circular saws, which warn you of overloading by slowing down, it takes some practice to use a radial arm saw, which must be pulled gently, and occasionally even held back. It is not hard to learn, and I will repeat that the correct preload on the carriage rollers is an important element.

If you cannot get a good safe cut from a radial arm saw by pulling, there is something wrong, either with your saw or your technique. Pushing is not the cure for that.

Some people contend that radial arm saws are unsafe, and I think part of that is owing to misuse and misunderstanding. I don't want to wear out my soapbox here, but please make sure you do not proliferate that dangerous misunderstanding.

I have been using radial arm saws for over 40 years, and this is something that I actually do know how to do right.

If anyone here is serious about getting the best and safest use out of a radial arm saw, I recommend the book sold here:


One of my dear old friends, just recently deceased, used to be a DeWalt dealer and distributor, as well as an executive with Walker-Turner, and worked with "Mr. Sawdust" back in the 1950's. His wife was a DeWalt demonstrator. Quite a looker back then, and a very effective way to demonstrate how easy the machine was to use. And safe, too....pulled!

Lew Hartswick
04-30-2008, 06:35 PM
I'm with bruto there. Been using one for about 30 years and use it
"pull" about 95% of the time. (maybe even more) Rarely is it beneficial
to "push" the cut. Ripping is the only time it's necessary to "push" the
work into the blade and then the hold-downs shuld be in place.
Blades should be 0 rake for crosscut and even slightly negative if youre
cutting aluminium. :-) Gawd what a noise. :-)

04-30-2008, 09:28 PM
Used to manufacture aircraft hanger doors with 6061 t6 extrusions up to 7" x 3" and had a hydraulic cylinder to control the pull rate on the 10" radial arm saw. I could close it down so that you couldn't move it, open up a little and you just had to pull, cylinder took care of advance speed with no load back to home. Made thousands of cuts with no jam-ups and no wax except in ears. Flew a Piper Warrior to job sites. What an excuse to get a little flying in:D I let the big boys fly me up to Inuvik though. Peter

04-30-2008, 11:50 PM
I use my RAS to cut aluminum. Mostly 1/8" sheet for instrument panels, etc., but I've cut stuff as large as 2"x4". I pull, and I haven't tried the wax, even though I have a toilet ring in my toolbox. Guess I'll have to try it!